The Power of Imagination

We recently came back from a week away in Swanage in Dorset.

It was one of those perfect holiday’s you remember having as a child – it didn’t matter about the weather or expensive days out, it was just about fresh air, room to run around and make believe.

The day that brought this home to me was a fantastic day out on the Swanage Steam Railway to visit Corfe Castle.

Swanage Steam Railway runs from Swanage to Wareham, with lots of smaller stops along the way, one of which is the tiny village of Corfe.

Corfe is the site of a ruined castle with a fabulous history, culminating in it being destroyed in the Civil War as it was a Royalist stronghold. It is now managed by the National Trust.

Part of our routine on our holiday was to chat with the children about what we were doing that day. The moment we mentioned we were going to visit the ruined castle we had passed on our journey down, the Boy declared “a dragon lives there!”

He then preceded to tell the landlady of the B&B (and anyone else who would listen) “We’re going on a steam train to a ruined castle to see the dragon.”

Once we got on the train (along with the Grandparents) he then told everyone on the train about going to see the dragon. Grandpa asked him “What does the dragon look like?”. Boy replied “Green and blue and pink and orange and red”

In his head, the dragon was alive and he’d brought it to life.

We arrived at Corfe just before lunch and decided to visit the model village of Corfe before going to eat.

The model village was lovely. In the centre was a huge model of Corfe Castle as it looked before it was destroyed and peeking out behind was the ruin in the distance.

It wouldn’t be a model village without a sense of humour, and true to form, there was a model village in the model village, with a tiny model village in the model village of the model village of the village! (Well done if you followed that!)

There was a lovely fairy walk, and a treasure hunt for the Girl to do – she was delighted to win a pencil!

All the time we were exploring the model village, the Boy was walking round with his binoculars searching for his dragon – while Girl was all excited about the talking Round head model soldier telling her how he blew up Corfe Castle with gunpowder, he was looking in bushes and in the sky for his dragon.

It was time for lunch and we had an amazing meal at the Greyhound pub. It features in the Good Pub Guide – and deservedly so. Good food, excellent colouring sets for the kids and a lovely atmosphere.

All through lunch, Boy kept asking when we could look for the dragon, and was delighted when he opened his colouring book and found a picture of a dragon to colour!

So, full of good food, we walked up to Corfe Castle. And so began the dragon hunt.

We tiptoed around the ruins, which were full of half open rooms and boulders to sneak up on and peek around.

We stopped and looked down at a neighbouring field and Boy cried out “Look! Dragon footprints!” (mole hills!), every puddle was “Dragon wee!”, we found a dip in the earth that was “A dragon nest!”

Dragon Footprints!

When we got back to the bottom of the hill, he decided the dragon was shy of all the people and was either hiding or invisible. Every time a bird swooped up to the top of the tower, it was the dragon flying there to hide.We also found a cave where he might be hiding!

You can just see the Dragon cave where the hill meets the castle, at the top of the ramp.

His day was complete when I gave him a gift I found in the National Trust shop:

Meet Dragy the Dragon puppet.

I realise I’ve not really mentioned the Girl. She had a fabulous day too – on the train ride she was absorbed with her ‘I Spy’ book, and at the castle she loved climbing and exploring. She also loved the tents that were set up for exploring the castle’s history, and she has a lovely book that tells the story of the castle through the eyes of a past king.

It was truly magical. It was one of the most fun afternoons I’ve spent since I was a child. Exploring a pile of rocks and seeing it as an enchanted place to explore and discover will never leave me. I hope it never leaves the Boy either, which is why I wanted to tell the story of his day so we can re-tell and re-live it when he’s older.


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