Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Forbidden Pleasures

My most recent summer adventure began at 3pm on August 2nd in the middle of the Yorkshire Dales.

We had driven up from London that morning on a mission to visit one of the strangest places in the world -- The Forbidden Corner, an award-winning children's park populated with mazes, tunnels, secret chambers and fanciful oddities. Built 20 years ago by eccentric millionaire Colin Armstrong and architect Malcolm Tempest, it has recently been voted the best European folly of the 20th century by the Folly Fellowship. (And, by the way, how fantastic is it that there is a Folly Fellowship?)

The friends we were travelling with were newbies, but I had visited The Forbidden Corner in 2007 and, for three years, its gothic strangeness had haunted my thoughts until I wondered if I was a character in a Daphne du Maurier novel: "Last night I dreamt I went to The Forbidden Corner again."

I knew I would return.
And guess what?
This time, you're coming too.

We enter by Diabolical Gate. Go ahead, you first.

Which took you more by surprise -- the waving epiglottis or the ogre-like belches emanating from the lingual cavern?

Okay, now look around. A forest of narrow yew-lined footpaths rises up before you and stretches deeper and deeper into the heart of a mysterious world. Your quest has officially begun.

Armed only with a checklist of clues and your natural-born instincts, your challenge is to find the 30-odd sites of interest within the labyrinth-like grounds. (Don't bother asking for a map -- none exists.) At every turn, there are decisions to make and tricks to avoid, but if you persevere, you will discover secret grottoes, talking statues, even a revolving room...and that's all I'm going to reveal.

Note to Parents: Wear appropriate footwear so you can keep pace with your children who will turn into squealing blurs of delight. Seriously, don't lose sight of them -- they are your only hope of getting out.

Take two rights, a left and a right and you might wind up in an underground grotto with a path of stepping stones...

...that leads to a trick fountain...
...that leads to an underground temple manned by Roman sentinels.

Conversely, take two lefts, a right and a left and you could find yourself on a mysterious staircase to nowhere.

There are so many meandering twists and turns that sometimes just when you're convinced you're getting close to something, the path you're on suddenly veers away from it. Hang on -- haven't we passed that cupid before?

"Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it."
~George Santayana

Me: Avery and Luca, you can have unlimited candy for the rest of the trip if you will just tell me how you got to the other side of this maze. (beat) Yes, I pinky swear.

There are stone towers guarded by watchful gargoyles...
...thatch-roofed hobbit houses...

...and an exuberant herb garden anchored by a turreted dovecote.

Eventually, thanks to the unerring instincts of my youthful companion, I discovered the pathway back to civilization again. (Thank goodness for spongy 8-year old brains that have room after room of available storage. My mental file cabinets are full to bursting. I am becoming increasingly convinced that in order to remember something new, I have to toss something old out.)

From The Forbidden Corner, it was a quick hop to our resting place for the night, the charming Black Bull Inn in the village of Middleham.

The next morning, we were greeted by the clippety-clop of hundreds of sleek, shiny thoroughbreds passing beneath our bedroom window on their way to morning training. Apparently, Middleham is world-famous for its racehorses. Yawn. Just another day in Yorkshire.

After a quick romp on the mist-laden moors, it was back to the car to settle in for an all-day drive to catch a 5pm ferry to the Shetland Islands.

Up next: Drama in Aberdeen ( also known as "What Do You Mean, You Can't Find Our Reservation?!")


Debra said...

You are creating the most precious memories for dear Luca. I think I may like to come back as a second child!!! Anxiously awaiting the next installment of this lifetime adventure!

Dash said...

Lisa I love it when you visit my home county! difficult to tell who had more fun, you or Luca. Probably just as well you did not visit Tennants auction house in Leyburn, that would have been your temptation corner!

Dianne said...

I am loving this! More, more!

Everyday Goddess said...

What a fabulous place! And yes, it is fantastic that there is a Folly Fellowship!

Right on!

Lisa Borgnes Giramonti said...

