Back in October I had the privilege of speaking at TEDxBelfast - a wonderful event with the theme of 'ideas worth spreading.' TEDx events are a bringing together of great minds and innovation, so I felt somewhat fraudulent to be sharing my stories of half-baked adventures...
Below is my talk on the topic of 'How to become an adventurer.' Be sure to also check out some of the other speakers from the event - there are some wonderful talks.
As a special incentive for Christmas, I'm offering cheap-as-chips deals on my two new DVDs - Into The Empty Quarter and Walking Home From Mongolia (for more info, click on the highlighted names.)
If you fancy sharing a bit of adventure this Christmas, then these shows might be just the ticket. They're equally a pretty good stocking filler for 'the person who has everything' (you know who you are...)
I'm happy to put in some personalised Christmas greetings too, in an effort to spread Christmas cheer and make this a one-stop present-sorting shop!
Here's what's on offer:
For UK customers only, there is a free HD download!
For those of you further afield, you can still buy the DVD here for £9.99 + postage, although time is running out to get delivery in time for Christmas, so please do so very soon!
Postage will be added on at checkout.
The trailer for "Into The Empty Quarter," and a scene from "Walking Home From Mongolia"
Some praise for Into The Empty Quarter:
A beautifully shot film of a bravely executed journey. Brings Thesiger’s journey bang up to date — laughs, tears and all. The most pointless adventure I’ve ever had the pleasure of following.
- Tom Allen, award-winning film-maker
Beautifully honest, funny and riddled with grit.
- Dave Cornthwaite, Adventurer
Congrats on an amazing and challenging expedition, and for sharing it so effectively through the film. I swear I could almost feel the grit and sand!
- Roz Savage, World Record Breaking Ocean Rower
Very much enjoyed 'into the empty quarter’ an engaging and inspiring old school british adventure - nice work!
@samuelsnow via Twitter
Just saw @al_humphreys & leonmccarron's epic, beautiful film 'Into The Empty Quarter'. Brilliant! Perfect xmas gift
@georgemahood via Twitter
#intotheemptyquarter Enjoyed your film guys, something a little different to the norm, nice cart!
@ToftM via Twitter
-For more reviews on Twitter and Facebook, search using the hashtag #intotheemptyquarter
-Read Al Humphrey's interview with The Telegraph about the trip here
This project is my attempt to inject a small dose of adventure into every day (more background here!)
DAY 1 - Make the most of a 'business trip.'
I was due to give a talk in Sevenoaks. Instead of getting the train there, followed by a taxi to the venue (and then repeating the process to get home) I took my bike, arrive a few hours early and went exploring. A full morning of pedalling backroads and lanes around Kent was just the ticket. The UK is just full of these public footpaths and through ways - I'm ashamed at how few I have explored to date. I arrived at my destination a few minutes early, feeling very ready to give a talk about adventure! (Lesson learned for next time - perhaps go exploring AFTER the talk. Sweaty and muddy isn't the best look...)
DAY 2: Read a book in a day.
I was on and off trains constantly on Day 2. I also needed some literary inspiration for my book writing, and for once I had time on my side to read. So I read. I love the idea of covering an entire book in one day (even a short and abridged version like this one!) What greater writer to choose that Sir Wilfred himself? "Hunger, thirst, heat and cold: I had tasted them all in full..."
I wrote this blog post with the intention of it being very short. It's now rather long. Sorry. If you don't want to read it all, here's a summary:
For the month of October I am endeavouring to do one 'adventurous' thing every day. I won't be on expedition. In fact, I'll mostly be sat at my desk in London, so the adventures will be small - bite-size chunks of new experiences, snatched in the moments in and around my normal working life. The goal is to challenge myself (even in just a very small way) mentally or physically on a daily basis, in an attempt to lead a more adventurous and fulfilling life. An attempt to feel more alive.
If you want to read more, here goes...
