The Mill and the pony camp

we were this primitive – image:


Two little girls with bicycles
set out towing a horse
to a tiny island between millrace
and Grand Union Canal.
The horse set free to graze,
they set up their little camp.


The nights were hard
the food was bad –
each meal a variation on sausages or Spam
with Shredded Wheat and marmalade for breakfast.
But not deterred,
intrepid girls explored
one on horseback,
one on bike, in turn.


A week went by adventuring
without a serious problem.
The occasional fall
didn’t scare them at all –
the pony was their factotum,
carrying shopping or girl
back to camp full of environment,
but home, at the end,  for nourishment.

This is a true story – we were independent eleven-year-olds, weaned on the adventures in Arthur Ransoms’s  Swallows and Amazons books. We had the loan of pony and island while the Mill family was away on holiday, on condition that we looked after Minor, the Welsh pony.   The two horse-mad friends were delighted, their parents unalarmed in those non-violent days.   

The Grand Union Canal runs from London to Birmingham in the centre of England and at that time there were still pairs of narrow boats taking goods between the two cities and beyond, with whole families travelling the waterways all their lives.

The form of this poem for Summer Camp  is the Bop:

creative bloomings summer camp challenge badge

July  – ADVENTURE, using the form of The Bop  developed by poet Afaa Michael Weaver at a Cave Canem summer retreat:

 3 stanzas, each followed by a refrain. First stanza of 6 lines presents a subject.  Second stanza of 8 lines long explores or expands the subject or problem. Third stanza of 6 lines either presents a solution or documents the failed attempt to resolve the problem


All poetry, prose and pictures posted here, except where otherwise stated, is my own, and may only be used elsewhere with my expressed permission. Please don't be inhibited from correcting my bloopers and making suggestions: Most of what I post here is instant, ill-considered and off-the-cuff, in serious need of editing.
This entry was posted in free verse, life writing, story poems and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

20 Responses to The Mill and the pony camp

  1. Freedom is hunger
    for more
    than comfort..
    Mocking bird
    SinGs new

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Bekkie says:

    Memories are so special when shared with a pony and friends.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great adventure, great story. I wish I was that brave at 11

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Read this twice and enjoyed it more than that! A beautiful journey, Viv!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Glenn Buttkus says:

    A sweet narrative, reminding us of the 50’s, of unlocked doors & windows, where feared atomic bombs, but could duck & cover with the best of them.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Loved the poem and your explanatory note at the end. It reminded me of the days when we kids could wander free and not have to have a grown up hovering about at all times to keep us safe. Peace, Linda

    Liked by 1 person

  7. ShirleyB says:

    The Grand Union canal runs by less than a mile from me, so I really resonated with this. Oh, the excitement of childhood adventures. Great memories – great poem.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Sanaa Rizvi says:

    Such a stunning write 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. whimsygizmo says:

    I love this! And coincidentally, this was me, and my best friend, in 6th grade:
    “intrepid girls explored
    one on horseback,
    one on bike, in turn.”

    …before i got my horse. I had a ten-speed, she had a horse, and we lived in rural Beatty, Nevada with nothing but time and wilderness on our hands.

    Brought back wonderful memories, Viv. Thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. kelly says:

    What a fabulous adventure! And I do think children are missing out these days on experiences like this, even as I understand why it is so. A wonderful story.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What a truly lovely story.. so sad that we feel it’s unsafe these days… actually it’s probably no less dangerous, but a parent letting two 11 year old girls do it all alone would be considered crazy… Actually I heard about a scientific investigation on how far we allow a child to walk unattended, and it had decreased to the point that soon children are now allowed to go out of the door alone…
    sad really…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think it’s sad: two kinds of danger – accident, water, weather etc and the NASTY PEOPLE kind. Children can be taught to avoid the first kind, but the second kind is totally unpredictable.

      My grandson lives in a small village in Northumberland where he has been lucky enough to grow up in relative freedom. City dwellers don’t have that luck.


  12. colonialist says:

    I love it with a passion – particulary after having been on a narrowboat on the Grand Union, and having been wildly influenced by Swallows and Amazons through to Missee Lee!


  13. Misky says:

    A lovely memory for two young girls.



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