I have pretty much managed to avoid going out in the dark so far this autumn, but had to give in today. I have had an ethno-sniffle* for a couple of days so have laid off the running, but got bored of it today and really wanted to get out. As I had my student hat on today and was at Kew; it was a while before I got home through the (also sniffly) commuters, put my potatoes in to bake, listened to the cat moan about his day and put my trainers on. The one poor aspect of my Polar-love-item-gadget is that it has a light that can only be described in shades of colour. Imagine you are there in the dark, you want to read the face of your grey digital watch – what shade do you want? Bright white, pastel shades all come to mind. A gentle shade of teal-grey, while soothing and easy on the eye, is not possible to read. At all, not even a teeny bit, not even if I had my reading glasses and a lighter. So back to the street light intervals: run run ‘beep’ run -street light – relax run run…
So, what were we doing at Kew? Kent has a longstanding agreement with Kew and they run part of the course at Kew, and the students are able (hooray) to use the facilities there. Kew has (by virtue of history and a fair amount of effort) a large economic botany (plants that are useful in trade: coffee, hemp, yam, tobacco, the list is pretty endless) collection in terms of artefacts, books and journals, knowledge, herbarium specimens and ongoing research; not to mention the living (as in real plants) collections. Today was more or less about orientation and introduction, though my brain has retained the alarming fact that Coffea arabica may become very difficult to grow, due to climate change and low genetic diversity, within the next 60 or so years (I had to have a little sit down before I could recover)
While being given a tour, the nice lady suggested that one of the managers in the glasshouse that contains the carnivorous plants had put a (pre-deceased) mouse in one of the Nepenthes pitchers to see how long it took to be digested – I just hope it wasn’t the one above (you can see something, but it doesn’t look like mouse skeleton).
* A special sort of virus that enters a small group of ethnobotany students and rushes round causing sniffs and sneezes (hopefully not coughs and splutters).