Monday, August 11, 2008

Accommodation and Food

We began to give some thought to the idea of using a motorcaravan. This would solve at a stroke our problems of accommodation and food. Obviously the m/c would be our accommodation. It would also let us carry and prepare our own food. It would also mean that we could carry far more in the way of changes of clothes.

Two big snags. One is that we do not own such a vehicle. The other is that someone would have to drive it. Unless we wanted to spend 70 days in a confined area with someone else (and we did have an offer from Rob Lyons, to be our driver), it would mean that Gay would become a driver rather than a walker. She was very keen to walk.

I e-mailed Pete and Ann Winslade on June 15th. They are good friends and experienced motorcaravanners.

“We have been thinking more about the possibility of using a motorcaravan for The Big Walk. We don't really want to do it, because Gay would like to walk with me rather than move basecamp on, but it does seem to be the answer to the other problems.

We had originally dismissed the idea because of the cost, but it has gradually dawned on us that we could buy a used one and then sell it again at the end of the trip and it would probably not cost much when offset against the cost of hotels and bought food (there are other snags with the bought food idea, as I think I mentioned - not least the fact that it is difficult to get a vegetarian meal in France - we don't really fancy 70 omelettes!).”

In response to my e-mail, Peter telephoned and spoke to Gay as I was toiling in the garden. This is a summary of his excellent suggestions.

We could do a sort of house-swap, exchanging our house in France for the loan of a motorcaravan, so that the people (from UK) with the motorcaravan spent the duration of the walk living in our house while I walked and Gay drove from Blackpool-Puivert, then they drove it home. Peter suggested this might be attractive to a couple who did not like long drives, as they would then only have to drive one way instead of two for a holiday in France.

We could contact French vegetarians, possibly through the magazine of the UK Vegetarian Society, maybe advertising our route in the magazine to see if we could “impose” on members throughout France. This would have the benefit of allowing Gay and myself to walk together.

Regarding buying and selling of motorcaravans. It is easier – because we are on the spot - to buy in France, drive to UK, start there and finish at home. Perhaps it is cheaper to buy in France rather than Blighty. A snag would be that we would finish the walk in September, so it would be harder to sell the vehicle then because it would be at the end of the summer.

Peter said that if we wanted to follow up on any of the above he would be happy to help, for instance with advice on which motorcaravan magazines to use in UK.

I e-mailed them with thanks for these good ideas, and for their effort.

From Pete and Ann Winslade 16th June

"Glad we were able to spark you off in a new direction. As you said it would be nice if Gay were able to walk with you. Somehow or other it could be possible to create some interest/ awareness of the Benefits of Vegetarian approach along the way (particularly with the current focus on need to conserve water/land/energy etc etc - vegetarian food uses approx one tenth of the resources compared with rearing meat) . If the local press were involved along your route that might also help with the search for suitable 'hosts' , if you had not been able to find them in advance. I'm sure the Societies would be delighted to receive press coverage and hopefully would be able to give you advice/help etc on the best way to help them. And what better advertisement for a healthy vegetarian lifestyle than a 'three score and tenner' doing a long walk.

Best of luck and hope they are far sighted enough to see the potential."

Despite the excellence of the ideas, we have not approached the Vegetarian Society. There would only be a point in doing this if we had defined the route to such an extent that we knew in which town we would be finishing each day's walk. We are nowhere near that point yet.

Also, we have more or less decided that the snags of accommodation and food are such that we shall be using a motor caravan. Gay will be the driver, except where we can get volunteers to drive a stage for us so that Gay can walk with me. Sad but true

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