Tuesday, September 10, 2002

COMMENT: Wet Botanical Gardens and Books

Yesterday as part of a Team building day out with my new colleagues we visited the Cambridge Botanical Garden. Apart from the fact it poured down with rain all day and we all got soaked through, it was a fantastic day out and I would recommend a visit to anyone who finds themselves in Cambridge with an afternoon to spare.

We were shown round by three very knowledgeable guides all working as volunteers, and I was particularly impressed at the use of stories to increase our interest in each of the plants, displays and the history of the gardens.

As a strange coincidence I am currently reading the excellent book by Peter Marren : Britain's Wild Flowers which tells the story of how these Botanical Gardens played a crucial role in the education of Botanists and in helping to preserve some of our rarest flowers.

In another even stranger coincidence the Guardian this week featured a review of Peters new book: Nature Conservation: A review of the Conservation of Wildlife in Britain, 1950-2001 which contains the 'flow country' story which I always begin my presentation with. I must get hold of a copy and read what really happened.

Back to our Team Building event, we were supposed to go punting but the torrential rain put paid to that idea so we stayed in the pub and told stories to each other.

Today everyone is greeting each other with a smile saying "have you dried out yet", "does the wet phone/camera still work" and the general feeling is that sharing such a downpour has brought us together more than if we had had a sunny day, we are united in our suffering'.

The only downside was that we managed to leave one of our community in Cambridge, no-one spotted she was missing so she had to make her own way home. The obligatory "hands up if you are not back on the coach yet" doesn't seem so funny in hindsight.

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