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What's this blog all about?

Hi, I'm Nicola - welcome to a blog begun in 2012 about family travel around the world, without leaving the UK.

I love travel adventures, but to save cash and keep my family's carbon footprint lower, I dreamt up a unique stay-at-home travel experience. So far I've visited 110 countries... without leaving the UK. Join me exploring the next 86! Or have a look at the "countries" you can discover within the UK by scrolling the labels (below right). Here's to happy travel from our doorsteps.

Around 2018 I tried a new way of writing my family's and my own UK travel adventures. Britain is a brilliant place for a staycation, mini-break and day trips. It's also a fantastic place to explore so I've begun to write up reports of places that are easy to reach by public transport. And when they are not that easy to reach I'll offer some tips on how to get there.

See www.nicolabaird.com for info about the seven books I've written, a link to my other blog on thrifty, creative childcare (homemadekids.wordpress.com) or to contact me.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

What to do about Eden?

Those domes in the old china clay pit look fab.

This blog is about family travel around the world without leaving the UK. Impossible? No. This post is about how Cornwall's beleaguered Eden Project offers a wonderful day out plus the chance to see plants from all around the world. Somehow the trip also got me thinking about what should be demanded from a job... Words from Nicola Baird (see www.nicolabaird.com for more info about my books and blogs).  
Eden specialises in mixing up art and
plants creating amazing world lessons.

Eden is the original paradise. A lush garden - warm enough to walk around without clothes and with very tasty fruit trees. Who wouldn't like to visit? Well 2012 may have brought 960,000 visitors to the fabulous Eden Project in Cornwall but sadly the numbers are well down. It's the first time there have been less than a million visiting since Eden opened in 2001.

The result is income is down - a month later (30 Jan 2013) the charity went public with this sad news, saying it needed to reduce annual costs by £2 million for 2013 and so needs to make redundant 70 of its 445 staff. Job losses look set to include gardeners, education workers, events organisers, shop and office staff. Eden is not closing, but it's just so sad that Cornish locals have even less employment opportunities. Apparently the Olympics and the ceaseless rain are to blame.

We visited Eden on the last day of December - a place I've wanted to go to for years but somehow kept overlooking, so foolish. It was raining... but there are two vast domes (basically big greenhouses) to look around so we felt we couldn't have picked better weather.

Eden is a fantastic place. Here are just a few reasons:
Here's a chilli tasting thermometer.
This sign warns just how hot
Caribbean Scotch Bonnets can be, but some
chillies are even hotter.

  • There's a bus route direct from St Austell train station (handy for tourists/day trippers)
  • It has fantastic food in the cafe
  • The domes are amazing to look at, and around. Would you dare climb the swinging staircase to the very top?
  • There's always something new going on - den building, Santa visiting, ice skating, chilli tasting etc
  • It's an attraction that takes some beating on a wet day
  • You can learn a lot without making any effort at all.
While the energetic members of our party skated on the pop up ice rink (in the summer this area is used for concerts) I had fun looking around the shop - it's huge - where I bought a bag made from old ad banners with a seat belt strap, some seeds and a three-pack of local ale. If you are Cornish based there are local annual discount passes available, though they have to be bought by 14 February 2013.

It's easy to become morose about the economic readjustments going on. From my viewpoint it seems like a personal attack when school budgets are slashed, uni students have to pay full whack, sixth form students struggle to pay to get to their colleges and the great eco projects start having pear-shaped wobbles. There are still jobs out there, just not so many at Eden.

Highbury Fields School choir sing at the recent
Jack Petchey Foundation awards for Islington schools.
It's such an uplifting event. It makes you ask: "What have you
done today to make you feel good?"
In a bid to find out how to make soundcloud recordings work I've done a 20 second recording with my family about what it is that I want out of a job, wherever that job is or whatever it entails. Thanks to a song, I've cracked it. Listen here. With thanks to Jack Petchey by the way!

Over to you
Even the original Eden had certain hiccups (snakes, Adam, God snooping around and possibly an over curious Eve). If you've been to the Eden Project in Cornwall what would you do or add to make it even better and get back 70 jobs (without overstaffing)?


Karin said...

We visited in Spring 2007 and I'm glad I've been, but I don't think I'd go out of my way to see it again.

The problem with the Eden Project is partly it's novelty value: once you've seen it, that's it.

If you live locally it would be a pleasant place to wander, but once all those who live further away have seen it, why would they want to travel that distance to see it again?

Perhaps they need to have major displays, which change every year so there's something new worth seeing?

Nicola Baird said...

Karin, I asked around at Eden re your comments, and this is what I've been told (not sure if it will change your mind, but maybe as it is such a great place of local employment and general interest): "we are constantly thinking of new ideas to bring repeat visitors back - building a reputation as a great place for events and exhibitions and changing performances so that every time you visit you have a very different experience. In the summer months, we have a great captive audience because so many people come to Cornwall every year for their annual holiday - and they turn to us when it rains and they can't go on the beach or the coastal path."
From Nicola

Karin said...

I'm sure it's great for many of the locals. I'm not sure how many people who can't get there and back in a day will want to go back too often, though. Still, hopefully there are plenty who will and Eden will continue to be able to employ plenty of local people.