R. Ratty the Water Rat

A-Z: Our 30 day mission: to bring you a tasty boat life tidbit of the day, washed down with a shot of snarky slang. Boat.Life.Larks.

Ratty is the wonderful water rat featured in The Wind in the Willows, one of my favorite books. There are passages that I love to read again and again. Ratty's love of the water, over-provisioning the picnic basket, and avoidance of boat chores call deeply to me. And then there's Toad!

Illustration by EH Shepard

This has been a wonderful day!' said he, as the Rat shoved off and took to the sculls again. `Do you know, I`ve never been in a boat before in all my life.' 

`What?' cried the Rat, open-mouthed: `Never been in a.... you never.... well I...... what have you been doing, then?' `Is it so nice as all that?' asked the Mole shyly, though he was quite prepared to believe it as he leant back in his seat and surveyed the cushions, the oars, the rowlocks, and all the fascinating fittings, and felt the boat sway lightly under him. `Nice? It's the only thing,' said the Water Rat Solemnly, as he leaned forward for his stroke. "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. Nothing seems 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." (Grahame, 1908)

"Is it as nice as all that?" Is a question I get alot. Most people have an idea that it could be romantic for about 3 seconds, but tell me they could never give up their space, their clothes, etc. But for me, it's become "the only thing" and I wouldn't want it any other way!

Have you read The Wind in the Willows? Who is your favorite animal?

Daily Dictionary

  • rags - clothes (glad rags - party clothes)
  • rare - great, wonderful
  • ratty - irritable
  • right - real, very i.e. Right on: very good; Right mess: big mess!
  • rollicking - very
  • rot - nonsense
  • row - (rhymes with now) big fight
  • run of the mill - average, not that exciting

You Might Also Like


  1. I vaguely remember reading Wind in the Willows when I was a child, but don't remember the plot. I hadn't realized that they went messing around in boats. Perhaps I should reread it one of these days.

    Cheers - Ellen

    1. There's not really a plot - just a few animals getting themselves into scrapes and redeeming themselves. But there is plenty of boating on the river!

  2. I haven't read "Wind in the Willows" but recognize the illustrations as being drawn by EH Shepard (Pooh was and still is my guy!).

    Cheers, Stephanie


    1. You know, I had never realized that Winnie the Pooh and The Wind in The Willows shared the same wonderful illustrator!

  3. I have never read the book, but I sure know what messing about in boats is... :-)

    Liesbet @ Roaming About – A Life Less Ordinary

  4. People who say they could never give up their space confuse me, I mean, I have the whole outdoors!

    I know I read Wind in the Willows as a kid but it didn't stick with me. I remember that even as a nerdy child I didn't understand why everyone was saying it was such an important classic. (Or maybe that was because I was a nerdy child?)

    1. Exactly.... the whole ocean is pretty big! I don't know that I appreciated The Wind in The Willows as a child - but now I'm very nostalgic for it! - Lucy


Flickr Images