Sunday, 22 November 2009

Building on slowmoves

We are currently contributing to a new travel website called Greentraveller, a guide to sustainable holidays and places to stay in Europe. We hope you enjoy it.

Anouk & George

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Springfield park & marina

Springfield park is officially my new favourite park in London. I still love my 'local' Clissold park of course, but there's something really enchanting about Springfield park. A 10 minute cycle ride from Stoke Newington, the park is in Upper Clapton and sits alongside the river Lea. As you near the park, there's a steep hill with great views of the park on your right and Springfield marina straight ahead. I always feel like I'm on holiday somewhere (for some reason it makes me think of San Francisco?!) as I cycle down this hill.

The park has lots of different levels, tennis courts, weeping willows, great views of the river and surrounding marshes and a great cafe with yummy healthy food (I had a Moroccan salad). As you walk down to the marina, there's another cafe, a rowing club and endless walking routes along the river. If you cross the bridge and take a right, you can walk through Hackney marshes (you would never believe you were in London) until you reach a huge green with the largest collection of football pitches in Europe.


Saturday, 3 October 2009

Cyclosport events

Worth checking Cyclosport out if you are in to cycling, and not fainthearted.

It's all about the bike.

Within the site (along with places for reviews, photos, training tips and a lot more) Cyclosport list events taking place all around the world, search able first by continent, then country. You can find one close to you, or one that provides you with the destination to enjoy the journey to. Perhaps something to think about for next year but even a look at the beginning of October for the UK alone shows a month including tour of the Pennines and another of the Peak District.

It's worth reiterating the not fainthearted bit, but also making clear you can use the site how you wish. If you prefer to be independent and going at your own pace - rather than the peleton's - you can still be inspired by the rides on the website, they each come with summaries, 'getting there' information, maps, downloads and useful links.

Thanks to Rory who recommended the site following his completing of Atlantic to Mediterranean over Pyrenees peaks, in 100 hours this summer. The harder end of a journey written about earlier this year on slowmoves...


Picture from

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Pick your own glass of champagne

It's harvest season in the vineyards which means it's one of the best times to make a trip to the Champagne region in north-eastern France. A mere 1 hour 15 minutes by train from Paris and you've arrived in Epernay, the home of the great Champagne houses including Moet & Chandon, Taittinger and Mumm. It's also a stunning region with lots of little surrounding villages, sloping vineyards and chateaux.

For the whole month of September and early October, several winegrowers organise grape picking days for guests. You'll start with a big breakfast, then head out to the vineyards to pick grapes, followed by a lunch at the chateau with all the grape pickers. In the afternoon, the owners will give you a tour of the cellars, introduce you to wine pressing and then you can finally indulge in a nice glass of champagne in the sun.

For more information, visit:

There are some gorgeous, relatively affordable chateaux in the area should you want to spend the night after a long day of picking and drinking.


Thursday, 3 September 2009

Swimming the length of the Amazon, on film

Short post but to share something that caught my imagination when reading about it at the time he did it.

Martin Strel from Slovenia in 2007 swam for 10 hours a day, to take himself from Peru, across Latin America and out of a Brazilian estuary to the Atlantic Ocean.

3,274 miles in 66 days... Say nothing of the current! Plenty of that the dark water hides. And wild swimming.

A truely remarkable achievement, which is by a number of accounts captured in a remarkable documentary. For those reading in London, showing throughout September at the Institute of Contemporary Art, just to name one place.


Reaching Morocco and slowmoves

Not sure what I expected out of Morocco but I was taken from the first step. A pace and energy fuller than that I have come to know in so much of Europe. This was Africa, and arriving by boat. Like a draw bridge coming down, a beeping lowering cargo door. An immediate and unceasing blur of sights, sounds and smells. Senses only dumbed by the heat.

Between the coastal Tangier and the culture capital Fez, in the heart of the county, the temperature went up with every stop train stop. 42oC, 43oC... Not wholly incoincidentally with the number of people onboard, at least in duxieme classe. My travelling partner Tommo, read of Gregory David Roberts in India: "through the sleepy night, and into the rose-petal dawn, the train rattled on. I watched and listened, literally rubbing shoulders with the people of the interior towns and villages. And I learned more, during those fourteen constricted and largely silent hours in the crowded economy-class section, communicating without language, than in a month of travelling first class." I related to that. Crossed words of fellow passengers intermittently broken by laughter, or sharing of water or pillows... Less so of seats.

Where to begin with an etiquette as foreign as any tongue. slowmoves.

