At last (or so it seems) we departed for the 2010 House Swapping adventure yesterday. You can tell we’re heading south because Martin has his Indiana Jones hat on
It really does seem to have taken a very long time to get everything ready for this year’s marathon home exchange. Don’t let me ever tell you that it ‘s a piece of cake. Many hours of preparation did it take to get to the point that we were ready to leave. I guess that’s only to be expected: I worked out yesterday that in total this summer’s trip involves at least 10 families and five countries!
Anyway, I’m happy to report we’ve made it to stage 1, which is a stopover with family in the UK. A nice and easy one to start with, we’ve got wireless broadband and all in a beautiful setting upon the River Avon. We’re going to spend some time here catching up on some work for CareerPsychometrics and checking out the delights of Leamington.
How did we get here? Down the M6 in our big car. (Yes, we have a big car – especially for organic eco types – and there’ll be a post soon to explain why and what we do to lessen its impact).
Can you be organic on the motorway? You can if you take packed lunches, of course – but with a house swap to organise I didn’t manage to make us a picnic. So, what to do? If you’re like me you’ll hate those homogenised service stations with their rip off prices. There is an alternative. Check out http://www.offmotorway.com/ for some local independent businesses offering food and accommodation.
As it happens, we only made a couple of stops, once for fuel and the other for dinner – and my choice for dinner was the fantastic Tebay Services at Westmorland, resplendent with farm shop. Was it entirely organic? No, unfortunately not – but there was a large amount of veggie options and free range and organic snacks and all the tea was fair trade and organic. I enjoyed some really delicious minted pea and watercress soup, whilst Martin opted for spring vegetable variety. Ruaridh can’t see a macaroni cheese go past his nose, so that sorted him out for the rest of the night.
I love Westmorland. Browsing their farm shop (they even have a local butcher counter for all you meat eaters) and gift shop breaks up a trip nicely. Of course, I succumbed and bought some organic cake and juice and biscuits to offer our hosts here in Warwickshire :-) But I don’t feel ripped off here. Nor do I feel dirty, like every other service station seems to make me feel.
Westmorland has recently been refurbished and I don’t know their financial situation, but if one service stop can be owned by locals and offer up quality local goods and services, I don’t see why more of them couldn’t. It would make travelling all the more pleasant for everyone and contribute something more valuable to the local economy than a few poxy Little Chef jobs.
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