Thursday, November 14, 2019

MENU's UK Adventure 14. The Eden Project and Charlestown in Cornwall

Mevagissey is only a few miles away from the Eden Project, which is an educational charity. Inside two massive connected biomes, covered in plastic, are plants that have been collected from many diverse climates and environments, including South Africa. The project is located in a reclaimed china clay pit, located 5 km from the larger town of St Austell, which you go through to get to Mevagissey. It was started in 1998 and completed in 2001. Its purpose is to demonstrate the importance of plants to people and to promote sustainable use of plant resources. The massive Biomes, housing the largest rain forest in captivity, stunning plants, exhibitions and stories, serve as a backdrop to striking contemporary gardens, summer concerts and exciting year-round family events. Being plant lovers, it was top of our list of places to visit. You buy tickets on line and can join for a year for almost the same price as a once-off visit. You park your car at the top of the hill and are then taken by bus to the entrance. There are also arranged daily tours. You can take a one minute tour here
A view of the biomes in the former quarry
The Core, home to the Invisible Worlds exhibition, using natural forms (biomimicry) and sustainable construction. The Core was built in 2005 and re-imagined in 2017/18 with the new major exhibition and substantial changes to the building. This included a new Exhibitions Gallery, CafĂ©, Laboratory and two play areas in addition to a series of new art and exhibit installations
A friendly robin on the pathway down to the entrance to the biomes
A bee on Japanese anemones, Anemone hupehensis, which seemed to be in every Cornish garden at this time of the year
And, first, we entered the tropical zone, which has many plants which we see on a daily basis in Africa
In fact, we have similar strelitzia plants in our garden at home
The environment is so well controlled that the plants do fruit
and if you look very carefully you can see these small shy partridges known as Roul-rouls, which are usually found in the
Rain Forests in the Far East. They were introduced as part of natural pest control measures at the Eden project and have thrived
An indigenous blackbird had flown in to enjoy the ripening figs
And in the ponds under the duckweed are large tadpoles, soon to turn into frogs
Many of the plants were flowering and there were several species of ginger
Beautiful flowering Ixora plant, looks like a jasmine?
Huge elephant ears
No green leaves, growing straight out of the ground. They do have some of the rarest plants
Some clever sculptures in the trees
Another graceful beauty
A kind of frilly and frivolous hibiscus
Some plants are beautiful but look rather alien
Just beautiful
It almost resembled a Triffid!, but with an orchic face. It seems that this is a member of the ginger family
Salmon pink and slightly familiar. Is this an SA plant? If anyone knows the names of any of these plants,
we should be very grateful. Amateur botanists are always keen to learn
Lynne knows some of them and has trawled the Internet for others, but has not found many of them
Like white daffodils hanging from a bush. They reminded Lynne of Sand Lilies she has seen growing on the dunes in Greece,
but these are different
A ripe cocoa pod
This is known as a Torch ginger
Flowering coffee bush
and morning glory
You can climb right to the top where the lianas and taller trees reach for the sun
Water cascades and there are misters to keep the warm air moist
Cocoa grows on the trunk of the tree
And here you can have rum cocktails made from baobab
After walking for hours, we so needed this tractor ride back to the top, where we caught the bus back to our car
Lynne's FitBit racked up thousands of steps that day
On our way back to Mevagissey, we spotted this butcher flying the SA flag and had to stop
and we found that he stocks lots of familiar South African meat products and other groceries
His name is Jeremy Rickard and he is not at all South African; pure Cornish but, apparently, he has many, many expat South African customers who have persuaded him to make our famous sausages and biltong and have supplied him with the recipes and the essential spices! He does also have very good local meat for sale, We're (only a little slightly) sad for him, but our team won the World Cup!
Lots of choice, but at UK prices
and South Africans will be amused at what is on the shelves to buy. "Essentials" like Mrs Ball's Chutney, Ouma’s Rusks, Steers Braai sauces, All Gold tomato ketchup, Rajah curry spices and Black Cat peanut butter, amongst others. Do people really miss Royco soups and Frisco & Ricoffy instant coffee? Have we started a stampede to Cornwall by all the SA expats living in the UK?
We can see someone getting that Coca-cola fridge for Christmas....
On our way back 'home' we spotted a sign pointing to Charlestown. Originally the small fishing village of West Polmear, it was developed by Charles Rashleigh into a port with a dry dock in the late 18th century. He built the village and a gun battery was also built to the west of the harbour mouth, as a defence against possible French attacks. The port was used to transport copper and, later, china clay from nearby mines. In 1799 the locals asked his permission to rename the place Charles's Town which became Charlestown. It remains little changed today
The dock
The old cellars on the dockside on the other side of the harbour
A view of the village, looking back over the harbour
The beach below the harbour
and a brave local lady swimming in the cold sea
A small sailboat and windsurfer race
A vintage dovecote
We thought we were seeing things; a Pirate, in Cornwall, in 2019?
We like the turned up toes on his shoes
And another of those scary lanes with the very high sides and blind bends; our route home to Mevagissey

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