Few things have shaped me more than a mechanic exhibition housed in the visitor centre of Cornwall’s world famous Eden Project. Shaped me, in a negative way.
Back in 2000, when the biomes for The Eden Project were still under construction, the visitor centre was opened up to the public. I was eight years old. “This will be educational,” my parents thought, “Alice will get to see this amazing thing being built and learn a bit about the nice plants in the visitor centre.”
Traumatised I was. Traumatised.
Plant Takeaway, an exhibition also referred to as “The Dead Cat” (which personally I think says it all) is, according to the attraction’s website, “[an] automated puppet show that explores our total dependence on plants. Visitors watch as absolutely everything made of plants in Alan and Enid’s kitchen is taken away.”
It sounds all harmless enough, sure, but let me put to you this; Plant Takeaway features scary mannequins (and you know how I feel about those), nudity and what I have always assumed to be a “Peeping Tom”. It is a reminder of the importance of plants (big tick) and how their removal will result in the painfully slow erosion of everything you hold dear (uh-oh) until ultimately you die from starvation or a lack of oxygen, which ever comes first.
“…Daddy, am I going to die?”
I can see Mumma B rolling her eyes at me now, “she’s 30 and still going on about that silly mechanical exhibit at The Eden Project” but you know what, Mum, yes, I am still going to harp on about it. There was an eight year old me, eyeball to eyeball with a naked collapsed man. To top it all off the cat dies. That’s it, THE END.
I spent the rest of the day crying. When we got back to the holiday cottage we were staying at I was in a state best comparable to that time Hermione got herself petrified in Chamber of Secrets. I remember these things because I was haunted.
I think I had a mild form of PTSD, Plant Traumatic Stress Disorder.
Years later we returned to The Eden Project, where as a teenager I was quickly rushed through the visitor centre. We’d all hoped Plant Takeaway would have been retired and thrown into a skip somewhere but nope, still there.
I was going for third time lucky when I visited last year. On seeing its ugly, clunky presence I decided to face my fears and watch it through to the bitter end.
I gave up halfway through.
In my defence I really did try, and in my equal defence this exhibition is a pile of trauma. Other people have recorded and uploaded the whole thing onto YouTube…or at least I assume so (I’m not going to check; go look yourself and on your own mental health be it).
The other 98% of The Eden Project is absolutely lovely and well worth a visit, but this? Nah. I have two questions to put to the management of this attraction 1) who in their right mind signed off the development of the Plant Takeaway exhibition and 2) who is continuing to let it stay?!
Uh-oh, I think I might have triggered myself again (passive-association from the memories). I’m off to get some ice cream.
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Published on 24th December, the BBC article (linked above) doesn’t contain the news bulletin VT. Someone would have to record it manually within 24 hours, before the transmission was replaced with the following day’s news. But who would be sad enough to do that? Oh, wait, that would be me.
(And before stones are thrown, the recording boiled down to me filming my laptop through my phone. If anything I think it adds to the effect.)
Give this a watch and let’s compare notes afterwards.
Here are some of my personal highlights:
The dramatic reconstruction of ‘opening the parcel’
Lizzie’s revelation: opening a parcel in December, two months after receiving it
“This isn’t an isolated case” in Lichfield
Lizzie’s fears for other disappointed children
(And, best of all) Lizzie demanding people are made to open their parcels in front of delivery drivers
I probably shouldn’t laugh, but I will. And saying this could have been avoided if someone had forced her to open the parcel on the doorstep?
It also begs a lot of other questions…
1) How much money did Lizzie pay for this laptop? (As she and her daughter scroll through a shopping site at the end of the VT, you can see every laptop is priced at £500+. If Lizzie paid that much shouldn’t the gripe be that she was conned? If she didn’t pay that much, how can you be surprised this happened?)
2) Surely you’d know the parcel wasn’t the right weight for a laptop? Unless those boxes of cornflakes are stuffed with rocks
2.5) Why gluten free cornflakes?
3) Did Lizzie convince her friend in Lichfield to also buy the same product from the same seller?
3.5) When did Lizzie’s friend find out she’d been conned?
4) What sane person wraps up their parcels before checking their contents? Yes, the product might not be as advertised, but it could have also been damaged in transit. Very important details you’d need to know before gifting on.
5) What craziness is this demand of opening parcels on doorsteps? Lizzie, be reasonable here.
And finally 6) what ten year old kid gets a laptop for SATs revision? (And if this is commonplace nowadays it only serves as further proof that I was born in the wrong century.)
In all the craziness of the world right now there is one thing we can all take away and that one thing is this this news article. Local news, don’t ever change.
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This isn’t particularly breaking news, but for those of you who may have missed it (or needed reminding about the wonders of Swindon, the town I live in), may I direct you to our council’s recent attempt to celebrate the district’s invaluable key workers.
Ladies and gentlemen, this plaque:
Have you spotted the mistake? Trick question, the whole thing is a hot mess.
