Despite visiting Devon, a less than 2 hour drive away from the Eden Project, in numerous times in my early life, I never took a trip to the quarry which had been transformed into the equivalent to a nature theme park.
Suck on these space balls, Jeff Bezos. Similar to Amazon’s biospheres in downtown Seattle, the Eden Project’s main attraction is the two enormous biodomes — one tropical, one mediterranean.
We hit the tropical one first, and while I’d seen plenty of pictures before our trip and knew what to expect, I’d never been anywhere like it. It was a true marvel of engineering, first and foremost, and an incredible experience to be surrounded by such lushness as far as you could see.
I was plant geeking out, annoyingly naming as many as I could. I’m a sucker for a big ol bird of paradise.
My favourite plants at home are my pothos (but don’t tell the others) so it was nice to be tapped on the shoulder twice by this friendly fella.
Bromeliad airplants are astonishingly weird to me and I think they’re so great.
And these leaves. Let’s talk about them. Big enough to float a baby down a river on, I say. The most important measure of leaf-impressiveness, t’is well known.
Also big enough to be an ant highway!!
There was an observation deck you could go up to, provided you were cool with waiting for 45+ minutes on a staircase leading up in the increasingly sweltering heat.
So we didn’t do it, but it made for a nice focal point for our shots. As did the whole biome architecture, which gave the whole thing an impossibly futuristic vibe. I’ve always wanted to visit the Cloud Forest in Singapore, but this was pretty much as impressive to me. And it’s in Cornwall! That’s not even mentioning all the research and teachings and other attractions and super fast zipline(!!) they have at the site. It’s a global attraction to the area, the scale of which I was unprepared for, but it more than lived up to the billing in my eyes.
Cloud Forest has waterfalls. Eden Project has waterfalls. Same thing.
A tropical snug.
We went next door, crossing through the temperature controlled chamber in between filled with all kinds of good food smells coming out of the open international kitchen, into the Mediterranean biodome.
My biggest complaint was that all the vegetation in the Mediterranean environment was just planted crops, but the restaurant in the middle of the space really drove home the point.
They were hosting a science talk of some kind, but I believe this guy in the white jumpsuit is a real astronaut.
I am a real plant boy.
The Eden Project’s gift shop.
Leaving the Eden Project, we headed to a spot that Lia had found for lunch, about an hour or so away on the western coast of Cornwall, called Canteen. It was the first of many stops we’d planned based off reading an article in Bon Appetit on Cornwall, and as usual we were letting our stomachs guide our trip. Unfortunately, by the time we arrived they’d long stopped serving — a trend that would become common in Cornwall and other parts of rural Britain was their unnecessarily rigid schedule when food was and wasn’t served — but in the old converted workshops across the way we stumbled upon a coffee shop /slash/ surf shop /slash/ plant shop. I think it’s one of the coolest places I’ve ever discovered.
Not only was the barista the nicest guy who let us use his iPad’s wifi and gave us some local recommendations, he was a student at the freaking Eden Project, who’d moved from London to surf and study plants. I can’t think of a cooler person.
I have no idea to live on a beach, but if I did, I’d want my place to have a similar feel.
Another of the customers’ dogs came and joined us outside as we had a builders tea and coffee out of beautiful ceramic mugs while being refreshed by the brisk coastal air.
We battled on in search of more food before heading to our end point for the day, Penzance, and while I won’t dwell on that frustrating episode, I will say there was a highlight along the way: our first Cornish Tea. Sat on a wall outside a little coffee hut. Until a wasp chased us inside. British holiday as fuck.