A Sustainable Life with James Strawbridge - April

PUBLISHED: 00:16 23 March 2011 | UPDATED: 19:04 20 February 2013

A Sustainable Life with James Strawbridge - April

A Sustainable Life with James Strawbridge - April

In his regular series, eco-celebrity James Strawbridge inspires Cornwall Life with ideas of how to be a greener traveller

In his regular series, eco-celebrity James Strawbridge inspires Cornwall Life with ideas of how to be a greener traveller

On first visiting Cornwall years ago I thought it must be a nightmare to get anywhere on the steep-edged winding roads. The classic Cornish country lane has traditional hedges made of stone (if you are a visitor, dont try to create your own passing point on a narrow route your car will come off worse!).

Having now lived here for some years, I am aware that Satnav is also unfamiliar with much of the countys shortcuts. In fact, I will be honest and say that I have got myself lost within five miles of my home! To help with this, and because I always want to reduce my environmental impact, I have spent much time thinking about greener modes of transport, often using more unusual travelling options.

Last year, Holly and I spent a full month travelling around Cornwall on honeymoon in our gypsy caravan

Firstly, we converted our old VW camper van to a diesel engine that runs on biodiesel. At Newhouse Farm we make our own out of the local Chinese restaurants waste vegetable oil, but you can buy it around Cornwall and not only is it a carbon-neutral fuel but also many diesel cars and vans wont even need converting to run on it. To find your local filling point check the biodiesel network at biofuelplanet.com/Outlets/UK.aspx
Another greener form of travel is using the rail and bus network. Cornwall has good public transport facilities and I often avoid high season traffic jams by jumping on a train instead. Plus, some of the routes are extremely scenic and much more direct. If you need information on the move and youre not near a station, Id suggest calling Western Greyhound (01637 871871), who run the majority of the buses.

If you want to be a bit greener, and get a bit leaner, then make the most out of Cornwalls cycle routes and walks. The Cornish Way has a great number of trails ranging from The Camel Trail (Bodmin to Padstow), The Coast and Clay Trail (Truro to Bodmin), and The First and Last Trail (Lands End to Hayle). I have tried out a few of these on bikes, running, and walking, and they are an awesome way to see more of Cornwall.
Finally, if you live or are staying near the coast, why get in a car on a nice day when you could hire some kayaks and properly explore whats on your doorstep? Often the most beautiful Cornish beaches are just round the corner and seeing them by boat or canoe is the best way. Personally, I like it because it fuels the imagination and makes me feel like a proper Cornish pirate.

Organic places to stay

My wife and I run our own small-scale eco-holiday business where people can come and stay on our smallholding near Fowey. We decided to start it because we wanted people to have the chance to try out the sort of holidays we love.

Last year, Holly and I spent a full month travelling around Cornwall on honeymoon in our gypsy caravan, pulling it with a 1956 Ferguson tractor. The experience completely made us fall in love with slow travel and even more with the county. We now hire out the solar-powered gypsy caravan with its own tipi, which doesnt move but it does capture a different way of living.

Our idea is making holidays a more sustainable option and promoting the eco lifestyle, as well as having a great time! As a result, when we want to go somewhere, we try and find out if there is an organic option. This month we went to St Ives for a break and stayed in an amazing B&B called Organic Panda. It is in a Victorian house, with a really good sustainable ethos, and it has some great views of the bay. There was local and organic food for breakfast, bio-degradable cleaning products, and even composting! My favourite part of the stay was that the experience summed up the flavours of Cornwall, with great vegetables, eggs and dairy coming from Trevellyan Farm shop, and oak-smoked kippers from Tregida Traditional Cornish Smoke House.

Making gorse wine

Gorse is that prickly yellow-flowered plant that surrounds our coastline. It has an unmistakeable coconut smell mixed with fragrant vanilla. Strangely, not many people have used this flower as it looks quite hard to get your hands on, but trust me, it is well worth wearing some gloves and foraging for it. If you have ever made your own beer or wine then this will be easy, and if you are a first-timer to the brewing world then making gorse wine is the perfect place to start! The drink youll end up with is a honey-coloured sweet wine that smells of summer holidays.


1 large shopping bag full of fresh gorse flowers
4 litres water
500g golden granulated cane sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 tsp brewers yeast


1 Put the flowers and the water into a large pan and bring to the boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.
2 Add the sugar and stir until it has dissolved. Pour into a plastic bucket and add the lemon juice.
3 Allow to cool and then add the yeast (follow the instructions on the packet for how much; normally a teaspoon is enough). Cover with a tea towel and leave to stand for three days.
4 Strain the liquid and transfer to a demijohn with an airlock.
5 Leave to ferment for about two weeks, siphon into sterilised bottles and seal.

Useful Websites

Trains: www.nationalrail.co.uk

Buses: www.westerngreyhound.com

For more information on the
Cornish Way: www.cornwall.gov.uk

Walks: www.visitcornwall.com

Eco-holidays: www.gypsycaravanscornwall.co.uk

Organic B&B in St Ives: www.organicpanda.co.uk

Photos: Crumpetty Tree 2010-2011, crumpettytree.co.uk

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