Black cab to Athens



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Think it's tough getting a black cab to go south of the river? One London couple have gone one better and are driving all the way to Athens in one, with Time Out following their progress

  • Black cab to Athens

    James and Violette Scott wave goodbye to London

  • The idea | Week 1 | Week 2

    The idea

    On June 20 James and Violette Scott waved goodbye to London and set off for their new life in Greece. But not for them a simple flight from Heathrow to Athens. They’ve decided to take a piece of the capital with them and are making the trip in a black cab.Last February, James bought the taxi from a retired cabbie on eBay for £2,000. He and his wife had always known that they would eventually leave London for sunnier climes, and the idea for the trip came from a desire ‘to make a bit of an occasion of it’.James was inspired by a documentary about a group who took a Routemaster from London to Hong Kong. The bus was met with smiles and waves along the way, and he is hoping for something similar, ‘to spread a bit of happiness as we go on our journey’.The couple have been driving the car around London, and people often try to flag them down despite the ‘For Hire’ light being off. Like all decommissioned cabs, ‘it doesn’t have a meter and you can’t turn on the light’. On the continent the cab, a London icon, is bound to cause a stir, given that many will only ever have seen a black cab in films. ‘What I want to happen is for people to talk to us,’ says James.

    The couple plan to take two to three weeks to complete their trip, and we’ll be following them. They recently got the car serviced in preparation for the 4,000-odd miles they intend to cover, but it could turn into a bit of a slog; black cabs are designed for driving in slow-moving traffic and can only clatter along at a top speed of about 50 miles an hour.

    James and Violette will take turns driving, with one mastering the motorways from the front seat, and the other in the back. The partition has been removed so that they can talk to each other and they’ve also put in a carpet, fridge and a DVD player. ‘But no air-conditioning,’ points out Violette.

    After the Chiswick departure, the pair have spent a few days in Paris and are currently enjoying a week in the south of France. From there they will travel through Italy, ending up in Greece, where Violette grew up. Although they have a provisional route, they may make some detours. ‘I want to keep it spontaneous,’ says James.

    So will they keep the cab when their trip comes to an end? The couple are considering a few options. Violette’s mum works in Athens for a beauty magazine and is hoping to use the car for fashion shoots on the Greek beaches. James has different ideas. He wants to put it in the garden and grow things around it.

    Violette rolls her eyes at this suggestion, so they may strike a compromise and sell it to a hotel for use by the guests. Whatever they decide, it will all depend on how the black cab fares. Audrey Ward

    The idea | Week 1 | Week 2

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