The Eden Project Review

Whilst we were reviewing the Sands Resort Hotel, we were invited to take the children to visit the Eden Project in Cornwall.

Well, what a day!!

The sheer scale of the place took us by surprise, and the strange beauty of the ‘domes’ and the ‘hedgehog building’ (The Core) was stunning from the high view point as you arrive. We had been looking out to see who could spot the domes first as we drove nearer – not realising that they are at the bottom of an old quarry pit, and entirely invisible until you’re right on top of them!

We hopped straight from the car onto the park & ride bus – two bigger boys very excited at trying to stand up without holding on as we drove, smallest boy just soooo excited simply to be on a bendy bus and looking out the window.

Our first step was the Mediterranean (or Warm Temperate as its called now) biome. We were tipped by one-who-knows to go here first – do the biomes the other way round and you may feel that the warm temperate biome has less to offer (which blatantly is not true), as it’s on a different scale. The boys enjoyed the dome more than we expected, and rather than simply charging through, shooting each other through the foliage, they enjoyed looking at the different zones (the ‘cowboy’ area was popular!), reading the short information posts, spotting various items – and they spent ages gazing at the incredible sculptures (they were spellbound by The Rites of Dionysus by Tim Shaw).

From there we made a slow walk back to The Core, which is an amazing building, designed around a tree principle, using a central trunk and canopy roof that shades the ground and harvests the sun. Based on the Fibonacci code, it is worth stopping to look at when you’re not too close, so that you can appreciate it. Of course, if you’re under the age of 10, its similarity to a hedgehog is wonder enough.

We stopped in the activities tent (it was the Easter holidays, and there were STACKS of things organised for the children to do) – the boys had an impromptu lesson in circus skills, decorated a cupcake and created a mini den.

Lunch was in Jo’s café, and was just wonderful. The boys all chose the ‘picnic basket’ option, which contained a sandwich, fruit, a muffin and a smoothie – plus a food related activity sheet, which kept them all busy! The highchairs are lovely – wooden, practical and stylish. And also importantly in plentiful supply. The grown up food was no less delicious – Mr Laura enjoyed a jacket with a spicy bean dish, and I had a great roasted veg tortilla.

The emphasis, as you’d expect, everywhere you go is on the environment. The food is all ‘good’ stuff, screens on the table played an interesting slideshow about food and its sources, which started up a great conversation with the boys. Even the stylish plastic chairs have a small plaque on the back saying that they were made from 300 plastic cups!

We couldn’t quite resist the carrot cake, either, which I have to say you would be VERY foolish to miss, it is just incredible!

After lunch we all went ice skating (the rink was put up for the winter, and by popular demand is still there!). Ella was too young, obviously, so Mr Laura opted to maintain his dignity and baby sit (and wield a camera instead, I discovered later!).

Once we felt we had all fallen over enough, we headed back to the biomes for the ‘Jungle Dome’ (Humid Tropics Biome).

Which is just stupendous.

As you step inside, you are engulfed by the humid warmth that seems to weirdly muffle sounds. The children just stopped still for a minute, and gazed, trying to take in the sheer scale of the real-life jungle in front of them – despite telling them what was inside, I don’t think they were prepared for the enormity of it – any more than we were, to be honest. The scents, the sounds, the heat – the whole atmosphere in the biome is foreign and exciting.

By the time you’re halfway round you have forgotten you’re in Cornwall at all, and you’re immersed in looking at what is around you – glancing upwards a couple of times I was surprised to see the hexagonal roof instead of a deep blue tropical sky.

It does get very hot (there are very welcome drinking fountains as you go round, but I found a bottle of water on the pushchair handy for the boys), and small tempers began to fray by the time we had reached the high point at the back. But then we came across the amazing waterfall, got very damp from the spray, had lots of excited chattery shouting over the noise of it and all was well again! The displays themselves are interesting and very well done, and we all learned a lot about so many different things. The visual nature of them meant the boys grasped ideas and concepts very quickly, far more so than pure written info signs – they were amazed by the Malaysian house, loved understanding where chocolate & chewing gum come from, the rubber story (with giant tyre) fascinated them… oh there was so much they loved and explored. There were constant shouts of ‘Hey! Come and look at this!’

But the Eden Project is not just about the biomes – the grounds are not just beautiful but interesting too. The boys loved exploring the interactive maze and play areas, and the WEEE man made us stop and examine him twice to spot new items – and generated an interesting conversation with the boys about waste and recycling, seeing him visually represent waste on such a graphic scale really helped them grasp what all the fuss is about. We didn’t make it to the land train (much to Toby’s disappointment), and I’m sure there are lots of things we missed. We finished up back in the Core, following the path to the centre to admire the Seed (which was a little lost on the boys, but we were awed by it), and then into the education hall for all the interactive displays which again the boys were enthralled by, particularly as they were able to get hands-on and fiddle and touch and poke and wind and watch and move and create for themselves.

On a dull-but-important note, there are good toilet and baby-changing facilities throughout the site, though not always conveniently close at hand. As we found out when Joe had queued for and then been strapped into his ice skating boots… and then decided he REALLY needed a wee… It’s also worth doing a Mumma-enforced do-you-need-a-wee?-well-lets-just-try trip before entering the domes.

We finally made it back to the car at 5.40 (another exciting bus ride back – and I have to just say that the labeling of the car park is genius – pictures of fruits for each level meant even the boys remembered where the car was!). We had such a fun-packed day – a family vote on the journey home had it noted under the ‘fantastic, MUST come back’ list.

Oh, and the cherry on the (carrot) cake? Gift Aid your entry, and you get to keep going back for a year – for free!!

Author: Laura

A 70's child, I’ve been married for a Very Long Time, and appear to have made four children, and collected one large and useless dog along the way. I work, I have four children, I have a dog… ergo, I do not do dusting or ironing. I began LittleStuff back in (gulp) 2004. I like huge mugs of tea. And Coffee. And Cake. And a steaming cone of crispy fresh fluffy chips, smothered in salt and vinegar. #healthyeater When I grow up I am going to be quietly graceful, organised and wear lipstick every day. In the meantime I *may* have a slight butterfly-brain issue.

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