Local Heart, Global Soul

October 25, 2014

A Difficult Stand-Off, And Not Just With The Bees…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Family Kiwidutch spent some time during the summer of 2013 exploring England’s south coast and on entering Cornwall, found ourselves visiting the Eden Project… where both the concept and the reality are blowing us away and leaving a more than favourable impression.

We are loving it here, the genius of the vision, the dedication to making the entire project as eco-friendly as possible, and how their Green principles flow through to the tiniest details. We learn that all of the eateries here use fruit and vegetables grown in hidden and less hidden parts of the site, from fruit from the tropical biome to lettuces and herbs.

Considering how many visitors this place attracts, and how many eateries there are,  that is no mean feat. We find ourselves wanting lunch (and me a decent sit down and a rest ) so head to the Mediterranean biome and the café there.

The place was crowded and we had to stand in a corner for a while searching for a free table… when one finally came up it was right next to a heavily flowing shrub that came with it’s own swarm of bees. O.K. maybe “swarm” is a little too strong a word, but there were at least a dozen of them, which is a dozen too many when you are severely allergic to them as I am.

I didn’t get my usual photographs of the food because I was constantly keeping as far away from the wee beasties as possible, and whilst Himself stood in a massive queue for the food, I tried to get my unwilling kids to be on the lookout for another free table that didn’t include encroaching foliage full of potentially life threatening wildlife.

I evacuated to the other side of the pathway between the tables, and squeezed into a little space by a low wall that some people with a baby were using to store their buggy (sans baby).

Even when I apologised for standing next to their buggy  and explained that I was severely allergic to bees and needed to keep a safe distance as much as possible from the only table we could find, they were still clearly annoyed that the space their buggy was taking up might be reduced.Apparently the fact that it was self explanatory that I was on crutches and might value the low wall to sit on was also not appreciated so they managed to make me feel rather uncomfortable for struggling to stand close by. It wasn’t like I was close enough to invade their personal space, or that their baby was in the buggy (the lady  had the baby on her lap and was feeding him/her  purée from a jar) it was just that they clearly thought that their buggy should take all of the spare space available and they didn’t think I had the right to stand there.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

It made for an uncomfortable situation: Himself was up in the queue, I didn’t want to be too far from my kids, there were so many people waiting for a table that any indication from those seated that they might be moving, prompted a rush from one of the waiting crowd, who hovered over the table as the occupants packed up and then almost snapped their seats out from under them as they stood up.

I can understand that my kids were not brave enough to take on stampeding adults in that situation so resigned myself to making the best of the table we had.

Lunch was a nervous affair, with Himself trying to guide bees away from me without swatting at them and making them angry and the kids fussing about the meal.

Needless to say it wasn’t one of our finest dining moments… the kids then pleaded for an ice-cream for which there was a ridiculously long queue and since the couple with the buggy had now deposited a changing bag and a coat to the floor space I had previously occupied, I was left with no other sitting place whilst Himself and the kids waited in the ice-cream queue. I sat as far away from the bees as I could manage and tried not to think about the consequences of being stung. (I swell up so fast that I have three minutes to get medical attention for my airways if stung above the shoulders). Kiwi Daughter also has allergies so we carry epi-pens aplenty but had stupidly left them with our luggage in the camper.

I tried not to be nervous and thought that photographing the bees might be a good idea… the photos aren’t brilliant but at least I stayed calm sitting next to them. When we left the food queue had cleared enough for me to get the Cafe photographs. Only later did we discover several other outside picnic areas, and other food outlets all of which would have been a better alternative had we realised they were there earlier.

We were interrupted periodically in the Mediterranean Biome by a strange whizzing sound, and outside, discovered that the noise was generated by people coming down a zip-wire that went right over the Biome…  this started our kids off on a “spot the zip-wire person” competition because they had more often than not already zipped past and were out of sight by the time we looked up. We are happy to leave the lunch spot …Some moments are about salvaging the positive points…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

 

October 24, 2014

The Mediterranean Biome… Spicy Gets My Kids Attention, Until…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The first of the  “Biomes” we decide to visit at Cornwell’s Eden Project is called the Mediterranean Biome.

