Land’s End trip
During the summer of 2003, two men set out to travel the length of Britain to make a point. Despite not knowing each other, both had the same aim of traveling for Land’s End to John O’Groats in a way that had never been attempted before and to raise awareness for their cause.
One of these gentlemen was Stephen Gough whose aim was to walk the entire journey naked. His cause was to put the question to the British public of why we should be ashamed of nakedness when it is our natural form and the way God created us. A very interesting challenge to our society, and I have to admire his courage, however not particularly a cause that I would champion!
The other gentlemen that I refer to is myself, Daniel Blackburn, resident of Bwlchygroes. My cause was to show that it is perfectly possible, and more importantly, perfectly legal to drive a car right across Britain using only vegetable oil as a fuel. My journey was a lot easier that Mr. Gough’s, I didn’t have to walk, I didn’t get arrested or have to worry about the midges of Scotland attacking my nether regions.
Both our trips attracted quite a lot of media attention. Mr. Gough did receive considerably more media attention than myself, which has led me to lament that next time I should drive naked and make a point of being arrested. However despite this media envy, when I first thought of the idea for the journey I never realised I would get the amount of coverage that I did. Initially I simply wanted to test the German conversion kit that I had fitted on my car that allows it to run on pure vegetable oil. My other motive was to have a bit of a holiday visiting friends across the UK that I had not seen for ages. As time went on and the idea for the journey took more and more shape I realised that what I was about to undertake was the first journey of its kind in the UK. I therefore thought I had a responsibility to publicise the journey since the first time anything is done is a once only occurrence.
Driving a car across the UK on veg oil seemed a bizarre publicity stunt to some and a complete joke to others. However, there was a more important side to the trip which was my main reason for attracting media attention. Powering cars on renewable bio fuels, of which pure vegetable oil is one, is likely to have huge benefits to the global environment. Here follows the scientific explanation. Vegetable oil is formed by plants from carbon dioxide which they take in from the air, so when you burn vegetable oil in your engine this same carbon dioxide is released back into the air meaning that there is no build up of this gas in the atmosphere. Currently most people use fossil fuels in their cars which went burnt releases carbon dioxide from carbon which was previously trapped in the surface of the earth. This causes carbon dioxide build up in the atmosphere which in turn is causing global warming. It was convenient that during my trip the UK had its hottest day ever on record illustrating that we are experiencing global warming.
In addition to the above, using bio fuels have the advantage that they make us less reliant on Middle Eastern fossil fuels. This has the benefit keeping money in our own economies rather than giving it away to the many suspect regimes there to buy oil. It also means we would be less likely to commit tax payer’s money and the lives of our service men to fight wars, like the latest in Iraq, to secure our fossil fuel reserves. Finally oil crops have the potential to revitalise our agriculture as farmers could have a product that is high in demand rather than agricultural products at the moment which seem to have minimal demand based on the farm gate prices. I attempted to get most of the above points across, with varying degrees of success, to the media that were interested in my journey.
The journey in the end was covered through a large number of radio interviews, an even larger number local newspaper articles that I managed to arrange in many of the places that I past through, features in two national newspapers and a whole section of using vegetable oil as a fuel on the BBC’s News night, not forgetting featuring on local television news. Interest in my story came not only from the UK but also from America and Australia. I was also asked if the story and pictures from my journey could be used in an English language text book for schools in China. Interesting to think that me and my car could be staring out of the page at potentially millions of Chinese school children. The other wonderful thing is where my story has turned up, a friend who works on the QE II liner saw the story in their on ship newspaper, quite unbeknown to myself.
With stopping at different events and doing so many interviews, not to mention spending time with friends, the entire trip took almost an entire month. By the time that the car had returned from its travel to Bwlchygroes it had clocked up 3000 miles all of it on pure vegetable oil bought off the shelf in super markets right across the country. The only noticeable draw back of using vegetable oil as fuel that I found on the journey, was its negative affect on my diet. With having appetising smell of frying food following me around all the time I found myself regularly nipping into chippies on route for my meals, with the result that I had developed quite a belly by the end of the journey.