Saturday, 11 September 2010

Would you Adam and Eve it?


Eden Project - simply stunning.

Driving over 200 miles for 2 nights away just to see the Eden Project may seem like a bonkers plan but it was definitely worth it.  Lured by the fact that there is a £4 per person discount for anyone who cycles or walks we parked up in a layby in nearby St Blazey and pedaled a mile or so to get there.  I'm sure they'd prefer you to cycle from further away but it was 18 miles from Looe and none of them were flat.  Interestingly they don't check when you buy your ticket, we said we'd cycled and they believed us - mind you we were dressed the part and my right leg was, as usual, covered in oil from my chain.

Daisies! (Big 'uns!)
Naively I thought the Eden Project was going to be rather like Kew Gardens except bigger and hillier, but I was very wrong.  The two indoor biomes are vast, the Rain Forest one especially so.  Wherever you looked there was information about the plants and their relevance to the world.  At one point we passed a small shrub which had pretty enough blue flowers but nothing out of the ordinary which, it turns out, produces a drug which has helped save thousands of lives treating childhood leukemia.

View from Rain Forest Walk
They've recently opened the Rain Forest Walk, a climb up 80 or so steps along a gently swaying gantry to a platform suspended high in the roof over the rainforest.  We took advantage of the £3 per person special opening offer (normal price will be £5)  and headed up. If we thought it was hot in the biome in general we were in for a shock up there.  Hot air has a nasty habit of rising and it was making no exceptions for us.  Up in the platform it was just over 36C, bad enough for us palid sun shy Brits but when coupled with the stifling humidity of the rainforest it was almost unbearable.  The only relief came from the fact that the platform was directly under the open windows in the roof which provided the occasional very welcome cooler breeze.   The experience was fantastic but not for the feint hearted.  The tough climb in a hot and very humid atmosphere meant we all arrived at the platform dripping with sweat.  The walkways and platform are made from industrial metal mesh so you can look down past your feet to the canopy of the rainforest and floor of the biome far below.  We got some fabulous shots and the guide was really friendly and helpful but none of us stayed longer than 15 mins. Your timed entry ticket allows you up to 30 mins provided you can stand the heat and humidity.

The Core
We then tackled the Core, the Theatre and the outdoor biome.  In each area great care and thought has gone into informing, educating and engaging people of all ages.  Outside plants are grouped - food plants, medicines, magical/ folklore etc.  There was no way we could see and read absolutely everything in a day.  Luckily if you're a UK taxpayer and giftaid your entry fee you get a pass for free entry for a year.  Brilliant idea!  We really want to come back in the spring and see how different things look at a different time of year.

Utterly exhausted we headed for Polperro  for a fish and chip supper on the seafront.  I've never been before and I know this will upset many people, but I didn't really like the place.  Firstly there is no choice but to park in one large carpark on the edge of town which, despite being vast, has zero provision for Motorhomes and informs you in large unfriendly letters on the Pay and Display machine that large vehicles must pay double.  How come Dorset has this all figured out but nowhere else does?  Polperro is pretty with its tiny winding streets but I found it rather claustrophobic and also rather irritating having to constantly dive into doorways or gardens to avoid being run over.  Nevertheless we found the obligatory chippie down on the harbour and enjoyed a lovely al fresco dinner on a gorgeous secluded bench near the top of the cliffs.  As we ate I wondered how many people at that precise moment were paying hundreds of pounds for posh dinners that didn't have half the view of our little bench. You can keep your haute cuisine and fine dining, a fish supper and a nice quiet bench by the sea will do me fine, thank you.

Tomorrow we have to head home again but not before we've taken a dip in the pool and played at least one more game of crazy golf.  Then we plan to pootle back taking in some sights along the way.  The whole world seems to be in such a rush these days and there's nothing I enjoy more than bucking the trend.