Tuesday, July 24, 2007

Things that I liked

Other than the beds, there was much I liked on this holiday. First and foremost was just being with my family. Some days we didn’t do much at all, and there is a pleasure in not doing much at all with those you love. Reading a story, watching a movie (even if for the 40th time), making a sand castle, playing fairy princess (I got to be a knight, a cook and a guard depending), it is what it is.

We did do a lot of day trips though. Some better than others, there are a few days I’m already struggling to remember much detail of. Some I remember vividly. I really enjoyed the Lost Gardens of Heligon. It’s a high Victorian garden that got abandoned after the first world war. It was revived in the 90’s to much publicity, but is so very worth it. Even the kids liked it.

They are trying to maintain the garden with Victorian techniques, which means over 40 gardeners. The result is stunning. There are ponds, jungles, formal flower beds, chicken coops and a massive kitchen garden. LL and I wandered and enjoyed, the kids just ran about. The old ladies which flock to the place enjoyed my Princess. She was a subject of much photos when she decided to do an impromptu dance in the middle of a lawn.

Though the kids where amazingly blaze about it, LL and I really liked a Plymouth harbour tour. The chappie at the end of the microphone was good, so we had pointed out the sub which sunk the Belgrano, which Frigate just got off duty in the gulf, how the massive assault ships did drug running duty in the Caribean. The boys looked, and did a bit of oooing, but then went back to playing star wars and blowing everything in sight up.

Dartsmouth was probably my favourite town. It is such a gorgeous location, I could well imagine living there with a sail boat in the harbour. Didn’t hurt that we had a fabulous lunch there too. The kids are finally at the point of behaving themselves and even enjoying good restaurants. Ali Babi positively raved about a roasted Chicken Breast with wild mushroom linguini (to be fair, it was bloody good).

There was also a stupendous tiny little zoo in Shaldon. On no more than an acre of land, it has a collection of small animals. There were Meer Cats, tiny Monkeys and Lemurs, Porcupines and Parrots. We went back three times it was so good. I enjoyed it much more than the far bigger Paignton Zoo. It didn’t hurt that it was en route to a good beach (hidden on the other side of an old smugglers tunnel (which itself was fab)).

We did do the Eden Project as well. It is pretty stunning, but you’re enjoying it in a crowd (which always takes and edge off for me). Though the planting and location really are amazing, by the end I just found it a tiny bit too full of itself. Still, if you’re in the area its well worth going to. However, if you’re in the area Heligon is only about five miles away, and I personally enjoyed far more.

The final contrast was aquariums. We did the big new National Aquarium in Plymouth. I had really mixed feelings about it. Clearly a huge amount of money has been poured into it. There are three absolutely massive tanks, one for temperate waters, one for the Med, and a final Tropical one. Thing is, there isn’t much else. There is such a huge amount of wasted space, and a lot of the educational stuff is too gimiky (didn’t keep my kids occupied for more than a few seconds). The one thing I really enjoyed was the Tropical tank. All of us, yes the kids too, spent a good half hour just sitting there gazing at the pretty fishies.

The aquarium I enjoyed far more was a tiny little one in Fowey. It was built in the fifties by the local fish monger, and is just fine. Its very simple, there’s no complicated filters, it just pumps fresh sea water in from the harbour. All the fish have been caught in local waters, and many are returned to the sea at the end of the season. Like Shaldon, it was really really good. You got up close to the animals, and we enjoyed a good long time in there moving back and forth between the tanks.

So, all in all, a good holiday. We’ll definitely go back, though perhaps wait until we’ve got the kids sailing then do it by boat. We shall just have to see


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