Ten short adventure videos that you should watch

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These ten edits are some of my favourite from the past year. They will make you think. They will make you smile. They will make you so jealous that perhaps you will re-evaluate some things. They may also force you to look on life, the world and the people in it a little differently from now on.

1. This is Backcountry

2. 35

35 from ARC’TERYX on Vimeo.

3. Racing through the elements – Red Bull Elements 2013

4. Motion Reel

Motion Reel from Morgan Maassen on Vimeo.

5. Open Eye Signal – Jon Hopkins

Open Eye Signal – Jon Hopkins from AOIFE MCARDLE on Vimeo.

6. Adventure is a way of life, welcome to 2014

adventure is a way of life, welcome to 2014 from Laurent Jamet on Vimeo.

7. Cascada

CASCADA from NRS Films on Vimeo.

8.The North Face: The Explorer

9.The Joy of Air

The Joy of Air from ARC’TERYX on Vimeo.

10. North of the Sun

North of the sun teaser from weggebros on Vimeo.

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Interview with Sidetracked Magazine founder John Summerton

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1.What made you start up and commit to Sidetracked?

I’d been working as a freelance web designer for about 10 years, mainly doing promotional and e-commerce websites. I’ve always had an interest in travel and exploration through history and spent a lot of time immersed in Outside magazine, NG adventure etc. The issue for me was that the online presentation of these stories was a bit mediocre to say the least. I wanted to create a site that did the stories and the photography justice. Sidetracked was created 2 years ago as a personal project and experiment to see if this was possible. Originally it was a bit of an escape but it grew into a an obsession. I love working on it, speaking to people about it and hearing the feedback from those that discover it. I still do.

2. How did you expand the brand and gather the Sidetracked team?

The Sidetracked brand is growing naturally. The whole point of it is communication. Sharing amazing experiences through stories, photos and videos. It’s a base for ideas and inspiration. Some of us will get out there and take on our own daring adventures. Some of us just prefer to sit back and enjoy the experience that others provide.  We aim for Sidetracked to be the place to share these journeys.

The Sidetracked team is made up of people with the same passion and enthusiasm. We’ve either met over a beer, or email or both. A friend of mine called Eddy helps with the development of the site. Jamie (Maddison) and I got chatting after edition 5 as he was keen to work on his writing and his enthusiasm and knowledge exploration throughout history made him a natural fit. Andrew Mazibrada runs journeymantraveller.com and got in touch to see if there was a way we could collaborate. And then there’s yourself of course!

3. How has the adventure industry changed since you have been a part of it?

I think it’s more accessible to the masses and that has perhaps made it a little overcrowded. With the opportunities now available online to tweet, post and update websites, we seem to be hearing about more and more adventures. This is brilliant but there are now more and more people vying for the same sponsor deals and the same spotlight. This leads to more unusual angles for expeditions in order to gain publicity and funding. This was one reason why we set up theadventurefund.com as a way of trying to help one or two individuals on their way.

4.Has dealing with peoples stories of adventure and expeditions made you embrace adventure more in your own life or turn away from it, so as to get some normality and get a break from the ‘untraditional lifestyle’?

I embrace it more for sure. I still love to watch, listen or read up on everything happening within the community. There’s so much great stuff going on, here in the UK and worldwide. I guess the only thing that frustrates me a bit is so much of the hard sell – folks that bang on or preach about the need to do this or do that etc. Everyone has a choice of what they want to do in life and no one has the right to force their opinion on anyone else.

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5. A BBC article once proclaimed something along the lines of ‘Adventure is dead’, (http://www.alastairhumphreys.com/adventure-dead/) what is your opinion on this?

Adventure is not dead – not even close! Yes many of the world firsts have been done therefore new, perhaps more convoluted ideas are needed to label your adventure a ‘first’. Whilst a first may be important for funding and status, I think adventure should ideally be on a personal level. If you want to go and do an expedition or have an adventure over a weekend then go and do it. Find a way and make it happen.

6.How do you feel about the hyperbole involved in a lot of the reporting on extreme sports/adventure. Do you think it is becoming too sensationalist and therefore out of reach to the ordinary man?