Over the next few months I'm excited to be giving quite a few public lectures on some of my past adventures. Here are some of the ones I'm most looking forward to:
16th September - NIGHT OF ADVENTURE
Venue: Vue Cinema, Leicester Square
Talk: The Six Peaks on a folding Bike
18th September - TALES OF ADVENTURE
Venue: The George Pub, London
Talk: The Six Peaks
23rd September - ROYAL GEOGRAPHICAL SOCIETY, NORTHERN IRELAND
Venue: Queen's University, Belfast
Talk: On Foot Across China
If you're free on any of the above dates, do come along and say hi!
On Friday I safely returned from my joyous little adventure around the British Isles. In 19 days I cycled 750 miles on a folding bicycle, climbed the 'Six Peaks' (the highest mountain in each of the six major regions) and saw some of the most beautiful parts of our wonderful islands.
For those of us who live in London or other major cities in the UK, it's easy to feel trapped by the urban sprawl. Many of us may try (or wish) to combat it by getting out into the wilds as often as we can.
When this is not feasible, another option (and a source of inspiration) is to go along to one of the various adventure lecture events that run monthly or sporadically through the year.
If you've never been to one, I'd urge you to go along. Almost always the speakers are fascinating and the company good. Below are a few that I know well. Perhaps if you are aware of others you can add them below in the comments section.
EXPLORERS CONNECT - Founded by Belinda Kirk in Bristol, EC seeks to connect the adventure community and facilitate expeditions for everyone. As well as running an active website advertising jobs and opportunities for adventure, they run monthly networking evenings in a variety of cities (including London and Bristol) with a guest speaker each time. Well worth attending. Check the website for dates, venues and details.
TALES OF ADVENTURE - This London based monthly event was started by ocean rower Chris Martin a couple of years ago, and usually features two speakers plus a live call to someone out on expedition in the wilds of the world. A nice venue and great calibre of speakers. Details on the website.
NIGHT OF ADVENTURE - These are more sporadic, only happening once or twice a year, but they are absolutely worth putting in your diary. Alastair Humphreys first started these events to raise money for Hope and Homes for Children, and they've now expanded to sell out venues like the Leicester Square Odeon. The unusual format features ten speakers, who each have 20 slides of 20 seconds in length. The pictures scroll automatically, keeping everyone on their toes. There are three events coming up in London, Edinburgh and Manchester - details and dates here.
WILDERNESS LECTURES - A winter series of lectures based in Bristol covering adventure of all sorts, from all around the world. Everything kicks off in September, details here.
MONDAY NIGHT LECTURES AT THE RGS - The Royal Geographical Society has long run a lecture series on Monday evenings featuring renowned speakers talking on a variety of topics from all over the world (ranging from conservation to exploration to ecology...and so on.) Members and Fellows attend for free, while the public pays a small fee. Details on the website
What have I missed out? My knowledge is very limited to London and Bristol, so please fill in the gaps...
"It had nothing to do with gear or footwear or the backpacking fads or philosophies of any particular era or even with getting from point A to point B.
It had to do with how it felt to be in the wild. With what it was like to walk for miles with no reason other than to witness the accumulation of trees and meadows, mountains and deserts, streams and rocks, rivers and grasses, sunrises and sunsets. The experience was powerful and fundamental. It seemed to me that it had always felt like this to be a human in the wild, and as long as the wild existed it would always feel this way."
― Cheryl Strayed, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
“This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body.”
- Walt Whitman
NOTE - If you are here seeking professional advice, then you have arrived at the wrong place! Please redirect yourself to someone with years of experience in the matter.
I am a pretender, a distance running wannabe. However over the last few weeks I've learned some important lessons which I think may help other's in a similar situation. Enjoy, and please feel free to add tips of your own below.
1. Routine is everything
They say it takes 30 days to work something into your routine, and after that it becomes embedded in your psyche. This varies slightly for everyone, but I've so far found the basic theory to be correct. That initial period of time is tough - you'll have to force yourself into action every single time. Gradually though it becomes easier, and in my experience you reach a point where it just feels natural. Now if I don't run almost every day I feel sluggish and lethargic.
2. Make a plan
If you want to hit your distance, and do it well, then you're going to have to train properly. Research what others have done, ask advice from the pro's, and make yourself a schedule which is realistic yet challenging. This is also going to be tough, but once it's done, then all you have to do is stick to it!