"There was a new world. Everything was white, and somehow still. Everything was holding its breath. The field stretching down to the lake was like a brilliant white counterpane without a crinkle in it." - Swallows and Amazons I only discovered the joys of Swallows and Amazons when my own boys were small, and we read the series to them. The books magically capture that joy and mystery of what it is to sail on the water. There's something almost primeval about the gliding of a boat over the surface of the water, powered only by a breath of wind. The slap of the water against the hull, that gentle rock of the boat, perhaps a fish or, if you're at sea and very lucky, a dolphin or seal sliding past the bow. With the holiday season - and summer - nearly upon us, what better way to spend it than messing about with boats? Ratty and mole did it: "Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing ... about in boats — or with boats. In or out of 'em, it doesn't matter." - Rat, Wind in the Willows Dragonfly has a range of boats for kids, but our large wooden sailing boats from Gluckskafer are a beautiful toy and beautifully made - almost craftsman-built. The boats are available in red or blue, and they come with their own cotton sail. They are suitable for all water play, including the bath. Take care that the boat is not left too long in the elements to dry, as that may cause the wood to crack or split. Keep your wooden boat in top condition by occasionally applying a thin coating of linseed oil, and then wiping clean. Without lecturing, this is a great lesson for your little ones to learn: that they need to care for their toy boats as they may when they're bigger and go messing about on real boats. "Nothing seems really to matter, that's the charm of it. Whether you get away, or whether you don't; whether you arrive at your destination or whether you reach somewhere else, or whether you never get anywhere at all, you're always busy, and you never do anything in particular; and when you've done it there's always something else to do, and you can do it if you like, but you'd much better not." Wise words from Ratty.