This is where a warm dry climate can be made within the dome so that plants from places like California, Australia and South Africa can be grown and displayed.

The shapes and colours of the plants are amazing, there are Greek  olive trees here, and lots of information boards, but in amongst everything there are also many statues dotted around, and the paths take you though many levels and landscapes where there are interesting interactive for the kids to enjoy too.

Our children liked the strangest of things, one like a spiky plant, the other a colourful one, both loved a hut made of grasses where you could peep out though little windows … in fact there was a constant stream of kids waiting to go inside and thus a constant stream of little faces in all of the windows. Our kids also had a giggle at the real front piece of motorcycle positioned so that it looked like it was attached to the rest of the bike shown in a large photographic billboard…a rather ingenious use of some handlebars and a front wheel. We learn that everything here in the Eden Project is sourced in as environmentally friendly manner as possible: as much of the material as possible is from the local area, all of the wood is either local or reclaimed or both.

Run-off rain water is collected from the biomes for use within the Project and they have a “reduce, recycle, reuse” policy so there is not a Styrofoam cup in sight. We make our way around and for unusually for our children who have non-spicy tastes, one of the biggest hits were the chilli peppers and the signs depicting their heat as measured on the Schoville Scale… then of course came the shrieks as they discovered the sculpture spider lurking close by…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 23, 2014

From A Doodle On A Paper Napkin… And The Bubble Doesn’t Burst!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Imagine sitting in a pub and sketching out an idea on a paper napkin… you are with friends and you expand on your doodle and talk about the idea, and slowly it dawns on you that maybe this is a plan that could be put into action.

The year of the napkin doodle was 1995 and Tim Schmit’s idea was to showcase the world’s most important plants, but to do it in an ecologically friendly and sustainably  manner.

A massive space would be needed, but there was a working china clay quarry nearby that was nearing the end of it’s economic life  and so when the possibility of the location and the idea came together the “Eden Project” was born.

The climate in the UK, even in the southern area of Devon would clearly not be suitable for many of the world’s plants,  so the problem arose:  What sort of building are you going to put them in?

Inspiration came from the design of  the London terminus of the Eurostar train service:  Waterloo International railway station had been rebuilt in 1994, but getting a similar,  seriously large structure into the confines of the lumpy terrain of an old quarry  was another matter, so the building evolved into one that looked like a giant bubble, and then a series of bubbles because this was a form that could accommodate the difficulties that the terrain posed.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The base of the quarry sits 15 meters below the water table, so a special drainage system had to be devised.

The “bubbles” now called “Biomes” would require 230 miles of scaffolding, earning them an entry into the Guinness Book of Records.

The abseilers who help install the massive panels in the domes earn themselves the nickname of “sky monkeys” and then the plants start to arrive.

The are over one thousand plants in the Rainforest dome alone, grown from seed in the projects nursery, from  botanic gardens, research stations and supporters.

The doors open for the first time on the 17 March 2001… the Eden Project has gone from a doodle on a pub paper napkin to reality.

There is a large car park outside the quarry, people are encouraged to take the eco-friendly option and walk down into the quarry. The parking area for campers and buses however is further along and since I’m on crutches there is a staff member driving a little golf cart like vehicle to take us down to the main entrance point. From the main entrance building there is a second, far larger land train to take car and bus passengers to the bottom of the quarry if they choose not to walk down. I have to ration my walking time so we take this one too… We, like millions of visitors before us have arrived at the Eden Project!…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

 

 

October 22, 2014

The Art-Form And Beauty Of Wheat Sheaves Cut By Hand…

Filed under: England,photography,South Coast — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Last summer we took a camper to England’s south coast and visited several friends as well as attending a fundraising event to raise funds for a school for disabled children in the tiny Pacific island nation of Kiribati.

We have done that  (and raised several hundred English pounds) and also spent some time in Crediton, and now we are back on the road again, this time off to do a few things that we hope will keep the kids happy.

I’m also excited about our next destination: it’s somewhere I’ve heard about and always wanted to visit. As we make our way there, I spot fields  full of hay bales, some of them are the big round variety and some are the rectangular bales. but then we see something in a field that makes us all do a double take: wheat tied up in bundles and propped up against each other.

