Cornwall: stairway to heaven   1 comment

Road to hell home.

Tuesday was a busy day.

Up early again, before checking out of the university. Then we had another drive across the Cornish countryside on our way back to the Eden Project.


My sister had got her knickers knottier than a speeding warship about going up to the viewing platform at the top of the rainforest biome, so the first stop was the information desk. Was the viewing platform open? Yes it was, they informed us, so we walked as briskly as crowded paths and thirty-plus degree heat would allow, all the way to the highest, hottest, humidest point in the Jungle Zone. Thank goodness I’d put shorts on. Thank goodness for me, anyway.

Just as we got there, they allowed the last person waiting through, and closed the gate. Too hot, sorry!

“Happy Bunny” would not be an accurate description of my sister at that point, but no amount of cajoling would change the Guardian’s mind. As they close it when it reaches 40°C, I was more worried about impending ructions than not being allowed to get heatstroke. We wandered back out of the Jungle Zone, somewhat mardily, although I was in a much better state to enjoy it than the previous day when, by that point, the only thing I wanted was to escape.

Fresh air was next on the list, and we wandered around the gardens for a while, admiring all the pretty flowers. Many looked like pom-poms. There were also plenty of bees; I wondered if they kept their own.
Handily, the gardens came equipped with ice-cream facilities, and it turns out that marmalade ice-cream is exactly how I like my women: cold and bitter. Whilst slurping that, a three-wheeled pastie-van was discovered (running on diesel, which seemed a slightly odd choice considering how environmentally-conscious everything else in the place is), and lunch was sorted, albeit backwardsly. The pastie really was excellent, and checked an important (arguably, the most important) item off our To Do list. You’ve got to have pasties in Cornwall.


Once the food gardens were exhausted, we returned to the information desk. The viewing platform was opened! The Jungle Zone was raced through! The gate was slammed in our faces just as we got there! Entirely new depths of lugubrious lagomorph were plumbed, and from the undies department a shout of “She cannae tak’ much more o’ this, cap’n!” was heard.

Nevertheless, there were other places to go and other things to see. The Guardian of the Platform assured us that, if it were opened, it would remain so until 7pm.

On our way out, I insisted we searched for a little stone igloo we’d spotted from the land-train the previous day, the “Cloud Chamber”. In it was a camera obscura; a white disk in a well on the floor was illuminated only by the light from a lens in the roof, projecting onto it the image of the clouds passing overhead.

By a funny coincidence, I’d only been reading the camera obscura wikipedia page on Sunday.

It was a bright day, but one with plenty of little fluffy clouds floating by. Standing in that tiny, cool, almost pitch-black hut, watching the clouds go by by looking downwards, no trickery involved, was one of my favourite parts of the holiday.

Upside down

There was a massive spider living in the lens’s hole, if you looked up. And when I moved, I scared the life out of a woman who’d came in after my mother and sister had left; she hadn’t realised anyone was still standing there.

Our next stop (other than to unlose ourselves with Google Woman) was a whistle-stop tour of Restormel Castle, a ruined, almost-circular keep nearby. It had originally been wood, but had been rebuilt in stone more for status and appearance than defense (having huge windows on the main hall, and suchlike), before being abandoned, looted, and falling into disrepair after the Civil War.
Despite that, it’s an impressive structure. I wouldn’t have wanted to lead a charge against it when it was in working order.

I can see your house from here.

Onwards! To Carnglaze Caverns, a disused slate mine with an underground – and beautifully lit – lake in one of the chambers. It is also, by special dispensation from the relevant authority, the only mine in the country which is allowed to serve booze; it’s registered for weddings and holds pop concerts in the topmost chamber. It is still a mine; it’s just no longer the slate that gets hammered.
Wandering around in the cool, dark, and slightly damp cavern on our self-guided tour (a hard-hat each, with a laminated sheet of info and an emergency torch to share. The amount of trust shown down in Cornwall is refreshing and surprising) made a pleasant change from the likes of the Jungle Zone. It was also lovely and quiet, with few other guests in there with us.

Going underground

It couldn’t last. Our final port of call was, again, the Eden Project, in a last-ditch attempt to boil ourselves alive reach the Jungle Zone viewing platform. The information desk once more assured us it was open, and we once more raced through the heat and humidity.

But this time, the gate was not slammed in our faces, and after filling in a form promising that we weren’t likely to collapse and die, we finally, finally, shut up my sister’s moaning and made our way up the steps. HMS Bloomer will live to fight another day.

The thing I’d not realised was that the steps and platform were held up by cables. So as our groop trudged up them, the whole thing swayed. It was fine as long as you were looking at the steps, but look at anything else and it got quite hard to keep your feet.

This wasn’t a problem on the platform itself, and we eventually got the view so coveted for nearly thirty hours. The cooling evening meant it was merely very hot up there, which was an added bonus.

Don't look do- oh.

Our final act before leaving was to tick the last thing off the to-do list, and return to the bakery to scoff a massive scone filled with mountains of butter, jam and clotted cream. There can’t be any paedophiles in Cornwall, purely by osmosis.
The Eden Project is an impressive chunk of landscaping and architecture, filled with hundreds of plants useful, pretty and impressive, but in my opinion the food was even better.

From there it was hometime. Dinner was my second McDonald’s in who knows how long (well, three days), at 1am in a service station, after giving my sister a chance to doze. It accompanied the observation that, for the price of my Filet o’ Fish meal, one could buy, in Greggs, a loaf of bread and the savoury pastry of your choice. And after the pastie sandwich, one would still have plenty of bread and money to buy a nice, big cream cake, so you could have a pudding sandwich too. It made my siamese fish-finger with half a slice of cheese and a tablespoon of tartare sauce seem rather unimpressive.

Never-mind; it and a hot chocolate meant I could sleep most of the rest of the way. Home was reached at about half-past three, and my own, comfy bed was reached not long after.

More photographs on Flickr.


One response to “Cornwall: stairway to heaven

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  1. Pingback: Spontaneity « Talking to yourself

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