Friday 13 July 2012

Heartlands in Cornwall

Back in May we took a week long holiday in Cornwall and I've been meaning to blog about Heartlands ever since we returned!

Essentially Heartlands is an industrial museum with a twist - I think labelling anything as a 'museum' can often be a turn-off for people, so it's being marketed as Cornwall's "cultural playground". We saw a leaflet on the campsite we were staying on and the marketing material was so engaging and interesting, we had to go and have a look!

We were so bowled over by Heartlands, we can't stop telling everyone about it. We were very, very lucky that the sun chose to shine on us the day we went.

We started our visit with a picnic in the Diaspora gardens, they were full of plants from countries Cornish miners and their families migrated too. I had no idea so many people left Cornwall to work in mines as far flung as Australia, New Zealand, North and South America and South Africa. It's such a clever idea for a garden and it made a refreshing change from the usual cottage garden or twee bedding plants you often see in public gardens.

We then moved on to the artists studios and pottered about for a bit, everyone was really friendly and welcoming. I'm often reluctant to take my attention-span-of-a-flea toddler into places with crafts and art on display, but everyone working in their studios positively encourage us in. I particularly liked the crochet-covered bicycle propped up outside one of the studios.

Even though we'd had a picnic, we couldn't resist going into the Red River Cafe and indulged ourselves with a cream tea, there's always room for cream tea, isn't there? The cafe was smart but also reflected the industrial nature of the building - formerly the old Carpenter’s Workshop - the exposed beams and original machinery dotted about kept visitors in touch with the heritage of the place.

We then took a quick look in the World Heritage Site Exhibitions - with a toddler in tow, you can't really amble about reading all the information in-depth, but we were all drawn in by the enormous 270° film projection at the far end of the building. It was such a innovative way of conveying the Cornish story that we were completely enthralled, in fact my husband went back in to watch the film again...

And finally, we couldn't keep our daughter away from the enormous playground any longer. It was most definitely the highlight of the day, she loved every minute of it. Cleverly designed, built with robust materials and suitable for a large age range, I hope many more children get the chance to enjoy this place over the Summer holidays.

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