Posts Tagged ‘holiday’

I know, I’m dragging this out, but I can’t miss showing you my pictures of the Eden Project, now can I? I’d heard a lot about the Eden Project and had a feeling that it was somewhere I’d enjoy. So, can I just say, if you’re in the St Austell area and you wonder, ‘Is it going to be worth £20-odd quid to see some plants?’ then the answer is yes. Yes it is. (Although you can get discounts if you book in advance, and we got a 25% off voucher at Heligan). Because this is simultaneously all about plants and about so much more. I had high expectations of Eden, and I was blown away.

The scope of the project is astonishing. The creators wanted to make a site which would showcase the amazing influence of plants on our lives – their very centrality to all life. And that’s what they’ve done. It brings home the importance of conservation, but at no point is it preachy. They also wanted to do it in an environmentally sensitive way, both in terms of the ‘green-ness’ and in terms of respect for the local people and local economy. So they found a disused chalk quarry and made a garden. They didn’t import soil, they made it, from local ingredients. And they carried on from there. You can find out more about it here.

You come through the entrance and step out to the lip of the quarry and you see this:

Well, you see more than that, but my camera couldnn’t do the whole panorama. To get the the bottom, you walk down zig-zaggy paths, past some truly gorgeous planting.

In one of several very imaginative touches, they have little cut-throughs for kids, which are not only fun, but mean they don’t have to walk as far, so less whingeing:

In fact, there are lots of touches that are great for kids. A building where you can enter via a door or a slide. Hidey holes and climbing frames and things that have signs saying ‘Yes, you can play in here’. Lovely.

The outside areas at the bottom of the site are filled with gorgeous planting – herbaceous borders, willow hedges, and when we were there, roses, dahlias, sweet peas – I’d love to see what was planted at other times of the year. I took dozens of pictures, but here’s a taster:

Inspiration for ‘hot’ planting…

… and ‘cool’.

Another apple arch – I love these.

A wall built to encourage insects.

Lovely – I love the willow planters.

Dahlias (I always thought I didn’t like dahlias, but I saw some terrific ones in Cornwall – I think I’m being won over.

Dahlia with bee.

So, into the biomes. The first is the rainforest biome and it gets hot. Wear layers, take water – that’s all I’m sayin’. It’s incredible. Obviously, there are plants, wonderful plants – but also some witty, informative touches, and lots of information about what the plants are and how they’ve impacted on us. Again, lots of pictures, but here’s a small sample to give an idea of the scale:

Obviously, me being me, I took lots of pictures of flowers, too.

See that bottom one? That’s the Madagascan periwinkle. It’s endangered in its natural habitat, but is widely cultivated elsewhere. Why? Because it’s saved thousands of lives as a treatment for childhood leukemia. That little plant right there is the most powerful argument I’ve seen for habitat conservation. It’s not altruism, it’s self-interest.

And of course, we saw rice and tea and coffee and cocoa and rubber and spices and, most exciting for the kids:

This is just a fraction of a sample of what’s there.

So, then, after losing the Little Boy and finding him again, we went to the Mediterranean biome. Lots of more temperate plants, and vines and herbs and tomatoes and olive trees and chilis… (and a wonderful Spanish guitarist, which was a bonus).

There was more outside – plants for brewing, plants for dyeing, plants for … pretty much everything.

I loved this veg bed:

and this giant bee:

We had brought our own lunches, because we weren’t sure what the catering was like, but Mr S&S couldn’t resist one of the Biggest Scones In The World.

So, a tiny taster of the wonders of Eden. But to end, in one of the exhibition spaces, we saw this:

And it’s pretty mindblowing. These are the first architect’s sketch of the big biomes, done on pub napkins. It gave me a bit of a shiver to realise that it was the sheer force of human will that turned a pub-napkin pipe dream into huge, real, growing, flowering reality.

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The first place on my Cornwall hit list was the Lost Gardens of Heligan. The gardens were part of the seat of the Tremayne family, and in the late 19th century, they were at the height of their beauty. But not long after (partly because the men who tended them went off to war in 1914) the gardens became overgrown, and were finally ‘lost’. In 1990, a team of gardeners and garden historians and general good eggs set about restoring the gardens – and they are wonderful. When you arrive, you’re given a sepia-coloured map and a wee compass, which does set the tone for some serious exploring!

The gardens have been restored in a manner that is sympathetic to the original, but in no way does it feel like a period piece – it’s very much a contemporary garden. I suppose what they’ve done is created the garden to be as it would have been if it had never been lost, so rather than create an Edwardian garden in aspic, they’ve just skipped the intervening years as though all the 20th century head gardeners had been there, making their changes and following their fashions. It’s very clever. We couldn’t see the ‘Jungle’ and wild bits as we had wheel- and pushchairs in the party – so we’ll just have to go again! In any event, I’d love to see it in spring. And in high summer. And in deep autumn, too…

Would you like to see some pictures? I do hope so, because I took lots.

I love hydrangeas, and the Heligan ones were almost obscenely healthy and vigorous.

Some of the tree and grass planting in the ‘wilderness’ area.

The walled garden – this was magnificent. It was so productive – flowers, herbs, fruit, vegetables – and not at all sanitised. It was a working garden with compost heaps and the odd area that you could see was next to be weeded.

A lovely mixture of fruit and flowers.

A longer shot of the walled garden – you can see how huge it is!

One of the beautiful glasshouses.

These are the niches where the bee skeps were kept – and they’ve retained the skeps over the more modern hives.

