I’ve spent the last week staying with my friends Ryan and Joanna in Newquay (in Cornwall). Cornwall is the south-west most part of England, and has a very different feel than the rest of the country. The Cornish descent from the Gaels (who also spawned the Welsh and the Scots), and consider themselves distinct from the rest of England. In particular there is a lot of emphasis on Cornish grown food and Cornish produced products.
The coastlines and beaches of Cornwall are lovely. Newquay is the surf capitol of the UK. Not being a surfer, the town itself didn’t hold much appeal for me. It’s also become a popular spot for stag and hen nights, so the nightlife tends to be a bit drunken and rowdy. But one day Ryan, Joanna, and I went to St. Ives, which is a very cute and artsy coastal village. And one day I took a bus to visit some gardens that had a hedge maze (I like mazes and labyrinths). It was great, but the amount of time I had to spend on the bus to get there was ridiculous considering the distance involved.
The highlight of Cornwall for me was visiting the Eden Project. It is in an abandoned quarry, and it is sort of a garden and musuem about plants. The site covers about 30 acres, and is partly an example of what you can do to restore an abandoned quarry. It also has two huge biomes, one for a semi-arid climate and one for tropical. They grow mangoes and bananas in their tropical biome. The outdoor garden has section that illustrate plants for food, fiber, fuel, medicine, beer, tea, etc. It also explores the role of plants in myth and spirituality. Part of the garden has a plaque by each tree that tells what it is, and what beliefs different people have held about that tree. The project also tries to educate about the environmental effects of agriculture, the importance of local food and biodiversity, and the role of food and plants in global geopolitics and international trade. Fascinating place; highly recommended.