Dream big

‘We is in Dream Country…This is where all dreams is beginning.’
The BFG, Roald Dahl

London has always represented dream country for me – as a child it was a mythical land, where grown-ups travelled on trains to do something called work. It was also the land of giant cathedrals, street performers, bridges, ballet dancers and hidden alleys.

Twenty years after I became one of those grown-ups who travelled on trains to do something called work, London still hasn’t lost its dream-like quality. And its streets have become that bit more magical this summer, with the arrival of the ever-so splendiferous BFG Dream Jar Trail.

BFG fans will remember that every night our giant blows bottled dreams into the bedrooms of children, using his giant dream trumpet. To mark the 100th anniversary of Roald Dahl’s birth, and the release of Steven Spielberg’s cinematic adaptation of The BFG, 50 celebrities – from Spielberg himself to Stephen Hawking – shared childhood dreams that were then turned into sculptures, bottled up in giant jars and placed at a host of locations around London (some of the jars can also be seen in Birmingham, Cardiff, Glasgow and Cheshire). The jars are also being auctioned off to raise money for Save the Children and Roald Dahl’s Marvellous Children’s Charity.

This was a very special sort of treasure hunt, so I needed a very special team of treasure hunters to help me out – my niece and nephew. Below is what we found.

Safe – Ryan McElhinney
This was our first stop and, as it turns out, couldn’t be more perfect for our little band of treasure seekers. Artist Ryan McElhinney focused on his dream of protecting his young niece and the preciousness of all children.


Healthy Start, Happier Lives – RB
Created by consumer health business RB, this jar represents its ambition to remove diarrhoea as a top five cause of death among children under five by 2020, through preventing, treating and controlling diarrhoea, including providing access to clean water, and building hand-washing stations in schools.


The Open Dream – Justin Rose
English golfer Justin Rose’s dream, unsurprisingly, involves winning the Claret Jug at The Open Championship. The nephew kindly demonstrated his very best golf swing.


For the Love of the Hedgehog – Zoella
Zoella is a bit of a mystery to me, but I’m told she is a YouTube star and she likes hedgehogs. A lot. We all agreed that this was our favourite.


City of Dreams – Sadiq Khan
London’s new mayor says the job is a dream come true. Here, the nephew acts out the mayor having said dream, while the niece is clearly in charge. Are we looking at London’s first mayoress?


There are four different Dream Jar trails that you can follow. We plumped for the Gloriumptious River Trail, but be warned, it’s not as easy as it looks – we never found Niall Horan’s (One Direction) Up, Up and Away. My current theory is The BFG is moving them ever so slightly at night, just to keep people on their toes.

Before I met my crack team, I also managed to squeeze in these three beauties, which are all part of the Splendiferous City Trail.

Home is Where the Heart is – Dominic West
Actor Dominic West came up with this after visiting a refugee camp in Jordan with Save the Children. One side the house is pristine and the other is smashed to pieces. It is quite lovely.


I Dream of the Universe – Professor Stephen Hawking
I have a bit of a thing for butterflies and am a huge Professor Hawking fan, so this one ticks lots of boxes. Apparently the ancient Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi once dreamed of becoming a butterfly, and, so, Hawking’s jar explores the concept of dreaming itself. Naturally.


A Stitch in Time Saves Nine – Jenny Packham
Designer Jenny Packham makes beautiful dresses and says of her work: “Everything I create is stitched with passion. Each stitch matters and holds a dream together.”


I have to say a big thank you to the Visit London BFG page for providing lots of the information on each jar that you see here. And an even bigger thank you to niece and nephew for being such obliging models and their mum for letting us post the pics.

Don’t forget, Roald Dahl is the theme of our inaugural issue – you’ve got until 13 September to send us your words/art/photography/film for consideration. For more information, check out our current call page or more inspiration, have a read of my essay ‘All in a Dahl’s work’ on collaboration in Dahl’s books.

Finally, please tell us what you think, or follow us over on Twitter @allthesinsmag

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