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The Eden Sessions
Eden Project (Cornwall)
Member Name: grahamt
Eden Project (Cornwall)
Date: 30/06/10, updated on 06/07/10 (304 review reads)
Advantages: A great arena ; superb artists
Disadvantages: Getting out again
The story of the Eden Project is, by now, well known, how a worked-out China Clay pit was transformed into a haven of ecology with the biggest "greenhouses" in the World, the Biomes which contain a landscape of Tropical and Mediterranean flora, together with an outdoors area for flora suitable for our temperate UK climate. The Eden Project has been a huge success with visitors coming to see it from all around the World.
The Eden Project is pretty much in the middle of nowhere; St Austell is probably the nearest major town; we have found a guest house not more than a mile away. Access is best by car and they have a huge amount of car parking space available to accommodate the ever-growing numbers. Free buses can take you to the entrance should it be necessary to park in any of the more distant car parks.
At the entrance, where you buy your tickets, you will also find the gift shop, the plant shop and also a small café. Walking through this area you emerge onto the lip of the hole and look down a couple of hundred feet to the site laid out before you. On the far side are the two major Biomes, linked by the services area where you will find refreshments in one of a number of outlets. In front of the Biomes is the Arena where the Eden Project hosts live shows, the reason for our second visit.
Between where you start out and all this is the outdoor Biome. You descend to the floor of the site through the outdoor zone by any one of a number of paths and stairways. Everywhere there are different plants being grown with many having explanations of why particular crops are planted there and what they offer to the World by way of purely decorative, or serious application, such as for the drugs that can be extracted from them. Many are food crops, some having been specifically developed for disease resistance.
The indoor Biomes are the Tropical zone and the Mediterranean zone. The Tropical zone is, as the name would suggest, very hot and sticky. However, the walk through this zone is fascinating and covers the sort of flora you will find in many parts of the World.
It is also strange to find non-native birds flying around you. Although it is possible for them to escape through the temperature regulating roof vents, I get the impression that they mostly spend there lives here. I suppose that when you are so small and the enclosure so big, it probably feels like the whole World! There are supposed to be small lizards here as well, all to help with insect control, but we didn't spot any.
Walking right round and taking in all the exhibits and information boards, plus taking pictures, took us about an hour, by which time it was time for a drink in the link area. Then, on to the Mediterranean Biome. This is a bit smaller and didn't take us nearly as long to cover. I guess we spent around three-quarters of an hour there. The Mediterranean designation is nominal since some of the areas represented American landscapes as well.
That just gives you a flavour of what there is to see. On the most recent occasion we hadn't really come to visit the exhibits: we'd come to see Mika. Our concert tickets granted us entry to the Eden Project for the day of the concert and the following day as well, if you wanted. We went the same day and spent the whole day there until the concert started.
The Eden Project started the Eden Sessions a while back and they have had some real headline artists performing there. The night before the Mika concert they had enjoyed a full house for Jack Johnson. We had paid £35 a head to see Mika (both my wife and I are huge fans) and then had a real bonus when it was subsequently announced that the support act would be Diana Vickers!
Throughout the day there was also entertainment around the site. There were various artists performing on a little stage in the Mediterranean zone and to the side of the main Arena stage is the Stage Right Stage, where other artists performed from mid-afternoon onwards. You could just sit and listen to them until the main show started if you had already exhausted the possibilities offered by the Eden Project; many did.
The Arena holds around 5,000 I would guess and was pretty well full on the night. For the Jack Johnson concert they even managed to squeeze in an extra thousand, who had to sit or stand on the steps leading down to the floor of the site; a long way from the stage but with a brilliant view. The area in front of the stage is asphalted and rises gradually away from the stage until it meets a surrounding grassy bank. This rises much more steeply and, although here about 50 metres from the stage, is probably better from a viewing point of view as there is little obstruction in front of you. Anyway, that's where we chose to go.
The concert was a blast. I have to confess I knew little about Diana Vickers, never having watched the X-Factor and only having been conscious of her No. 1 - "Once" which I admit I like very much. Well, I was blown away. She was superb, bouncy and lively, she put on a really up-beat performance. No way was she overshadowed by the mighty Mika. She did about a one hour set and finished to rapturous applause.
There was then a gap of about three-quarters of an hour before Mika, during which you could go out and get food and refreshments. Around the Arena were bars and food outlets, including a barbecue which billowed smoke alarmingly! During the show, all refreshments have to be paid for with pre-purchased cream and orange tokens. Don't worry about buying too many because you can get unused ones refunded after the show.
Then it was Mika. He was brilliant. He really gives value for money. The set was nearly two hours long during which he covered just about everything from his two albums and a bit more. The guy is a real showman and he has such an original collection of music. The audience was screaming for more at the end and he came back to do four more songs including "We are Golden" and, of course, "Grace Kelly".
I can think of only two other artists who have entertained so brilliantly: Sailor, who we saw at Manchester's Apollo many, many years ago, and the infamous Mott The Hoople concert at the Liverpool Arena in 1971.
The only let-down was the exit from the Eden Project after the concert. All but one route back up to the top had been blocked off, so creating a bottleneck that meant it took around half an hour just to get back up to the entrance. The next problem was getting out of the site by car, once again through just one exit. All in all it was probably an hour after the concert had finished when we were finally on our way back to our accommodation.
Was it worth it? Absolutely. Would we go again? Without hesitation.
Summary: A chance to see great concerts, an the Eden Project too!
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