If you could pull Merry, Pippin, Frodo and Sam out of Middle Earth and plonk them down in Nature Trust’s The Vyne in Basingstoke, England, they might think they’d been transported back to The Shire and out of harm’s way.
Simon Jackman, founder of the Green Play Project, is making hobbit magic for kids, hobbit holes to be precise as he recounts on the company’s website. “The centrepiece is a huge grassy mound accommodating a variety of play features: hobbit holes linked by interactive sound tubes; a cascade of red limestone boulders to be climbed; a wooden bridge leading to a fort-like structure built around an upturned tree with its roots splayed against the sky…”
PlayGroundology caught up with Simon last week just before he returned to the site on a Friday evening to put in a few minor modifications. He loves working for play.
There’s quite a lot of good play areas going in around England at the moment. We have a chance to do more with National Trust. We’ll get to do some interesting work for them. I never like to do the same thing twice so we’ll have to come up with some new and better ideas.
It’s the first playscape that’s made a bit of a splash around the world for the Bristol-based company with write ups in the New Zealand Herald, The L.A. Times and plenty of other publications in between. A landscaper by profession, Simon turned his hand to designing playscapes full time after working with other companies on the installation and landscaping side.
For this project, there’s maybe a little bit of Rivendell magic in the air. The unique design is a crowd pleaser amongst the kids – so says a school group that took it for a test ride last week. Hear it straight from the kids in this video from The Vyne.
In these bucolic surroundings with rolling hills and emerald green grass, it’s easy to forget about the Orcs, Nazgul and the rest of Sauron’s nasty lot. This is the perfect place to enjoy the outdoors and run off that second breakfast. Simon’s interest is seeing kids out and about having fun in the natural environment. You could say he’s a bit of a latter day Tom Bombadil.
Just as we wound up our conversation, Simon let me know he was a huge Neil Young fan and has seen him live twice in London. He suggested that we Canadians might want to think of a Neil Young themed playground. Now Simon, what would that look like and could you give us a hand?
Can’t get your head around a Neil Young playground but interested in a hobbit hole out in the backyard? Well you’re in luck because squidoo has some awesome info for you.