My Aunt came to visit a couple of days ago. Like the parents when they came in June, she couldn't stay - our spare bedroom floor is up at the moment. So she checked into a local B&B. Still, it was nice of her to make the effort.

We weren't quite sure what to do with her yesterday, so decided in the end to visit the National Botanic Garden of Wales at Llanarthne. It's a while since last I went there, and despite trying to go bankrupt on a regular basis since then, it's improved quite a lot.

One of the features we enjoyed was the new 360 degree cinematic experience. We trooped into a large round building and found seats in a tiered row, surrounded by a Merched y Wawr* outing from Machynlleth. A jovial fellow welcomed us all, warned us that the film contained flashing lightning that might spark epileptic fits, then set the whole thing in motion.

Up until that point, it looked pretty much like any other cinema, except that the screen was split into two angled halves, a bit like the windshield on an old VW Camper Van. As the lights went down, however, the whole screen and frame assembly rolled forwards on silent motors, squashing the legs of the unfortunate women in the front row. Then the film started.

It was quite disconcerting. There were screens to both sides, and most of the film was long sweeping motion tracking shots, translated into a full panoramic that quite frankly made me queasy. Due to the arrangement of the seating, however, it was difficult to see much of the side screens, and impossible to see anything going on behind. At the end of the presentation, the cheery chappy pointed out to us all that we had missed half of the show because we didn't have eyes in the backs of our heads. Since as far as I am aware no humans have eyes in the backs of their heads, I was left wondering what the whole point of the exercise was.

Later, as we were leaving the gardens, I noticed this:

Daft, in so many ways.**

*Literally 'Women of the Dawn.' I'll get lynched for making the comparison, but basically it's a Welsh version of the WI, only without the jam and nude calendars.

** OK, I know. There's more to gardens than just the visual. And I wouldn't dream of telling a blind person they can't enjoy the great outdoors. But sight is quite a big part of it, and none of these plant beds are really set up for the whole sensual experience.


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