Life, the Universe and Everything, a question posed in Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is a part of the idea of exploring my small universe. Released for a weekend, I took a trip to Cornwall to visit the Eden Project and the Heligan gardens, by coach which seemed to me to be a good idea. It was a good idea because not only did I enjoy the trip but I also met a few nice people, a couple of guys I can keep in contact with and a lady I admire for her perseverance.
On the whole it was a good trip and I took the opportunity to observe everything I could to find the answer to the question that turned out not to be 42 but more 139 which happened to be my hotel room number. The rest was an experience well worth the effort.
The itinery included a couple of hours at Mevagissey, and afternoon at Heligan, a day to myself and a full day at the Eden Project. We spent most of Saturday on the road to Cornwall and on the way I saw a round hill with a circle of trees on top as we drove past Bodmin Moor, and this has inspired a story, and the start of a poem. The journey was an experience in itself of changing landscapes that went from the familiar to the strange at times offering moors, kaolin quarries, patterned fields, grey houses, sheep and cattle, and the evidence of spring.
Arrival was pleasant, we were fed, I indulged for the first time in my life in ‘hotel bingo’ and got to chat with friendly people. The first day was a trip to Mevagissey where I was pleased to walk the narrow streets, enjoy the harbour and the views from above, and to meet up with some friendly folks. I found myself mimicking the car park attendant’s accent almost after the first sentence and politely stopped not wishing to offend him, he was a nice bloke.
Mevagissey has an inner and an outer harbour that looks like my idea of a fishing village, and a history going back to 1300 although I suspect it is much older. However, the place is interesting, and from the demeanour of the local residents I suspect tolerates tourists rather than welcomes them. It is a town of narrow streets, cables, friendly cats, pretty gardens, and a working harbour. I liked it.
The afternoon was taken up with a visit to the Heligan gardens which, as we all know were opened up by Tim Smit and his enthusiastic team. They restored the gardens including the ‘jungle’ and of course the well publicised ‘lost gardens’. The result is magnificent experience for the visitor who could spend a whole day there, especially having lunch in the gardens beside the Steward’s House and simply take in the views. There is too much to see. I would want to stay in Cornwall for at least a week and travel to some of the gardens starting when they open and stay all day.
The Heligan gardens is one of those places I could spend a couple of days exploring.
This time of the year, spring, is a time for bulbs, Rhododendrons, Camelias, primroses and bluebells and the emergence of leaves in buds that are bursting to spread out fresh and green. It has a wow factor of 10. And that is what Heligan had for me, a wow factor that had me shaking my head in amazement at what had been done there.
From the entry buildings to the long rides and walks the gardens had something to offer that compared with the best that Kent and Sussex can offer. As I walked the gardens I thought also that I had placed my dear Sophie puss in a cattery on Sheppey whose gardens were, in their own way as lovely, but smaller. And it was the size of the project combined with the variety and vision that made Heligan a real pleasure.
The next day was a walk around Newquay where I found some gardens enough to please me – reflecting the temperate climate of Cornwall that makes the gardens possible, although in the recesses of the thing I call my mind, there was a memory of windswept moors deep in snow and flooding as heavy rains poured onto the land.