Tuesday, 19 July 2011
East of Eden
Living in the middle of the country (not far off dead-centre, actually!) means getting to the coastal extremities is a long, long journey! So trekking down to Cornwall is not something we'd do on a whim - nearly 300 miles and not all of it on motorways - think slow, windy lanes in places!
Anyway, we had the opportunity to visit the westernmost county of England (although some see it as a kingdom of its own) and decided to fulfil a long-held wish to visit the Eden Project while we were there.
Battling heavy rain showers was interesting but once inside the 'biomes' it was, indeed, like being in a different world.
The two main structures (biomes) contain the 'Rainforest' and 'Mediterranean' climates and you have to admire the sheer construction of the habitats to begin with! The Rainforest biome is large enough to contain the Tower of London - aparently, the biomes are recorded in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's largest 'conservatories'!
In the Rainforest biome the temperature and humidity hit you smack in the face - with cold-room respite shelters for those overcome by the conditions! With the birds, small lizards and waterfalls it's the nearest I shall ever come to a jungle - thank goodness they hadn't also imported too many indigenous insects and creepy-crawlies! (But I spotted a stray Robin picking through the undergrowth!)
Besides being beautiful to look at, there's a great concept of education behind it all:
Walking into the Mediterranean biome was like a breath of fresh air - much more temperate! And some of the planting was more more familiar, too!
Although, there was a re-created desert habitat with specimens (and fun items!) from the west coast of America - hmmm, 'Mediterranean'?
Aside from these two massive biomes there's a huge refectory and bakery:
Also, building on the education theme, 'The Core' houses inter-active exhibits on ecology
Ecology, in fact, is the name of the game - the whole site is contained within a former clay mining pit and as such is 'invisible' in the surrounding Cornish landscape. Natural rainwater harvested from the biomes' surface and surrounding areas drains into vast collection reservoirs under the site, servicing the irrigation system and the toilets! Everything, where possible, is recycled - non-recyclable items are used to make original art-work to adorn the outer garden spaces!
It was an interesting concept - but I couldn't help having a futuristic sci-fi moment as I passed by this viewpoint, imagining a post apocalyptic remnant of mankind being forced to live in these 'glass bubbles':
Anyway, just a few pics to give you a flavour!