A Story about our very own Lake Districts.
A story about the dreaded pipe that fed out into
the Ravine Pond.
Common kids we would often disappear into the dark recesses
of this fascinating underground netherworld of trickling water,
an echoing cavernous kingdom that just beckoned Common kids
into its inviting wide mouth, to explore...but not by yourself...always
with a mate; in fact, the more the better. This collective courage
enabled us to waddle the full distance up into the pipe's considerable
length. An iron grill barred us adventurous kids from exploring
further into its depths. Which was just as well. We would still
be travelling that pipe if it were not for that grill preventing
us kids venturing any further. With the sounds of water gushing
mysteriously down into other inviting junctions of yet more
pipes, and a bunch of wondrous Common kids, encouraging
each other, yes, it was indeed a good thing there was a very strong
barred grill situated there.
There were many large spiders that lived in this dark concrete
cave and you tried to keep your head down as you waddled
along so as to prevent your hair brushing the cobwebs above
and collecting a large spider hitching a ride on you! I
was very interested in the large brown moths that also lived
in the dark recesses of the pipe. They hung in the crevices
between where the pipes were joined together, along with
the spiders. Being nocturnal, they would hang around in the
pipe's dark recesses during the day, flying out at night.
They were a very large moth and had a black hard shell-like
covering on their back. I wonder if they were a small species
of bat? Nah, I doubt it.
This pipe fed out into the ravine pond. We called this pond
the ‘Dirty Lake’.
In those days it was a smelly, muddy pond. It had an iron railing
fence that surrounded it. To get into the lake you had to climb
over this railing. Once in the lake area you could walk around
and through the trees and shrubs that grew all around the lake.
The lake was in two sections with an island at its centre. You
could get onto the island by balancing along the dividing concrete
partition that divided the lake.
This was where many a Common kid had his extra bath for the
were never a Common kid unless you were baptised in the dirty
And what a baptism! Water was never a Common kids favourite
element. At least, not to actually get flipping immersed in
the 'orrible stuff! To play around it, sure. To
paddle in it, sure. To catch frogs, king newts and sticklebacks
out of, sure. But to get fully into the stuff: no way!
But there wasn't a Common kid that didn't fall into the 'orrible,
stinking, smelly, dark and very cold waters of the dirty
lake. It was a magnet that attracted us kids. It eventually
got you. You either slipped, fell, or were 'accidentally' pushed;
it always got you in the end. In fact, more than once did I
find myself floundering in its stinking muddy waters and
having to trudge home, sloshing and dripping, cold and
saturated, to a telling off, clip round the ear and then
a warm change of clothes and a hot cup of cha.
other 'Lake' was the 'clean lake'. This lake was the paddling
pool. The paddling pool was a shallow, blue painted pool
that us Common kids enjoyed our very first under water
dives in. Being at least around about a whole 12 inches deep,
on a good day, this was quite adventurous and very exciting for
a tiny 24-inch Common kid to sit in, to splash in and, with
much fear, and gathering much courage, to actually put
your head right into and underneath its clear chlorinated-smelling
On a hot summer's day it was a great trip out with your bigger
brothers, to splash, run and swim, and just sit in, and even
to watch it change colour around you, to a cloudy
yellow colour!!!...in this great expanse of water, our paddling
could sit and watch or have a chat and a cuppa with a
bit of fruit cake or a sticky bun at the little café
near the offices and the attendant next to the pool.
We would get dried and dressed in the open changing shed, feeling
rather embarrassed at the rather public display of our
bits and pieces!
Another good use of the 'clean lake' was to sail your model
yacht on it. Especially so on a good windy day, when it
would cut through the choppy water at a great speed. I would
set the little metal rudder on its stern and send it on a great
arching sail through the crashing waves. It would lean
right over, its white sails nearly swamped, but its heavy metal
keel held it up against the strong wind......Such were the simple
adventures of us wee Common kids, enjoying our very own
special 'Lake Districts'.
By Colin Weightman, always a Common kid.