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Exclusive Interview: Alex Baines-Buffery Director and Co-Founder Wines Rides

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For years Alex worked in TV as an Associate Producer. He’s worked with some huge names like Sir David Attenborough, Dr. Alice Roberts and even Len Goodman from Strictly Come Dancing. This job gave him the opportunity to work on Ray Mears Wild Britain. It was on that show that he got to explore the Weald, a fascinating place because the unique geology and geography means it has remained relatively unchanged since the Middle Ages. It is this same geology that produces such wonderful wine. He’s using his experience setting up documentary shoots all over the world to give people wonderful holidays in the UK. He speaks to Blue & Green.

In 140 characters or less – what is Wine Rides?

Wine Rides is a weekend break: You cycle to and camp on a vineyard. You drink great wine, eat local food & your tent is pitched for you

What was the driver for creating Wine Rides – what gap did it fill?

There are a lot of people who like the idea of camping but have felt let down by the reality.

That is an issue of managing different group’s needs.

Most camping in Europe happens in campsites where people are drawn together because campsite are cheaper than other accommodation.

As someone who likes the adventure of cycle touring, I realised it would be a lot nicer to camp on the vineyards we were passing by.

I’m a TV producer who has worked with Ray Mears and Sir David Attenborough, I knew I had the knowledge and skills to get it sorted. So that is what I set about doing.

I have found there is an untapped market for exclusive camping. Where other groups with different needs are excluded.

There is nothing wrong with other people having fun the way they want to have fun. It’s just that when you have had a very physical day in the saddle, you want to go to bed, when you want to go to bed. Not when a Spanish 16 year old stops playing his guitar.

Who does it primarily serve?

Everyone who is moderately fit, over 18 and likes wine. The age range we have found so far is from 24yrs old to 67 years old, although I am sure that range will increase. Most people are in the middle.

The greatest surprise of running Wine Rides has been the customers. I have been taken aback by how consistently lovely the people who come on the trips are.

What difference does Wine Rides want to make?

I really want to give the natural world a tangible value. People have busy urban lives and we have become largely cut off from nature.

Hayley and I have worked really hard to create a situation where anyone can enjoy the simple pleasures of life. Good food and great wine in the landscape it came from.

What are the barriers to making that difference?

There are the regulatory barriers. I am sort of agnostic about them. My feeling is that they just weed out a lot of the competition that aren’t really serious about doing what we do.

Another issue is that we live in a products oriented society:

When I studied to be a safari game guide I learned that you should take nothing but photos and leave nothing but foot prints, and that is how wine rides operates. As a result we are a service orientated business. But there are some people who want to see a lot of ‘stuff’ before they part with their cash.

We get around that by pursuing customers that understand quality and are willing to pay for service.

Who’s helping you overcome those barriers?

We have great support from Fraser-communications. They have really done a great deal to help a science and nature geek like me understand how normal people see the world and want to be spoken to.

However there is a lot more to do. The main thing now is to get to scale quickly. That is why we are courting investment at the moment.

We are hoping to raise finance to make some capital purchases that will enable us to reduce our costs and increase our effectiveness and I would be delighted to speak to anyone who would like to support Wine Rides by investing.

Regarding sustainability: cycling check, camping check. But is wine making a sustainable industry?

It could. I think it is important to think about peoples consumption habits and not just talk about production.

Wine is high value, none-perishable, and can be shipped rather than sent air-freight. So it is quite a sustainable way of consuming grapes.

In the context of a country like South Africa, the workers are also paid a fairly good wage, and have stable reliable incomes.

The elephant in the room is Alcohol: Alcohol is the most damaging drug on the planet. This is partly because it is the most popular and one of the only legal recreational drugs we have. None the less, I think it is important to acknowledge, that people should drink wine because it is fun. But that is best done at reasonably low volumes, in the company of others where you can benefit from the fact that it is a social lubricant.

Wine does well there because, it’s not that cheap. It’s crafted, every sip can be appreciated and above all for me, it creates stunning agricultural landscapes that enhance its enjoyment.

How can people – individuals and organisations – find out more about Wine Rides?

Email questions to info@winerides.co.uk

Visit the website winerides.co.uk

Or tweet me @winerrides

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Environment

Extra-Mile Water Conservation Efforts Amidst Shortage

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water conserving

While some states are literally flooding due to heavy rains and run-off, others are struggling to get the moisture they need. States like Arizona and California have faced water emergencies for the last few years; water conserving efforts from citizens help keep them out of trouble.

If your area is experiencing a water shortage, there are a few things you can do to go the extra mile.

Repair and Maintain Appliances

Leaks around the house – think showerheads, toilets, dishwashers, and more – lead to wasted water. Beyond that, the constant flow of water will cause water damage to your floors and walls. Have repairs done as soon as you spot any problems.

