The Eden Project trip, October 2014
On March the 17th, 2001 Tim Smit’s remarkable Eden Project dream first opened its doors to the public. The concept is a simple one, a celebration of the natural world and a vehicle for education. The Eden Project is a visitor centre, but also a charity that carries out conservation research and teaches students around the world about plants and horticulture.
I read Tim Smit’s book ‘Eden’ whilst I was at university and have always been interested in visiting the project, but for one reason or another have never made it down to Cornwall to see it for myself. This sad state of affairs had to change, so Vicki and I went on tour.
After an inauspicious start to the trip, with a terrible journey from Brighton to Cricklade. The 127 miles of tarmac passed very slowly and was punctuated by too many bright red brake lights. Nearly 4 hours later we arrived at our first stop-off. My Lego Ideas Exo-Suit parcel was waiting for me at my parents and we got some extra presents from South Africa, so we soon forgot the extended journey.
On Thursday we crept out of the house at 06:30 and pulled into the Eden Project car park at around 10:30, it was smooth sailing! Once through the doors you get a good view of the biomes – this is the rainforest biome:
Using the classic theme park attack plan we headed straight for the Rainforest Biome before the crowds descended. I felt like I was in Silent Running for most of the day.
In the first biome we found chilli peppers, vanilla pods, coffee plants, banana and baobab trees, amongst all sorts of other things. The most interesting part was seeing where food comes from and some of the processes that are involved – I had no idea that vanilla pods were hand pollenated outside of Mexico. Apparently the bee that does the work in Mexico cannot survive outside its natural habitat, so in Madagascar and the Island of Reunion the orchid is pollenated by human workers.
We continued on through the rainforest biome and found lots of beatiful spots:
The waterfall looked nice at the bottom, but it was a bit weird at the top – it was really obviously fake!
After lunch we headed for the Mediterranean…
Apart from the plants, there is also lots of art to see.
After a really lovely day we topped it off with a bit of ice-skating. Vicki did eventually let go of the side… Then it was off to the ‘SnoozeBox’ to get changed for dinner.
As you can see it still looked like a shipping container from the outside, but on the inside it was pretty cozy. We had a room that made up a third of the container and that space had four beds, a shower and loads of storage. I said that I was going to live in a shipping container. Vicki said she wasn’t.
We headed back to the Eden Project for dinner. It was mostly in darkness and it felt like we were breaking the rules, sneaking back in. When we got to the Mediterranean biome it looked beautiful. The lights strung up around the tables reflected back in every panel of the roof made it look like stars. The local bitter was really tasty too. The perfect end to a lovely day.