Facebook: Friday at 22:06 Dave how do I go about getting job doing similar to what you guys get up to? Do you need somebody to carry your bags?
Reply: Friday at 22:10 I’m not the bloody Queen! The recipe is simple. Spend five years earning no money, spending 20 hours a day in front of a laptop teaching yourself all manner of skills, occasionally disappearing off down a river or something, and at some point someone will decide you have enough experience to warrant a meagre fee in exchange for talking about yourself for 45 minutes. Did that help? ;)
Of course, popping six years of adventure-chasing into four lines on Facebook never quite paints the full picture. ‘How do you fund all of this’ remains a pertinent question, one that seems to confuse the living daylights out of anyone who isn’t quite au fait with the poverty-stricken rigours of your typical non-TV personality Adventurer.
Every time an expedition comes around I set out on a letter-writing and networking crusade and I don’t stop until everything is in place for a journey to start. Don’t ask me exactly how I do it (although if you do ask, I’ll try to tell you), but the beauty of taking a clean sheet of paper and turning it into not just an idea, but a big old content-rich extravaganza with charitable and philanthropic aims and a feast of tentacles each reaching out to new possibilities and rewards, well, the simple thought of that is enough to start the ball rolling.
Ask, and you have a chance of receiving. Don’t, and you may as well stay in bed without dreaming, which kind of defeats the point of bed, if you ask me.
Although I have some successful projects behind me which make sourcing supporters easier, I’m not yet in a position to click my fingers and instantly cover all equipment/ costs of any trip, even the cheapest ones. But there’s a great wealth in perception, even if it’s not tangible. I know that from the outside it seems like I’m doing well, but all too easily there’s a direct assumption that ‘doing well’ means ‘earning a lot.’ And that’s the key, in order to do well in a vocation driven and motivated by individual (or group) passion, money cannot be the end goal. From Day One I believed that nurturing my passions and talents was the key to a happy and fruitful life. I didn’t know how exactly, but I knew that if I wanted it enough, somehow a living would come from it.
I didn’t realise, however, that as soon as I appeared to be doing well that I’d become the hopeful benefactor for other adventurers. Three emails I’ve had this week, from brilliantly motivated young people hoping to embark on their virgin adventures, each one hoping that I’d be able to fund their trips.
Sadly, all I can offer at the moment is advice, and maybe the odd contact. I’m assisting over ten adventures throughout the world through my Adventure Consultancy, with no means other than my time at stake. It’s worth it, I’ve had plenty of people help me achieve my goals in the past and it’s nice to be able to trickle down my experience. But they didn’t come free, those lessons, so I always ask anyone wanting more than a snippet of advice to take a look at these simple guidelines, otherwise I might just find myself on the back foot when it comes to planning my own adventures.
When images begin to flicker and bounce throughout the right side of your brain, creating pictures and scenarios that have never factored in your life before, that’s when you know the magic is happening, when it’s time for the new stuff to get going.
Our imaginations are integral to our personal evolution. Without dreams we would be left without hope or encouragement to take steps forward, to engage our individual creativity and set the wheels in motion for a brand new chapter of our lives.
New ideas are beginning to surface for me, now. I can see myself atop a tiny boat in the middle of a great ocean, bobbing around all focused on seeing land again but embracing every wave as it clatters against my floating home. I can visualise a silhouette bouncing along a desert road backed by a glowing orange sky in stark, abnormal contrast to the flat, lifeless plain beneath it - that’s me, that is, that silhouette, and I’m bouncing on springy stilts for over 1000 miles drawing strange, confused glances from locals. I can see a bicycle rickshaw from miles above, struggling along the uneven roads that hug the east coast of the Malay Peninsula, slowly inching its way towards Singapore.
But it’s not all about journeys, they just happen to have become the essence of most of my stories so far. There’s more to life than travel and adventure, although not much compares to these when we realise the lessons of survival and focus and sheer determination can translate nicely into inspiration for more than just ourselves.
I’m designed to thrust myself headfirst into new experiences that make me feel alive, and sometimes I do this far too easily without consideration of the vulnerability that fills the void left by a swift, instinctive rush towards a new passion. This year I’ve managed to stabilise a career that always threatened to be ruthless and unpredictable, and now with so much to look forward to and enjoy, I’ve decided to reclaim a stagnant project from my past that perhaps holds the answers to completing the missing pieces in my life.
These past few weeks I’ve been polishing off a manuscript for a book called Date. With foolish disregard for the havoc it was to play with my emotions, I decided several years ago to try and understand better the female of the species by embarking on a challenge to find a girlfriend, by attempting to date 100 women in 100 days.
