I found the Lost Gardens of Heligan

Trip Start Apr 25, 2012
Trip End May 12, 2012

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

I was off to a slow departure this morning.  I didn't get to sleep until about 2 am but woke up at 7:30, had a lovely shower, ate breakfast, and then finished a chapter or 2 in my book - Middlemarch by George Eliot, then after I connected to the internet, I felt compelled to upload yesterday's photos onto my blog.  That took a long time since I was reduced to doing one or two at a time and had to redo sending several times because of the slowness of the connection.

So it was around 10:30 by the time I left the White Hart.  I guess I haven't learned my #1 lesson very well.  I went up to the bus station but there were no 526 buses leaving from there.  I asked some people who told me that the 526 was a green Western Greyhound bus and it left on the other side of the town center.  It  took some doing and several more helpers before I located a 526 bus stop - on the top of a hill, of course.  I had to wait 40 minutes for the bus and the ride took about 30 minutes but there was no mistaking the Heligan bus stop.  Heligan has an unusual entrance:  car parks, toilets, gift shop and cafe, then a wooded path, then the ticket sales.  I got a combined senior and Eden Project discount but couldn't get the bus ride discount as well.  I tried but understood that there are rules.

I can't quite determine why, but I found that I really liked the Heligan gardens.  Oh, I liked all the other gardens a lot too, but I especially like Heligan.  There was a freshness and fragrance to the air.  They had a lot of shady paths but the other gardens - not so much the Eden Project being so new - had a fair amount of shade.  I liked that the Gardens of Heligan combine farming with livestock and that you could see fields and farm landscape from the garden.  There were lots of stunning giant trees and huge rhododendron bushes full of blossoms - but Trebah and Glendurgan had some of that too.  And the gardens had their steep hills and steps too, but I did feel less exhausted after Heligan than the Eden Project yesterday.

I was worried that I wouldn't be able to see all the parts of the gardens but I think I hit all the major parts - I may have missed a trail or two within a section and the majority of the Georgian path, but I think I had adequate exposure to all the features.  I even finished before I needed to and went back to look at the sheep.  Interestingly, the sheep turn their backs on spectators - or so it seemed to me.  And the chickens ran away too.  So then I just gave up and went to the gift shops.  No postcards that I could find.  Unbelievable!   I went to the bus stop to await the 5:55 bus but it came sooner so I got on.

This was a unique bus ride.  When the first person got off, the driver apologized for missing her stop by saying he was new and didn't know where the stops were.  A man sitting in front then began to give him directions of where to turn to stay on the route.  This bus driver also drove very fast and swerved around cars  With the narrow lanes, either oncoming cars or the bus typically had to wait and let the other through or find a wider section and pull over to the side.  We had a lot of lurching as the bus swung around corners and stopped abruptly for cars.  Actually, even though I found my stomach knotting up a bit, I felt the driver could handle the bus quite well.  I wasn't sure if he had been drinking though.  I wondered.  We passed the shore and a beach and another man stood up to give the driver some advice on how to get to that particular beach.  At that point, the woman sitting across from me yelled at the man to sit down and stop distracting the driver.  The man swore a bit and complained to the woman that he was only being helpful.  She was quite insistent and he did reluctantly sit down.  The other fellow continued to guide the bus driver until he got off.  There were then about 4 of us left and I wasn't sure I would recognize my stop.  I told the driver I get off near the train station and he said "fine, Luv."

So I got off at the train station.  At this point I thought there were 2 train stations in St Austell:  the one I originally got off from and the one where I caught the bus this morning.  I tried to recognize some land marks.  Incredibly there seemed to be a second White Hart Hotel too.  Hmmm.  Feeling a bit like Alice in Wonderland, I stood on the sidewalk and a young man said there was only one train station and that the White Hart was just down the street and he pointed.  I was still a bit confused but started walking in that direction....and gradually things began to look familiar.  I then realized I was at the original train station & walking down the hill to the White Hart.  And I then realized that I had made a circuit this morning and had ended up above the train station at this new bus stop.  I had walked through the downtown street, up a hill, then made a right hand turn that would have brought me nearly back to where I started.  But stiIl far enough away not to be able to recognize it - or maybe I should have.  In retrospect, I was surprised that people sent me in the opposite direction when it would have been just as easy, or easier for me, to go in the other direction.

I had seen some gravestones from the sidewalk when I came from the train station before, so I stopped in the park-like area to look at them.  They were mostly from the 1800's but they were lined up next to one another and in rows less than a foot apart.  I wonder why....   Then I walked around the block in the other direction to see if there were any dinner opportunities - only other pubs.  I even found a shopping center of sorts tucked away facing a pedestrian mall in the middle of the block.  It was about 6:30 and nothing was open.  Not many people wandering around the streets.  I went back to the White Hart and had their casserole special.  I had a conversation with the couple next to me.  They had been to Heligan today and the Eden Project yesterday - just like me!  They were from Stratford-on-Avon and their 3-day trip was a gift.  We talked about the lovely weather and the horrible weather England had been having.

I uploaded the Nikon and wrote up this blog on Travelpod - hope it can be saved because the connection is poor again.  Now to upload the Fuji.

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