Tulleys Farm

The Maize Maze: Stumbling by Torchlight

Heather Park

We all have those things we should have grown out of – the leftovers from childhood. I still happily read the books I loved as a kid, if I come across an old toy in the loft I will be playing with it for the next few days, and I’m not throwing my teddy bears out for anyone. But it’s not always the good things we should have left behind. Sometimes it’s fears as well. I am still – unashamedly – scared of the dark. What better way to challenge that than wandering around a pitch-black corn maze with nothing but a torch and two ten-year-olds for safety?

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But how on earth did I, a child-fearing dark-hating corn-loving woman (hey, it’s not all bad), end up in this situation? Well, my friend Poppy asked me if I wanted to go, I brought up my fear of the dark, she pointed out that her ten-year-old sister was doing it, and rather than doing the adult thing and hiding in a well-lit house, I agreed to go to prove a point.

We – that’s Poppy, her lovely family, a few of their family friends and my fine self – arrived to find Tulley’s farm well-lit by the gentle evening sun. It was alright so far. More than alright, in fact, because Poppy had failed to mention that the farm offers so much more than just its corn labyrinth.

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We’re talking huge inflatable slides and pedal go-karts, trampolines and tractor rides. The kids – Poppy’s sister and her friend – ran over to the inflatable slide, clawing their way up the slippery plastic with careless abandon as I stared on longingly. It was then that I heard the voice floating to me across the wind: ‘Adults can go on too.’

Excuse me, what?

With that, I kicked my shoes off and flew after the children, barging past them with my pointy fully-matured elbows as I tore up the ladder.

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After a dozen trips down the slide, it was go-kart time, pedalling around the tyre-bordered arena with a level of incompetence that perfectly summarises why I won’t yet learn to drive.

But of course, they weren’t the reason I was there. Nor were the bearded goats that glared at me through their oval pupils, obviously longing to chew on any part of my person as any good goat would.

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I was there to prove a point: to challenge a fear. I was there to take on the Maize Maze, but more importantly, the dark, my oldest foe. And after a quick photo of my yellow lighter – the colour of both the corn and the torchlight which was to be my salvation – it was time. It was an intense experience, and best retold in short bursts, like so:

8:00 Pfft, it’s still daylight, what is this? Darkness, indeed.

8:10 This is sort of fun. I do love a good walk, me.

8:24 Let’s take an old fashioned-walk, I’m just bursting with talk, what a tale could be told if we went for an old fashioned walk la lala la LA, la lala la LA, la lala la LA laalaalaa.

8:49 The darkness, she is coming for me.

9:08 Third time we’ve walked this way, interesting.

9:17 Just got a facial-spanking from a corn leaf. That one went in my ear. Eye. The leaf has penetrated the eye.

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9:20 Bloody hell.

9:27 The guy on that bridge was hot.

9:46 The reflection off my face on a hot day is brighter than this torch.

10:02 Take me, bridge-man. You’re all I have now. Civilisation is lost to us, together we shall start anew.

10:11 Corn, you buttock.

10:23 Think of chips think of chips think of chips think of chips–

I’ll stop being an idiot for a second (risky promise to make) to say that it was possibly my favourite evening of the summer. Yes, we were lost and walked non-stop for two and a half hours. Yes, we walked in a massive circle three whole times, two of those times after receiving help from dashing bridge-man. And yes, Poppy’s sixteen-year-old brother had to come back in and rescue us. But it was a laugh and it was exciting. And, bugger me, I wasn’t even scared. I always think that as long as you have people you love and an entertaining situation, a good memory has to come of it. And stumbling about in the dark, tripping over and getting lost are all good things when you have wonderful people to share the experience with.

Afterwards, we sat by the fire pit, eating vinegar-soaked chips and looking up at the country stars. It’s the sort of memory people long to have, a music video memory, too perfectly formed to be true. But it was true, and it’s mine, and I love it.

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Editor: Malin Lillevold

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