There’s plenty of famous sayings about ‘chasing your dreams’, but I don’t recall ever hearing one about chasing other people’s. Well, in a kind of way, this is what Toddler L and I got up to recently when we went into London on the hunt for the BFG’s Dream Jars. Let me explain…
To mark the 100th anniversary of Roald Dahl’s birth and the recent film release of The BFG, the streets of London have been transformed with the dreams of celebrities and artists. For anyone who has read the book – or watched the film – you’ll remember that Dream Jars are where the Big Friendly Giant keeps the good dreams he delivers into children’s bedrooms.
You may have noticed them on your daily commute, you might have not – either way, 50 large Dream Jars have been placed around the Capital to be discovered on the BFG Dream Jar Trail. Each Dream Jar contains a sculpture depicting the childhood dreams and aspirations of a famous person, ranging from Stephen Spielberg to Buzz Aldrin to Simon Cowell. What’s more, each of these Dream Jars are to be auctioned off to raise money for Save The Children to support the work they do and ensure that every child has the chance to make their dreams come true.
There’s a number of different suggested trails which you can follow in order to find a selection of different Dream Jars. Toddler L and I decided to embark upon the Persil Wild Explorers Trail. With an estimated duration of 1 hour 45 minutes through Hyde Park, Green Park and St James’ Park on the hunt for seven BFG Dream Jars, it sounded like the ideal way to spend a Saturday with the little one.
We got the train into London, then tubed it over from Euston to Marble Arch to start our adventure. The weather was grim, but that wasn’t going to stop us completing the trail and chasing our dreams…too corny? Ah well, here’s how we got on.
BFG Dream Jar #08 – Reach For The Stars by Sir Richard Branson
We exited the tube station, crossed the road and spotted the first BFG Dream Jar next to Marble Arch. This Dream Jar showed a hot air balloon flying above Earth to represent Richard’s dream of being airborne. Having spotted the first Dream Jar within a few minutes, I was quietly confident of setting a new course record for the Persil Wild Explorer Trail – oh how, naive I was…
BFG Dream Jar #07 – The Amethyst Owl by Sabine Roemer
The next Dream Jar was the other side of Hyde Park near Knightsbridge, which meant a wander through the park via the Serpentine. Walking through Hyde Park on the trail gave us the chance to try out the Persil Wild Explorers App which I’d recently downloaded – this is one of Persil’s latest initiatives to get kids outdoors and discover that dirty is good. Free on iOS and Android, the app has over 100 ideas to encourage kids and families to play, learn and get dirty outdoors.
I’ll admit that I’m not the most creative when it comes to entertaining the little one. The willingness is there, but the final execution is often lacking. I do what I can to keep Toddler L active, but I’m always open to tried and tested outdoor activities like those on the app, which means that we can do stuff that I wouldn’t have thought about myself.
The app allows you to choose where to do the activity (on our doorstep, in a park, by a river), for how long (10 mins up to 4 hours) and the age range (2-5, 6-11, 12+). As I was in one of London’s biggest outdoor spaces on a deadline with a toddler, it’ll come as no surprise that I selected activities in a park for 10 minutes for a 2-5 year old.
I was given the option of 14 different activities to choose from – some of these were a bit old for Toddler L, who has just had her 2nd birthday, but we found a few to play. This included “Tree Hugs”, which as the name suggests, involved hugging trees, and “Fox Walk” where we quietly sneaked up on animals.
At this point, I realised I’d slightly gone off track. I say slightly, but we’d actually walked the long way around the Serpentine which added close to a mile on to our journey. Not the worst thing obviously, but it was raining and Toddler L’s exploring exploits meant that she no longer wanted to walk, so I had to put her back in the carrier.
As I approached Knightsbridge, my leg was cramping, I was wet and it’d been close to an hour and a half since I’d last seen a Dream Jar. I’d be lying if I said that my motivation had not waned. For a second, I even considered whether I could get away with photoshopping our faces onto other people’s images of the Dream Jars to make it look like we’d completed the walk…
I fought on though, mainly because Toddler L had fallen asleep in the carrier which meant that I’d be unable to sit down. I got to the shops and frantically looked around for the Dream Jar, assuming it would be on the street. I wandered up the road and back around the other side, but couldn’t find it. I was close to tears! I decided to give up and ask a Hotel Porter if he knew where it was – I’m pretty sure Bear Grylls has done that before.