Apparently the Covid 19 pandemic apparently started in 2019…I’m sorry, what?
I’ve heard all manner of conspiracy theories about Covid 19, but the one about it starting a whole year before the start of the UK lockdown? Now that’s something.
The town I live in, the town I pay my council tax to…seesh.
And on that note, I’m off to get myself a very strong cup of coffee.
(Full article can be found here (BBC News). Alternatively search for it online, there’s a lot of high-quality journalism out there.)
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Someone abandoned their catering van on my housing estate. And I was not happy.
Look at it! It’s massive!
Naturally, I applied a very level-headed attitude to this. That’s right, I sent a ranty email to estate management. It went something like this:
WHY IS THERE A MASSIVE CATERING VAN PARKED IN A VISITOR SPACE? I’VE CHECKED THE REGISTRATION PLATE (“XXX XXX” for your reference) AND IT’S NOT TAXED OR INSURED. IT’S UGLY AND CLEARLY BEEN ABANDONNED. I PAY MY MANAGEMENT FEES, SORT IT OUT!
(The caps are a reflection of the shouty voice in my head…I may have also left the last bit out.)
Estate management responded, saying thay they’d located the vehicle’s owner and told them to move it within the next 48 hours.
48 hours came and went, the van unmoved.
I wish I could say I became tolerant of the pudding van’s presence, but when you’re facing onto something like that every time you go to make a cup of tea, it’s very hard to let go. (Plus, you know, me.)
Whilst waiting for the owners to be chased up again, I did a little investigation of myself. By in investigation, I meant be super nosey.
There weren’t any company details on the van and the only online presence seemed to take me back to a deactivated Facebook page, from when it operated out of Pershore some 56 miles away.
Instead of hard, concrete information, I had to deal with statements like this:
I don’t know what bothered me most; the font, the words or the fact that it’s annoyingly true. Everything about it grated on me more than the sugary sweetness of the food it claimed to provide.
Update: I drafted this post in September 2021, however in June 2022 the van disappeared altogether. I assumed it was at local festival but it never came back and I haven’t seen the van since. No idea what has happened but the problem of the Pudding Van seems to have sorted itself!
I’m totally putting it down to my ability to moan, that or my top-notch judgemental stares out the window.
(And as for why I’m not posting this until now…well, I forgot I’d written it.)
I don’t know if I’ve shared this before but even if I have I’m sharing it again.
This was in York Castle Museum, as part of an exhbit on exercise through the ages. Originally produced to highlight the importance of cycle safety, the whole overdramatization of scenario is hilariousand (even though I am the first to accept it does feminism no favours).
Here’s a quick run-through of what happened when I went on London Underground’s newest service, the Elizabeth line.
The first thing I was aware of when I descended the escalators at Paddington was the whizzy LED signs.
I don’t know why, but I found them mesmerising, like a lava lamp. It was also 7:30am and I hadn’t had coffee, which I acknowledge may have been a contributing factor. Nudged by another commuter in that classic “get-on-or-move-on” fashion, I hopped onto the next Eastbound train.
Now the thing is…well, I wanted to illustrate that even though it was very busy at Paddington station the train was pretty quiet. But, equally, I didn’t want it to be obvious I was taking random photos of the train. You can see my predicament. So what do you get?
A slightly burred picture of a door.
It really was a classically Alice dilemma.
Oh, thumbs up for the seat coverings by the way.
And the floor? I mean, I wouldn’t say I’d be eating off it, but by London standards it was fairly squeaky.
I just wish I could say it was seam-LESS! (Get it? Because there’s a joining line? Well, I thought it was witty).
And here’s a photo of Custom House, before a-la-mosh pit I got scooped up by corporate commuters and funnelled toward the ticket gates.
*Then Alice did actual work stuff at the ExCel conference centre*
On leaving the ExCel I was running back what felt like the thickest black jacket in the hottest day. To say I was a bit toasty was an understatement, I was effectively drowning in a pool of sweat and free pencils.
Honestly I was so relieved to be somewhere with air conditioning and seating I forgot to take any photos. Minor detail.
It was probably owing to this (realising at Bond Street I hadn’t taken any photos and unable to, thanks to the copious amounts of free pencils filling my hands) that I became very obsessed with scoring a selfie with the Underground sign at Paddington. That, and in part because of the very strong coffee I knocked back before leaving the ExCel.
Ten attempts later (not kidding), I settled with what I got and shambled upstairs to find out the outbound train I’d been racing to get was actually a very slow train so ended up loitering around Paddington for 40 minutes for the train which, it turns out, all my colleagues were on as well. None of them were interested in my pencils, only moaning about the cleanliness of the toilets at Paddington. For a whole hour.
The Elizabeth line! Clean (enough), mesmerising signs (if you’re suffering from caffeine withdrawal) and just enough air con to stop you gagging on the stench of someone else’s body odour. What more could you want?!
Oh, and it’s actually super quick to get places. Minor detail.