Debra: You are so sweet. I highly recommend Yorkshire as a magical place for young and old.

Dash: Ooh, that sounds dangerous...and I was SO close, too! We stopped in Leyburn on the way out. Next time, next time! xx

Dianne: Thank you so much for your comment on my previous post. I am honored that you've read the archives! Do you have a site that shows your artwork? I'm curious... With much affection, xx

Everyday Goddess: Their site is kind of fabulous. Apparently, there are follies all over the world. Makes me want to check out more of them! xx

Teresa Hatfield ~ Splendid Sass said...

Absolutely beautiful. Can't wait to see more!
Teresa (Splendid Sass)

Jane said...

Oh Lisa that place looks very special indeed. Clearly created by someone with the soul of a little adventurous child. A touch of Roald Dahl. The English do that stuff so well.

And as for the Folly Fellowship, why not, there are enough of them. I am trying to persuade my mother to build one on a hill at her farm in the middle of the eucalyptean Australian bush. xoxo

GlowbugGirl said...

Beautiful, beautiful! Oh, how your photos make me yearn for travels to the British Isles! So enchanting - I love the photo of the herb garden!

Chedva @Rooms and Words said...

Oh, to wear a coat in August! Sounds like you had a lovely (albeit tiring) time, and with the best guides you could have hoped for.

Michelle said...

This place seems even more alluring than Manderley. (Strange, how your taste in books, and travels, are so similar to mine.) I am definitely putting this at the top of my "places to go" list. Thanks so much for sharing. I always look forward to your posts.

Lily said...

Oh don't you love how the English take the fantasy worlds of children very seriously and with such eccentric gravitas can create a parallel magic land that leave all the grown ups terribly jealous! The English canon of children's literature only proves the point... Wind in the Willows, Alice in Wonderland, The Hobbit, Harry Potter, etc. (I'm waving the Union Jack with pride as I'm half English!) What a lovely holiday you've had! Can't wait to hear more!!

Vava (aka Virginia) said...

Your adventures are better than a novel! I think we all need to find a local folly, don't you? In each of our cities? Can't wait for more...

Laura said...

My what a special place! The last time I was in Yorkshire all we saw were abbey ruins and sheep frolicking in the snow. Lovely of course, but not nearly as much as all of this!

Anonymous said...

Do write a book. A pocket size so I can carry around

Dianne said...

Lisa, I sent you an email with some work attached. Enjoy!... and...thanks for asking. xoxo

Silver Strands said...

Very, very nice! I love the last picture best. Glad I found your blog.

Mystica said...

Waiting for the next round.

24 Corners said...

Only the English could create so enchanting and magical a place, excuse me - folly, as The Forbidden Corner! I don't believe even Disney could touch this!

Luca and Avery had a true adventure, and so it seems did you! ;)

Unknown said...

thank goodness you've returned and with tales of adventures. follies-just the word is a treat. I'm off to find my own fun in Maine so will be mostly out of email touch for 2 weeks. I'm unaware of any follies there but there are fairy houses in the woods- the appear and disappear and are re-imagined and rebuilt each season. I'm planning to complete a little self-published book, with many watercolor illustrations, about the cottage this summer and may have to include some of the fairy structures. thanks for the prompt. dana

Marta G. (A Bilingual Baby) said...

Hi! Your description of the place makes me want to go there with my son and husband RIGHT NOW! It's now on my list of things to do next time we go to England. Thanks for the tip, it's fabulous!
Best regards from Barcelona,


Share my Garden said...

We were just up the road in Coverdale at the end of August, walking amongst the heather (avoiding the guns) so am delighted to find your blog and to feel connected! Scottish connection also, as my mother was from scotland, brought up in Bridge of Allan and going to Stirling High, so I know the Wallace Monument well. And, also a devotee of Lambs Conduit Street and its very special bookshop!

Sarah Saad said...

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Sarah Saad said...

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Sarah Saad said...

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Unknown said...

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