We first went to the Eden Project in 2006. It was an enjoyable enough day out, but not so good we made a trip back last year. We went yesterday and my first overwleming impression was how much it had grown. The plants were thicker, taller, fuller. There also seemed more things to do that connected kids like ours with its creative, ambitious ethos. Like a dome devoted to building a den out of sticks, rope and fabric.
I looked around in awe at the detail and thought that has gone into this incredible site. Each dome, each nook and each cranny has something to offer and to stimulate young minds. We probably only touched the sides of what the whole experience has to offer.
All the staff seemed delightful as well. Most of the punters were a cross section of the British middle class - we bumped into two families we knew and therefore they were gentle and polite.
Yet there is a massive, massive but coming up here. Firstly, I kept thinking the place is crying out for a nasty piece of attack journalism from the Daily Mail or Daily Express, sneering at the piety of it. Secondly, lovely though it all is, it isn't as commercially aggressive as, say, Legoland, another sprawling theme park of differing hue. Thirdly, and this is the big doubt that gnawed at me, it's a product of a passing era, the age of public sector largesse. European grants, lottery money, Regional Development Agencies and the other pots that its energetic and charismatic founder Tim Smit has plundered and prised open over the last 10 years. Good luck to him, it is a triumph. And long may it survive in these austere new times.