10 days. Miles and miles. Tube to train to metro to sleeper to bus to boat to train to bus to camel to taxi to bus to taxi to bus to another bus, and back. slowmoves.

Overland and sea to Morocco stays recommended!


Thursday, 20 August 2009

Wild swimming in the UK

At last the scorching summer they predicted is here, at least for a few days... When it's like this there's nothing I want to do less than sit in front of a computer and nothing I want to do more than take a dip in the sea or any other body of fresh water. Rivers, lakes, waterfalls, ponds. There's something really magical about swimming in natural water - for one, you feel much more connected to the scenery around you.

I've had a few great wild swimming experiences, including a lake in the Ardennes in Belgium and Lake Bled in Slovenia. A definite surprising highlight is the women's pond in Hampstead Heath right here in London. It's a haven of peace, a secret society of women and a corner of wildlife within a bustling city.

Here are some more wild swimming highlights in the UK:

- The mystical circular waterfall at St Nectan's Kieve near Tintagel in Cornwall: legend has it that King Arthur's knights were babtised here ahead of their quest for the Holy Grail.

- The River Dart in Dartmoor, Devon: bathe in remote river pools surrounded by steep lush forests.

- Swimming in the sea in Abereiddi Bay on the North Pembrokeshire Coast in Wales

- Taking a dip in the Moray Firth near Inverness, Scotland : a number of rivers flow into the Moray Firth and there are various bays and inlets to swim in.

For more information on wild swimming:


Saturday, 8 August 2009

Guest post by low carbon traveller Barbara Haddrill

The following is a guest post by low carbon traveller Barbara Haddrill. She is the author of Babs2Brisbane, a book documenting her overland journey from the UK to Australia in 2006:

It is strange, now, only a few hours before I embark on my next low carbon travel journey, that I feel quite calm. Considering the enormity of what is to come, I think I should be panicking a bit more. Fear was all I felt three years ago, as I was sitting in Victoria Coach Station in London, waiting to begin my overland trip to Australia, and mulling over all the possible things that could go wrong. Then my mission was to travel, without using an aeroplane, to be the bridesmaid at one of my best friend's wedding in Brisbane. In those final moments before departure, it dawned on me that this was the biggest challenge I had ever faced. But this was one I had set myself. My passion for conserving the environment was strong. I just hoped it was enough to pull me through the unknown road ahead.

Almost as soon as the coach pulled almost noiselessly into the dark autumn night, my life was changed forever. I learnt the way of the slow traveller. Having time for myself and time for other people. And time to stop and stare, watching every mile between my home in Wales and my destination in Brisbane pass slowly by. Slowing down gradually from bus to train to cargo ship, hitch hiking and finally bicycle. Instead of taking 24 hours and emitting 5 .6 tonnes of CO2, my journey took me 7 weeks and the emissions were down to 1 tonne of CO2. I succeeded in my challenge when many thought I would fail (and discussed it at great length on my travel blog But I also learnt so much, from meeting local people and seeing lives so different from my own. I learnt not to fear my worldly neighbours but approached everyone I met with an open heart and positivity and that is what I received by the tonne in return.

My next challenge is to work with horses – driving and logging. Bringing real horsepower back to our oil dependant world. I am taking the bus to pick up my coloured cob called Tyler now. She and I will hopefully enjoy the next slow life journey together.......

For more information about my trip to Brisbane and my new horse adventures look at my blog or buy the book 'Babs2Brisbane' available from most good bookshops.


Sunday, 26 July 2009

One day in Paris, favorite places

A number of slowmoves posts mention passing through Paris, mainly from London on the way to somewhere else in Europe. Of course slowmoves means making the most of the places or are on route. There's a fun article we found about one day in Paris, it might give you some ideas if you are looking to spend a bit of time in Paris before heading on.

Aside, I highlight a couple of personal favourite things in Paris (without detailing the number one and known Musee D'Orsay):
  • Lots of tourists swarm the island in Paris, home of Notre Dame Cathedral. But far too many overlook its adorable little sister, the quaint Ile Saint Louis just a few steps away. Read more
  • Pass through the hidden doors of the La Mosquee Hammam and the culture and heritage
    of the Byzantine era presents itself.
    Read more
If you have any favorite things to do for a day or night in Paris, we would be delighted to hear from you.


