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Places to Go: The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Written by Rachael Norris, 11th December 2020
Head of Learning and Quality Coordinator at The Reader, Dr. Clare Ellis, reads from The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame. The theme for our daily readings this month is 'Winter Warmth'. Check out the rest of our readings for December and download the calendar here.
It is funny to think that there are certain stories out there which we all imbibe some of the essence of even though we may not have read them for ourselves. I have never read The Wind in the Willows and yet somehow I already feel that I know something of its magic. Maybe that is because of its enchanting dreamlike title? Maybe because I have grown up with various television adaptations and seen the wonderful original illustrations of Mole and Rat? However, it was only when I alighted upon the extract below, that the power of this story really took hold of me - even at the tender age of 39!
I read the extract in a Christmas anthology and immediately fell in love with it, and thought it would be the perfect place to retreat to for a moment at this stressful time of year. Mole has been on many adventures with his new friend Rat, but in this extract he suddenly smells his old home. Well, I say smell, but as the story shows, smell is perhaps too simplistic a word to describe the inner affinity and bond that Mole feels towards home. It is cold, it is mid-December, it is getting dark - who wouldn't want to retire to their familiar homestead for a while under such conditions?
The extract gets me thinking about how we are able to carry our sense of home inside ourselves where ever we travel in the world. I also can't help but think about the many of us who may be without a home this Christmas, perhaps some of us who have never had the opportunity to experience a feeling of home at all.
Mole's home is fairly humble and he lives alone there, and yet it is his - his special small carved out space in this big old world. I wonder if we are all looking for something like that?
I hope you enjoy listening to this short extract. I have got the full book on my reading list for over Christmas!

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