just a wee holiday – part 3

by julie posted June 18, 2013

We had picked our St Austell stop for convenient access to the Eden Project the next day, it was just a few miles down the road.

They have excellent facilities if you’re on an engine-powered or pedal-powered variety of bike, with designated parking close to the front door and free lockers to stash our gear so we could walk around in comfort. Except there was a dire lack of signage to said lockers and we walked a fair distance in the wrong direction before finding them :(

While the conditions created quite a dramatic view of the biomes from the entry to the park, it didn’t make for much fun walking around outside even after buying an umbrella (it’s not the first umbrella we’ve brought back from hols strapped to the side of the bike) and I think we would have enjoyed our visit much more had we been able to wander around outside without our jeans wicking up water from the puddles. It was also a complete guessing game to try and get straight to the entrance to the biomes, since the signage seems to direct you in a very meandering path.

Once we got inside, we went for the tropical side first and when I tried to take a photo, the 50mm lens made a sad juddering noise and resfused to focus, even manually. Usually it’s the only lens I bring on holiday so I was incredibly relieved to have made an exception and also brought the 100mm this time, mostly because of our visit to this place! Still, a 100 is much less of a general walkabout lens and I felt quite limited with it for the rest of the trip.

The structures themselves were almost as interesting from the inside, especially framed with the strong shapes of the leaves.  Maybe I should say something about juxtaposition ;)

Up in the peak of the main dome was a platform that you could climb to, but the sign said it was 45 minute wait, and when I saw it swaying as people moved around I wasn’t too heartbroken to pass it up. Strangely though when I saw this balloon with a seat attached to it that they use to access the tallest plants, I would have had a go given the chance!

There was lots of environmental educational info as we went around and I could tell the place was very much geared towards school groups and less about the plants themselves such as the botanic gardens might be. So, I was a little bit disappointed but it was mostly down to a misjudged expectation on my part.

Still, there were some lovely little spots where I enjoyed playing with a fogged up lens ;)

Here’s the non-foggy version, although I think I prefer the softness of the first one:

The other biome housed a mediterranean climate that was dry and a good bit cooler, and was very pleasant to stroll around. They even had a cafe inside where we probably would have stopped if we were hungry. There was lots more colour to be found, in both the flowers, fruits and their containers:

Purple poppies! That was unusual, to me anyway.

It would have been lovely if it was dry enough to wander around the gardens outside, Ryan was rather excited to see hops growing, and there was a very cute potting shed with lots of photogenic bits:

(Including a spider web on the door, I wonder if the spider is an official Eden Project employee?)

The longer lens made for a nice abstract shot of the structure from outside, before we left.

If we hadn’t been on the bike I could easily have loaded up on the plants and food and buckets and plant pots they sold in the shop but I held back. Lovely to see lots of local stuff, I did make an exception for some apple juice that i had tried in the cafe though.

If you’re anywhere near the place and would be able to visit a few times during the year, instead of buying your ticket you can donate the same amount to the project in a slightly different way and get a yearly ticket for multiple visits. That would be good value, but down to the drizzly rain and mismatched expectations I thought the £20 entry fee was a bit steep but it goes towards their charity and social enterprise projects so I don’t feel too bad about it. They were also advertising live music events including Sigur Rós which I bet would be amazing in that setting, as long as it’s dry!

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