Holidays: Cornwall's Treble Tops; BRIT of ALRIGHT

Sunday Mercury (Birmingham, England), February 29, 2004 | Go to article overview

Holidays: Cornwall's Treble Tops; BRIT of ALRIGHT


Byline: GILLIAN THOMAS

WHEN the National Maritime Museum opened in Falmouth last year, it completed Cornwall's 'Golden Triangle'. First had come the Tate St Ives art gallery, then the Eden Project in St Austell.

So as a change from the beach, England's south-west tip now boasts three major attractions, each very different.

Visiting the Maritime Museum, you set sail through the sights and sounds of a stormy sea -just one of many excitements for children -as you make your way on to Flotilla, the impressive main gallery.

Here a collection of historic boats is suspended from the high ceiling in a large hall overlooking Falmouth harbour. They sway gently in the breeze that wafts in from the sea.

New for 2004 is a special display of the racing yachts and boats which have helped make Olympic history.

From here a spiral staircase leads downBELOW sea level, where you can see the rise and fall of the tide through huge picture windows. It's underwater without getting wet.

At the Eden Project, a vast botanical garden with two futuristic domed greenhouses brings changes every season. One dome has a warm temperate climate, the other is like the tropics -hot and humid.

Just now 300,000 spring bulbs, including more than 100 varieties of daffodil, are bursting into bloom.

Planted last October, they're the centrepiece of Bulb Mania, the Eden Project's spring festival being held for the first time this year. The official opening is on March 5 -St Piran's Day, celebrating the patron saint of Cornwall.

Another feature of the 10-week festival is 16,000 hand-made silk flags grouped to provide patches of colour that ripple in the breeze, and which have been designed by West Country artist Angus Watt.

'They're providing additional colour this year,' says Eden's destination director Mark Jones. 'Although by the year 2007we plan to have four million bulbs in flower.'

Created from scratch just three years ago in a huge disused quarry left by china clay production, the vegetation has been 'growing up' ever since - as has the number of visitors.

Expect crowds and queues at peak times.

As someone who cannot bear the thought of wasting a sunny day indoors, I'm tempted to think of art galleries as a rainy day option. But Tate's outpost in St Ives is a must-see.

Both the building, overlooking the sea, and the collection of modern art on show inside are remarkable.

Take a look, too, at Trewyn Studios, Barbara Hepworth's intimate sculpture garden, which is tucked away nearby in one of the town's quaint old narrow streets.

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