Saturday, 15 December 2007

We fought and won

Well, in my last month of living in Nottingham (yes, I'm leaving for the Big Smoke), I managed to help save the local Post Office. It appears that those people at PO Ltd took leave of their senses for a while but came back to us and declared that Melton Road Post Office would stay open! Hoorah. Christmas came early for Tripta and Vijay, the ameniable Post Mistress and Master who'll be missed very much when I leave to go and live in Brixton in January. They were grateful for my efforts in putting together the petition which amounted to over 4,000 signatures all told.

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Laura at the Cross at Kingussie

OK, so I've been on the road on my own for a while now. Moments of either boredom or mild insanity lead me to taking random self timer pictures and here's one of them (right). It's at The Cross Hotel in Kingussie in Scotland.

It was a great place - the food was special in particular. All the produce is sourced locally and it tastes just great too. I had smoked salmon in a simple lime and ginger marinade for starter and delicious halibut for main course. Much of the food is organic too.

Thursday, 22 November 2007

Eurostar launch from St Pancras

Eurostar launch
Originally uploaded by ecoescape
I was lucky enough to be invited to the launch of the new High Speed Eurostar trains out of the newly revamped St Pancras station. It was a bit of a dream come true as I've watched the development of St Pancras take place over the last 7 years since living in Nottingham and travelling through countless times. It was a stunning event organised as a joint venture between Eurostar and Friends of the Earth who invited us on board the 'Tread Lightly' train to Paris last Wednesday. Eurostar has always been my favourite option to get to Europe and of course, I'm really happy now that all the journeys will be carbon neutral. You can read all about my day on the new High Speed Eurostar on the ecoescape website.

Friday, 9 November 2007

The randy birds and the bees

The funny people at Virgin Trains have put together a series of 'animal ads'. The flora and fauna are having their say to encourage travellers to go green and reduce their carbon emissions. The bee and the flower ad is our favourite.

You can view the complete series here

Or view the 'naughty' video below called 'sexy party'. This is the funniest, but comes with parental guidance...

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Saving my local post office

Post Office Ltd recently announced the planned closure of Melton Road Post Office, my local branch in Nottingham. On a personal level, the loss of the post office around the corner would be a big blow to me as I've come to rely on it for my business. And Vjay and Tripta, the lovely postmaster and mistress, always brighten the day and ask every single customer how they are doing. The post office is a pillar of the community and its presence helps the row of shops (including a fishmonger, 2 delis, grocer, newsagent, etc) keep going. The elderly customers will also suffer as the alternative is too far to walk.

The greatest argument in its favour is the fact the this post office is one of the top performing branches in the county proving that PO Ltd has selected branches at random to close. All of these arguments led me to thinking that something could be done to prevent the closure. Vjay couldn't start a petition himself so I took matters into my own hands and printed off a petition sheet for people to sign against the planned closure. The petition quickly took off, and with only a couple weeks to go before the public consultation deadline, we have already more than 4,000 signatures. In fact, the closure was such a surprise that Ken Clarke, our local MP has decided to get involved. The picture above is the moment when he met a handful of the post office's customers this weekend to collect the signatures to take to PO Ltd himself.

I'm not one to get involved with party politics but on this occasion, I might allow myself to say "go Ken!" and let's hope he can work some magic with the Post Office.

The online petition is here: - feel free to sign!

Wednesday, 31 October 2007

New ecoescape website!

When I began working on ecoescape back in 2006, I had in the back of my mind that an online version of the book would be a good idea. That thought was put to one side as I concentrated on getting the book together for launch in spring this year.

Much to my relief you loved the book. However, the website question resurfaced as the book gained in popularity. A number of cyber surfers - of all ages I might add - felt a bit left out. For them books were good, websites are better.

So, in the spirit of inclusiveness, I got my thinking cap back on to see how I could make a web version of the book. I'd already had a go at building a website. And, despite the fact that it received some polite praise, I thought against the idea of building the new site myself (even after borrowing a book about web-databases from the library!). So that meant raising some money. I was lucky to receive some more Big Lottery Funding and a small donation from the Co-operative Bank customer fund, which together was enough to pay a company to build me a shiny new website.

It wasn’t difficult choosing a web company. In fact that was the easy part. When I first met Jez from
Make Hay in my Nottingham office, he was so obliging and friendly that I knew he’d get me up and running on the internet before long. The best thing is that Make Hay is an ethical company and can power my website with the wind. My kind of people.

I know that there’s lots of other people to thank and I hope I have thanked you personally. So all that’s left to be said is I hope this website continues the message of responsible escapism I started in my little book. And there’s lots more happening in 2008 with ecoescape. The best way to find out is to sign up for the eco-logue – ecoescape’s monthly newsletter.

Laura x
Founder, ecoescape

Thursday, 23 August 2007

Eco-Arcadia at the Green Man Festival

green man festival 07
Originally uploaded by ecoescape
Having just returned from the marvellous Green Man festival in Wales, I have to say it is like its name; one of the greenest events you could attend. Despite heavy rain and rising mud levels, the festival had a real laid back charm and we loved its efforts to recycle and promote green living. The Green Fields area, new for 2007, was a great way to not only escape the mud but also visit some interesting exhibitions - the solar powered milk float stage was great! The Eco-Arcadia, dubbed the World's First Biodiesel Powered Pinball Arcade (above) was loads of fun and the array of organic and locally sourced food kept the crowds happy.

