“The world is full of magical things patiently waiting for our wits to grow sharper.” – Bertrand Russell
Behold! The Great British Giant. He’s a kind, good-natured giant. A dream maestro of sorts. And the last giant of the Old World. Ohh, and he’s on a quest…
Unlike Roald Dahl’s ‘jumbly giant,’ the GB Giant speaks Modern English, although he can occasionally be heard swearing under his breath in what sounds like Old English – when he stubs his toe on a tottering hedgehog, for example.
He can’t catch dreams like the BFG, but, because of his advanced age (even for a giant), he does spend a great deal of his day napping – drooling large, slimy puddles of saliva and snot in his sleep – and having the most extraordinary dreams, which he can never remember. Some nights he wanders about the British Isles in a rather haphazard fashion, criss-crossing from one county to another looking for his lost friend.
Sometimes he dreams about the suites he would sleep in if he were human.
Sometimes he dreams about the years he spent with Fionn mac Cumhaill on the northeast coast of Northern Ireland.
But most of the time he dreams about his lost friend – a little boy who accompanied him on his adventures some years ago now.
That boy’s name is James.
Join the GB Giant on his quest to find James, decipher the dreams of humans tucked up in their beds, and discover his favourite places along the way…
Suite dreams (night-time): The GB Giant stares wide-eyed in disbelief: Look at the size of that suite – it’s far too big for a human! And yet there in the middle of the bed is a middle-aged man sound asleep. The man is lost in an enchanted forest. He wanders in twisted curves, venturing deeper and deeper into its dark heart. “That dream is as old as Time itself,” mutters the GB Giant. James is nowhere to be seen.
Celebration suite (daytime): Ramside Hall Hotel, Golf & Spa, in Durham, County Durham. Oh my giant! The GB Giant likes the look of that emperor bed and huge copper bath. A good soak always puts him in the mood for a nap.
Suite dreams (night-time): The GB Giant peeps under the lintel. He sees a wedding dress draped over a sofa. They are wrapped in each other’s arms. He sighs. They are not dreaming. They are in love. One day James, too, will fall in love, he realises half-happy, half-sad.
Westmorland suite (daytime): Lindeth Howe Country House Hotel, in the Lake District National Park, by Lake Windermere. Gee-whiz! Just imagine waking up to those gorgeous garden views and then heading downstairs for a big Cumbrian breakfast. A large breakfast is best followed by a little nap.
Suite dreams (night-time): The GB Giant spots a couple fast asleep in their bed. Perhaps James is with them? A woman tosses and turns. The duvet slumps against the floor. She’s tumbling down, down a rabbit hole. Must have eaten a slice of Blue Stilton before bed he muses.
Paston suite (daytime): Maids Head Hotel, in Norwich city centre, opposite Norwich Cathedral. Oh my giant! The GB Giant likes the look of that splendid four-poster bed and claw-foot bath. He counts six pillows – enough to rest a giant’s head.
Suite dreams (night-time): The GB Giant peers under the half-pulled blind. A woman dreams of an ex-lover. Ahha, he smiles, perhaps her current relationship is playing out in a similar fashion? Or maybe she’s becoming aware of her motivations for past relationships? All the same, James won’t be found here.
Cherry suite (daytime): Hintlesham Hall Hotel, in Suffolk, near historic Ipswich. Gee-whiz! The GB Giant likes the look of that galleried bedroom with the private terrace. Sets the scene, he fancies, for a summer’s snooze.
Where should I stay to spot the GB Giant this summer? Stoke by Nayland Hotel, Golf & Spa, in the Dedham Vale area of outstanding natural beauty, on the Essex-Suffolk border.
The Dedham Vale is revered as ‘Constable Country,’ yet long before landscape master John Constable was born, the GB Giant lived in the olden woodland of Arger Fen, between the villages of Bures St Mary and Leavenheath. Here he woke to the warble of birds, and foraged for food amid carpets of bluebells that led up to the horizon. Crayoned by vast swathes of cloud, he fed on cherry trees, stuffing them into his mouth and stripping the trunks bare before spitting them out. He likes to return, every now and again, to relive those long summer days spent drowsing on the damp-dark earth.
Suite dreams (night-time): The GB Giant watches through a gap in the curtains as a young man enters a corridor of doors. The man knows this corridor. It is familiar to him. But there is one door he does not recognise. The GB Giant wills him forward: “You create your own potential,” he whispers, turning to go. James would be half his age.
Belcourt suite (daytime): Hythe Imperial Hotel, Golf & Spa, on the Kent Coast, surrounded by the Kent Downs area of outstanding natural beauty. Oh my giant! Just imagine a delicious sea breeze blowing in through that half-opened window. Oooo just right for a first-rate nap.
Where should I stay to spot the GB Giant this summer? Milford Hall Hotel & Spa, in Salisbury city centre, near prehistoric Stonehenge, Wiltshire.
Stonehenge, where giants once held court, is one of his favourite spots. There was a time, shortly after Merlin had transported the stones from Ireland, that giants gathered here under cover of darkness. Oh yes, the GB Giant can while away many a night thinking back to the time he was called upon to speak at the ‘Council of Giants,’ as it was then known. He is small for a giant, but what he lacks in size he more than makes up for in sense. He was well liked at the council and his advice was often sought by other giants, friendly and fearsome alike.