Now, the instant assumption here is that Date is about a bloke on a womanising quest, but hold on! The truth couldn’t be more different. Instead, the idea sparked off a complex challenge that in turn flicked a switch deep within my brain (couldn’t tell you which side) and led me to become way too analytical when it came to relationships, and men and women, and chemistry, and all related topics. Throughout, the juggled conflict becomes the story. When faced with a true desire to meet the woman of my dreams at the same time as completing a challenge (and writing a book about it) I never quite knew where my intentions truly became strongest, until I met someone. Or at least thought I did. Several times!
Four years on I’m still the same person, just with a better grounding. I’m still searching for that special someone who twists me upside down and inside out without so much as saying a word, someone who won’t only be my partner and a consistent presence in my life, but someone who understands me and, dare I say it, might come and join me on the bicycle rickshaw or in the rowing boat now and then. Until they come along, I’m going to take solace that even a strange man called Christian Carter finds it necessary to send me emails like this one. Not going to work Christian, not going to work!
I am lucky enough to have had all the crossroads converge, forcing me to sweep away the doubts and fears that had previously stopped me chasing my imagination into reality. And now, with so many great memories behind and in front, I’m faced with only one sadness, that I don’t yet have someone with whom to share my happiness. Until they come along I’ll always have a little space in my life, it won’t stop me living or enjoying this world, but it’s like a little weight on my shoulder, a small, kindly demon, poking me in the neck whenever something happens that makes me want to turn to the girl I love and say, ‘Did you see that? I’m so glad we both saw that together, that’s our memory, that is.’
I’ll leave you with an excerpt from Date, which just about sums up the importance of timing. We can’t force these things, if they’re right they’re right, and if not we’ve just got to suck it up until the time comes for the magic to happen again:
Throughout your adult life you can look back at your relationship past and handpick those few who have made a stamp on your life. Some lovers are just that, lovers. Some are more and they become friends too, yet whoever you are and however much time has passed and beyond any hurt and sadness and regret that accompanies the end of the most wonderful partnerships, you can’t ignore the impact that certain people have on you. Those early days when your head swims and you miss that person who you only met three days earlier. The loose, inexplicable ache of spending days apart, even though you don’t truly know that person. Some relationships grow from friendship, others appear out of the blue, but the rarity of bumping into someone at the right time and in the right place is staggering. Here, when you search for something wrong purely because it all feels so right and still can find no fault, two people indelibly bond themselves to each other and whatever the future holds neither of you will forget what you meant to each other, whether it was for days, weeks, months or years.
> To read more extracts from Date, or to sign up for more information about the 10th December launch date, visit www.thebookofdate.co.uk
There’s a simple yet growing trend rising up from the grassroots of society, tearing through the education system and infiltrating the outer echelons of the corporate world. We’re not talking about people power, nor revolution, for however many riots blow up along the northern coastline of Africa or the belts of Western banking giants the only seemingly positive outlook of the physical surge of complaint is that mass groups of people indicate recognition that there’s a problem.
Yo, you people out there in tents. You’re not making a change, you’re recognising the need for change, there’s a difference. Camping in town ain’t clever, the time has come for occupation to dissipate, so pack up your £300 tents and let’s start doing something that actually encourages positive action (because a lot of hairy, smelly people under canvas doesn’t inspire collective harmony of the masses).
Let’s just think. Not argue. Not rehash age-old messages or the theories of others. Not complain and brick windows and loot and moan. Let’s think.
It started in 1984. Bringing together people from three different worlds, the Technology, Entertainment and Design Conference began to breed new ideas. By collecting the minds and voices of people who spent their life thinking, creating and acting on their suppositions, TED began to grow into what is now, I believe, the most valuable resource on the Internet. Don’t know what TED is? Take 20 minutes out of your day and choose any of the lectures on there, watch a lecture a day over breakfast and it will start to change your life.
Last week, on Thursday 17th November, I ticked off an item on my bucket list by standing on a TED stage and contributing my bit. I was lucky enough to start the conference and stay the whole day, talking to the 120 students who had been lucky enough to have their names picked out of a hat and be rewarded with a seat at Bath’s Egg Theatre.
There was a beautiful atmosphere all day long. Teenagers who trudged in early at the beginning of the day began to straighten out and stand taller as the hours went by and the thoughts of Stand Up Comedians and Entrepreneurs and Farmers and Rock Stars started to do what they’re supposed to do on these days. Ideas Worth Spreading, that’s what everyone who stands on a TED stage has to offer, and boy it didn’t disappoint.
No matter where the speakers had come from, or what they had ended up doing with their lives, there was a consistent, encouraging culture of agreement throughout the day, that whoever we are we all have a talent, something that makes us brilliant, and life is about finding that talent, nurturing it and giving ourselves the chance to do something great.
