Slow Travel: Part One

I was planning earlier this summer to write about a family trip to Brittany from Bristol – 284kg of carbon per person emitted by flying, against 14kg carbon travelling by train and ferry. I was astonished at the carbon savings. It would have been around 21 hours’ travelling time, and slightly more expensive than flying, but Earth would have benefited from lower carbon emissions, and in the planetary carbon economy that has to be a good thing.
Unfortunately I didn’t in the end go on that trip, but I’m now on another trip to southern France, this time to a Christian environmental conference. I’m travelling with Caroline Pomeroy from the Christian offsetting organisation Climate Stewards, who will be running a workshop at the conference.
The first time I visited the south of France was in 1982 when I was a student, and in that time many things have changed. I certainly could never have imagined that one day I’d be sitting on the Eurostar with a small computer, about to send a message to another country, with photos, and that this would happen instantly. I’ve spoken to my husband, too, with a phone that I keep in my pocket. All a bit “Star Trek”, although beaming up isn’t part of the experience.
This is slow travel – a chance to experience a country a little bit (despite the 200kph of the Eurostar, so maybe that should be slower travel), rather than whizzing through the air from one soulless airport to another. It gives you a chance to acclimatise, both physically, psychologically and emotionally. And it’s kinder to the planet.

At Bristol. The 70-litre rucksack with plenty of Green Christian magazines was too heavy for me – so my tent is in the suitcase.

We’ve watched the fields of Normandy give way to the suburbs of Paris – Caroline took her travel mug to the buffet car for a drink and was given a free cup of tea because of it! – have travelled the metro, boarded our sleeper train to Nice, and had conversations in both French and English with the other occupants. Supper was a picnic; lights out by mutual silent consent (not sure how that happens – telepathy, maybe?).
We’re looking forward to arriving on Sunday at around 5pm at Les Courmettes, one of A Rocha’s two centres in France, to meeting with other Christians and learning more both from an environmental and Biblical perspective, always remembering the hope we have in Jesus.
We both left home late on Saturday morning, so this is slow travel indeed (28 hours), but with many benefits, not least the lower carbon emissions.

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