Picture from:

Overland and sea to Morocco

It's a little more expensive (by approx. £150) than the budget flights now flying between the UK to Marrakesh but slowmoves gives reason for the extra expense of a train and boat ride. Imagine watching the way the land changes, mile by mile from urban London, through the green fields of Kent and Northern France. Crossing Paris, then in to the evening and south towards the jagged Pyrenees, direct to Madrid. From Madrid, it's down to Algeciras and Tarifa then the boat across the Gibraltar Straight to Tangier, Africa.

Some change in scenery and some difference between what you leave to what you find. slowmoves offers an intimate means of experiencing this. Of course time does not allow us to make such a journey regularly, which is a reason in itself for treasuring the possibility, as is the more practical consideration of a night's accommodation included in the ride, if leaving as below:

1404: London St Pancras to Paris Gare du Nord (1726) - Train
1945: Paris Gare d'Austerlitz to Madrid (0910) - Train
1505: Madrid to Algeciras (2033) - Train
2100: Algeciras to Tarifa (2145) - Bush
2300: Tarifa to Tangier (2235: 35 minute crossing and time change) - Boat

Of course, there's the option of spending more time in Paris or Madrid or Algeciras, depending what your scheduled, motivation or interest is.

Thanks to The Man in Seat Sixty-One for helping with the travel information and image. The relevant Seat Sixty-On page also tells you how you can travel on from Tangier, and how the cost of travel drops.

This justification of experience, is at the heart of many slowmoves choices. I for one think it's well worth it.


Friday, 24 July 2009

Picture of the month

I love the feeling of freedom this photo exudes. You can also sense the haste to get into the water. More on wild swimming coming soon.

Nam Khan River... Photo by Ra Song


Sunday, 12 July 2009

Grantchester by foot, boat, or bike from Cambridge

If you're looking for a day out of London, why not head to the university town of Cambridge. After only 45 minutes on the train, we were wandering around the streets of historic Cambridge. It took us a while to find the nice bits, as much of the main street was infested by high street shops and unfortunately made it look like any other town in England. But once you head over to the riverside where all the old colleges are, you'll understand the appeal. Amongst the most spectacular colleges that still exist, check out Peterhouse, which was founded in 1284, and Kings College that has an impressive chapel where you can catch a choir concert.

Getting to the slow travel bit... You can rent bikes at Cambridge station which I would highly recommend as it's a very bike-able city (if the thousands of bikes around the city are anything to go by). It reminded me of a Dutch city. Alternatively you can make your way to the riverside at Mill Lane Boatyard and rent a self-hire punt to go punting along the river. This is THE Cambridge thing to do and seems like a lot of fun, especially if you're in a big group. Then either cycle, punt or walk to Grantchester, a lovely little village 3 miles from Cambridge. Grantchester is a tiny village with thatched cottages, a few good pubs and the highest proportion of Nobel prize winners.

If you're opting for the walking option, I'd recommend walking through Newnham and stopping along Grantchester meadows for a picnic. Then once in Grantchester, treat yourself to a nice pint at the Red Lion pub or traditional tea at the Orchard in the garden.


Sunday, 5 July 2009

Fin Going a very long way South by bike

How many people go about cycling from Alaska to Panama?

A Dutch TV company, deepeei, has prompted Andrew Finlay to take to his bike for the best part of a year and do exactly that. The story is not just about adventure and physical challenge but is inspired as a means of linking themes and specific projects that relate to climate change. Fin is joined by one other on his cycle south, while two others will ride from Colombia to Ushuaia in Argentina. In all, 16,765 miles, 26 projects and 17 countries.

From land usage to waste, there are six themes under the tag 'search for sustainable solutions'. slowmoves and opting for vehicles other than planes - as Fin and the others taking part in the project so grandly have - could be another.

Fin is blogging regularly, on every angle of his trip. Check it out:


Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Slowmoves on Guardian's Been There website

Slowmoves is being featured on the Guardian's brilliant 'Been There' website. "Been There is a guide to the world as traveled by you". Users can share their travel stories, post tips and browse thousands of reader recommendations.

Check out the slowmoves feature here:

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Campaign for better train travel

Why is it that in this country taking a plane across the UK is often cheaper than taking the train? UK train fares are the highest in Europe, especially if you don't book in advance. A last minute ticket from London to Manchester can be as ridiculously expensive as £250 return. But people love taking the train, watching the landscapes change, being able to walk up and down the carriage. And of course it's a much greener way to travel, ultimately reducing traffic and improving lifestyles.

The train VS plane debate is battled out in this funny video put together by Campaign for Better Transport. They argue that the government should stop giving such high subsidies to airlines and put their energy and money into better and more affordable train travel. You can join the campaign at: