On arrival you could tell the scale of visitor draw of the place by the need to get a bus from the outer car parks to the entrance. Thankfully, with our visit out of the high season we parked the car much closer and after a short walk we arrived at the entrance. We exchanged the vouchers I'd got using airmiles collected by using a credit card (at last a use for them) for our tickets. Otherwise, the tickets would have been £17.50 each and another £5 pound for a guide book. Is this a bit much for an educational charity looking to get people to understand the importance of conservation? The commercialisation of the project was one theme that returned to me throughout the day. For the environmental/conservation message to work it needs to be mainstream not the preserve of those with cash to spend on luxuries.
|View down in to the Eden Project|
|A rope powered moving statue|
|Rain Forest Biome, Eden Project|
At the top of the ascent through the forests a waterfall tumbles down a cliff face and the stream then winds it's way down through the biome. You could pay extra for a trip to a viewing platform right at the very top of the biome but we passed over the opportunity. Why should people with more money be able to have a better experience at a charitable endeavour? A recurring theme was the products we use from the forests such as palm oil, coffee, cocoa and rubber and how we need to make sure through our purchasing power these are farmed in a sustainable manner to prevent the destruction of the forests.
|Sculptures, Eden Project|
|The "Core", Eden Project|
We'd also chosen the cafe in the core as our place to eat as this was advertised as serving vegetarian and vegan food. My wife is on a limited diet for medical reasons and we thought here we would have had the best chance of being able to see what the food contained. I have to say though that we found the labelling of the food and the ingredient knowledge of the staff less than helpful. We ended up having a date slice and a drink and swerved the main meals completely.
As it was a pleasant day we again strolled through the plantings but soon it was time for us to leave and start our long journey home. As is inevitable when visiting places like the project the exit took us through the shop. The shop had many nice and tempting products on display but in my mind far too many added value luxury products. The need is to make environmentally friendly products affordable for all and I think the shop could have been a great opportunity to show that such products can be mainstream and affordable.
Our visit complete on the journey away from the project I reflected on what we had seen and whether it was worth the visit. It was. The scale of what has been achieved and the reminder it gives us of our connection to the natural world make that be the case. I do though have reservations over the commercialisation of the project. I accept it must cost a fortune to run the place and the project but when I left I felt more that I'd left a commercial enterprise behind not an educational charity.
Images of Eden
We'd decided to break up our journey with a stop over in the the Quantocks. To be continued.....