Today's outing was to the Eden Project, which is absolutely amazing. For a tourist attraction in the middle of nowhere it's also very easy to get to by public transport: Falmouth -> Truro -> St Austell, and then a bus to the project itself. Managed a set of perfect changes as well, which is always nice. You can get a combined train/bus/entry ticket, and even better the young person's discount does work on it (worth remembering that).
Anyway, the project itself. It was a nice and sunny day, and being just before half term there weren't that many other people around for the most part (I arrived shortly after opening), although a couple of coach loads of noisy school trips did spoil it a bit later. The main attraction there is obviously the biomes, but there's jsut so much other stuff to see round there.
One section that caught my eye was an area devoted to mythology and folklore. They had planted all sorts of plants and trees that had special meanings back in folklore: both the common ones like rowan and oak trees, and also more obscure things like corkscrew willow. The area felt like something straight out of the Myst games. Actually, come to think of it the whole place had that sort of air about it, all the twisty paths with strange things hidden round the corners, like the Industrial Plant, the globes in the greenhouse, the huts hidden in the rainforest biome.
Speaking of the Industrial Plant, I remember when I was young seeing the sign "Plant room" on a rather determinidly locked door in the depths of a café somewhere, and imaginging a room full of sprawling greenery. It did seem rather strange locking all the plants away - possibly they were brought out to replace the ones in the main room, or possibly they were locked away for our safety and you had to wear special gear to survive in there.
Anyway, after zig-zagging down the zig-zag path I eventually wandered into the main part of the project, the biomes. First was the Mediterrain biome. This one starts out in the style of a spanish villa, but as you wander round the pathways you venture onwards into africa and then back towards climates closer to home. At first you hear birdsong, but only at the other end of the biome do you start to see that there's actual birds, and not hidden speakers. The birds here were amazingly tame, and I think that if I'd held out my arm one or two would have actually hopped onto my hand. I managed to leave that biome just as the first bunch of screaming children turned up (and for the rest of the visit stayed a couple of steps ahead of them).
The rainforest biome was a lot hotter and humid, much as you'd expect from a rainforest. Again, it takes you on a tour of several different styles and areas of rainforest, and has several surprises hidden within. I didn't spot any of the lizards though, which was a shame. A stream runs through this biome, fed by a decent-sized waterfall at the back of it (the biomes are built right up against the cliff face of the old clay pits). There's a bridge right in front of it, and the cool spray was very nice to stand in! I've got plenty of photos from this, but I need to sort through them all and find the few that are actually good (my approach to digital at times involves filling up all the memory cards and then cherry-picking the nice ones later).
There's much more still around the project: plenty of garden areas outside, segments devoted to different plants and ways of working, and a few more thoughtful exhbits like one showing just what gets extracted from a quarry and how it can all be used, the giant nutcracker (unfortuantly not working), WEEEman, and the dead cat exhbition at the entrance.
One thing that I didn't get to do because of timing was to visit the gardens at night. The whole place was full of coloured lights both inside and outside (largely LED-based), and must look stunning at night. A few years ago myself and the rest of the family did go to see such a garden, which we'd actually walked round earlier in the day when it was still light, and it looked completely different at night, almost as if it wasn't the same garden. Ah well, there's always a next time.