Saturday, 3 August 2013

Cornwall day 9 or something.

I think I must have started to unwind because I don't know what day it is.
Lost Gardens of Heligan. Didn't look that lost to me, judging by the advanced state of the commercial operation and site management. A very beautiful place with a breathtaking array of botanical specimens in a range of ecological settings. Particularly enjoyed "The Jungle" which is set in sloping ravine, and packed full of tropical flora - even saw bananas managing to grow, although they were definitely of the 'ripen at home' variety.
All very nice and not bad value at £29 for the family, although I was hit for more than this in the obligatory initial visit to the tea room for a slap up involving bottles of lemonade at £2.70 a pop. Half way round the route you can (if you stand on a bench) just see over a hedge into the grounds of Heligan House, the original manor house and still privately occupied. Not a rundown old pile this: whitewashed and gleaming with the light of old money, gleaned no doubt by theft, blood money, reward for treachery or generally just being in the right place (or backing the right side) at the right time. This gave me the sense that I was paying for the privilege of looking round someone's back garden, but only for a little while; also very conscious of being mugged in the gift shop on the way out, blackmailed into buying the ubiquitous teddy bear with a backpack with {insert name of attraction here} printed on the back, or the bendy pencil, or the torch keyring, or the stick with a shark's head on the end that snaps shut when you squeeze the handle. All oozing with the essence of Heligan.
The other problem when visiting somewhere like this with kids, and especially teenage ones, is that you realise that you have turned into your dad. Inane, bumbling comments about how interesting everything is dribble from your mouth uncontrollably. Things that would once have had you thinking "I'm missing pub/mates/gaming time for this" now seem fascinating, even though it feels wrong, and like some cruel degenerative mental illness you can't hide it from the scowling 14 year old dragging along behind you. If you want proof, read paragraph one again.
On the subject of losing all sense of coolness, at one point today I tried to recount to Emma and Joseph how weird it had been that yesterday I had been reading up the eviction of the Chagossians from Diego Garcia and today purely by chance Keri Smith had had a random Twitter follower send her a campaigning email on the subject, but I had to stop in mid sentence because Emma burst out laughing at the looks of utter contempt of J's face. Too late, it's happened, there's no going back, I just need to accept it and buy some grey Hush Puppies.

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