I loved the orchard – or ‘poultry orchard’ as they called it – with the hens and ducks and geese as big a feature as the beautiful trees. I dream of one day restoring the derelict orchard here, and having my chickens pecking around underneath. One day – probably in time for the great-great-granddaughters of our current hens…

A traditional herbaceous border – it was just starting to go over, but it’s easy to see how brilliant it must have looked when the red hot pokers were at their hottest and the whites at their crispest.

There are lots of little nooks and niches – this is the Italian garden, complete with sunken pond. The children were most taken with the fish.

Then it was into the main walled produce garden, which was fantastic. Here’s a beautifully espaliered pear tree…

… and a lovely arch of apple trees. I imagine this is stunning at blossom time.

Some beautiful beans.

The long serried rows of beautiful veg – here some salad leaves – with the gardener off in the distance.

I loved this companion planting of flowers with the veg – I must remember this. It apparently cuts down on pests, but also means you can cut the flowers for the house without spoiling your borders, in a veg and cutting garden combined.

Finally, how’s this for planting? I love the mix of colours, tone and texture. Gorgeous.

This is a fraction of the pictures I took, and we saw a fraction of the garden. I can’t wait to go back.

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We went to Cornwall with my parents – my mum found a little house to rent where we could take the dog, and off we went. For those who know Cornwall we stayed between Liskeard and Bodmin, and spent a week exploring the area (but deciding that we’d just have to come back so we could see the rest). I’d never been to Cornwall before, despite having wanted to for ages, so I was very excited and had a list of places I simply had to see.

Soon after we arrived, we saw an ancient pick-up with this sticker, which tickled us enormously.

(It says ‘No Pasties Left In Vehicle Overnight’)

We spent our first day at the beach, because the children were desperate to go, and it was sunny, and there was cloud and rain forecast for some of the rest of the week. So, we thought it best to make castles while the sun shone, and found a beach which had sand (rather than shingle or pebbles), had wheelchair and pushchair access and which allowed dogs.

We collected pebbles and shells, we made sandcastles (Granny very kindly equipped the children with new buckets and spades)

we paddled, we looked at rockpools, we tried our best to stop our dog trying to go home with every other dog on the beach…

With three other adults around to keep an eye on the children, I took myself off for wander along the beach (barefoot = free, no effort footscrub) with the camera, enjoying some of the interplays of colour and texture. It’s easy to think of beaches as largely homogeneous in colour, but often, if you look, there are tremendous variations of shade. Here, for example, we have a bit of yellowy cliff:

But when you get closer, you can see that it’s not all yellowy. In with the yellows we have greens and purples and greys and pinks. Which are colours that you might not put together, but they somehow work.

I have next to no understanding of geology, but I am fascinated by the way these rocks shift so suddenly from purply red to greeny grey. How?

I love the way that plants will find a way to grow anywhere – even with salt water and no proper soil:

And I wonder where these steps went, before they were worn away?

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Kirsty at the Leopard Anchor has had a rather splendid idea. She’s hosting a monthly photo scavenger hunt – she posts the topics and you have the rest of the month to take the photos. Clever, eh?

Me being me, I signed up a few days before the deadline, but here are my photos.


I’ve posted before about my love of the library, and it continues unabated. I love the library, the pleasure of picking up a book just because it takes your fancy. Our library has a great stock of inspiring books for the crafty sort – here are the ones I have on loan at the moment:

The top one is the River Cottage Bread book, by the way, which despite my wheat allergy, has inspired me to make all sorts of bready things (there are lots of not-wheat recipes) and Mr S&S to contemplate making a clay oven. No, really. Some of these books were fetched from libraries in the far reaches of the county – a little van brought them to my library – which cost me nothing. Libraries are brilliant, and if we don’t use them, we’ll lose them. Join your library and borrow books, people!

Ahem. Next heading:

Something I made

Yeah, bit of a cheat here. I have made things this month but for various reasons I can’t show you yet. And the stuff I made before this month I’ve already shown off. So this morning, I made this cup of tea:

It was very nice. And the chickens on the mug lead to the next category:

Motifs: Birds

I bought this fabric at the Festival of Quilts. It’s slightly baffling as it’s not my usual taste at all – I dont’ usually go for the very cute and pastel – but something about it really appealed to me.

Then we have Supplies
I was in a hurry, so I grabbed the yarn that came to hand in about 2 minutes and piled it up. So many possibilities!

And finally, Holiday

I haven’t got round to posting much about our holiday – Dance Camp Wales; it’s a camp, in Wales, there’s dancing – but here’s a picture of the Little Girl joining in with the evening dance:

I recommend you have a look at Kirsty’s blog, not just because there’ll be a list of all the other scavengers, but because the blog is lovely. She’ll be posting September’s categories soon if you want to join in!

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I have been on holiday. I went to Dance Camp Wales again. You may remember that I posted about it last year and so I was really looking forward to going again. And it was wonderful. As well as the exhilaration of the camp and the dancing, I also had the added joy of meeting my friends from last year (and making new ones). I took it a bit easier on the dancing this year (although I still did plenty) and spent some time in the Creative area, and in my camping circle, and in the creche with the kids. The (slightly) slower pace was just what I needed to get myself together and start to recharge. I’ve mentioned several times recently that my energy and creativity have been at a bit of a low ebb for the last few months. I’m still not sure why it happened but I think things are starting to hit an upswing now. I came back from camp with the start of a cold, to find that our beloved pet duck had disappeared, one of our guinea pigs had died, and our dog had weed all over the floor, but the feeling of positivity remains. I shall post more about camp later – and show you some things that have been bubbling away. Fingers crossed that normal blogging service may just be resumed…

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