Eden Project is one of the most famous destinations in Cornwall. Formerly a clay pit mine, it was transformed by Tim Smit and his amazing team into a wonderful world of ecological delight. Talk about large scale recycling. There is plenty to explore, included the two covered Biomes, making it a great day out for those rainy days that can literally be a washout on a seaside holiday. The pricey entry ticket also acts as an annual pass allowing unlimited entries for a year – great if you’re a local, not so much if you’re visiting from afar, but the blow is softened somewhat by the 10% discount you get from buying in advance online.
You start off your tour walking through a timeline explaining how plants have evolved through the millennia, with examples of ancient plants still surviving dotted all along the pathway. This leads to the open gardens section – amongst them flowering bushes galore, a massive allotment garden showcasing vegetables from around the world, a herb walk (one of my favourite bits) and a memory garden with an ornamental pool.
But of course the Biomes are the dominant features and main attractions of the site. To be honest they reminded me of frog spawn but hey, to each their own. The Mediterranean biome is filled with plants from the Mediterranean, South Africa and California and is a bright, cheery place to roam about in. The tomatoes, chillies, olives trees and grape vines are enough to transport you to a hillside town somewhere in Italy. There is even a Bacchanalian party playing out amongst the shrubs.
I love chamomile tea and had no idea the plant looked like this.
This olive tree reminded me of how J and I got lost in an olive grove on Corfu once. It was a bit of a laugh, I got a blister from wearing terribly inappropriate footwear and we used an olive leaf to wrap around my toe to help cushion the skin. It didn’t help.
We took a well-earned rest for lunch in the cafeteria area that connects the two Biomes. We brought out own sandwiches but the cafe did look quite enticing with an interesting array of food. There were several aerial bee sculptures that rotated with any slight breeze which fascinated us for a while, trying to figure out their mechanism.
Onward to the Rainforest Biome! This was G’s favourite, a totally novel experience to him, and an introduction to what he could expect on his inaugural trip to Malaysia later on. It reminded me so much of home, especially when we came upon the traditional Malaysian village house. It was so stereotypical, exactly what we would have drawn as schoolchildren.
The air was hot and heavy with humidity, just what it would be like in a rainforest in the tropics. A little air-conditioned cubicle provides respite for visitors not used to the humidity, I suspect they would have installed it after a few fainting episodes occurred.
Beauty and the Beast: Venus fly traps sharing a pot with orchids.
Again, love figs, didn’t know they grew on trees like this.
Roul-roul partridges would dart in an out of the vegetation, some with little chicks scurrying behind their parents. They were adorable, and would come out at the most unexpected times.
Up the path to the canopy walkway which gives a bird’s eye view of the rainforest from above. When we were there they were building an extension called the Weather Maker which could recreate clouds and rain.
And then it was out to the welcoming cool of the outdoors again. The WEEE man (waste electrical and electronic equipment) is a stark reminder of how much household equipment we throw away instead of recycle. The average British person throws away 3 tonnes of equipment in their lifetime.
And last but not least, a rather moving sculpture showcasing our attitudes towards climate change – the older figures markedly ambivalent and the children optimistically looking forward to positive changes in the future. The sculpture was initially installed in the Thames, where the rise and fall of the tide reflected rising sea levels.
We didn’t have time to explore The Core and some of the outdoor gardens, but that’s just more excuse to make a return trip. After a little wander through their excellent gift shop, we made a mad dash in the oncoming shower to our car and went back to our B&B to chill out for a bit before heading out for dinner at The Stable on Fistral Beach. It’s located just above Rick Stein’s takeaway and serves much better food. We had the excellent deal of pizza, salad and drink for £10. They were flexible enough to allow us to order pizzas off the set menu with a little surcharge. I had the King Crabber, a most delicious pizza redolent with the briny aromas of white and brown crab meat mingled with chilli, crab and lemon topped with creme fraiche. I can’t remember what G had but it was rich and meaty and spicy and he liked it.
And that ends an epic day out and post. More Cornish posts to come!