Tuesday, 5 June 2007

tour update

The ecoescape tour of the green event circuit is going off with a bang.

The Dulwich Festival attracted a good crowd and sunny weather and more jute bags than you could wave a hemp plant at.

The following week, Nottingham Green Festival saw a hardcore crowd turn out despite heavy ran all day long. Our home-town response was truly admirable so those fearless Nottingham-ites should be very proud of themselves.

This weekend, the sun shone for Camden Green Fair in Regent's park, with a great turnout of friendly people. Here are some pictures of our stall.

Thursday, 31 May 2007

good design for good people

This is the underpinning ethic behind Eskimo Design, the creative people behind ecoescape and now good friends of mine.

They've recently updated their website, and I'm pleased to say that it reflects more than ever their excellent design skills and desire to work on projects that make a positive difference. They have done more than I could have imagined to make ecoescape not just a great read but something that communicates to people.

Check out their website below for more details about how we worked together.

Monday, 21 May 2007

A new concept in timeshare

Last week I was fortunate enough to spend a few days at the beautiful Trelowarren Estate on the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall.

The estate is over 600 years old and its present owner Sir Ferrer Vyvyn is busy not only renovating the existing cottages and outbuildings, but building new clusters of eco-timeshare homes.

New Consumer TV made a great film while I was there so catch it below...

Trelowarren is featured in ecoescape.

Friday, 4 May 2007

ecoescape's green fest summer tour

ecoescape is very excited to announce its summer tour of green festivals across the land.

Starting it all off, we'll be at the Dulwich Park Green Festival on Sunday 20 May '07.
Dulwich Park, SE21
Time: 12 - 6pm
Admission: free
The Green Festival is a spectacular climax to a two week long celebration.

Sunday 27 May '07

Next we head back home to Nottingham, for the Nottingham Green Festival.
A party in the Arboretum, starting at 11.30am (admission is free).

Sunday 3 June '07

Back down to London for the massive Camden Green Fair - one I'm particularly looking forward to not least because of its bicycle fest!
The fair begins at 12pm and admission is again free.

1 - 5 August '07

Last but not least, we'll be doing the rounds at the Big Green Gathering in Somerset where the bicycle trailer will be used for its special 'fly-pitching' status!

See you there!

Thursday, 19 April 2007

Wow! We've been busy at ecoescape HQ since our launch! So much so that I'm going to give a few highlights of the past few weeks...

The weekend following the launch Richard Hammond wrote a lovely article about ecoescape in the Guardian entitled 'Green Grass of Home' - a great end to a spectacular launch week. The Guardian Travel feature elequently summed up ecoescape's vision to help people see the world with new eyes starting right here on our doorsteps.

The following week, more press attention followed incuding the Times, and the BBC. Innocent Drinks featured ecoecape in their weekly news and gave 20 guides away as competition prizes. Calverts our green printers also gave some copies away as prizes.

To keep up to date with ecoescape's press coverage visit our press area.

Easter weekend saw glorious sunshine and whilst the temptation to escape to the country was great, unfortunately work had to be done at ecoescape HQ. Nonetheless seeing an opportunity to get creative in the garden, we turned two old pallets on which ecoescape was shipped into a very unique book shelf (right).

This week we visited the London Book Fair at Earl's Court - a good opportunity to get to grips with the latest publishing trends. Andrew Greenman, ecoescape's director has put his thoughts down on paper about the day and in particular following the seminars we attended at this link including the latest on digital travel publishing.

Still basking in sunshine, yesterday was a big day for ecoescape as we took to Atte
nborough Nature Centre to make the first ever film of the project. The nice boys at String Films took all manner of equipment to the Centre to capture history in the making... The famous bicycle trailer took centre stage (much to my dismay) but all the same I am excited about the finished product which will feature on the website shortly.

Friday, 30 March 2007

ecoescape launches!

Yesterday was the official launch day of ecoescape. To mark the occasion the ecoescape bicycle trailer took its maiden voyage to deliver copies of ecoescape around the capital starting in Bethnal Green, East London. Stops along the way included Duke of Cambridge pub and the Britain and London visitor centre taking the Regent's Canal to Islington.

Next to Regent's Canal showing off the ecoescape tee-shirt and the trailer!

Outside the Britain and London Visitor Centre checking the route back.

Events were then followed by launch drinks (rhubarb bellinis to be precise!) at Acorn House Restaurant, one of the green
businesses featured in ecoescape. The restaurant opened in 2006 and follows strict sustainability principles. A delicious menu followed and a great time was had by all (suffering a little bit today mind you).

Acorn House Restaurant, King's Cross, London

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

Give me an E!

