A day for learning

Monday 8th September

And we’re off!… nearly.

You may have noticed that this post has arrived a little later than the last. Well it turns out that our first day held within it a huge learning curve. With hindsight, I suppose, it was only to be expected.

You may also have seen from the gallery that we spent a lot of time on Monday morning gallivanting around Land’s End in search of good photographs and memories. We also found good discussion with new friends; either about to set off on their own journey to John o’Groats or because they were simply interested in the car. It’s funny how enthusiastic you can get about a car that you’ve had to almost gently persuade to do its job in fear of complete disaster, i.e. – PLEASE DEAR GOD CHARGE THIS TIME!!! Even now I sit here and think only fondly of the i3… with RANGE EXTENDER… may I quietly add.

So photos taken, poses completed and strangers met, we set off… at 12:54pm… woops. Vince and I could debate at length who’s fault the late departure was down to… though we have learnt on some occasions just to smile and carry on. Ohhh I nearly forgot to mention the hotel itself! Remember that I am physically writing this across the day of the 9th, so I am looking at my notes and pondering my memories during this recital. Probably a good thing that I’m writing this today and not last night… anyway I am jumping ahead here.

So… I wake up to an excited Vince entering the (twin) room; as he has been up for around 4-5 hours already taking photos, finding a charging point and taking in the views (which I will discuss later if I remember). It is now 8am. As soon as Vince mentions the ‘views’ I jump out of bed and pull open the curtains which follow on to a modest private balcony with, in my opinion, the best sea views from a room in the entire hotel. I didn’t remember to take a photo of that particular sight, but if you visit the gallery you will get a glimpse of some of the views I’m talking about. The charging point Vince visited at silly o’clock in the morning (advised to us by the lovely staff of the hotel) turned out to be an incompatible one (I will explain) so he ended up with the 3-pin type… which I’m sure you may remember from our Little Chef encounter.

There appears to be competing ‘charging types’… I’ve mentioned that there is slow, fast and rapid already somewhere… now… within the fast and rapid types there are two competing types… or… connections… like the difference between a UK and European plug socket. So not only are we attempting to locate a charging point in the first place – and hope that it’s a rapid one… and works – we also need to search for a compatible connection! Argh. A further point to add is that Vince did show me this charging point on our eventual exit from Sennen and commented on the nature of chargers enjoying a seemingly aloof status even when you know you are only a few meters away from one… I swear Vince and I will be epic hide and seek players after all of this.

It wouldn’t be right if I didn’t mention the outstanding breakfast that the Land’s End hotel offers to it patrons. I’m aware that I’m starting to sound like a salesman (a good one at that) but I believe that if you find something you like or enjoy, you should share it.

Yes… we have appeared to have had a cushty beginning to the apparent first day of our journey, but please remember that we are doing this while keeping in mind the ‘average’ person’s travels. If you went to somewhere you’ve never been, would you not look around… even Jeremy Clarkson stops and points the camera at the view. Is travel not in and of itself a way of getting somewhere you want to SEE? I have perhaps gone off on a tangent here?

About to leave, Vince bumps into a man named Barry Adamson – who turns out to be THE man that has worked on the Jaguar range of electric cars, the Nissan Leaf (electric) and the electric version of the Lotus Elise (from what I can remember)… (?!?!)… only Vince.

And……….. we’re off!!! With 0 miles on the trip meter, 42 miles of Petrol in the tank, to charge the battery if need be, and 42 miles of electricity in the battery already (12:42pm). When I saw the numbers 42 staring at me I (unfortunately for him) shouted in Vince’s ear “The meaning of life!” – for those who know the reference… Vince and I took this as a very good omen for the journey. For what is a journey without life in mind! – or something.

15.9 miles in we stopped to fill up our small 9-litre petrol reserves… and I was feeling sick. The on board computer now displayed a petrol value of 77 miles and a battery level of 44 miles (why? – because the car’s smart e-drive thing calculates this mileage stuff as we go – so we managed to gain 2 miles on the battery for free! – or because the range extender added something to it – who knows). After paying for the petrol Vince appeared with some chocolate raisins to help settle my stomach. I’m not too sure if that is a ‘thing’… but I only had a few so wouldn’t know! But as ever it is the thought that counts!

We planned to go through Barnstaple due to Vince’s sister, Sylvia, writing a book about the area (my facts are vague), however not knowing exactly which sites of Barnstaple to go to (as Vince had forgotten the book) we carried on our original course.

