Friday, 11 May 2012

Storywalk, Cragside

What a relief. We do something different at Cragside.

Normally, I always do the same. Stare in bewildered distress at a piston. If I am especially unfortunate, I visit the shiny machine which goes pssshhh-pssshhh while I pray to infinity that Shark, Squirrel and Tiger do not ask me any technical question like 'What is it?'

This is the heart of the problem. If, like me, you do not understand electricity, are not an engineer, indeed you are not an expert in any machines at all, and have been outwitted by a dishwasher as I have, and are crap at long division - which tells you for sure that half of your brain dealing with mathematical and technical thinking is dead - then you are stuffed. Especially when visiting a place celebrating the ambition, achievement and creative imagination that is Victorian industry. To my head, apart from the way I understand how it is all amazing, nothing of engineering information goes in, and nothing of engineering erudition comes out.

My strategy for dealing with disciplines of which I have zero understanding is always the same: I point Shark, Squirrel and Tiger in the direction of the information boards, the crib sheet, the member of staff on duty, Dig, a.n.other helpful passer-by, then I leg it.

But thank goodness today for something completely different. Over the 20 years that I have visited this place, Cragside has grown to celebrate not only the creativity of Victorian industry, but the creativity of the outdoors imagination, too.

Someone, for example, has had great fun being creative in the rhododendron bushes. Nelly's Labyrinth is a lovely run-about story space in the hillside surprising you with wood carvings, keyhole entrances, curling tracks, and a treehouse.

Thank you, Cragside, for giving the children something else to do today (and for letting me off the hook with the pssshhh-pssshhh machine).

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