Wednesday, 31 August 2011

The Eden Project

One of the aims of our holiday in Devon was to take a trip to the Eden Project. None of us had been, despite it celebrating its 10th birthday this year. We converted some more Clubcard vouchers into tickets so it was a cheapish day out, barring the petrol for the nearly 70 mile trip from where we were staying.

We got there early and got round the Rainforest biome early as we had been advised. I am so glad we did - it was hot and getting hotter all the time but it wasn't too packed. Everywhere we went, it seemed that we were just ahead of the crowd as it would fill up after we arrived. We tried to brave the Rainforest Lookout right at the top of the biome but I don't do well with heights and despite giving it a go, we got up two flights of steps and the children both freaked. I offered them the chance to turn back and they took it, something I was mightly relieved about! Missy Woo even came down one flight of steps on her bottom rather than having to look down. We let my husband go up by himself but even he came down slightly shaking as it was even scarier at the top so I was glad I took them back down. The children loved looking at the plants and insisted on taking photos, more of which later. We found it funny that we saw several robins around who must have made their way in from outside! The displays were well organised and appealed to the children as well as adults.

After we came out, we went into the bakery in the link building, which seems to be the nicest and best place to eat, with a relaxed atmosphere. You take a board and help yourself to whatever you want, order hot drinks from some of the staff then go and pay at the end. Top prices seemed to be about six pounds, which included the most enormous foccaccia sandwich - easily shared between two people. We actually bought the biggest scone I have ever seen which I covered with jam and cream; it fed three of us!

After the Rainforest, the Mediterranean biome was much more relaxed - and smaller too. We sat for quite a while listening to some songs. And lots more photos got taken!

Beyond the biomes, we wandered around outside and Monkey and I took the landtrain as we decided not to wait when we arrived. We all enjoyed the Core too, playing with the exhibits, like the giant Seed statue and the Plant Processor, and watching the films.  We came back via the picnic/play area and stopped for another coffee in the Apple Cafe at the Visitor Centre, which was not as good as the bakery, largely because no-one seemed to be clearing tables and it looked a mess. We found the shop really expensive so we skipped off home after that, though we got slightly lost as we missed the turning back to the A390 within the grounds (Eden Project, please note - make the A390 exit sign more obvious, like adding Liskeard or Plymouth so people know it's the right way to go!).

Our tips (some of these were passed on to me by the good folk of Twitter):

- Get there early and round the Rainforest biome first before it's busy.
- Use the park and ride to save your legs; we were quite close but some of the car parks are a very long way from the entrance.
- Take on loads of water when in the Rainforest biome - there are water fountains around and places to sit.
- Don't attempt to go up to the lookout if you remotely have a problem with heights.
- Wear loose, light clothing because you WILL get hot in the rainforest.
- You can buy an annual pass for the same price as a day visit but you can't do this if you use Clubcard vouchers.
- You can save money by booking tickets online, more if you select the date of your visit. You also get a discount if you arrive on foot, by bike or public transport (but you have to buy tickets on the door to get this discount).
- There are plenty of accessible routes but you will miss some parts if you have a buggy as there are lots of steps, or have a lot of lifting to do. If you can manage without one - I know that's not always possible - I'd recommend you leave it behind.
- Eat at the Eden Bakery - the food seemed the nicest, there were fewer queues, more seating space and the atmosphere was more relaxed. The food in the Mediterranean biome looked nice too.

I've put together a little slideshow of the best photos from our trip. They were mostly taken by the children - I've left off a lot of chopping off of heads and photos through wire mesh etc! But still, there are some nice photos in there and they did really well. It's great that you can do that with digital photography. Apologies that one is on its side but try as I might, Slide won't rotate it even though it says it is.


We think the Eden Project is a great day out for people of all ages - it's educational as well as fun and pretty much everybody will get something out of it. It is a whole day out - we were there from just after 10 until 4 - so the £60 for a family of four to get in is worth it, especially as most things are included in the price. And if you can make use of the annual pass and visit more than once, it then becomes a bargain!
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