A thought worth mentioning…

Vince’s philosophy, or what I can make of it, (to name but one!) appears to be along the lines of ‘try, experience or fail… learn from it… then enjoy and do better if need be.’ I bring this up as we learned a lot from Sunday’s travels… while also being able to experience a lot. It appears Vince is trying to teach me how to plan only when necessary… instead of planning yourself out of a possible good experience. We learnt that motorways were not the enemy; due to Ecotricity’s charging posts, so far, being faultless – and because of the extreme lack of reliable charging points elsewhere.


So on the motorway, running down the battery… I spot a brown sign for ‘The Eden Project.’ Now two things went through my mind at this point (and I will admit to the order) – firstly… “ohhh I’ve always wanted to go there!” shortly followed by “I remember finding out that there were charging points there…” So I quickly convey all of this to Vince, and with a neck braking turn of the wheel we’re off to the Eden Project! which turned out to be about 10 miles off course… woops. I held on nervously to the vague recollection that though the posts were only ‘fast’ ones… there was one that held a higher charge than the other. To explain… the three categories I’ve mentioned do exist – slow, fast, rapid – but within those (ahhhh!) there are ALSO different amps/voltages… or whatever. So a fast charging point could allow 7amps, or 32amps or electricity… or something… so the higher the better to charge faster (remind me again why we didn’t plan this trip?). I remembered there being one of each kind at the Eden Project… which was confirmed by a patient look at zap map on Vince’s phone (the website that shows you SOME of the charging points in the country). We arrive at the (huge) car park and decide, owing to our previous experiences of aloof charging points, to call the Eden Project customer services line. Quite promptly a kind sounding lady tells us of ‘3 charging points in the banana car park’.

We are now, by the way, 61.8 miles into the journey; with the range extender keeping the battery hovering around 3 miles of charge and 76 miles worth of petrol… following?

We find the banana car park – after one wrong turn – and locate the charging point in a little wooden enclosure… I start walking around it hoping to see something relating to amps but find nothing. Not knowing if we’ve gotten lucky or not we plug in anyway (without card to wave as this one is owned by the Eden Project! – I think). This is the first time that I notice the ‘display thing on the car’ telling us what the time will be when the car is fully charged. I think it said something ridiculous like 5 hours… (what happened to 3 or 4?!) – so I gathered that this MUST be the lower of the two posts and exclaimed that we should look for the other. I walk around in this hide and seek game for a while before giving up. Whereby Vince shrugs and says “Oh well,” – in true Vince fashion – “let’s have a look inside the Eden Project while it charges a bit, we still have the range extender to find us another charging post later.” – Yesss!!!

Without going into any detail (ha!), as such things are probably best left for another time, the Eden Project was amazing! We didn’t want to spend too much time inside as the journey of course beckoned; so a quick, sweaty, walk around the tropical rainforest – a glance at a roaring dinosaur – and a land train pulled by an (electric!) tractor – found us back at the car park with the i3. What better place to stop on our electric and (mostly) sustainable journey than a place which inspires such values. The car was now charged to 53 miles in the battery and we set off again! I can’t remember the time… I think I was still too excited about the plants and things.

Quite late in the afternoon we arrive (back) at Exeter services to use the trusty Ecotricity post we had used only one day before. We are now 139.6 miles into our 900 mile journey. Now… according to my notes we may not have topped up the petrol here… but by this point… and I’m picking up on something I mentioned earlier… I was exhausted – and so was Vince. I remember sitting in the services, with my laptop,  trying to find a hotel to stop at for the night and failing miserably due to my forgetting what numbers meant. Vince had a brief nap in the car while it charged. Upon his return I looked up meekly and voicelessly demonstrated my lack of ability to complete the given task. Suffice to say Vince booked a room somewhere and off we went again (with I THINK 43 miles of petrol in the tank and 66 miles of electricity in  the battery… my squiggles on the page are less legible than usual by this point).

When our petrol reached 4 miles and the battery 44, it was time to stop… and so we did… another services (190.3 miles into the day). We fill the 9-litre tank and computer says yes – 84 miles. I could say a lot about what happened next… but I think the best way to describe would be to say that Vince and I discovered what it was like to (not) get along while we were both exhausted. I also appear not to be as ‘hardy’ as I used to be… so after a small walk around the services (for which Vince highly disapproved of and tried exceptionally hard to talk me out of due to the shady characters around) to regain my composure… I fell (what felt like) face first into bed – after a very encouraging phone conversation with my partner, Aletia – there’s nothing like a call home to give you the strength to carry on.

So what did the day teach us? – in a sentence – to look after ourselves as the car cannot drive itself (yet), and nor the blog write itself (ha).



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