Extreme sports and adventure are needed for sure. There has to be a pinnacle in every industry; something or someone that makes the rest of us look on in awe and admiration. It’s inspirational – even if we don’t all want to be that person. To be honest, there’s plenty of opportunity for everyone to have a go and achieve what they want to achieve. What we do here at Sidetracked is offer some inspiration – through example.

8.Can you see yourself ever doing an expedition?

Ha! An expedition seems a serious word at this point. 21 years ago I met my future wife. Within 3 weeks of meeting, we’d binned off our university plans and flew to Australia with a one way ticket. Once there we bought a 1972 clapped out Mitsubishi for AUS$700 and a $30 tent and started driving clockwise from Sydney. We camped wherever we could, worked on farms and in local towns when we ran out of petrol. 12 months later we arrived back after a complete circumnavigation of the country. Was that an expedition? No way. Was it unique? Not even close. But we had one hell of a year of adventures along the way.  And that’s the way I prefer to do things. Currently we’re living and loving life with our kids. Through their eyes adventure can be all around us, from camping trips and mucking around in the woods to ordering ice cream in French. And they’re absolutely right. Just live life and enjoy it.  For me, an expedition suddenly seems quite serious in comparison, but reading some of the Sidetracked stories does give me itchy feet sometimes.

9.What is in the pipelines for the future of Sidetracked?

We’re always making improvements and looking at ways to share these stories. A high quality printed version, ipad app and more focus on video is on the cards for starters. We’ll get there. The most important thing is to keep doing what we’re doing and enjoy it.

10. Do you have advice for people attempting to get into the industry?

My background is in design so if you’re interested in getting into that then I suggest avoiding jumping straight into the Adobe suite and instead spend the time learning about typography and good graphic design principles. As for the publishing industry then expect a fair bit of hard work for little reward but if you believe in what you are doing then you will succeed. As for the adventure industry, I’m probably not the best person to ask. My answer would simply be get out and enjoy life and see what happens. For some more constructive and useful information I’d suggest reading ‘Expedition and Planning Advice’ from Al Humphreys (http://www.alastairhumphreys.com/more/expedition-planning-advice/) and ‘How to get into’ by Alex Hibbert (http://www.alexhibbert.com/blog/2013/5/27/how-to-get-into-truths-and-advice.html) for starters.

Check out the sidetracked website, or follow them on Twitter or Facebook.

Interview with Outdoor Enthusiast, OE Retailer and Mountain Pro Magazine Editor Phil Turner

This is the final interview with an Editor of a specialist magazine. Outdoor Enthusiast Editor Phil Turner talks about his role and gives advice to budding adventure editors.

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1.How did you get into the industry?

I had a fairly unconventional career progression – I started a  hillwalking/backpacking blog which was noticed by a publisher and effectively ‘bought’. I worked on their new website as Online Editor before becoming Gear Editor, and ultimately ended up as Editor of a group of three magazines.

 

2.Describe your role?

I work as editor for three magazines – one consumer and two trade – on a freelance basis. I work closely with the sales team to come up with a strategy for the magazines, appoint and liaise with freelance contributors to commission articles and work with the in-house design team to  formulate the overall look of the magazines. I also have an assistant who is a staff member within the publishing company and I’m responsible for setting her to work and critiquing her efforts!

 

3. What does your day to day work schedule involve?

The three magazines are currently quarterly, with slightly different schedules, so there’s quite a bit of time between issues. This allows me to pursue other freelance activities like guidebook writing or actually getting outdoors, only devoting significant time to the magazines when deadlines are approaching. There’s no typical day, but I work from home so on a ‘normal’ day I walk into my office at around 9am, working through to around 5pm answering emails or writing the odd article. Magazines are sales-driven – in the outdoor industry we almost totally rely on gear companies advertising , so I spend a lot of time talking to PR companies about new gear. I also go to trade shows, festivals and press trips. There are days when I’ll start later and only need to spend an hour or so in front of the computer, or even have a day off. I prefer to work over the weekend as I get far fewer emails, and the hills are quieter midweek!

 

4.What skills do you think are required to do your job?

