I have to admit the idea of getting up at 7.00 am on a Sunday morning to drive to the Eden Project did not fill me with excitement! I've been there a fair few times before and whilst I wouldn't say the place didn't impress me I wouldn't say it interested me much either. Anyway, this was February and we were heading up with the kids to go ice skating and a Shaun the Sheep modelling work shop - wahoo!
After the delights of driving along the A30 and the highlights of Bugle (sorry anyone from Bugle) we arrived in the Banana car park of the Eden Project - it's sort of banana shaped I suppose. From there we made our way down to the mega gift shop, sorry entrance. That is after stopping off in what were the poshest toilets I've been in for quite some time. Being from round ere we got out our 'Local Pass', which, for £7.50, means I can return for free for the rest of the year. They weren't taking any chances though, proof of address etc...
|The Eden Project|
The ice skating area is under a big canvas canopy a little way from the biomes. Inside there is the ice rink and the Eden Winter Cafe, which actually did make me feel remotely festive, especially after a hot drink. With that we took to the ice.
|Eden Winter Cafe|
Now this wasn't the kind of ice most of you will be familiar with. I.e. it wasn't slippy ice. It kind of had a powdery texture and was about as grippy as carpet. But, there were lots of sledges, plastic dumper trucks and tricycle type things all over the ice and the amazing thing is they did slide! So as you can imagine this combination of slippy and grippy allowed me to run around whilst pulling the kids in a sledge...
...for what felt like hours! I'm sure it did me good and the kids thoroughly enjoyed it. There was also lots of them scooting around on various vehicles and pulling each other around. So, the verdict lots of fun was had by all!
After the kids session a tractor like-machine called the Olympian 2000 or something came and magically transformed the ice back into the slippery sort of ice we are all familiar with.
|Kids Ice Session at Eden Project|
My oldest and me were booked into a Shaun the Sheep modelling work shop run by the people from Ardman (Wallace & Grommet etc). The deal was you pay £5 and you get to make your own Shaun the Sheep out of plasticine, sorry, modelling clay. Anyway, we had a bit of time to kill so we had a look in the giant yurt type structure next door where some more sheep related activities were going on. I was a tad apprehensive when we first entered as there was a massive wood burner in the middle with only a rail to prevent careering kids from roasting themselves. None did whilst I was in there so maybe kids are smarter than they look?!
There were a few crafty activities going on and we made a bobble sheep just to get in the mood.
|Shaun the Sheep as mad by us!|
To cut a long story short we were instructed and given a few pointers on how to make our own Shauns. Amazingly enough it worked, although if you give a 6 year old black and white plasticine much of it ends up a dirty grey.
That was the structured part of the day. We sat on a bench and scoffed our home made sandwiches and headed off to the Eden Project proper. Now, since I had last been things seemed to have grown to fill in the void in front of the biomes. It did in places have the feel of a garden centre but generally it looked nice. There are also lots of sculptures and the likes around the place such as water features. Nearly all of these have clever little features, visual puns, that sort of thing which I have to admit to liking.
Well, here I am at the Eden Project actually thinking this is quite a nice place to spend a bit of time. Admittedly it was quiet and the weather was nice, but this is an improvement on my previous feelings. Now for Eden's raison d'etre - the biomes.
There are two biomes linked by the central cafe area. There is the Tropical Biome and the Mediterranean Biome. I'm assuming you all no what a biome is. Everyone knows what a biome is don't they? OK, for those who don't, imagine and enormous dome shaped green house made up of hexagonal panes of plastic. Somewhat like the molecular structure of Buckminsterfullerene I would guess, if that helps!
|The Buckminsterfulerene like qualities of the Eden Project|
|Biome was so tropical it steamed up my camera!|
On to the Mediterranean biome. This time we'd found the cloakroom, which made it a lot more pleasant. I have to say this was my favourite bit. Admittedly I didn't look at a single plant but there is a square there. The sort of square you find in Mediterranean villages with tables and chairs. It was sunny outside and the temperature was in the 20s, along with the smell of the plants it actually felt like being on holiday. I think even the kids were convinced for about a minute. I would have been happy sitting there, working on my tan all day, but alas it was time to go.
|One of those installations|
That said the kids thoroughly enjoyed watching the installation here. It is an automated puppet show telling of what would happen if there were no plants, with the unfortunate puppets losing everything including their clothes. The kids really revelled in the puppets misfortune, not sure if they got the take home message, but hey!
In conclusion, the family went to the Eden Project and had a nice day out in February. And my opinion of the place has, grudgingly, slightly improved. All it need now is a few wild animals roaming the biomes, tigers and the likes, and I will be completely sold on it.