Wednesday, October 11, 2006

An interlude……….. return to rainy Plymouth and beyond

Wow! Words failed me. I knew it would be somewhat impressive, but I had’nt expected this.

Sian and I parked up in the designated car park and strolled down the gravel paths to the entrance, where a large area of trees screened the visitor centre, by now thronging with people. As I had thoughtfully bought tickets beforehand we fast tracked it through and onto a balcony where we had our first sight of the EDEN PROJECT.

It was gob-smackingly huge and impressive, and not an American or McDonalds in sight. What spoilt it though were the throngs of people everywhere. Oh well, it was only to be expected on a dampish day in the middle of August. The Eden project itself sits at the bottom of a huge hole – an old clay pit some 60m deep [around 200’ for us oldies]. So the effect was not unlike what I would imagine coming over the lip of a huge crater and peering down into the murky depths, hoping to see a pool of lava, or a meteor or alien spaceship….and what you get is far closer to the latter than any pool of lava….

Some of you might already have noted my penchant for modern architecture, and what confronted us at the bottom of the hole was just that. Very modern and futuristic domes with a flying connection between them, roofed with turf. Over to the right hand side was another building, again pretty modern looking with lots of wood……

We walked down the zigzag paths and across the terraced slopes to the first dome, which contained the tropical biome. Once inside, despite the throngs of people you really did feel that you were in a tropical rainforest. The area was split into the main world rainforest areas.. south east Asia, south America, Africa and Oceania. What was at first surprising, was that all the plants growing there had a commercial value, either to those living in such areas, or globally. Whilst I first thought that this would lead to a degree of sameness or even problems with getting enough variety, it soon became obvious that this was a stroke of genius on the part of the development team. I mean- sure seeing all sorts of bryophytes and orchids is an experience, especially if you are into such things, but as I’m sure the Eden team would say, they’re not trying to recreate Kew [mind you- why not?] but to provide an insight to joe public as to how dependent the human world is on so many plants.

The throngs were still a pain and we had to allow ourselves to be pushed along with the flow. A brief respite was had at a high section of the south American section where an incredible view was to be had over the top of the forest towards the ingress point. By the time we reached the exit we were well damp and the blast of cool air that was blowing against us as we left was invigorating. By now it was lunchtime and most people were busy filling their faces in the restaurants/cafes/coffee shop… so the mediteranean biome was a little less crowded. Lots of plants quite familiar to us all, especially things like thyme and rosemary, whose scent pervaded the dome…..

After our stroll around here we wandered over to the…… and had a quick sarnie and a glass of cider, and then sat back and enjoyed the vista… we ended up walking around the discovery dome, where Sian announced that she now knew more about bananas than she ever thought possible

So, what were my lasting impressions of the Eden project? The biggest theme-park in the south west? Certainly. A worthy attempt to educate the GBP on the ehics and usage of global plants? Yes, I’d say so. Force feeding a green ethic on the same GBP? Probably not, unless you were a rabid rightwing free marketeer.

Would I go back there again? Definitely, but I’d want to go in November or February when there are no crowds and I could take my time.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


Sometime around the begining of summer I realised that the bathroom from hell had to be sorted out, and since I'd been putting it off for ever, sooner rather than later seemed to be a good move.......

So I started off by ripping out the now rotting window and consigning it to the skip. Then I did nothing for a month or so whilst I thought about what to do next, and more importantly, where the money was going to come from.

Anyways, with the judicious use of a low interest credit card and 'screwfix' I bought a new suite and all the various bits that I needed. That was in August and now it's October. At least I now have a toilet. For a while, between old pan out and new pan in, I was commuting down to the marina just for a crap, or trying to time my communing with nature to when I was within a few yards of a comfy seat. But I still need to finish the plumbing, put in a new ceiling, tile the shower, instal the shower and I have'nt even started on the sink, or the floor. Oh and I still have no window. I suspect I'll be done by christmas. Hopefully.