Sometimes, a leak won’t be evident until it gets bad. For that reason, make appointments to have your appliances inspected and maintained at least once per year. This will extend the life of each machine as well as nip water loss in the bud.

When your appliances are beyond repair, look into Energy Star rated replacements. They’re designed to use the least amount of water and energy possible, without compromising on effectiveness.

Only Run Dishwasher and Washer When Full

It might be easier to do a load of laundry a day rather than doing it once per week, but you’ll waste a lot more water this way. Save up your piles of clothes until you have enough to fully load the washing machine. You could also invest in a washing machine that senses the volume of water needed according to the volume of clothes.

The same thing goes with the dishwasher. Don’t push start until you’ve filled it to capacity. If you have to wash dishes, don’t run the water while you’re washing. Fill the sink or a small bowl a quarter of the way full and use this to wash your dishes.

Recycle Water in Your Yard

Growing a garden in your backyard is a great way to cut down on energy and water waste from food growers and manufacturers, but it will require a lot more water on your part. Gardens must be watered, and this often leads to waste.

You can reduce this waste by participating in water recycling. Using things like a rain barrel, pebble filtering system, and other tools, you can save thousands of gallons a year and still keep your landscaping and garden beautiful and healthy.

Landscape with Drought-Resistant Plants

Recycling water in your yard is a great way to reduce your usage, but you can do even more by reducing the amount of water required to keep your yard looking great. The best drought-resistant plants are those that are native to the area. In California, for example, succulents grow very well, and varieties of cactus do well in states like Arizona or Texas.

Install Water-Saving Features

The average American household uses between 80 and 100 gallons of water every single day. You obviously can’t cut out things like showering or using the toilet, but you can install a few water-saving tools to make your water use more efficient.

There are low-flow showerheads, toilets, and faucet aerators. You could also use automatic shut-off nozzles, shower timers, and grey water diverters. Any of these water saving devices can easily cut your water usage in half.

Research Laws and Ordinances for Your City

Dry states like California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Nevada must create certain laws to keep the water from running out. These laws are put into practice for the benefit of everyone, but they only work if you abide by the laws.

If you live in a state where drought is common, research your state and city’s laws. They might designate one day per week that you’re allowed to water your lawn or how full you can fill a pool. Many people are not well versed in the laws set by their states, and it would mean a lot to your community if you did your part.

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Environment

Cyprus is the Forerunner for Ecotourism

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When I was looking for a second citizenship, I happened to see One Visa’s offer on Cyprus Citizenship by investment program. I had heard about Cyprus being a beautiful country, but I did not know much else, so I decided to start my own research about this gem of a place.

After I did some research, I discovered that Cyprus is a popular destination for tourists. Unfortunately, heavy tourism and the associated development affected villages here and there, with some communities being slowly abandoned. To avoid this from happening any further, Cyprus went into ecotourism, and today, it is the forerunner in this arena. Let’s look in further detail at ecotourism in Cyprus here.

How was it started?

It all started in 2006 with the launch of the “Cyprus Sustainable Tourism Initiative.” This program has the sole scope of promoting ecotourism developments in the tourism industry. It concentrates on those areas which require conservation and environmental safety. At the same time, it helps develop social, as well as economic statuses in the rural parts of Cyprus. Through this program, the government was able to acknowledge that ecotourism will play an essential role in the future of Cyprus, with the concept gaining momentum among tourists from all over the globe.

How to go about it?

So, now you are interested in going for an ecotourism vacation in Cyprus. How will you go about it? I would immediately say that everyone should visit the quaint Cypriot villages spread throughout the island. These communities have a smaller population, and not many tourists visit. They make for a great relaxing spot. Enjoy seeing the bustle of village life go by where simple pleasures abound. Most hamlets are linked by specific minibus tours which ferry tourists to these havens. These trips will have a regular schedule, aimed at promoting ecotourism further. Such tours will be regulated to ensure that while the villages can benefit and develop, they do not get overpopulated or overcrowded with tourists. Therefore, you can be sure to enjoy the beautiful sceneries that nature has to offer here.

If you are wondering if there are any activities to do here, my answer would be: “Yes, plenty.” You can go for some guided walks across various regions here. Here you will be able to explore the diversified natural beauty and wildlife of the area. Several agritourism activities and services are planned to open shortly. Once launched, you will be able to engage in picking olives, milking goats, and several other such events here.

What can be learned?

Although we are aware that natural resources need to be preserved, we do not always remember it in real life. When we go on tours such as these, we can realize the significance of protecting nature. Also, when more and more people visit these places, the concept of ecotourism will become popular among more people. Awareness about ecotourism is set to grow and spread throughout the world. Subsequently, sustainable tourism will gain popularity around the globe with Cyprus being the forerunner for ecotourism .

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