Subject knowledge is essential in a specialist magazine. As an editor I need good organisational skills to be able to set and meet deadlines and keep track of what I’ve commissioned. I need to manage a budget and field complaints from freelancers who haven’t been paid for some reason. There’s a fair amount of leadership required – magazines are collaborative efforts so I need to keep  a subeditor, designer, assistant editor , marketing and sales team happy and deal with any issues that arise. As I work remotely and 99% of the production work flow is computerised, IT skills are essential. We do a lot of planning via collaborative documents like Google Drive/Docs which we can access from wherever we happen to be.

 

5.Do you think a journalism degree or work experience/internships are more important?

I don’t have a journalism degree and never did any work experience or internships. From my experience of working with journalism graduates I’d prefer someone who can write well! I guess a journalism degree might teach some of the industry knowledge that I had to learn through trial and error when I started?

 

6.Best part of the job?

It’s the dream, isn’t it? Making a (small) living from something that you enjoy doing. As a freelance editor I can work from home, set my own hours and do other work on the side. If it’s sunny I can usually drop everything and head outside. There are opportunities to travel all over the world on press trips. I also never need to buy equipment as I get mountains of samples sent to me.

 

7.Worst part of the job?

Like most jobs that are fun, there are plenty of amateurs and hobbyists that are happy to work for very little money, meaning professionals can’t attract the money that they should. As a freelancer I also have little job security – I can be out of work almost instantly. Also see my answer to question 10…

 

8.How would you describe the job market for this area of work in the UK?

Limited for an editor– there aren’t many outdoor magazines around, and there can only be one editor for each. I’m not really a feature writer – I don’t really write that much content myself – but I know that freelance writers and photographers are having a tough time at the moment. But as an editor I’m lazy – I prefer to work with writers that I know are good, so if a writer performs well consistently they’ll generally get more work.

 

9.Any advice for people wanting to break into the industry?

Editors like at least two characteristics from the following: Good, Punctual, Friendly. If you’re getting copy in on time and you’re nice to work with I’ll tolerate a lot more than if you’re always late and grumpy!

I got to my position at a relatively early age (I’m 29) by saying “yes” a lot – I took any opportunity that came up rather than holding out for a better offer. But don’t work for free – that upsets the rest of the industry, and if you get a reputation for selling yourself short you’ll get screwed over forever. So temper your “yes” with the ability to say “no” if someone is undervaluing you.

 

10. Does working in an area that you love and was once perhaps your favourite hobby, take some of the magic away from the outdoors, because your surrounded by it all the time.? As in you can no longer use it as an escape? (It’s just something I worry about.)

YES! This is a real issue. Getting a free trip abroad to write about climbing a particular mountain only to find its clagged-in for the week can cause a lot of stress. It’s hard to switch off, as you’re always looking for an angle, wondering if it’ll make a good article, slowing down to take the perfect photo, choosing  holiday locations around research needs – you get the picture. I write guidebooks, and find myself rushing around trying to cover as much ground as possible rather than lingering to enjoy the walk.

It’s important to be able to strike a work/life balance, and that becomes hard if your hobby is also your work. But compared to a normal 9-5 job I can’t really complain, can I?

For more information check out the magazines website or follow Phil on Twitter.

Interview with TGO Magazine Editor Emily Rodway

The second interview with an editor of a specialist magazine, offering some information and advice on breaking into the industry.

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1.How did you get into the industry?

I took a rather unconventional route into publishing. I studied at the University of Leeds and while I was there had a part-time job in a small commercial art gallery. When I graduated I was offered the position of Manager at the gallery. That role involved a fair amount of liaison with corporate clients so when I subsequently relocated to London, I took a job as an Account Manager with a specialist PR company. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do with my career but the company I was joining published a number of magazines and I had edited my school magazine as a sixth former and was interested in writing and editing. Soon after joining the business I was offered the opportunity to try out for the magazines by taking home other journalists’ interview tapes and writing them up. I subsequently progressed through the department, eventually becoming an editor. When I then moved to Glasgow I took a job as Editor of a small publishing company that published three specialist magazines. I edited all three magazines and managed the small editorial and production team. But the main reason we had moved to Scotland was to be near the mountains and I was spending a lot of my spare time hillwalking, so when the job as Deputy Editor of The Great Outdoors came up, I was able to offer both hillwalking and editing experience. I was promoted to Editor of The Great Outdoors a couple of years later.

