Tuesday dawned foggy and wet and really not the nicest start to our holiday, so we decided to look for an indoor-type attraction where we should be dry and relatively warm. We decided that Goonhilly might be good, so we piled the wheelchair, map, coats, waterbottles and ourselves into the car and set off with great expectations.
It was great rolling up. There’s this almighty satellite dish close to the gates that you can see for miles around. We went in, got our stickers and went off to look around the exhibition.
It was quite interesting, there was a display showing how we progressed from Morse to the telegraph and on to the telephone and international calling and how the world of communication has changed and evolved. There was a display telling the story of undersea cables and how they were laid to carry calls to America and beyond.
We also found and watched a planetaruim style show about space; it seemed a little off topic, but the lady running it did show us some of the 300 or so satellites orbiting the earth carrying information and phone calls and the like.
We went and watched a show, supposed to have been recorded by a scientist back in the ’60s, talking about the site and what was happening and wondering what the future might hold. It ight have been intended to be funny, but it passed me by I’m afraid, it really didn’t seem to be in keeping with what the site should have been about.
From there we went to get on the tour bus that runs around the site but the first one was too full to accomodate 3 adults and a wheelchair, so we went back inside (mist and fog if you recall) to wait for the next one. We checked out the cafe (nice enough coffee), free international phones (not working), the internet cafe (free but nowhere for me to sit, did work however) while we waited. I can tell you that the Dyson AirBlade hand dryers are really loud but do actually do what they are supposed to do!
Eventually we got on the tour bus and drove off around the site. Again, it was Ok, with a fair bit of information, but I was disappointed that the guided tour was a prerecorded speach and the staff member who travelled with us and the bus driver was notably quiet and looked distinctly bored. Nonetheless, I got a fair few pictures of the different satellite dishes, some functional and some no longer in use, from different angles, including one straight up through the sunroof of the bus!
Part way through, we stopped at another exhibition, where we saw some displays about thing that people said about the future, some of which came true and some of which were so wrong it was amusing. Then we saw the second half of the film we saw before getting on the bus. Unfortunately, it left everyone in my group cold. We were given what amounted to a lecture on the future and the environment and were reminded that we should be only half filling our kettles! What? What has that got to do with the discoveries and historic stuff that Goonhilly is famous for?
We got back on the bus and went back to the main visitor centre where we strolled around the gift shop. I got a thimble for my collection, with Arthur on the side of it.
To be frank, I was really disappointed. The Goonhilly site could have been amazing, educational and inspiring. I always thought of is as being on a par with Cape Canaveral. Instead it felt very average and as though it had been “fiddled with”; as though the organisers knew something was missing but had a block on what to do about it. I came away feeling that we’d wasted our money and half a day of our holiday.
Sorry, Goonhilly staff, but I have to tell the truth.
From Goonhilly we drove on around the Lizard, bought a pasty lunch in a small cafe and looked around the shops to the background melody of the Lizard fog horn. From there we drove along the coast for a while before stopping for a very pleasant meal at the Watermill in Lelant.