Friday, 20 August 2004


An interesting last couple of days. An improvement, no doubt.

Wednesday started off typically. We decided to visit the Eden Project, and because of traffic jams it took us 2 hours to get there. I looked on Autoroute and the distance is 40 miles...

Still, that was just about the low-point. Eden itself was excellent. The weather was generally good, we had one extremely sudden and heavy downpour just as we were making our way out, but apart from that it was lovely. Plus, of course, we spent most of out time in the biomes. We visited the humid area first - fascinating to see all of the plants we take for granted. Alice was particularly enthralled by the banana, coconut and pineapple trees. For me, I never realised that pineapples grew from the ground. So there you go... But it was very hot and humid so by the end my clothing (quite heavy clothes, prepared for the worst after the day before) was quite uncomfortable.

After a spot of (expensive - £20 for sandwiches and a drink for four) lunch, we headed for the dry, temperate zone. This zone was far more to my liking. As soon as we walked in they had olive trees so it felt a little like southern France. Because this zone was drier, I was more willing to take photographs, so was snapping away. Following an ice cream treat, we explored outside whilst making out way vaguely to the entrance. We had lovely, bright weather until this downpour hit us.

It was probably around 6pm by the time we'd left the place, so on the way back I decided to head for The Lizard. Of all the parts of Cornwall I've seen (and let's face it, this is only the second time I've spent a week here), the Lizard is my favourite. The last time we visited (in October 2000) by pure good luck we stayed just a couple of miles from The Lizard, so we visited there a couple of times. This time, again, it was excellent. Because we hit traffic once again (and because I took a rather inventive route out of Eden) it must have been around 7pm by the time we got there, just in time to watch the sun disappear behind the cliffs. This visit, however, Alice and I went all the way down to the boathouse at the foot of the cliff. It was all the more spectacular since the sea was quite rough, and we narrowly avoided being soaked as the spray came crashing over the sea wall. Very beautiful - the smell of salt in the air was amazing - but at the same time quite scary. By the time we headed back up the cliff, we got the added bonus of seeing the light from the Lizard Lighthouse (Alice has developed a "thing" about Lighthouses). Of course it was quite late by now so, in typical tourist fashion, we stopped off for a MacDonald's on the way home. Even Grandma was happy!

Yesterday was even better. One of the things that I'd noticed when we arrived in the Holiday Village was a sign for a nearby farm park, Cheney Mill. This was not just your average farm - this one boasted snakes, lizards and spiders as well as cattle, pigs and goats. Alice was fascinated. So, we headed over there yesterday morning and explored. I should add that we had beautiful weather yesterday too. Anyway, this park was excellent. Plenty of animals to keep Alice occupied, and we had good old walk. Ironically, Alice's fear got the better of her and although she get "up close and personal" with a lizard (some kind of dragon) she left before the chap showed us the snake and the spider. So we had to be content with looking at them in their glass display cabinets. In the same room, we saw some giant cockroaches, which must have been 2 inches long, from eastern Africa, and an absolutely enormous (yet very lethargic) python, who we were told, when uncurled, stretched a massive 16 feet. Apparently the python had been fed a meal of a cockerel two weeks ago and hadn't moved from that position since. It had also been known to stalk little children when it was hungry (fortunately with a big piece of glass in between it and the kids), and the chap said that pythons had been known to move at up to 120 mph when striking for prey.

Fascinating stuff. Not to mention the cows (lovely Jerseys and "delicious" - in more than one sense - Aberdeen Anguses), goats, pigs, chickens and donkey and deer.

Thereon to Hayle for a spot of lunch. Jacqueline's eagle eyes had spotted a "famous pasty shop" from the day before, so we partook. Our verdict? Ok, but not as good as some we'd bought in St Austell a couple of days ago.

After lunch we headed over to a place called Trebah Gardens, close to Falmouth. Surprisingly enough, a garden. Beautiful setting - from a house high on high ground, the garden slopes down a couple of hundred or so feet to a cove on the Helford Estuary, with garden all the way. Specialties were hydrangea bushes (in bloom and lovely), and giant rhubarb. Excellent time, rounding off at just-about closing time with an ice cream each in the cafe.

Since the weather was still holding, we then trekked over to the nearby beach at Maenporth, where we let Alice scamper round for half an hour or so, during which time she became completely soaked and covered in sand. Still, she enjoyed herself, and she's had precious little opportunity to play on the beach this week.
With the weather still holding, we headed back to the chalet and to supper. However, no sooner was supper over than we were out once again, this time to watch the firework display at Land's End. More by luck than judgment we headed over there and I though we'd just catch the sunset. Then we encountered the dreaded camper van on the road, a fifteen minute journey became a thirty minute journey, and sunset came and went as we were still traveling. Still, I snapped a couple of photos of the cliffs and the lighthouse, albeit at dusk rather than at sunset. Alice must have been completely drained after such a long day, but she still asked if she could have a turn on the (Scooby Doo) Bouncy Castle there. I had to ask her to stop after a couple of minutes, though, since she was quite obviously flaking out. Undimmed, we then perched ourselves on a rock on the cliff top in preparation for the display. And what a display! A spectacular display lasting about fifteen minutes, we watched as in front of us the sky exploded into colour, whilst to our side we saw daylight turn into moonlight, and the lighthouses light up the horizon.

Back to the chalet for about 10:15pm, all of worn out after such a long day, Alice pleading for a MacDonald's on the way home ("My tummy's rumbling"). Still, I didn't give in and surprisingly enough she's still alive this morning. No chance of starvation for our daughter!

Weather overnight has certainly turned. Woke up to that oh-so-familiar thud of raindrops hitting the roof. So I'm not sure what we'll end up doing today, although I do know the first task ("Daddy, can we go for a swim?"). It'll be a relief to get home and have a rest!

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