Today we did the other half of the Heligan story, the Eden Project. I won’e2’80’99t bother to explain, since I’e2’80’99m sure they have a superb web site (which my guide book tells me is at www.edenproject.com), but I can only say that at the end of our time there, my daughter and I agreed that our own university, UC Santa Cruz, might do well to dome over their own quarry, which is used for little more than a handful of college graduation ceremonies on sweltering June days, and create a garden within.
Examples abound there of the free and easy English system of liability’e2’80’94a dangling wire to which, for ten pounds sterling, you can be strapped into a rock-climber’e2’80’99s harness and pushed off across the valley of this one-time china-clay quarry, whizzing madly over the heads of the people below until caught by one of a pair of attendants on the grassed-over roof of the dining hall. I couldn’e2’80’99t think why they bothered issuing helmets to the people on the wire’e2’80’94a fall would kill anyone including the person below. And inside the two biospheres, one dry and the other moist, hazards abound. All part of the fun.
I was interested to see, in the California section of the dry biosphere, our agricultural industry characterized as dependent on poison, pesticides, and illegal immigration. Yes, I suppose, but a little simplistic.
But the place was astounding, if for nothing else than the mere fact that thousands of people visit every day to look at, basically, plants. Kids and old folks alike seemed to be having a grand old time, oohing at the papaya fruit growing overhead and opening the drawers of spices to sniff and touch. My daughter even knows a couple who were coming to the Eden Project for their honeymoon.
England is a great country.
But now we are in Cornwall, which is in many ways closer to Brittany than to England. We are staying in a converted barn out in the middle of the Penwith peninsula, a stone’e2’80’99s throw from Land’e2’80’99s End. Last night we ate in St Just, a delightful town that reminded us strongly of Santa Cruz, but with stone buildings. Art abounds, the folk are laid back, there are women in the streets wearing long skirts and bare feet as they climb out of their Land Rovers, and we even saw a handful of skate-boarders.
I may never come home.