We had a power cut last night where I live, which took me back to my childhood in the 1970s when the power went off on a regular basis.
We cracked out the candles, and lit a fire, and had a McDonald’s for dinner (the chip shop was also blacked out, the chippie sitting gloomily in the dark by his silent fryers; nothing stands in the way of a McDonald’s). Then the lights came back on and it was all a bit of an anticlimax.
My children, seven and five, explored the house with torches and got very excited. There is always something oddly portentous about a darkened world.
In February, the Cambridge Botanic Garden, along with other museums in Cambridge, will hold a night-time opening, when it will be possible to explore the greenhouses by torchlight.
The greenhouses will at that time be dominated by an extensive display of orchids, with a focus on orchids from the southern slopes of the Himalayas. So, orchids by torchlight in the dead of winter – possibly even more exciting than a power cut and a McDonald’s.
Cambridge Botanic Garden 19th February, 1630-2000. Entrance free. Bring your own torch. And a hip flask.
I notice that Botanic Garden has also developed and published a website, called Changing Perspectives, detailing the history of the garden through its archives from the end of the second world war to the present day.
This period was one of major restructuring – during the war about 18 acres of the garden had been given over to allotments to support the war effort, and in subsequent decades these were heavily made over, creating, among other things, the grassy walk that leads up to Hill’s Road, opposite the school. This was also the period in which the rock garden was laid in.