It reminds me of some of the many paintings I studied in Art history: Vincent Van Gogh loved painting wheat fields and had many paintings on this theme, almost them his “Sheaves of Wheat in a Field” or Jean-François Millet’s “The Gleaners”.  I’m assuming that these have to be made by hand and it’s nice to know that not everything these days on farms has been mechanised.  These sheaves of wheat also have an amazing photogenic quality… they really are an art-form.  Our new destination is just around the corner… We drive on…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 21, 2014

Getting Up The Solar Energy For A Chocolate Box Alert…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Today’s post is a photographic series that follows our journey last summer in our hired camper along part of England’s south coast, specifically from  Yeovilton to Crediton.

I have seen fields of solar panels whilst travelling in Germany, but it’s the first time I’ve seen some in the United Kingdom. Some people argue that this sort of  green energy arrays are unsightly, but I find them wonderful and would love to see far more of them.

In fact, I  find the argument that they are unsightly rather hard to fathom because we are riding in a camper,  sitting higher than you would in a normal car and  even with our elevated position I find it hard to get a clear shot of them because the solar units sit quite low and the field is surrounded by hedges

I’m sure that some of the occupants in cars around us may not have even been aware that the solar panels were there. I’m always worried by the idea of nuclear energy, other sorts may not be perfect but they are at least more forgiving to human life and the environment should something ever go drastically wrong.

I’m also fascinated by the patchwork effect of the hedged fields, by necessity the Dutch divide their fields with drainage canals and there are little or few hedges, and in New Zealand what we would term a small field is often about the same size as some European farms. Bigger “Paddocks” or “runs” usually have very simple fences because of the scale involved or natural boundaries to sheep and cattle like steep mountains or rivers.

These little patches of land make for an interesting landscape, and very different to the ones I am used to in the Netherlands or New Zealand. Adding thatched roof houses and quintessentially  English style buildings and you have the possibility of a chocolate box cover photograph at almost every turn.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 20, 2014

This Old Lady Was Once Faster Than a Speeding Bullet…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

In my last post from the Fleet Air Arm Museum in the town of Yeovilton, England and when we entered this massive hall even Kiwi Daughter got excited.

Here in the museum there stands a Concorde aeroplane. This is amazing, only twenty of these planes were ever made and of course I never ever in my wildest dreams ever got to travel in one of these whilst they were still in service.

Himself and I do have an old friend who, when he knew Concorde would be going out of service, spent a ridiculous amount of his savings on a one-way trip from (I think it was Paris) to New York, and even though it’s a fast trip it was certainly one flight that he didn’t waste time trying to sleep on.

Our friend was disappointed that he could only afford a one way journey on Concorde and said that the economy flight home on a regular aircraft was rather a surreal experience in comparison, but he figured that as a single guy he could indulge himself a few very special experiences in life and that ticking this off his bucket list was one of the craziest and best things he’d ever done.

He had told us after his flight that in contrast to popular perception, the seating for such expensive seats was rather cramped, but that the meals and drinks were such top quality  he didn’t care. When we entered this plane and got a glimpse of the actual seats it was a shock at just how small the area was that such a pricey ticket bought you back then.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

The seats were only on one side of the plane, the other side was barely wide enough for the aisle.

We were all shocked at how narrow the plane was on the inside, even the kids mentioned that it seemed to be ridiculously skinny.

It was a strange feeling to enter such an iconic plane and to look around,  this one was fitted out at a later date for scientific research so I’m not sure how much if the instrumentation on display is from that time or remained from when it was in service, but everyone had a disbelieving giggle when they spotted the emergency escape rope ladder stashed by one of the doors… I mean, seriously???

Yikes, apparently so.

I can still remember the day, years ago, when Concorde visited Christchurch airport in New Zealand and I joined tens of thousands of other Kiwi’s crammed around the perimeter fences getting a glimpse of it coming in to land.

It looked so different to any other plane we had seen and I vividly remember the gasp that went through the crowd as it came into view.

