What I did on my holidays

scribb1e and I went to Cornwall, where we stayed in a cottage with a sea view.

We saw the Eden Project. I’d been before, and not thought much of the place, but it’s much more fun when it’s not raining and you can do the outdoor parts as well as go in the huge geodesic domes. We found the Lost Gardens of Heligan, which were pretty and, considering the amount of work and though which had gone into them, downright impressive. Their farm shop also sold us some fine rump steak.

Continuing the gardens theme, we visited some Japanese Gardens, which were very tranquil until a coachload of white-haired old ladies went on the rampage through the place. We’d already looked around by then, and had settled down to have lunch, so their calls of “Cooeee! Deirdre!” did not disturb us too much. After that, we went to St Michael’s Mount on foot, and, as you can see from the photograph, had to return by boat.

We also found a tiny beach you could only reach on foot, and imitated Jack Vettriano paintings.

The weather was pretty warm most of the time, so I borrowed scribb1e‘s Tilley hat.

Holiday viewing was Buffy season 5, which we felt was tightly plotted and much better than the previous season. I got started on re-reading Neal Stephenson’s Quicksilver. On my second pass, unrushed because now I know how it ends, I’m savouring the expansiveness of the writing rather than just wishing he’d get on with it. The Diary of a Manhattan Callgirl, which we found in Tescos, failed to either titillate or to arouse much other emotion: it’s sort of Brigit Jones with hookers.

So busy. Jo had a party on Thursday at which there was dancing. The CDC Ball was on Friday, in the Guildhall in Cambridge. The floor was a little slippy, but it was good to have one in Cambridge as people could come and go as they pleased. bluap had a pancake party on Saturday, at which I spent some time talking to jacquic about Buffy and enthused about Firefly (of which more below). I think I also mentioned the cats and robot vacuum cleaners link, so there it is. I want a robot vacuum cleaner.

Today was tea and cakes party, which seems very Cambridge, and a chance to catch up with people I don’t see that often.

In other news, I recently finished watching the DVD of Firefly, Joss Whedon’s science fiction series, which was prematurely cancelled by the US TV network which had sponsored it. It’s the Western-in-space which Star Wars wanted to be, but better. The series follows the crew of Serenity, an unarmed freighter, as they make their living out of various dubious schemes and attract the attention of some very bad people when they give shelter to a couple of fugitives. It has Whedon’s trademark witty dialogue, and presents a more consistent universe than Buffy (it’s not hard science fiction by any means, but there’s nothing so glaringly wrong that it distracts you from the story). Once again Whedon gives us a close-knit group of people whose struggles we come to care about. Fortunately, the show’s cancellation wasn’t the end: there’s a film, Serenity coming out later this year.

Poke It With A Stick

S introduced me to Buffy the Vampire Slayer a little while ago. I’d seen the occasional episode on TV, but never watched them all in order. The other day, I watched the final episode, having previously watched the preceding 7 series, in order. From this you might be able to tell that I like the show.

<lj-cut text=”Some minor Buffy spoilers within”> For anyone who’s not had the pleasure, the series follows the eponymous Buffy, a teenage girl in the Californian town of Sunnydale. Sunnydale is build on a Hellmouth, a centre for supernatural evil. Buffy is the Slayer, a chosen woman with supernatural strength and agility, a teenager in High School as the show begins. The story follows an arc that takes Buffy and her friends through their school years to university, with a new enemy each season.

The show’s appeal lies in its affection for its characters, its humour, and its ability to switch from humour to horror without clashing gears. Like other long running shows with a story arc (Babylon 5 springs to mind) the show rewards the viewers’ perseverance by actually doing stuff with its characters, whether it’s the development of the main characters or reprising cameos.

You can object (and many have) to inconsistencies in what seems to be called the Buffyverse. Why don’t guns work there, except for that one time? Just how much daylight does it take to kill a vampire? Why do so few of the villians investigate the possibilities of explosives (and when they do, fail to apply them to the greatest threat, viz, the lady herself)? Since when were there mines near London? Just where is Spike’s accent from, anyway? But that’s not the point.

The point is that BtVS has a story about people to tell, and does so rather well. I hear Firefly is quite good, too.