Column: Janey Lee Grace on our very own Eden
PUBLISHED: 14:09 24 July 2010 | UPDATED: 15:09 20 February 2013
Hertfordshire Life columnist and Radio 4's Janey Lee Grace rejoices at news of a slice of natural history taking root in our county
WHILE everyone's thoughts were turning to sunshine holidays in foreign parts, contrary old me has just trekked the whole family down to deepest rural Cornwall and had a wonderful blustery rainswept week on The Lizard Peninsula. I may have shared with you before my love of Cornwall; in truth it's more like an addiction and it's becoming an expensive one living in Hertfordshire.
It started with me taking off there to write books. Well meaning friends warned me 'go somewhere else to write', but it was too late really, the veggie pasties, gorgeous beaches and friendly locals had me hooked. I have considered buying a second home down there but realise that if I became one the many 'I must own a second home in Cornwall that I leave empty for 50 weeks a year' types I would not be popular.
An eco escape
Our recent stay was at Trelowarren, which is an eco estate near Helston that offers timeshare holidays. Now before you recoil in horror at memories of zealous young guys with spiky haircuts and clipboards trying to entice you off for a free barbecue in order to flog you timeshare in Tenerife, this is much more select.
The theory is that you can own your own bit of Cornwall, a fabulous eco house on a beautiful estate even if only for one or two weeks a year. I'm trying to persuade darling husband but so far it's not going well.
I highly recommend Trelowarren though even if only as a self catering holiday, and their award-winning New Yard restaurant is one of the finest in the UK.
Get your skates on
Of course while we were there we did all the usual beaches and bike tracks but we also went ice skating at the Eden Project - well it might be more accurate to say we staggered around the ice with me needing to hold on to the edge, being desperately interested in the four-year-old's welfare as a distraction from my own dismal attempt at keeping upright.
Trust me I'm no Jane Torville and I do hope Steve Wright won't be needing a 'cohort' if he's asked to star in the next series of Dancing on Ice. After our exhausting half hour we had steaming mugs of hot chocolate and then proceeded into the various rainforests and domes of the Eden Project, passing by the fabulous recycled man with washing machine drums for eyes (if you've been there you'll know what I mean, if you haven't, trust me, the explanation
would take too long).
Anyway, I relate all of this because I have of course been rejoicing over the fact that Hertfordshire will play host to an even bigger conservation project than Eden. The amazing 25million Butterfly World coming to Chiswell Green.
My little boy came home last summer with a little glass bottle containing a leaf and a tiny caterpillar, he had been told to 'keep it upright and watch for change'. He got extremely impatient and on about day three asked 'when is this caterpillar going to turn into a Christian?' Answers on a postcard please from any evangelists.
After seeing all the news reports and favourable comments from David Attenborough and David Bellamy about Butterfly World, I excitedly told the kids that we were going to be able to go to something a bit similar to the rainforests at the Eden project but much closer to home.
I was hoping for informed questions regarding species and how many would be saved from extinction, but the boys' major concern (said in unison) was - 'will we be able to get hot chocolate after ice skating?' I'll put that important comment to the planning team!
Janey Lee Grace is a mum of four living in Herts. Her first book Imperfectly Natural Woman was a number one best seller. 'Imperfectly Natural Home - Everything you need to know to create a happy healthy home' from Orion books is out on May 15.