Eden, June 2006

A child running about like a nutcase in the temperate biome. This is a super place as it is like a giant Mediterranean villa garden, full of exotic flowers and sweet herbs and citrus fruits, and a mini perfume factory and bits of California and South Africa, and a motorbike, and all sorts. It is great. I wish it was my garden and I could sit out there enjoying a cool breeze from the computerised ventilators and chomping on a fresh oringe.

I suppose everyone takes a picture of this but it does not matter. It is a horse made entirely out of cork and driftwood, which is impressive as it’s nowhere near the beach, or an Oddbins. What is really nice about the Eden Project is it is not just plants and surrounding environmental milieu, but scattered with pieces of intresting giant art such as a massive bee, or a cork horse, or a bronze man with a big round face ekcetera.

Similarly this is a piece of ‘artomata’ made by Tim Hunkin, of ‘Secret Life of Machines’ fame and a god to every geeky British male over about 30. It is called ‘Plant Takeaway’ and the idea is to demonstrate how importint plants are in our everyday lives. At the beginning it is as you see, and then everything that is made from plant products disappears like the table and furniture and all the food, and then the people’s clothes fall off because they are made from plant fibres, and finally they collapse and die because there would be no oxygen without plants. Note the stripey cat which is my favourite bit.

It is compulsory of course to have a picture of the biomes themselves, and they are the most fantastic things in terms of sheer engineering that I’ve ever seen. If you watch the DVD about how Eden was built in the first place, it was a colossal project just to turn a flooded, unstable quarry pit into a suitable place to put up these huge structures. They had to drive great bolts into the pit walls and bolster them with thousands of tons of concrete to keep everything from collapsing. Then they had to put up the largest scaffolding structure ever built, in order to construct the actual biomes. You do not realise until you get down into the pit on a level with them just how big these buildings are: more than 50 metres high, fashioned from tubular steel and high-tech plastic, and weighing only slightly more than the air inside.

Your correspondent relaxing in the tropical biome having found a blissfully cool spot near the waterfall. There was a super bird up there which I do not know what it is, but it walked all around me bold as brass chomping up bits of unconsidered trifles, and I tried to get some pictures of it, but every time he either scuttled away or some people wandered into shot and spoiled it. It is nice that they have actual birds flying around.

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