If I won the lottery, I’d build a reading garden

If I won the lottery, I’d build a beautiful reading garden for children.

It’d have gazebos and follies, with wide windowsills and sun-warmed floors, and cushions strewn about. There’d be sloping lawns covered in daisies, hammocks swinging from gnarly apple trees, and raised beds filled with rosemary and lavender.


There’d be benches under wisteria, bird feeders dangling from branches, and stone cairns over which water would trickle down to mossy pebbles. Perhaps there would be carp in a pond, with thick lily pads from which frogs could call at dusk. The clouds would drift past, reflected in the water.

In the mornings, children would call and clatter, bundling out of buildings, clutching books and tartan rugs which they’d throw on the ground. They’d run barefoot, chasing each other across the grass, checking the pond for newts, getting mud on their pristine knees and grass clippings in their hair. They wouldn’t sit, reading obediently; they’d cartwheel and stare at the sky, and count the birds, and yell at one another, and hide under the benches, and poke their fingers in the stream, and steal the wet pebbles that would water-stain their pockets, and they’d laugh at any adult foolish enough to tell them off for being children.


They’d hit trees with sticks and blow dandelion heads into each other’s faces and tell the time and rip up the daisies and trample the grass, and then, as they started to feel hungry, would quarrel and call one another names until some sensitive adult had the wit to feed them and ask, gently, about the stories. Then they could take their snacks, sweet buns and sparkling juices, and their books, and sprawl out on the cushions, benches and rugs. As their limbs tingled with the exercise, their stomachs would swell and their hair grow warm and lavender-scented in the sun, and they would lick the earth and sugar from their fingers and turn back the covers of their books and slowly, one by one, under the humming of bumble bees, ride away into different worlds.

(OK, this is Cornwall — a group of children would head outside and run around in the hissing rain until they started to cry, and then be herded back inside by guilty-faced adults, to be given warm milk and blankets by the radiator. But this is my dream, so I’m sticking to it.)

When I was younger, I used to make dreams come true. I dreamed of diving with sharks, climbing mountains, and flying through the clouds. I did all of these things.

It’s silly to dream of winning the lottery, when there is nothing (bar purchasing a ticket) that I can do to influence the outcome, so I need to change my dream:

I will earn some money and build a reading garden for children.

Image attribution: girl / dandelion 

[Follow-up: Jul 2018: I earned some money and helped turn an old car park into a paved school yard with a couple of benches in. Not exactly a sprawling garden landscape full of castles and follies, but it’s a start. 2021: later still, someone built raised beds and planted flowers, and a little pond was built, and a modest garden was enjoyed by children.]

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