Suite dreams (night-time): The GB Giant squints at two white wisps of hair pressed against two pillows. They’re both having the same dream he gasps – a domestic, black cat transforms into a panther! Ho ho, they’re seeking greater independence. “It’s not too late to spread your wings,” he chimes. Perhaps James isn’t to be found in England after all?
Florence suite (daytime): Dartington Hall Hotel, in the South Devon area of outstanding natural beauty, by the River Dart. Gee-whiz! The GB Giant likes the look of that chaise longue and open fire. Perfect for a wee winter’s nap.
Where should I stay to spot the GB Giant this summer? Brooks Country House, in the Wye Valley area of outstanding natural beauty, at the gateway to the Royal Forest of Dean, Herefordshire.
From the mid-1980s, or thereabouts, the GB Giant spent his nights dozing in an enormous chair in the Forest of Dean. Since the start of this year, however, and with the mysterious disappearance of the chair, he’s grown fond of spending the odd night in Clearwell Caves. There’s just enough room with his feet in one cavern and his head in another. It’s not the same as sleeping under the night’s sky of course, but the bats do make good company and he often chuckles to himself as they flitter and swoop in-out of his nostrils. Should you chance on him stealing away before dawn, don’t mention Jack and the Giant Slayer, filmed in the Forest.
Where should I stay to spot the GB Giant this summer? Gliffaes Country House Hotel, in the Brecon Beacons National Park, at the gateway to the Black Mountains, South Wales.
If there’s one thing that the GB Giant loves, it’s to sleep under the stars, sprawled out and naked on his snow-white cape. There’s no better place to see the starry night’s sky than in the Brecon Beacons, lying under its glittering canopy. And should you hear a deep almost growling peal of thunder roll over the Black Mountains, you may well be wandering off-path into a knee-high puddle of giant’s drool. Indeed, the GB Giant sometimes visits his old friend who went for a nap not far from Henrhyd waterfall. He slept for so long that grass grew over him and his body became a hill now known by humans as Cribarth (‘Sleeping Giant’). This is a danger that all giants face as they walk the earth – falling asleep, forever. For giants are creatures of nature and return to nature should they sleep for too long.
Where should I stay to spot the GB Giant this summer? Lake Vyrnwy Hotel & Spa, on the banks of what is considered by many to be the most beautiful lake in Wales, in a RSPB national nature reserve, Mid Wales.
Rise early and you may catch sight of him swimming in Lake Vyrnwy – a huge Victorian reservoir framed by forest and mountains – his slow, awkward movements panicking the wild trout – darting left, now right, to avoid the wake of his morning exertions. He can hold his breath for up to an hour (it used to be two) – enough to explore the drowned village of Llanwddyn. And if the waters succumb to a sudden fit of rage, you can be sure the GB Giant is pumping his oar-like legs as he slowly circles the village ruins on his descent to the bottom. And walks like Poseidon through the rubble, clutching an uprooted tree as his trident. Or you may spot him stretching his legs on the ‘Giants of Vyrnwy’ trail, where the remains of the UK’s tallest tree has been sculpted into a giant’s hand. The tallest tree in Wales – a 60.62-metre-high Douglas fir – can also be found here.
Where should I stay to spot the GB Giant this summer? Imperial Hotel, on the promenade of Llandudno, North Wales.
As the afternoon draws to a close, you may find him sunning himself on the Great Orme, a limestone headland shaped like the skull of a giant sea serpent, wrapping its breathless scales ‘round the Victorian resort of Llandudno. Nearby, Snowdonia National Park is where King Arthur reputedly killed the ferocious giant Rhitta Gawr. Indeed, the GB Giant wears a cape just like Rhitta’s – fashioned from his own wind-blown beard – to keep himself warm in winter.
Night has fallen on the north coast of Wales. Outstretched on the Great Orme, his head resting against the ancient earth, his toes settled on the seabed, the GB Giant dreams of a little boy waiting on a platform. On the wall opposite is a poster. It reads: “Leave this to us sonny – you ought to be out of London.” The year is 1940. An enormous tear rolls down his cheek.
He wakes up several years later. He continues on his quest…
Inspirational author Helen Keller famously said: “Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” And we couldn’t put it better. Our time on this earth is precious. So why not seize the season, so to speak, and have your own extra-large adventure this summer?
Follow in the GB Giant’s footsteps – one or two of them at least. Open the window to the world of your imagination and live your giant dreams…
Where will you wake up?
Share this post with your family and friends. Start planning your next Classic British adventure.
The BFG (the Big Friendly Giant), also known as the ‘jumbly giant,’ is the creation of much-loved children’s author Roald Dahl.
The GB Giant (the Great British Giant) is the creation of Classic British Hotels.
The meanings of dreams have been based on dream psychologist Ian Wallace’s fascinating The Complete A to Z Dictionary of Dreams. London: Vermilion-Ebury Publishing, 2014. Print. Artistic license has been taken.
Stonehenge – stone circle / Neolithic houses: copyright English Heritage
Willy Lott’s House in Flatford: copyright National Trust Images / John Miller
Dedham village in the Dedham Vale: copyright National Trust Images / Rod Edwards
Forest of Dean in the Wye Valley – ‘Giant’s Chair’ / Clearwell Caves: copyright The Wye Valley and Forest of Dean Tourism Association
‘Giant Hand of Vyrnwy’: copyright Simon O’Rourke
Llandudno Bay: copyright Conwy County Borough Council
Llandudno pier: copyright Visit Wales