Well the spring bulbs are in bloom and we're pleased to announce that the ecoescape bulbs are starting to come up trumps. From the photos below you can see that we have a perfectly formed 'p' and 'e' but lacking in the rest of the word which has yet to flower. However, we're ever optimistic and sitting tight to capture the long awaited 'ecoesca..' to create our blooming marvellous hillside spectacular in the sprawling conurbation known to locals as Clifton (Notts). The story continues...

Wednesday, 21 February 2007

Biodegradable mailers

With only a few weeks to go to print, ecoescape has been trawling stationery suppliers across the land for environmentally friendly envelopes in which to distribute the guides. We think we've found the answer - our guides will be packed up and sent off in their very own Eco-Poly Jacket.

How does this work? Aren't plastics meant to take 100s if not 1000s of years to degrade?

The clever part is that this new type of polythene has developed a way to reduce the molecular weight without impairing quality. Due to the reduction, these biodegradable mailers can be consumed by micro organisms found everywhere.

In time, the film will begin to degrade in any normal environment, a process enhanced by daylight or higher temperatures. It does not need a microbial agent to initiate degradation and, in fact, degrades more readily than paper. The eventual products of degradation are water, a small amount of carbon dioxide and biomass which can be composted and used as a fertilizer.

Here is a diagram of the process taken from the website

The good news is that the earthworms have given their seal of approval and if it's good enough for them...

Monday, 19 February 2007

The Busycle

A very clever self propelled bus using renewable energy sources...

Monday, 12 February 2007

eco Sound escape

Andrew Greenman (Soul Jazz Records) has kindly put together the soundtrack to ecoescape, available to preview and buy on itunes. Here's what he has to say about the mix...

"Borrowing the ‘highly original’ concept of dawn to dusk and the seasonal spin-cycle, Ecosoundescape is our little gift. The imix draws on a wide range of genres that float around ecoescape HQ. We start of in the ‘small hours’ with Brit Folk survivor John Martyn, its not sure if this the start of a new day or the continuation of the night before. But we move on over to Japan, sonically not physically, to take in the ‘shinsen’ (or fresh) morning air. Back in the UK, Brian Eno and Max Richter sooth us into the early morning, before Nina Simone heralds in the new day in proper fashion.

The next section features many a natural reference and lots of Vitamin D enhancing sunshine. Merz offers us a paean to a butterfly; Norway’s Todd Terje mixes up the ‘route of the sun’ (Camino del Sol), whilst Sade asks us to Cherish the Day, Horace Andy (also of Massive Attack) covers Bob Marely’s Natural Mystic and Nick Drake invites us to watch the River Man. As we slip into the afternoon we get lost in a Forest, courtesy of Nouvelle Vague’s lounge pop cover of the Cure classic, before Air settle us into a pre-sunset cocktail with ‘le solei est pres de moi’ (the sun is close to me).

Somewhere between day and night, or summer and autumn comes the sounds of the Scottish Highlands finest, with Boards of Canada’s ‘a beautiful place out in the country’ evening and winter encroach Vashti Bunyan reminds us there is warmth in that golden autumnal glow of a rosehip November. Finally Welshman extraordinaire, Gruff Rhys, offers us his beacon in the darkness, before Talk Talk wind things down as its getting late in the evening."

Eco Sound escape is available to preview on itunes with some footnotes:

1. We preferred the original nina simone version of here comes the sun, whereas itunes only carries the Francois Kervokian mix, nothing against FK mind.

2. Winter Music is Roger Eno’s Between Tides Lp, whereas itunes attributes it to Harold Budd? Again nothing against Mr Budd, but be sure to note the song should be attributed to Roger Eno. We found it on the excellent Compounds + Elements: An Introduction To All Saints Records.

Saturday, 27 January 2007

me and flying

I was a late starter when it came to flying. My father is a mechanical engineer and would rather not fly than have his fears realised. So our holidays remained strictly on terra firma and my only trips to Heathrow were to watch the Concordes take off. Had passengers looked up at the large departure hall window, they would have seen a small red head looking back at them and occasionally waving, but always in awe of the spectacular flying machines.

My first flight came when I was at the end of my first year at university and the group of 40 students on my Russian course was packed up and sent off to Moscow for a three week learning experience. Judging by looks from my colleagues when they learnt that I was taking my first flight in 2001, a massive 20 years after my birth date, I was alone in my virgin voyage. Nonetheless, the trip signalled a new era and a short lived love affair in my travelling career. I had discovered a new found freedom and I would return from subsequent journeys a slightly different person from when I had left.

However, that feeling as a young child of watching business people and smart(ish) holiday makers shuffling around the sparkling halls at Heathrow will probably remain a distant memory in the past. With a media that jumps on every word from the airports and airline companies dictating the mood in the business and tourist world with such ease, it is little wonder that airports have become a hub of despair and now environmental concern. Shunning the airport altogether is never going to be easy. Shunning cheap flights is easier. As today’s flying culture goes, the experience will never live up to the one I gazed in on during the 1980s, so avoiding it as much as possible to cut down on my carbon footprint does not pose such a major problem. For those to whom flying is a necessity and not a choice, it will inevitably be a bigger challenge. But looking at the alternatives, and turning an ‘escape’ into an eco-adventure, the possibilities are endless.