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Postcard Four - The Eden Project

A large part of writing fiction is researching what you want to write about and occasionally that leads to needing to ask some strange questions. I wasn't sure how this story was going to pan out. Some of my family members are on holiday in Cornwall at the moment, so I sent them a text with my question (I'll put the text conversation at the end of the story so it doesn't spoil it) but it led to a slightly concerned/confused phone call from them. It made me realise that even if you say your question is for research, sometimes you need to explain that it's research specifically for a story. Also, it being for research, doesn't necessarily make it less of an odd question!

The Garden of Eden

Derek rested his head against the back of the coach seat and allowed his wife’s shrill complaints to wash over him. He was in no danger as long as he nodded his head occasionally and murmured noises of agreement.

‘Derek, are you even listening to me?’

‘Of course, dear. You’re absolutely right.’

Eyes narrowed, but apparently satisfied, Margaret subsided back into her own seat and resumed her monologue. Not listening to the detail, but conscious he had almost been caught out, Derek gathered she was unhappy about the lack of superior seating the coach company had promised and believed it would have been better if they had driven to The Eden Project after all. He forbore to point out that the coach had been her idea – in fact she had insisted on it – as Derek’s driving made her feel sick. If my driving is so awful, why do I have to do all of it? She could have driven to the other end of the bloody country.

‘Really Derek, I do think you could have checked that the seating arrangements were as advertised before booking the trip.’

Does she ever stop blethering on? My God, woman. Just shut up.

‘I’m terribly sorry, dear. You’re absolutely right of course.’

Margaret huffed and snatched up her paperback, returning to A Cornish Escape.

‘Is your book good?’ Derek ventured, knowing he was expected to ask.

‘Not bad. Woman’s got a backbone at least.’

He knew that was his wife’s pet hate in fiction. Weak women horrified her. In her view, women were the superior gender and they’d been suppressed for too long. The only person allowed to made decisions for Margaret Rufford was Margaret herself. Derek’s only role was to work and support her choices for their life together. He’d long since given up trying to argue with her – he got more response from the dog than from his wife – and retreated into the safety of his own mind and his garden. There at least he was allowed an opinion.

He missed his shed. It was quiet in there and he liked the smell of wet earth and tomatorite. Cornwall was pretty but unlike in Margaret’s book, it was no escape for him. He opened his own book Death in the Garden: Poisonous Plants and Their Use Throughout History.

‘I don’t know how you can read such morbid nonsense,’ Margaret tutted.

I can dream, can’t I?

‘It’s just a book,’ he said mildly. ‘It’s interesting, that’s all. You know I like my garden.’

‘Of course I know. That’s why we’re doing this ridiculous trip in the first place! Heaven knows, I have no interest in plants!’

Eventually, the coach pulled into the carpark and disgorged its passengers, who milled around, waiting for their representative to sort out their entrance tickets.

‘Come along, Derek. It’s taken us long enough to get here. If we don’t hurry, we won’t have time to see everything.’

She shouldered her way through the small groups clustered together, ignorant of the hissed comments and black looks that followed her. Derek followed in her wake, quietly apologising as his wife moved out of earshot.

When the couple didn’t return to the coach at the end of the day, nobody said anything, but there was a collective sigh of relief as the coach pulled out of the car park to begin the journey back to St. Ives. It was only those who read the small article tucked away on page four of the next day’s local paper who even gave them a second thought.


A 52 year old woman has died after falling from one of the high walkways at local tourist spot, The Eden Project. Her husband who was the only witness to the appalling tragedy apparently told onlookers that his wife had been leaning over the side to take a photograph and had dropped her camera. As she lunged to catch it, she lost her balance and went over the railings. Cornwall police were unavailable for comment at the time of printing

Text conversation:

Me: Are you guys going to the Eden Project at all?

Mum: We went yesterday.

Me: No problem. Just need to ask a couple of questions for research. How high are the walkways off the ground and how difficult would it be to push someone over the side of one? I couldn't tell from the photo S sent x

There's no wonder they rang to see if everything was ok at home!!

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