Windy Nights – All Saints Street, Old Town, Hastings

One of my favourite poems as a child was Windy Nights, by Robert Louis Stevenson – author of Treasure Island and Kidnapped, Master of Ballantrae and a host of other adventure stories that used to keep me entertained and out of mischief. In the poem, a child peers out of his bedroom window late on a dark and stormy night, hears galloping hooves and sees a mysterious horseman tearing down the road bound on some urgent errand – and then sometime later in the night comes galloping back again some vital bearing news or a message.

Who this mysterious rider is, and what his business might be, we never know, but all sorts of adventurous possibilities suggest themselves: smuggler? courier? soldier? spy? It intrigued the little boy in the poem, just as it intrigued me. I loved the galloping rhythm of the verses, the way it conveyed the mystery and urgency of night travel, and I envied the dark rider his life of intrigue and glamorous danger. And all these years later, the romantic in me still does.