On Childhood Wanderings

So, I’ve chosen to enter Penguin’s ‘Summer Wayfarer’ competition which means that I’ve had to create a video talking about why I should be a wayfarer, which means being on camera, and saying words, and filming myself, and…

I’m not all that good in front of cameras – people I can take – but cameras are scary. They don’t blink. They make whirring noises, they can be quite big and they don’t often talk back. Interactions with a camera feel a little one sided.

Nevertheless, if I don’t win the competition at least I’ve learnt something about video editing and filming. The first thing I learnt is that the two camera’s on my phone (front and back) film in different frame rates. Cool, awesome, that’s really interesting, even more interesting when you consider that the two different frame rates seem incompatible with one another when posted into a film editor.

Oooops.

Perhaps if I’d known a little more about editing I could have found a fix for it but then again, if the wayfarer is expected to be making films ‘on the go’ then I can’t imagine the lucky winner crouched over a laptop in the middle of nowhere, scratching their heads at the fact that their camera has recorded in a file type that the laptop can’t read and that you’ll have to wait half an hour for the file to be converted…

In fact, that would be quite an experience…

Anyway, without further-or-do I present to you the best I could come up with, and I’m somewhat proud of it:

But I can’t just leave it like that really can I? It’s not right to have a video hinting at my passion for walking and not explain myself, right? Right.

The weekly weekend wander I mention was something that would often take place on a Sunday, We’d set out to the Broads, Dunwich, Somerleyton or Walberswick in the car bringing sandwiches and full flasks of tea and hot chocolate. Upon arriving, I remember with fondness putting on our hiking boots (that were often left in the boot of the car all week) and, whilst waiting for my parents to finish packing their bags we’d often be in the trees, or chasing one another round the car park.

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Where we were wasn’t all that important as long as it was more green than grey, bodies of water were also always a welcome sight though often dangerous – the risk of being pushed in was always high, or, if you were feeling a little more strategic a well thrown stone could splash a significant amount of water in another family members direction…

We’d walk, talk, throw pine cones at one another and sweep our way through cobwebs that spanned the trees. We’d be tasking with finding the perfect walking stick for each family member though this often descended into egocentricism, who could find and carry THE BIGGEST STICK! This would often be dragged behind the group by the poor member who’d chosen it until discarded in a ditch or bush. My dad would take pictures of landscapes, flowers, fauna and insects and would inevitably fall far behind us. We’d stop frequently for tea and cakes to allow him to catch up.

I remember falling off the boardwalk in Walberswick and instinctively putting my arm out and hearing it slide easily into the wet ground, feeling the warm wet earth sliding up my arm like a friendly snail. I felt the marshland creeping up to my shoulders and, opening my eyes all I could see was the damp ground beneath me. I’d stopped sinking, somehow, but I had no real idea how to get free.

I remember being pulled out and the whole of my right arm being caked in mud.

Another weekend we walked around Somerleyton and the weather turned for the worse. The sky grew dark and grumbled around us, the clouds thickened and not long later they fell – large bulbous raindrops battered the trees above us and we pulled on our coats. We were a long way from the car and shelter was not available. We pulled on our coats and walked through the dark. The sky groaned under the weight of water. The trees shook in the wind. Then, the crack of thunder and lightning whipped the sky above us. The trees about us shook in strobe, their shadowy fingers extending across us.

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At home that evening we sat by the fire in towels and watched Time Team. This was standard Sunday procedure: a day of walking with cakes and tea, followed by a family evening by the fire watching Scrapheap Challenge and anything else of interest we could find. It was our Sunday – the one day we all had together and could share and, regardless of how wet and shaken we were we would always be there on the sofa at the end of the day. Calm and complete.

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2 thoughts on “On Childhood Wanderings”

  1. I’ve just done my dissertation on W.G. Sebald and you strike me as a kind of Sebaldian writer, I’m sure you must have come across his work already but if you haven’t then ‘The Rings of Saturn’ is an excellent book to start with. Cracking stuff.

    1. Ah! I have indeed come across Sebald – I think he used to teach at the UEA (though not in my time). I tried to work my way through Austerlitz some time ago but I chose to read it not long after tackling Kundera? And I think Kundera and Sebald are quiet similar to one another (distractingly so). I thought Austerlitz a great book in tone and style, but I felt like I could see where it was going before I was even halfway through the book so I ended up putting it down. Of course, it was very unfair of me to assume the course of the book without ever finishing it, and that guilt is pushing me back to re-read it.

      I will grab a copy of Rings of Saturn and give that a go! I might get on better with that than Austerlitz. 🙂

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