Monday, 9 September 2013

A surreal afternoon at Paradise Park

I am no stranger to the peculiar charms of the UK's tourist attractions, but my first visit to the woefully misnamed Paradise Park yesterday really blew my mind!

Picture an industrial estate in Denton, Newhaven – a downbeat area of a run-down industrial port on the south coast. A large garden centre lies low behind a mega Sainsburys, an electricity pylon towers overhead. Inside, choose left for the garden centre or turn right ring a bell to access Paradise Park.

A door into a dark corridor is opened for you, leading into very detailed exhibits of fossils, rocks and crystals, mostly hand-lettered looking like they may have been traced from the Letraset book. The info on fossil discoveries in Sussex and the Weald leads onto anamatronic dinosaurs (one of which my small son is so scared of he won't even walk past it). All of a sudden – what's this – a Pharoah's tomb? Then – just as abruptly – back to the evolution of man, an explanation of creationism, more rocks, more anamatronic dinosaurs. 

Then outside a big cactus garden, a pond full of the most beautiful carp, scale models of Sussex landmarks and a train ride past a sculpture of Diana The Huntress inexplicably placed next to a scarecrow and a flat cut-out of a dog.

I had to go for a cup of tea after all that – only because they didn't have anything stronger.

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