Al and I are delighted to announce that, after a year of hard work, our film 'Into The Empty Quarter' is finally ready to be shared with the world!
The movie will have its world premiere at the wonderful Royal Geographical Society in London on Saturday 16th November at 6.30pm.
After that you can catch it on DVD, as a digital download and (hopefully!) at a selection of film festivals over the coming months.
To WIN a pair of tickets to the world premiere, please 'retweet' this link, or 'Like' on Facebook here. The winner will be selected at random.
'Explore' for those of you who haven't heard of it, is the ultimate indulgence event for the expedition/adventure lovers among us.
Each year hundreds of enthusiastic speakers and delegates gather together in the auspicious halls of the Royal Geographical Society and spend an entire weekend planning adventures.
I can't speak highly enough about the event, nor tell you how effective it is at providing inspiration and practical help for anyone who has ever dreamed of heading off on an adventure.
If you live in London, then you definitely must go. I'd also argue it's worth travelling from other parts of the UK to come to (I first attended when I was still living in Northern Ireland, and it was the catalyst I needed to set off on my subsequent cycling adventures.) It really is that good.
This year's conference will take place from the 15-17 November. Visit the website for prices and details on how to book.
Below are 5 reasons why you should be there:
If you haven't heard of it already, then I'm excited to draw your attention to one of the coolest adventure film festivals around - the Thrillseekers Adventure Film Festival.
The aim is to showcase the best in adventure travel and extreme sport filmmaking, and it's extremely successful. Go and check out the format and schedule for yourself via their website, but here it is in a nutshell: 15 films, organised into 3 programmes, screening at over 30 cinemas nationwide. It starts tomorrow, and runs through 30th November. If you like adventure films, this is something you shouldn't miss...
I'm very proud to say that a 20-minute 'festival' version of 'Into The Empty Quarter,' the film I shot with Al Humphreys in Oman and the UAE at the end of last year, will be screening in Programme 3 during the AFF tour. The venues and dates are listed below: if you live anywhere near any of these cities and cinemas then please do go and check it out (and tell us what you think of it!) Tickets available 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...
Here is a rudimentary photo essay of my journey around the British Isles by folding bike (for your enjoyment...)
The real start and end of any journey is leaving and returning to home (however you interpret 'home'...)
I started this journey in Northern Ireland, where I grew up, and set off from the rugged North Coast with a folding bike, a backpack and 19 days until I had to be back in London; minimalism is a stalwart of good adventure. I was reminded of that great Leonard Bernstein quote: "To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time."
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.
At the end of June I'll be riding around the British Isles on a folding bicycle, climbing the highest peak in each of the six major regions (want to know more? Check out this page!)
From this week onwards I'll be starting to update my website with progress (or lack of it) as I get ready for this fun summer adventure right here in the UK and Ireland!
You can follow me on Twitter and Facebook, and also via my Punkt interactive map - this will be where I post most of the photos and videos as I go, so check it out. Click on the map above to access the Punkt content.
Finally, if you'd like to meet me at any point along the way to climb a Peak or ride a few miles (or bring me presents) send me a message here!
What is achievable in the space of 10 weeks?
I'll cut straight to it - I've decided to enter a 100km (62.5miles) trail run at the start of May. This in itself is not particularly extreme. There are many, many people who can (and do) run this sort of distance with relative ease. I however, am not currently one of those people. In fact, in the last 3 years, I've rarely run further than 15km in one session. The last time I did any running with a purpose I had an Olympic Torch and a six-month beard to keep me company. By way of a somewhat feeble excuse, I can only offer that I have spent a lot of my last few years either cycling, trekking, or cart-pulling (or resting inbetween said exertions!)
All considered though, I now have quite a challenge ahead of me to get ready for this race. The idea of trying to run 100 kilometres in a single day (or rather, in 10-15 hours) is rather a terrifying one. But, as a strong believer that fear should never be given license to take hold of us, I have decided to cast aside doubts and commit to it.
I am currently trying to write a book, and also keep up to date with all of the other admin and desk-bound work required to be a self-employed writer and speaker. It's still a very foreign world to me, and if I'm honest, I have a hard time being productive when I'm at my desk. My mind wanders, jumps from taks to task, and inevitably ends up back in some wild place on an expedition, free from all the emails and paperwork.
One of the biggest differences I notice on an expedition is that I have clearly defined goals - each day I wake up knowing my purpose, and the path to achieving that is much simpler than mapping out a day in my 'office.' So I've tried to apply some of those experiences from the adventure world to the one which I currently inhabit. I've also been reading a book called 'Your Brain at Work' by David Rock, which does a great job of condensing a lot of neuroscience to explain why it requires training and effort to achieve a high level of productivity. That it's hard work is the bad news...the good news is that a little hard work never did anyone any harm (and it is very feasible!)
So below are five tips for productivity. I write this as much for myself as anyone - I have by no means mastered them. But, I'm getting better. And the quicker I achieve these, the faster my work will be done, and the sooner I can head back off into the wilderness without a desk in sight...