I’ve been silent for a while, last post aside, because I’ve been over in the UK for a glorious two-and-a-half weeks. I’ll give you some of the highlights.
The trip out was grueling. I was stuck at the Newark airport due to a spectacular lightning storm, and I ended up missing my connecting flight through Toronto to London. So, after a long wait in Newark and some excellent work by Air Canada and United staff, I eventually got on a direct flight and ended up in London… twenty minutes later than I’d planned.
I spent the rest of the day getting acclimated and wandering around London, making quick visits to Treadwell’s and Atlantis Books. I picked up a few little pamphlets on earth mysteries at Atlantis, while Treadwell’s brought me a copy of Abracax’s translation of the Dictionnaire Infernale, in two massive volumes that I was not certain would make it back through in a suitcase. (It did, as it turned out.)
The next day, I headed out to Cornwall, staying at a bed and breakfast in St. Austell. I’ve been to West Penwith twice, but I wanted to rent a car this time and see more sites in the east of Cornwall. I didn’t have the car until the following day, so I resolved to see a couple of local sites. The most prominent of these was the Eden Project.
The Project is a large botanical garden featuring plants from all over the world. We have two major biomes here, one featuring rain forest plants, and the other a Mediterranean setting. Between them and the visitor center, filling a large valley, are a wide variety of plants, arranged into particular gardens by geography or purpose. And then you have a zipline so that people can fly past the whole thing while screaming.
I did not take the zipline. Instead, I wandered through the biomes and the gardens, taking in the sights. The Project likes to also bring in various aspects of human interaction with the environment, whether from today’s or past societies. For example, there’s a nice attempt to tie Mediterranean culture into the myths regarding Bacchus and his troupe:
This was accompanied by, um, fake rabbit heads on stakes, which was certainly different.
If you’re particularly brave, you can even climb up on a rickety metal platform over the rain forest and gaze down on everything.
I picked up a good number of small, cheap folklore books (my present collecting impulse) at the gift shop and headed back to St. Austell.
I decided to see the sights of the town itself. As my bed and breakfast hostess pointed out, the chief tourist attraction is Charlestown, which has replicas of sailing ships where many movies are shot. But who would want to see that when they could visit the Mengue Stone instead? That’s excitement!
For all of its unprepossessing appearance, the Stone was once the center of St. Austell life. It stood at the center of town as a site for proclamations and sales. Legend has it that witches were even burnt here! (That’s probably not true, as is much of the Cornish lore about witch hunts, unfortunately.)
I managed to find a nice Gurkha restaurant nestled away on a back street, and I filled my belly, went back to the B&B, and prepared for the drive the next day. Yes, I would be driving through Cornwall!