Green Goddess Columns
Thursday, 17 August 2006

Feeling it was time to stimulate the grey matter, I booked a low-emission weekend course at the eco-friendly Farncombe conference centre in the depths of Gloucestershire. To green the lily further, we took the train. I sold my car a year ago and have been relying on public transport ever since. I haven't missed it once. Indeed, every day I offer a prayer of gratitude for being shot of the hassle.

Trains are not always perfect, but they get you there in the end. Even with the odd delay, it's far more restful than dealing with traffic jams, road rage and psychotic traffic wardens. And the rather chaotic train service to Moreton-in-Marsh gave me time to swot up on my chosen weekend course matter - the life and times of Charles II.

I'm a huge fan of Charles II (the most eco-friendly monarch of all time, according to a leading expert on green monarchs, aka moi). Many people believe he was a womanising playboy king, but he has been much maligned. In reality, he was a brave, James Bond-like figure whose skilled governance led to an unprecedented period of peace, allowing for the flourishing of architecture, gardens and herbal medicines.

Charles loved nature. He designed gardens and parks, which he opened to the public. He was an enthusiastic arborealist, reforesting Greenwich with chestnuts and elm trees. He experimented with herbal remedies, curing himself of malaria with quinine. He also bears an uncanny resemblance to Richie Sambora of Bon Jovi.


Separated at birth?

Richie sambora                                     Charles 11

Our lecturer, John Sutton, had us all enthralled, although S kept disappearing to the organic wine tasting course downstairs. Then we were let out for a stroll around the ancient city of Worcester, where the Civil War began and ended. John brought the past to life with a gripping commentary, ending with tea in Worcester cathedral, served by authentically English grumpy waitresses.

Although some ancient streets remain, sadly much of the character of this city was lost in the 1970s when town planners razed many historic buildings, replacing them with hideous car parks, chain stores and unnavigable one-way systems.

It was a relief to return to Farncombe. Set in 300 acres of ravishing countryside, the centre is impressively green; 19,000 trees have been planted, water comes from its own reservoir, bio-degradable Ecover products are used for all the cleaning, and food comes from local farmers.

I was wildly envious, as John has a second job lecturing on Charles II on Saga cruise ships. Can you imagine anything more wonderful than free passage on luxury liners in return for a daily lecture? I wonder if P&O wants a green correspondent? I'm sure my lecture on making your own cleaning fluids would be lively enough to interest the sleepiest septuagenarian. I shall brush it up just in case.

Reduce your toxic splash by making your own cleaning products. It’s cheap and easy! directions>