usborne

We never had much money in our family when I was growing up. I think that’s why this book means so much to me. Someone we knew was acting as an agent for Usborne books and I saw this one. As an outdoors child I really wanted it, but it was vetoed on the grounds of cost. The reality was probably that it had to be ordered, because my parents never denied us books. So it arrived as a present a few weeks later and I was absolutely thrilled.

I’m surprised that it remains in such good condition because I read the thing over and over. As its name suggests its “a complete guide to the outdoor activities of walking, hiking and camping”, with sections on cycling and orienteering, plus a big section at the end on first aid and dealing with outdoor emergencies.

Like I say I was an outdoor kid. We all were – playing in the woods and fields, damming streams, scrumping, sleeping in tents in the garden and cooking food on little fires. But I was probably more so. I was the one that took it a bit farther. When we made a house out of snow (snow walls, boards across the top, snow on that) I was the one that retreated indoors for hot food only long enough to grab my plate and take it back outside to eat in the icy den.

When I look back now I realise that though we were poor, I had a very rich childhood. This book reminds me of that every time I look at it.

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