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.
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!
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...
This coming Sunday (12th May) I'll be talking about my walk across China at the London Eco Film Festival.
There's plenty of exciting things happening all day - the festival is split into themes, with a different screen for each (such as Conservation & Environment, Expeditions & Adventures etc.)
Highlights (I reckon) will be cameraman Doug Allan talking about his 30 years of wildlife filmmaking, and the screenings of Tom Allen's feature-length cycling odyssey 'Janapar', and Dave Cornthwaite's short, 'Swim 1000.'
I'll be speaking at 12.30pm, in Vibe Bar Screen 2 (Brick Lane.) Check out the full programme here, and come along to say Hi if you're free on Sunday!
"A cloud gathers, the rain falls, men live; the cloud disperses without rain, and men and animals die. In the deserts of southern Arabia there is no rhythm of the seasons, no rise and fall of sap, but empty wastes where only the changing temperature marks the passage of the year. It is a bitter, desiccated land which knows nothing of gentleness or ease...
No man can live this life and emerge unchanged. He will carry, however faint, the imprint of the desert, the brand which marks the nomad; and he will have within him the yearning to return, weak or insistent according to his nature. For this cruel land can cast a spell which no temperate clime can match."
Wilfred Thesiger - Arabian Sands
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...
This Thursday (the 1st September) I'll be giving a talk at the fantastic Tollymore National Outdoor Centre.
The Centre itself is a great location, and I'm delighted to be able to tell my story there for an hour or two. Tollymore is near Newcastle, and more detailed directions are on their website here.
So if you're based in Northern Ireland and keen on cycling, adventure or just feel like coming along for something a bit different, it all kicks off at 7.30pm. Tickets are £5, and even better, all proceeds go straight to UNICEF. Good stuff, eh?
I'll even promise a few as-yet unseen clips from the upcoming documentar
See you there!
This Saturday (11th June) will see the arrival of the Big Wheel of Kent - a cycle event held in Canterbury by SPOKES East Kent Cycle Campaign, in association with the upcoming National Bike week.
Basically, it's a must-go-to event for anyone in the South East who is remotely interested in cycling. There will be a number of opportunities to ride into Canterbury from the surrounding towns, as well as shorter circular rides within the city. The Festival part will take place in the Dane John Gardens of Canterbury, and will include live music, food and drink, stalls for local cycling organisations and shops, as well as a 'Dr Bike' stand to help out with bike repairs.
I'll also be there with my own little stand. Lola (for new readers, Lola is my trusty bicycle!) and I will be there offering advice on cycle touring, and I'll be giving out information on the motivations lectures I give for schools and societies. So if you're interested in booking me for a talk, would just like to ask some logistical questions about planning a trip, or just want to say hi, then come down to the Dane John Gardens this Saturday!
Look forward to seeing plenty of you Kentish folks out and about during the day, and don't forget to check out the Big Wheel website here
It's now only a few weeks until the annual nationwide 'Bike Week.' Essentially this is a celebration of cycling, and an opportunity to promote and highlight the associated social, health and environmental benefits. It aims go get us all onto a bicycle for even just a short while during the week, and encourages people to consider incorporating cycling into their lives for general transport, commuting, shopping or just for fun - anything goes!
There will be fun events, rides, competitions and workshops happening all over the U.K so make sure you check out the Bike Week website and see what's happening near you.
I'll be heading back to Northern Ireland and working with Sustrans (the U.K's sustainable transport organisation) to give my "Cycling Reporter' lecture in a number of schools during the week. Keep an eye on my site for further updates on that and possibly a few other things.
So if you've been meaning to get that bicycle out for ages but haven't got round to it, or even if you're already a bike fanatic then there's plenty for you to get involved with during Bike Week - no excuses!