Going it alone

Hardly the time of year to consider tents and sleeping bags but there is something alluring about being out in a field, under canvas (or nylon these days), fending for oneself without adult supervision.

If no one ever lets you try being a hunter-gatherer, life gets a bit boring. That’s why we have Morris and his cousin Flick – who lives in Traprain village – camping in two small ridge tents a little way off from the adults on the site of an archeological dig at the foot of Traprain Law.

Morris is slightly interested in the dig and very interested in the piece of pottery he is allowed to keep, which the adults say is rubbish (they haven’t noticed the curious etching on it!). But on the whole, he and Flick prefer to get away by themselves. 

Apart from looking after their tents and feeding themselves, it seems Flick’s chief idea of fun is to climb up the Law – again! Maybe it’s a girl thing. But that’s how she comes to fall down one of its steeper slopes (you can see pictures of Traprain Law here), which leads to Morris coming face to face with Scordil.

They also get to explore a scary tunnel with a secret, and to wander round at night when a blue moon is throwing its bizarre light over the empty countryside and showing up things that no one should ever see. And they finally get to visit the Traprain dragon layr…

Going it alone is a plot device that gives great opportunities for mistakes to be made. The camping idea gave us a real context for making “going it alone” possible. And setting the book back in the 1950s when people were allowed more freedom (and camping was more primitive) clinched the deal. Definitely more fun than a PlayStation.

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