Welcome to my blog, where I take pleasure in words and pictures, be they my own or those of others. I'm a creative individual, and the crafty side I explore on my 'other blog', Picking Up The Threads, which I hope you'll visit too. I'm sure you understand that I have sole copyright of my original work and any of my contributions, so please ask if you want to use them. A polite request is rarely refused. So, as they used to say on the BBC's 'Listen With Mother' radio programme, many years ago: "Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin."

Thursday, 13 March 2014

The Pleasure Domes

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan 
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
                       Coleridge


Sepia Saturday’s picture prompt this week suggested domes as a possible theme. My domes are not those dreamed of by the poet Coleridge, after taking opium, but they brought pleasure nevertheless. This picture was taken on a visit to the Eden Project, near St. Austell in Cornwall in 2000. Some of the giant domes or ‘biomes’ were still incomplete but the site was open to visitors. We were on holiday with friends and it was the place to go that summer. The project was the vision of Tim Smit, who had also been responsible for restoring 'The Lost Gardens of Heligan’.

Once again, I think we took more movie film than stills, but there are a few postcards and souvenir snaps of our friends enjoying the day. If my memory is correct we were put in trains and driven round the site, hence the hard hats as it was still under construction. The domes consisted of hundreds of hexagonal and pentagonal inflated plastic cells supported on steel frames, and housed thousands of plant species. You can read more here.  I think we later re-visited with the intention of seeing how the project looked once it was established, but didn’t get further than the main door as the entrance fee was around £50 for the two of us. I know there was a lot more to the attraction than the biomes; art displays and exhibitions and so on, but we’d already enjoyed those the first time round.














The Eden Project is housed in a disused China Clay pit and here in Lanzarote we had our own man of vision, César Manrique, who designed practically all the visitor attractions and ensured that it did not become an island of high-rise hotels. I have written about the Jardin de Cactus (Cactus Gardens) before on my blog, but it’s worth mentioning again as a contrast to the Eden Project. Manrique started work on his gardens in the 1970s, although they didn’t open until 1990. They are also built in a disused quarry and the old mill stands above the the gardens, serving as a great lookout for the surrounding landscape. My friend and I are pictured taking a walk last year amid some of the amazing cacti.


On the Lanzarote Information site you can see some pictures of the gardens under construction in 1971 and at the inauguration in 1990. It’s one of my places to visit here and only costs a few euros so nobody has second thoughts at the entrance. In fact most people are already in awe of the giant cactus sculpture in the car park and can’t wait to see what delights the garden itself holds. The answer of course is hundreds of species of cacti collected from around the world.

Manrique was responsible for initiating the proposal to declare Lanzarote a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve which was achieved in 1993; sadly he had died in a car accident the previous year.

I had to end with that last picture of us enjoying refreshments in the restaurant, because it includes another dome-like structure (which houses the tiny gift shop) in the background.

Lanzarote is a volcanic island and there are caves and lava bubbles aplenty creating domes of their own, but that would require another blogpost. I’ll leave you with this link however, Into the Lava Dome, which describes some of the beauty to be found there.


For more domes, arches or libraries travel to Sepia Saturday and see what other contributors have found.

19 comments:

  1. These were fascinating...you are so lucky to have been able to see the building of the Eden Project in 2000...and I enjoyed thinking about the cactus garden, as well as the site about the lava dome...not at all what I expected! Thanks!

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  2. Interesting and historic photos of the construction of the Eden Project. I had in mind that it was constructed a full decade or so earlier, but the date stamp on your camera (and Wikipedia) show that I must be wrong. I think I would balk at £50 for a couple, too!

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  3. Those 'biomes' are fascinating. What a project. Also, what a steep price to pay to go through them again when completed. Wow! But I have to say I was tickled with the picture of you walking through the cacti so color coordinated with pants, purse, & shoes all matching. Very smart-looking. I get teased about always wanting to match, so it was nice to see someone else serious about it too! And nice bright colors, as well. :))

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  4. "Pleasure Domes" certainly applies to the pleasure this project has generated. Whenever you write about Lanzarote, it becomes more magical to me and I start planning a trip (in my mind, sad to say --).

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  5. Inflated plastic cells, interesting. Would have guessed glass.

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  6. The Eden Project is probably worth seeing, but I wouldn't want to pay such a high price to see it.

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  7. 50 pounds to visit an attraction? I would have also not done this. But your photos are beautiful again.

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  8. Thank you for showing us the Eden project - I had not heard of it - something to add to the Wish List

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  9. Perhaps we'll visit Eden next time we are down Cornwall way - I know my daughter was impressed with it a few years back. The problem is there is so much else to see in the UK, and a lot of it is free!

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  10. What a fascinating place to visit! Thanks for sharing. Great post. :)

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  11. I'm in need of viewing those gardens. I just adore the background setting in your last photo. Very lovely spot.

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  12. I never thought about the wide variety of domes before starting my tour of this weeks Sepia Saturday.

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  13. Those domes are interesting. They look very modern by 1970s standards.

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  14. I've always been fascinated by geodesic domes and now live very near the place in North Carolina where Buckminster Fuller came up with his first designs in 1948. Yet somehow the dome idea never caught on here even though it is a very efficient system to enclose a space.

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  15. A different "take" on domes which had never occurred to me, with an interesting view of how the Eden project developed. I liked your use of the poetry to introduce the topic as well.

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  16. Enjoyed your post, especially the garden.

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  17. I had never heard of Lanzarote until I started reading your Sepia Saturday posts a few years ago. Now I'm fascinated by it through your posts.

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  18. I try to cultivate cacti myself, but those are nothing compared to the cacti in the quarry. The one behind the terras must be huge!

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