I daresay if we all focused on our talents this way our dear population and the planet that kindly houses us would be in much better shape. It starts here, it starts with collective series of information and lectures like TED. My God, if ITV had a series of TED lectures on instead of I’m a Bloody Celebrity, there wouldn’t be any problems with the economy.
- Huge thanks to Charlotte and her team who organised TEDxYouth@Bath, it was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life so far.
Andy Burgh is currently paddling the length of the Mississippi-Missouri river system in his touring kayak, and figuratively speaking he’s nearly home.
Andy’s journey will take him of 4000 miles from Brower’s Springs in Montana to the Gulf of Mexico 100 miles south of New Orleans, along the way raising funds to add classrooms to the New Life Deaf Ministry in Honduras.
From personal experience I know how the mind starts to play tricks once a river gets big and traffic compounds the distance already travelled (fatigue) and the distance remaining (challenge). I’m sure Andy would appreciate any notes of support or donations, let’s push him through to the Gulf…
Last week I was asked to answer a few questions for a blog, and this was one of the questions:
I am twenty years old and want to get into adventure sports journalism, but I am constantly confronted with people’s scepticism that this is a career that cannot bring about change. That as a smart girl, I should go into politics or war reporting. Change the world. Subsequently I am left feeling guilty about doing something I love? Any thoughts?
Sound familiar? Whether it’s a change of job, a new partner who doesn’t quite fit the mould or going off on an adventure to a part of the world that might be perceived ‘dangerous’, anyone who has ever considered an out-of-the-box choice will quickly become accustomed to the naysaying of others.
It seems that whenever we chose to challenge ourselves our decisions are challenged by others. If you’re in the same boat, you may enjoy the interview mentioned above, on Orla O Muiri’s blog. Click here to read
In the weeks leading up to the end of 2011 I’m working closely with The Blue Project, for whom I’ve been an Ambassador since embarking on my first water expedition along the Murray River in 2009. Blue’s message of using sport to encourage people to develop a relationship with their environment is powerful purely because our bank of Ambassadors are great communicators passionate about sport, the Blue environment and, crucially, enacting change.
We’ve just come across this guy, Kyle Thiermann. I won’t introduce him, but I will ask you to pop on the kettle and sit down and watch this 5 minute video, it’s worth it. Don’t tell me all surfers are shaggy-haired beach bums, what had you achieved by the time you were 21? Is Kyle a Blue Ambassador in the making? It’s right at the top of my to-do list…
On Saturday 29th October I was lucky enough to appear on the brilliant Saturday morning TV show, Live ‘n’ Deadly. As the name suggests the show is filmed live with only a couple of pre-prepared segments enabling the presenters and crew to ‘REPO!’ and get themselves to another location in time for the next live shot.
What a pleasure to witness a team of over 40 people bring together a production like this in just a couple of days. Steve Backshall is Britain’s answer to Steve Irwin and his co-presenter Naomi Wilkinson provides the glue that holds the show together.
During the programme Naomi and Steve interviewed me about Expedition1000, and then I took Steve on in a Coracle race! See what happened in the video below!
I waited four years between my first expedition and really getting stuck into public speaking. Sure, I did a few schools here and there and even a U3A in St Albans where I sent at least 3/4 of the audience to sleep (they were all pensioners!), but I’d seen enough talks by others to know that it wasn’t worth going hell for leather before I was ready, because this is a profession based on reputation.
I’m learning about my vocation more than ever now despite having made a living from speaking for nearly two years, and that’s part of the fun. I’ve written before about what a privilege it is to stand up and address an audience about my passions, but I’m glad I waited until I was ready.
The same goes for expeditions, which of course provide much of my source material. I swanned around for a couple of years after my first journeys and that gave me the chance to assess exactly what it was that made me tick. I won’t go adventuring unless I truly can’t wait to go away, and this means that I now have a whole series of projects to speak about that still fill me with glee.
My darling friend Huw James posted a cheeky message on Facebook today regarding my seemingly ubiquitous appearances on the speaking circuit at the moment (see picture for a selfish dominance of Explorers Connect this week!) but what excites me most is that my next four talks will consist of four different lectures. Different lengths, different topics, and yes while there might be the occasional overlapping of core values and silly anecdotes I know that I’d be dreading this week if I did the same thing day in, day out.
Variety and the knowledge that there’s ever more out there keeps me going, keeps me hungry. We have to keep on evolving, continue nurturing our own creativity by testing ourselves, our knowledge, our skills and our ability to translate our passions, otherwise we get bored of the slides, the talks and ourselves. And then, of course, so does everyone else. Fingers crossed that won’t be the case this week!