Wednesday, October 12, 2011

The Eden Project, Cornwall, UK

We're spending a few days in Cornwall, visiting The Nephew who's just started uni in Plymouth, which also happens to be Mr Traveller's birth town, so given a few days spare before the littlest hobo's hospital appointment, it seemed a perfect opportunity. We're staying in the little coastal village of Mevagissey, which is close to the Eden Project, an eco visitor attraction and educational charity.

We started off on the right foot by buying our tickets online, which gave us a 15% discount, and hobo went free as an under 5. I was fretting about having to print tickets if we bought online, but you just have to give them your reference number when you arrive to receive your tickets. Our second bonus was on arrival when we realised that the one day tickets we'd bought actually gave us entry for a whole year. I'm not sure that we'll be in this neck of the woods again in the next 12 months, as is possibly the case with the majority of their visitors, but what a great way to give your visitors that warm fuzzy feeling that they're getting something for nothing.

The project is contained within an old clay mine, and you enter at the top of the pit, with a view down to the biomes in the valley. It gives you a strange perspective, looking down from there, the biomes look quite small and the walk down looks like it would only take a couple of minutes. In reality, there is loads to see on the way down through the óutdoor biome' and my guess is that we spent about 45 minutes meandering down the hillside, and probably would've taken longer it it hadn't been for the necessity of a nearby loo for a recently almost nappy-free toddler. For those who don't want to or can't take the walk down (or back up at the end of your visit!) they provide a land train which takes just 2 or 3 minutes.

There are two indoor biomes: Mediterranean and Rainforest; the rainforest biome is by far the largest of the two. As well as the three biomes are the Core, which is considered the hub of the Eden Project and I found it to be the area that contained the most information, the stage, where they host a variety of concerts and events, and while we were there they were also constructing the ice rink for the winter season. There is a large grass covered link between the two indoor biomes, which also houses toilets and some really tasty food outlets.

The Rainforest biome made me homesick for Australia and made me keen to continue on our travels, it was also very hot, and having come in from the conservative October Cornish climate we found ourselves stripping down to t-shirts and wishing we hadn't worn jeans, so come prepared.

Walking around, it felt like there was loads to see, but not always loads of information about it... there were signs and descriptions but often we found that we had a lot of questions that were unanswered... although some of those questions (such as how do they power this place then?) were answered when we arrived at the Core. Other things we may have missed in the way that you often do when a small person with busy hands is in your party.

There are several food outlets at the Eden Project, and I was delighted to see that they didn't offer the usual chicken nuggets/burgers and chips that are so often the only option at these sort of attractions, but tasty, freshly prepared (you could see the chefs making everything from scratch) wholesome offerings that were really well priced and kept us grazing all day!

All in all we had a good time, and I would go back. We all enjoyed ourselves, learn a thing or two and were glad that we'd chosen to spend one of our Cornish days there. We were there for approximately 5 hours, although at approximately 55GBP it wasn't the cheapest day out. If you had the opportunity to go back at different times of year on your free ticket for a year it would be well worth it.

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