I was contemplating how maximize the number of amazing places I can travel to on this trip. Iceland crossed my mind but the flight path is already set. Another time perhaps. Yet, that got me thinking about Sigur Ros, the awesome Icelandic post-rock act — who were playing at the Eden Project in Cornwall, England in a few days as it turned out. The train had Wifi which meant getting being set up shortly with tickets and a rail pass. The joys of planning — but not too much. I’m having to be a little more organized however because it’s prohibitively expensive buying train tickets last minute.
The Eden project is very cool. The basic premise is that there was a wasteland of sorts, and old quarry I believe, and the goal was to create enclosed biomes and turn the wasteland into a thriving set of ecosystems. And, Cornwall needs the tourism as they don’t have a lot going on economically. It is very ecologically-driven in terms of exhibits and attracts people keen on sustainability. There is exhibits on palm oil, rubber, sugar, rice… all very fascinating. The concert allowed for free admission to the project itself so wandering around between sets was a blast. This attracts a certain type of person, so the food options reflect this: lots of the responsible adjectives: organic, fair-trade, certified….
Except even the Eden project could not shake some of the core British food. A shelf full of meat pies. I had a sausage roll that could have fed a small family. It was not a wise decision. So, food was the interesting inconsistency.
The concert was predictably amazing. The capacity was 6000 people and it meant being about 3 rows from the stage. There were no seats, just a ring of grassy hills and a main field.
And the Eden project at night is amazing. It’s very post-Earth. This is the thing I would expect so see on a colony on Mars or the moon. I’m optimistic to see that in my lifetime.
One final SR link to one of their best.
I would have liked to have stayed on for a few more days to see The XX. I hadn’t planned on it because my parents had sent me an email about a free Canada Day concert back in London the following day. Awesome!
And realistically, I was happy to get back to London. Cornwall is one of the few places I’d not go back to. It’s scenic but the people were quite… interesting. The view below was from my hostel.
Leaving Cornwall my hostel was about 6km from the train station so I decided to walk. It was scenic and sunny and saved £8 so why not. Bad decision. It turns out the drivers are abysmal. There is no sidewalk and narrow roads but about half were not so pedestrian friendly — they would just continue driving in their lane. So after the third rearview mirror of a car doing 25 mph came within a foot I had started scrambling with my bags to get into whatever lane they were not. On the plus side it was good exercise but I had never known the concept of pedestrian rage was something possible before. Such is life in Cornwall. You cannot hail a cab, you must call. This is not so great for when you say, don’t have a phone and they do not have payphones. This was the case post-concert. I borrowed a phones from a few kind people but was met with nothing buy busy tones. Eventually the staff grudgingly called me a cab via some secret line once I learned their weakspot — they could not get off shift until everyone had cleared out and I basically told them I’d sooner sleep at the cab stop than attempt a 15km walk down a maze of streets in the dark. All in all, it took nearly 3 hours to get the cab.
In sum: the Eden Project was an amazing venue, Cornwall’s idiosyncrasies notwithstanding.
Safely back in London, the next stop was Trafalgar Square to see the Sheepdogs and the Tragically Hip. It was a free concert supported by a number of Canadian businesses. Some of them are visible below. Unrelated, I had no idea that TD was so big in New York — I saw their branches everywhere. Good for TD. Molson is obviously a sponsor so there was a slew of cans of Canadian around. £5 for a beer. Interestingly, it’s even more expensive than the 57% premium of the pound over the dollar implies because the beer is weak. It’s 4.0% ABV instead of 5.0% in Canada. But the British are pretty big on doing beers right so I’d probably not win any debates in claiming how we do it at home is best.
Trafalgar Square is a memorial to Lord Nelson who defeated the French in the battle of the same name. The column is very prominent behind the stage.
Another cool part is that Big Ben is visible from the square. It’s very fitting to have The Hip playing Canada Day. Actually George Strombo was the MC too which was cool. A goodn video, yet perhaps too over the top, was The Darkest One. Don Cherry delivering chicken, the Trailer Park Boys and the Tragically Hip. Wow.
Finally, when the concert was over I queued up at a Sainsbury’s. It seemed popular with the locals because it was a Maple-Leaf -facepaint-free-zone. My powers of deduction have been sharpened it appears by seemingly always transferring Tube lines at the Baker Street Station. It’s where the Sherlock Holmes museum is as well. They have the station’s tiles done up with smoking pipes and his signature hat. Unrelated, the Tube stops tended to be really well done aesthetically. Sort of the complete opposite of Edmonton. Anyway, I knew my time in/under Baker Street would lead me to good food choices.
It turns out I was wrong. I bought a butter chicken wrap that was pretty much inedible. This sparked another exercise in deduction of looking for a McDonalds. This is normally a trick when your options are things like Chinese street meat rather than one of, if not the, culinary capital of the world. But, it seems that there is something to be said for certainty.
Evidence of my abject failure:
Next stop is Brussels. Good thing that frites and mayo, waffles and chocolate are a predictable food items.