Back from long but very enjoyable day trip to The Eden Project. We have been quite a few times over the years but one of the delights of Eden is the fact that there is always something new to see and do.
This time was very different as we were there so late: due to a longer than expected baking session this morning, we didn’t arrive until after 3pm, but this was ok as they had an extended opening until 9pm.
This meant that it was dark most of the time we were there which coupled with the heavy rain outside gave a slightly spooky feel to the biomes.
As ever, we headed to the rainforest section first – the section on chocolate growing is always a favourite and for the first time, we were able to see the cocoa pods on the trees, much to the delight of the 9 year old.
The bamboo house was enjoyed as ever and we had great fun comparing the plants in the Malaysian garden with those grown in our own allotment.
As we were going round, we counted up the number of tropical plants that we had used this week – starting with cocoa and coffee of course, but it is surprising how quickly they add up when you include all the spices we use in cooking.
After all that, it was time for a rest and the little one in particular needed a breastfeed.
The cafe has been completely re-done since we were there last. After the bad floods last winter, the whole area had to be redeveloped.
The cafe is light and airy, serving a small but delicious range of soups, cakes and scones plus hot and cold drinks. Fresh water is available on every table and they operate a refreshing policy of help yourself and then pay at the honesty tills.
Prices were reasonable – £4.50 for soup and bread and around £3 for a cake – the most massive slice of Victoria sponge I have ever seen and definitely one to share.
All the Christmas decorations were still up – twinkly lights in the trees, handmade paper chains and trees decorated with popcorn and chillies, very sweet and very non-commercial.
Next, it was on to the Mediterranean biome, which was surprisingly cold. It did look quite magical, with lots of pretty lights twinkling in the plants, the birds singing themselves to sleep and the evening’s entertainment, a local choir, just starting up.
The goat keeper’s hut is a firm favourite and this time we spent ages investigating the dozens of different chilli plants, growing in ascending Scoville scale.
Then it was off to the Hive, a temporary home for all the festive crafts. The staff were quite delightful – genuinely happy to be working with children; patient and kind about all the creations they were presented with.
We chose to make a friendship bracelet and also a willow star. It was lovely to be given such a wide choice of real crafts, no cut and stick foam shapes here.
Finally, we made our way the Core, the education centre. The building itself is amazing, as is the secret centre piece the 70 tonne granite sculpture called the Seed.
In the Core, you will find more amazing things to see and do, including a whole wall of fridge doors complete with magnets to leave a message and the huge mechanical nutcracker that requires a massive amount of elbow grease to move a single ball, demonstrating how much energy is used up when food is produced and processed.
We spent nearly 5 hours at the Eden Project and there is still so much left for another day, a reminder that although the biomes are amazing, they are just the tip of the iceberg.
The Eden Project is about an hour and a half from Exeter, so it is a full day‘s trip out.
Adult tickets are £22 on the door (£18 if you buy a ticket online) and £8.50 for children, which entitles you to an annual pass.
Check the terms for the Locals Pass though, and you could get your annual pass for only £5 when you visit between 3 January and 10 February 2012. http://www.edenproject.com/buy-tickets/local-pass