Coot Club


No Swallows or Amazons in Coot Club, but we do have the new recruits, the Ds, who quickly make friends and begin learning to sail on the Norfolk Broads. Did Arthur Ransome realise that if he stuck to writing adventures for the summer holidays, his cast of characters would grow up long before he ran out of ideas? Coot Club is set in spring, between Winter Holiday and Pigeon Post, the next summer break.

Coot Club is packed with incident -- the crew of obnoxious Hullabaloos chasing Tom up and down river in their noisy motor cruiser; the rash Admiral, Mrs Barrable, presiding over her fleet of little boats; the twins, Port and Starboard, hitchhiking with one strange boat after another to catch the Teasel; and finally a wonderful wrecking and the heroism of the pug William, sent over the mud with a rescue line.

I didn't read Coot Club as often as the books with the Swallows and Amazons in them, but I thoroughly enjoyed this re-read. There's less imaginative play here as the twins and Tom and their younger friends, the Death and Glories, are too busy watching over nesting birds to create pretend scenarios; but Dorothea can't resist starting to write a novel, The Outlaw of the Broads, inspired by the pursuit of Tom, which she's still working on in the next book.

It was funny to notice that the same sailing hints appeared in Coot Club and Robert Macfarlane's The Old Ways which I was reading at the same time!


  1. I love William, the reluctant hero, in this. And Tom, so conscientious and sensible, and the magnificent day's sailing that he's in charge of.

  2. William has a real personality, doesn't he! And yes, Tom is going to make somebody a wonderful husband one day -- look how sweet he is with 'our baby.'