At the end of last week we went down to Cornwall for a couple of days. The main reason for going was to use the falconry experience voucher that I bought for Mr Sparrowgrass for his birthday. But while we were there we also visited Trebah gardens, which you can see in the picture above. That water you can see at the end is the sea and the garden descends to it, ending in a little beach. As you can see from the pictures, for once we actually managed to go to a garden at a time of year when things were in bloom! We must have timed our visit quite well because as we walked up through the water garden a member of staff stopped in amazement at the flowers and told us that a few days before none of that area had been blooming. Unfortunately I didn’t get any pictures of that area because it was quite busy and there was no place to pass other people, so we had to keep moving. Until our path was blocked by the girl trying to take pictures using a tripod on the very narrow path. Most unfortunately she was bending down to look through the lens while wearing a skirt which lifted up as she bent, revealing everything as people walked up the hill behind her. The skirt was not that short, but just the wrong shape for bending in. Otherwise she looked like a nice ordinary woman, who would not ordinarily go around revealing herself. Despite her boyfriend’s best attempts to stand behind her and block the view there was really nothing he could do about her underwear being on display. She was obviously conscious of it – she muttered something about knowing her legs were on show as we squeezed past her – but determined to get her shot regardless. I felt sorry for her and the hapless boyfriend but did wonder, if you’re planning going out for the day with tripod and camera, whether this isn’t something you should consider when getting dressed. I really hope she got a nice picture at the end of it, but I couldn’t take any pictures without getting her bottom in them!
You may be surprised to hear this was not the only underwear we saw on this trip to Trebah. At the bottom of the garden we went up a little hill to a view-point overlooking the beach. We were most entertained to see some of the coachload of young French men strip to their boxers, leap into the attractive looking sea, and squeal as the cold water hit them. We watched from our vantage point, my husband with his fleece on, me in my oversized hoodie and reflected on how much nicer it was to sit in the sun and watch other people get freezing cold than it was to do so ourselves.
In addition to the underwear we did see plenty of flowers, including primroses and bluebells as well as the more showy plants. The magnolia in the picture above left was the largest blooming magnolia I’ve ever seen. Each flower was as big as if I placed my hands together at the wrists and spread my fingers as wide as they would go.
The day after flora it was time for the fauna.
We spent the day at the Cornish Birds of Prey Centre, where we had been once before, after which I had booked the voucher. It was nice to have some idea of what to expect rather than buying an experience where you don’t really know what you’re getting. When we were there before we’d seen someone doing the experience and come into contact with Andy, the falconer who does them, so we knew a bit about what to expect.
Mr Sparrowgrass spent a lot of the day walking from a to b with a bird of some sort on his glove. With one obvious exception all the pictures below are of birds sitting on his gloved hand. He was involved in the weighing of all of the falcons and owls, which happens daily. The smallest and lightest was the pretty American Kestrel. The heaviest, the red-tailed buzzard is not pictured here as I did not have a good picture that preserved Mr Sparrowgrass’ preferred anonymity. At the end of the session he flew a Harris hawk. I asked afterwards if it was at all scary having them fly so fast onto the glove and he replied that as they’ve got to land on the glove they’ve reduced speed enough that they’re not going that fast by the point they reach you. I was skimmed by a wingtip as the hawk went past me at hip height, and I can tell you they move very fast when they’re not about to land on you!
He enjoyed the day and I did too, and really enjoyed taking pictures, even exhausting the camera batteries by the end of the session. I’m pleased that I managed to get some shots with him and the hawk in flight in the same picture, which was quite a challenge. I was really helped by the bell attached to his tail feathers – I could hear when he was about to fly from behind me to Mr S’s glove. Those shots are not here for the same reason given above, but there is a shot of Andy the falconer flying one of his falcons in the display.
Andy was full of information and anecdotes. He told us about a falcon from the UK that was sold to someone in Saudi Arabia, shipped over there and subsequently found back in the UK having flown back on its own. He said “You can’t own a bird. You just care for it. No matter how much you’ve paid for it you don’t own it. You just look after it.”