Monday 2 June 2003

Cornwall and The Eden Project

Spring half term in '03 we took in a short break in Cornwall, including visiting the Eden Project.

This is well worth spending a day at if you're in that part of the world (we stayed 5 hours, and stopped only because the day had gone from foggy, with the haar blowing in over the rim of the old china-clay pit that houses the main Eden site, to bright sunshine, and Karen didn't have any sun-block, and was starting to burn around the back of the neck). It's best to get your tickets and one of the orientation leaflets from one of the tourist centres around the region rather than adding to your queueing, and to help plan your visit.

It's not just another botanical garden, or arboretum, interesting as either of those sorts of places might be; it also makes good use of artworks, starting with the horse at the entrance.

Once through the ticket booth, you see the true scope of the project.

Descending to the biomes, you find the inhabitants

Adam, a spiky metal statue on rockers that sways in the wind,

Eve, a green woman of grass

- and not one but three Serpents, of articulated wood, and other lesser pieces of decoration, in amongst the plants.

The Myths and Legends outdoor zone was still bedding down when we were there; and construction seemed to be beginning for the 3rd (desert?) indoor biome, blocking off the eastern end of the site.

I would recommend going early to the humid tropical biome, on a day where there isn't direct sunshine, and when you can feel comfortable outdoors in the light clothing that will be all that is bearable in the 25C/100% humidity within that set of domes. It was humid enough that the camera misted over.

Not so in the Hot Temperate biome - the Med, South Africa and California. Exterior first for scale

and now the interior, Med and California sections.

California scrub.

Stone fruit orchard.

We stayed at the Seapoint House Hotel in Mevagissey, which is just about visible against the sky to the right of the mast in the middle of the picture below. The grey wall above the cars on the harbour-side opposite is the path up, carrying behind the orange house and curling back around the point. Access by car is from above, then along the terrace - but to get to that level, you have to go past several "Unsuitable for Motors" signs and a 30% gradient warning.

We recommend the Mr. Bistro seafood restaurant, just off to the left of the picture (it considers Rick Stein to be a bumptious newcomer), and the Alvorada Portuguese Restaurant (which is far more than just a provider of salt cod, if that is all one has encountered of that cuisine - in fact there was no salt cod on the menu!).

Even by comparison, what we found upon returning home wasn't too shabby.

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