When you live near a tourist attraction, often its the last thing on your radar to do. When friends and family have visited the county in the past and geared their stay around an Eden Project pilgrimage I have to confess to unsubtly raising an eyebrow. I think when something’s on your doorstep you become immune to its charms. I wonder how many Londoners stand outside Buckingham Palace gawping through the gates for a pastime?
I wonder how many Londoners stand outside Buckingham Palace gawping through the gates for a pastime?
Well, this afternoon being mid-school holidays and lured by the promise of Easter based organised fun for the kids we went for it and made the half hour or so trip to the ecological eggtravaganza that is Eden. (I promise that’s the only Easter pun in here – I’ve been bombarded with them all day so I take no credit for this comedy gold).
Such a surprise then when it’s bigger and better and more interesting than I remember it (…and I was only there in February). Just an incredible concept and vision and really inspiring. Inspiring because it worked and works. I remember reading about the idea in the mid to late nineties in a national newspaper and thinking they were bonkers. There were a couple of the early design sketches and text about watching an indoor rain forest grow. The problem in my mind was the location. I was thinking about the disused china clay pits that we visited on school trips when I was a kid which were desolate quarries. I would have bet it wouldn’t have worked!
Well it does work! An incredible steel and plastic set of greenhouse structures have been thoughtfully plonked in the middle of a disused clay pit which took a lot of engineering and landscaping to turn into todays combination of theme park, eco warrior hang out, gardens, cafes and walks. Today there were organised Easter themed activities for the children but I think they enjoyed the humid tropical biome the most. Here’s Tom in a cloud and Katie and Claire on the wobbly bridge having a great time.
The nature is really very organised here with plants carefully placed and pruned but occasionally you notice nature on the march. This plant finding its way up through the tarmac quite happily. And, like any good garden, you notice many happy accidents as well as the carefully planned planting. There are trees that have grown their own way and creepers that have crept a bit more than they might have been meant to.
Again when you take a close look there are other signs of the natural world adapting in this manmade tropical paradise. Many of the tall trees for instance have armies of ants marching up and down them. It’s these details that make this a special place and a world away from how it was when first opened and planted up. Eden Project Timeline
After the sweaty tropics which really is hot, we grabbed ice creams and wandered to the smaller temperate biome which mimics mediteranean climates and is generally a bit cooler. This one reminds you of your greek and Spanish holidays with olives, vines and fruit trees. Another lovely place to hang out.
The vines are growing well and there are already the tiny beginnings of grapes forming. I couldn’t hang around and wait for the wine to grow though…
The location is a natural amphitheatre and the summer before last we watched Sir Elton John perform there. A different face of this interesting place. Concerts there are unlike any others I’ve been to. You are close and can see. There’s a surreal quality to them, made all the stranger by actually witnessing something of global standing in our little county.
I have to confess that I love The Eden Project these days, and interestingly the kids love it too. It is pretty simplistic fun (although if you are after adrenaline there is an alarming looking zip wire ride) just walking around finding stuff and seeing things that you wouldn’t normally see without trekking across the planet. It’s very well run, it’s clean, there’s a good message for everyone and the staff are really friendly. We will keep going back as long as they will have us! Highly recommended whether you are visiting Cornwall or live here.