We leave the beautiful form of Concorde behind and head out to to the restaurant so that we can then deal with the appetite that our walking around has generated.In fact lunch disappeared so fast the photographs were forgotten. As we leave, more aircraft come in to land and Little Mr needs to be dragged back to the camper… all of us are pleased to have visited here, we all enjoyed different things but agreed it was well worth the detour.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 19, 2014

Folding Up Aircraft So That They Can Be Carried…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Last  summer Family Kiwidutch visited the Fleet Air Arm Museum in the town of Yeovilton, England, and discovered that not only is it a working military air base but also Europe’s biggest aviation museum.

One of the things that visitors can experience is a simulated tour of part of an aircraft carrier, where lots of exhibits display how the carrier works, from the operations room to the canteen.

“Outside”  the carrier but still on the inside of the museum the inside wall of the large hall simulates aircraft coming into land on the flight deck of the carrier complete with sound effects.

Because I was walking slowly, I was one of the last to come onto the “flight deck” and entered just as the aircraft sound effects came on and I saw Little Mr and a few other visitors jump  as the “roar” of the engines caught them off guard.

One thing that fascinates me about the planes and helicopters here is the fact that they have been designed so that the wings or rotors fold up to save space, which seems scary when you think that the hinges are doing a lot of work when the wings or rotors are unfolded ( although surely there must be back up engineering to take the strain). The fact that you can not only build a ship that simulates a runway on the sea is amazing enough, but adding to that the engineering required to build aircraft capable of using it when the landing platform is both in forward  motion and rolling in side to side is nothing short of ingenious.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

October 18, 2014

Those Magnificent Men And Their Flying Machines…

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

Last summer whilst on holiday in the UK we found a brochure advertising some regional attractions, which lead  to us visiting the Fleet Air Arm Museum in the town of Yeovilton, England.

As well as a working air force base, there is a massive museum here with lots of actual aeroplanes to walk around, historical exhibits and models.

Little Mr is delighted with every new turn and discovery and the halls give us everything you would every need to keep a naval or aviation fanatic happy.

Little Mr adored planes and helicopters and even the staff here, who appear to be a mixture of serving and retired service personal, impress him greatly with their crisp uniforms and conduct.

Even Kiwi Daughter finds some of the exhibits impressive, though she is loathe to admit that to Little Mr.  There are also some interactive games where you can release your own little red plane in a box, Little Mr keeps very busy there for ages and has to be dragged reluctantly away. I like looking at the oldest planes, the ones made of paper, wood and fabric, they are fascinating and I have a lot of respect for the early pilots who had the courage (or insanity) to try and fly in them.

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

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October 17, 2014

Little Mr Approves Loudly When We Decide To Wing It….

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

One advantage about travelling on your own as a family rather than say, with an organised tour group, is that you have a certain freedom and flexibility that allows you to change your plans or fill in time with whatever activity appeals at the time rather than being stuck with someone else’s schedule.

Whilst we were staying at the Stonehenge Touring park, our kids investigated the shed that doubled up as an information centre and book-swap library, and  picked out some informational leaflets for attractions in the region.

Once they had bought them back to the camper, and I had checked out their locations and if we could fit them around various scheduled events we had planned, we found that several things would be possible with slight detours: which is how we had a complete change of tack and got onto the road the next day heading to the small town of Yeovilton, where we  will be visiting Europe’s largest naval aviation collection at the Fleet Air Arm Museum. The weather is a strange mixture of blue skies and threatening rain and so the idea of doing something that gives us some refuge indoors if the weather turns nasty also appeals,  and Little Mr’s levels of anticipation rise higher and higher when we get close to Yeovilton and he spots a helicopter in the air… the Air Arm also has a working airfield  here so we must be very close. (Note for parents of small boys: invest in a good set of earplugs like we wish we had because his squeals of excitement when the helicopter was spotted  had most certainly deafened us).

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

October 16, 2014

IPod… Um …..Well, Close….

Filed under: Funny,kid stuff,Life,photography — kiwidutch @ 1:00 am
Tags: , , , ,

Shortly after we arrived at the Stonehenge Touring Park , Kiwi Daughter disappeared off to use the “amenities” and returned laughing tell me that I definitely needed to bring my camera with me when I needed to go. Curious, I went over to see what she had found and discovered this baby changing mat…. I left laughing as much as she had!

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

(photograph © Kiwidutch)

 

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