Culture | Mon 4 Nov
An Interview with Author Rosie Price
The novelist on her first book, childhood in Stroud and more
We’ve seen David Attenborough’s Blue Planet, we’re seeing social media and news images of our oceans full of plastic and pitiful pictures of polar bears standing on melting ice. Instances of asthma are on the increase. Our air is polluted by diesel fumes. We’ve taken our world for granted and it has to change. Now!
But we don’t have to stop living our lives, we can all make small changes to make a big difference. One family who have been doing this for nearly twenty-five years are the Kellys, who own Thistledown – an organic farm, campsite and now outstanding café (though the word café under-sells its incredible food) set in a wildflower meadow on the outskirts of the beautiful village of Nympsfield near Nailsworth in Gloucestershire. The views out across Woodchester Park alone are worth the visit.
All the food here is cooked on a charcoal barbeque and wood-fired clay oven using local, organic, foraged and free-range ingredients, including their own meat and vegetables.
Thistledown Café is not a “knit your own muesli” type alternative place, it’s a modern space with a sophisticated edge, serving the most delicious food, influenced by Mediterranean and Middle Eastern cuisine. We ate chicken shawarma – marinated in yogurt, with homemade pickles and, cooked in the clay oven (in front of our very eyes), flatbread. The Indian mezze was sublime, with turmeric roast cauliflower, a gujarati lentil dhal and rhubarb and ginger chutney. The Dukha and dips sharing platter was a rainbow of colours and flavours. The cakes are all made on site – orange and cardamom, cherry and almond, nankatai (a delicately flavoured pistachio, orange zest and date shortbread style biscuit).; the list goes on! And to complement the food, you can choose from a fine selection of locally produced wine, beer, cider, cordials, teas and coffees. It’s foodie heaven!
So I didn’t feel guilty rocking up in a brand new car, as the e-Golf has no exhaust pipe and produces zero emissions. We just glided quietly along the beautifully named Tinkley Lane and into the field. An understated car. It’s a Golf, but green. It is the now and it is the future. Cars like this will make a difference to how we save our world. It’s not about a gas guzzling loud grand gesture. It’s a silent revolution.
The Golf was the best selling car in the UK last year – so it’s likely that this electric version will continue the tradition of one of our all-time favourite cars. It’s subtle as an electric vehicle – as it doesn’t look like some high tech car from an era way into the future. It has a small e-Golf badge and blue line along the front grille, slightly different curved headlights and aerodynamic alloy wheels (flatter than usual). I can’t say enough times that there’s nothing gimmicky or ostentatious about the e-Golf. It’s a classic VW Golf – only electric. Even the charging plug is exactly where you’d traditionally fill it up with petrol or diesel. It feels as solid and as “normal” as you’d expect from a Golf, but without the worry of any more emissions.
The drive is as solid as any traditional Golf, with more or less the same generous legroom for four adults (five at a squeeze) and a good-sized boot. It’s ultimately just a Golf, but the new fun bit is using it in the various modes that regenerate the electricity as you brake (with a simple switch of the automatic gearstick), or by driving in eco or eco plus mode, where you can restrict the amount of air-con that you use in order to maximise your mileage. When driving back down the hill near Uley Long Barrow I clawed back seven miles worth of electricity – it’s such a positive way to travel.
My hints for getting the most out the e-Golf are always plug in when you get home – charging overnight means you can fill up for about a fiver!
Of course I’d like a longer electric range (Tesla and Hyundai have already achieved this) and that will come in time, but it’s still perfectly possible to use the e-Golf as your every day car. Frankly I’d rather be flying the flag for a sustainable future – and this makes it possible.
Thistledown Café is open 9 – 4.30 Wednesday to Sunday (7 days a week during school holidays), with sourdough pizza Friday and Saturday evening from Easter to October. Booking highly advisable!
For more information visit www.thistledown.org.uk/cafe
Fuel consumption – electric charging costs about 4p per mile as opposed to 14p for petrol. A full charge will give you up to 144 miles.
Charging time – on the e-Golf’s commercial high speed charging system you can get about 80% charge in 45 minutes, but realistically you’re more likely to plug in at home – using a wall charger will take about 5 hours and on a standard three pin plug about 17 hours (so overnight is the best option).
Road tax – £0 – it’s a zero emissions car.
Safety – it’s the latest Golf, so has as many, and more, safety features than you’d expect, including several driver alert systems to prevent crashes and protect pedestrians, including pre-crash preventative braking and city emergency braking.
Media – a really simple touch screen which accesses radio, satnav, blue-tooth connection. An app allows you to switch on the heating or air-con remotely, so the car is the right temperature when you get in it.
Muted colours – eight colours, which is great if you’re happy with whites and greys, plus black and a dark blue.
The drive – normal, eco and eco plus.
Optional extras – the most useful is the heat pump, which reduces the electric power use by up to 36% in cold weather, by recycling heat as the car drives.
Warranty – 3 year (60,000 mileage) and 8 year (99,360 mileage) battery warranty
Price – from £30,340 (including £3,500 government electric vehicle grant)
Follow Alexandra on Twitter @MissDashboardUK for a refreshing take on cars.
The novelist on her first book, childhood in Stroud and more
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