It turned out that the Dream Jar was downstairs inside the Mandarin Oriental hotel. I was overjoyed. The toddler was still asleep and therefore missed out on my triumph. This Dream Jar was crafted by jeweller Sabine Roemer to symbolise her dreams for children of fantasy, freedom and wisdom all rooted in stability. I’ll admit that I was so relieved to have found it that I don’t even remember what it looked like!
BFG Dream Jar #15 – On The Wings Of A Dream by Aston Martin / Red Bull Racing
With a renewed sense of motivation and determination, I walked up Knightsbridge (again) and reached Hyde Park Corner. From here, I made my way across to Wellington Arch and was relieved to see the next Dream Jar in plain sight. No need to ask for help this time. I was back!
This Dream Jar was created by Miles Nurnberger of Aston Martin to show the dream of aerodynamic perfection in flight – something I dream about all of the time…
BFG Dream Jar #16 – Innocence by The Countess Of Wessex
I walked down Constitution Hill on the hunt for another of the BFG Dream Jars on the Persil Wild Explorers Trail. I reached Buckingham Palace and took a couple of selfies of Toddler L and I as she continued to nap.
Now, a confession. A very embarrassing confession. I didn’t actually find this Dream Jar. More embarrassingly though, I didn’t even realise that I’d missed it until writing this post and re-examining the map. Up until this point, I thought I’d been victorious. I now feel like an Olympian who has had his gold medal taken away on a technicality.
Whether it was dehydration, exhaustion, the hoards of tourists or just my incompetence, I kind of forgot about this Dream Jar. I had it in my head that the next of the Dream Jars was in St James’ Park (see below) and not outside Buckingham Palace. As such, I can’t have been further than 400m from the Countess of Wessex’s dream – which depicts protecting children from the dangers of the internet – but I completely missed it.
Don’t look at me like that. I already know I’m a failure.
BFG Dream Jar #19 – Read by The Duchess Of Cornwall
As I continued from Buckingham Palace into St James’ Park, I was unaware that I’d technically failed the trail. We’ll gloss over that for the time being. The next Dream Jar was by the lake and depicts The Duchess Of Cornwall’s dream of sharing the magic of books with children all around the world. Toddler L remained asleep, meaning that she’d seen just one of the five Dream Jars on the trail so far!
BFG Dream Jar #18 – The Merry Go Round by Mark Rylance
As I crossed the bridge at St James’ Park, the sprog woke up and started demanding food. I managed to placate her with the promise that we were going to find a shop on the way to the next Dream Jar. We walked passed St James’ Park tube station, via Westminster Abbey and into Parliament Square.
After a little bit of searching, we found the next of the Dream Jars outside the Supreme Court. This Dream Jar was by Mark Rylance – the actor who plays the BFG in the film – and it depicts a real-life dream featuring a carousel inside a glass house.
BFG Dream Jar #17 – Mayor Of Dreamland by Councillor Robert Davis MBE DL
We found a supermarket and bought a couple of meal deals, which we ate under cover to avoid the rain. Toddler L had seen that I’d bought chocolate, so – being a typical two-year old – she obviously didn’t want anything to do with her sandwich after that.
The final Dream Jar was up Victoria Street towards Victoria Station. I was feeling pretty dead on my feet by this point. Although I’d enjoyed the random tour of London town, I was looking forward to a much needed sit down. We found the final Dream Jar outside Boots and posed for our final selfie photo. This one was created by Councillor Robert Davis who dreams about becoming mayor of the perfect city.
And that was that. We’d completed the Persil Wild Explorers Trail – well, if we ignore the Dream Jar which I kind of accidentally forgot about. I’d really enjoyed getting out of the house with Toddler L and doing something different. I also found the trail to be really enjoyable – a good mix of green space alongside iconic London landmarks.
The Dream Jars will stay on display around London until 31st August, so there’s not long left to check them out. Why not get outside, get exploring and see how many Dream Jars you can find?! You can find out more – and see what other people are doing on the trails – by checking out @PersilUK and @SaveChildrenUK, along with the hashtags #DirtIsGood and #BFGDreamJars on social media.
N.B. This is a collaborative post written with Persil.[jetpack_subscription_form subscribe_text=”Like what you’ve read? Want more? Pop in your email to get all of the latest posts.”]