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We're in Bonn at the moment (16th) so here's our post for the last few days.

Monday 15th July

Brussels-Aachen:  Time cycling - 7 hours.  Distance - 132km

After having spent two days with little sleep, our hostel beds were perfect and woke up feeling recharged and excited for the day. We’d learnt something from our previous mistakes, so before we left Brussels we booked a campsite in Aachen. Giving us both somewhere to aim for and a definite place to sleep.

Fri 12th

So this day found us in a mad rush to get everything ready. It also found Zoltan at the Hungarian embassy waiting for his emergency passport. A story still too raw to go into suffice to say Zoltan and I are still friends. So having packed and had a couple of good luck drinks at the Brownswood, we were set.

Welcome to our blog!

Zoltan & I (Jack) both work in the Castle Café. We both have an interest in cycling and have both worked with bikes – myself as a courier and Zoltan delivering lunches to offices in central London.

Zoltan who is from Hungary had for a while been considering cycling home and when this was mentioned to me over a game of pool, the idea for a trip was born.The trip for us started out as more of a fitness challenge and as a means of getting home. But it has evolved into something more.

On Sunday, 7th of July in collaboration with the London Wildlife Trust, we will be doing a clear up of the New River (on foot or in a little boat!) ending with music and beer at the other end! Join us to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the New River.

Our gas supply contract came up for renewal this year, so I took this opportunity to research what the most environmentally friendly option would be. Natural gas is a fossil fuel; a non-renewable resource. Sourcing and using this responsibly goes right to the heart of our environmental policy.

The Castle has won another Sustainable City Award, this time in the Sustainable Food category. The award was presented at Mansion House on 19 March 2013. We were also shortlisted for Resource Conservation. We were very pleased and surprised to receive this award, especially given that we are up against other businesses that focus solely on dining and catering. This award recognises the efforts that we've put in over the past three years to minimise the environmental impact of our cafe. We've been able to make great progress with the following measures:

Castle Eco-Grants

The Castle Environmental Awards began in 2009. When the government reduced the VAT rate, we ring-fenced the additional £29,000 profit from our visit and membership fees into a special fund. Castle staff and customers were invited to apply for up to £6000 for each project that would promote sustainability in some way .

After 5 minutes of me talking, she turned to me and asked, "Are you talking about pens? Pens, as in the things we write with?"

Yes I am… and I am also aware of the fact that this may seem to be going overboard for buying pens. Part of my job here at The Castle (among other things, thankfully) is purchasing bulk orders of items that we use on a daily basis. There was a time when it took a very short amount of time and all I had to worry about was how much it cost in £’s. Over the last few years, things have changed around here (for the better).

Sustainability

Our commitment to sustainability is central to everything we do here…and I mean everything! Every single thing we purchase from electricity and gas to pens and t-shirts is scrutinised with the aim of finding the most environmentally-friendly solution. Everything that leaves our building is equally scrutinised. Literally. We employ a team to go through every piece of rubbish twice a year so that we can learn how to reduce, reuse and recycle more.

After many hours spent chasing invoices, looking at spreadsheets and working out emission factors we've finally published our Environmental Report for 2011. You can download it here. It's important to me that this information is available so that other businesses can learm from our experiences and help reduce their own carbon footprint.

If you just want a quick summary of the key facts, read on:

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