geodesic design, the largest to house a rain forest that includes a forty foot
waterfall. 'It has a script to die for: discovery, passion, intrigue, glamour,
tragedy, comedy. It is the story of mankind's dependency on the plant
several biodomes, in a clay quarry 500' deep and the size of about 35 football
pitches, ranging from warm temperature regions to tropical humidity involving
40,000 plants and trees.
of the approaches is done in scimitar-like curves decorated with thin, vertical
banners that flutter and echo the sounds of the sea.
Such is the
pull of this place that it already has more visitors than the Dome, and it
doesn't open until next Easter! The scope and concept is just
One of the
measures of this project is that many people, from high fliers in the city to
truck drivers, have given up well paid jobs, sold their homes and moved to
Cornwall just to be part of this project.
We have become
'Friends of Eden', i.e., fee paying members of the Eden Project because we both
believe it to be the greatest thing this country has produced in
The Dome has
made us the laughing stock of the world and will, hopefully, break this foolish
government and those responsible for such a colossal waste of 'our' money. Had
they backed The Eden Project they might have won world acclaim. Now I doubt the
Eden Project would even want their support or their money.
You can check
it out for yourself at: www.edenproject.com
Maggie just had to buy some exotic plants and we are now driving around with
our own 'project'. Do you think I could charge for home? Even as a building
site? I could leave the lawnmower and a spade out.
What struck me
most about the Eden Project were the people, still pouring in as we left.
Nearly all of them were late middle age or elderly, people who could still
remember when Britain was Great Britain. Although there was wonderment and
excitement in their faces there was also pride and hope, hope perhaps that what
was once could be again.
The fuel crisis deepens. The economists say 8p a
litre could be knocked off without damaging the economy in any way, the
government squeals in fear at the thought of losing any income that might
deplete its war chest for the next election and bleats ' we will never give in
to force'. In the meantime the economy grinds to a halt and the police who were
warned off the Notting Hill Festival for fear of creating a racial backlash are
now invoked to arrest men and women who are simply protesting against a 33%
hike in fuel prices since this government came to power.
Today, The Lost
Gardens of Heligan (tomorrow, the world! Fuel permitting). We decided to hell
with the crisis, this is what we came to do and this is what we're damned well
going to do.
meaning 'The Willows' in Cornish, was first mentioned in the 12th century as
part of an estate owned by the Arundell family. The house was built in 1603 and
passed through many hands, largely the Tremayne family. It remained a Cornish
idyll until it was taken over by the War Department at the start of the
1914-1918 war as a convalescent home. The decay of the gardens began almost
immediately, descending very quickly into a complete wilderness until 1991 when
Tim Smits (remember that name - the Eden Project) and John Sheldon hacked their
way through the undergrowth and discovered a remnant of gardens of Heligan,
including two virtually dried up lakes. They put together a team to restore the
entire 'sleeping beauty' to its former glory. For them it began as 'the rest of
your life starts here'.
what we have seen both here and at the Eden Project that's exactly what it has
been and continues to be.
During a metal
detector sweep of the area they found hundreds of zinc/lead plant labels which
when cleaned were as clear as the day they were made. From these they were able
to replant much of what had existed in the preceding centuries.
The gardens are
beautiful, from the Flower Garden, the Vegetable Garden, the Italian Garden,
the New Zealand Garden to the Crystal Grotto and the Melon Yard. It really is
like bringing the 17th century back to life.
venture down to the Jungle and the lakes 'cos neither of us has the knees for
the steep climb back, but if the pictures are anything to go by it is just as
We left there,
hearts uplifted despite the deepening fuel crisis and the mile long queues we
passed at any garage with fuel left. We drove directly to Penzance and Tescos,
where we adopted a siege mentality and shopped accordingly. We are now safely
ensconced on our favourite site at Relubbus and prepared to sit out the
A pilgrimage. We have been coming to Cornwall
for nearly forty years, 12 or more with our children and nearly always to this
one place, Praa Sands.
In those early
days it was an 8/9 hour journey even in the 3.8 Jaguar that we bought BC
(before children). Each year the kids would make a beeline for the beach and
begin damming the little stream that flowed past our rented bungalow
overlooking the beach and across the beach itself.
did they become that within a very short time they had created a vast swimming
pool in the middle of the beach. This proved to be an irresistible attraction
for every other child on the beach and they were soon all excitedly digging
away and stemming the inevitable breaks in the dam wall.
holiday seemed to pass in this way and the excitement never seemed to pall. It
is also true to say that when in later years we revisited the place these two
now 6' 6 louts they did exactly the same again!
day. So energetic that I began to look forward to returning to work! I'm not
built for walking in/on soft sand and Maggie wanted to indulge in a little
retail therapy up in the village.
Murphys was a great restorative, as was the toast and patè. We then sat
on the cliff top and got wind burned.
Now back on
site with an even greater restorative Scotch and sitting in a far more
Praa is much
the same as it always was, pretty, unspoiled, despite attempts by some
entrepreneurs to turn it into a Cornish Blackpool with theme pubs and flashy
markets. But the beach is clean with a shallow shelf that makes it an ideal
place for kids. And it was delightful to see that the stream had lost none of
its challenges or excitements.
It's pouring with rain! But the fuel crisis is
crumbling and tomorrow we might make a run for home. We should make Devon at
least before we're running on fumes. Oh no we're not! Maggie says we're booked
here until Saturday and here we're going to stay. Adding, "You've got a large
writing pad there, so write a book." Like I've said somewhere in this account
before - sometimes you just can't win.
my way through a box of shortbread biscuits, washed down with a cup of coffee
I'm now looking around like a bored child to see what other mischief I can get
up to. It's hell being grown-up and expected to behave sensibly!
defiantly all day.
It rained last night, which is a bit like saying the
sun shone in the Sahara. It sounded like thunder on the roof of the
One of the
other campers asked me if I'd heard it. He seemed surprised I'd heard anything
considering the amount of Scotch he'd seen me put away! Cheeky sod.
Out of bad
comes good. The higher authority has decided we might as well go
With less than
half a tank of fuel we headed northwards. The Devil looks after his own, we
came across a petrol station with only a small queue. Ten minutes later, with a
full tank, we completed our journey. As holidays go it was a wee bit different,
but enormously rewarding.