 

2.Describe your role?

I am responsible for the overall editorial content of The Great Outdoors – planning out issues of the magazine, commissioning freelancers and staff to produce features and photography, sub-editing, writing, picture research and proof-reading. One of my staff was recently promoted to Digital Editor so we work side-by-side on print and digital content.

 

3. What does your day to day work schedule involve?

Nowadays I don’t get out into the hills for work very often but I’m lucky in that the tasks I carry out at my desk are varied. However, keeping on top of my Outlook inbox can be a bit of a job in itself! I work remotely from the rest of the company so I spend a lot of time on the phone and on email, communicating with my team. I also spend a lot of time working on individual features and making them print-ready. I particularly enjoy that aspect of the job.

 

4.What skills do you think are required to do your job?

You need to be organised, creative and have good attention to detail. You need a fairly thick skin as people don’t hesitate to let you know if they disagree with something you’ve published!

 

5.Do you think a journalism degree or work experience/internships are more important?

I was lucky in that I managed to get into my job without either – although I did do some extra work at home for free in order to move from an administrative to a journalistic role in my first job in London. Sadly, nowadays things are a lot more difficult. When people approach me for work, I’m most interested to see evidence that they are keen on writing and interested in the outdoors. A good blog goes a long way! But obviously work experience, internships and a relevant qualification are all excellent experience too.

 

6.Best part of the job?

When a real gem of a feature lands in my inbox.

 

7.Worst part of the job?

Disgruntled readers – unfortunately you can’t please all the people all the time but we do our best.

 

8.How would you describe the job market for this area of work in the UK?

There aren’t that many outdoor magazines and most of them have very small teams. We use a lot of freelance writers rather than having a big staff.

 

9. Any advice for people wanting to break into the industry?

As I mentioned earlier, evidence of talent (good writing, good photography) and an interest in the outdoors go a long way with me. A great blog is a real asset.

 

10. Does working in an area that you love and was once perhaps your favourite hobby, take some of the magic away from the outdoors, because you’re surrounded by it all the time.? As in you can no longer use it as an escape? (It’s just something I worry about.)

It doesn’t take the magic away but it does mean that I’m sometimes drafting an article in my head while climbing a hill… I’m not very good at switching off work anyway – I’m sure some others are better at separating work and pleasure than I am!

Check out the magazine’s website for more information.

Interview with Editor of The Surfers Path, Alex Dick-Read

I carried out a series of interviews with people from the outdoor/adventure magazine industry recently to ask them advice on breaking into their world. They agreed to let me post up their reply on this blog to help others in a similar position.

The first is with the Editor of ‘The Surfers Path’ Alex Dick-Read.

Enjoy!

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1.How did you get into the industry?

Hard to know. When I was eighteen I went to the UK to work in a board factory and from that I met a load of people who, as the years went by, I realized were part of the core of the UK industry. So by the time I was asked to edit a surf magazine I knew a few people. Prior to starting the magazine I was working as a new/features journalist for AP and Reuters, so switching into the surf world again was strange but since I knew a few people, not too hard.

 

2.Describe your role?

I started the magazine, so my role has been everything from broad outline/concept creation to making tea and everything in between. In general it is all about soliciting, selecting and editing images and stories for each page. There is a lot of writing – even good contributors’ work needs editing simply to fit the page allocations etc. Plus captions, standfirsts, news stories, interviews, editorials, and all the elements within the broad architecture of a magazine. In recent years, website and social media have taken up more and more time. But overall, a huge portion of time is spent corresponding with contributors etc. and up keeping the web.

 

3. What does your day to day work schedule involve?

Starts with emails and that might not end until lunchtime or beyond. Website and social media stuff is integrated into that because so many emails involve links to films, stories etc that might work well on the website. So email and web stuff can take a lot of the day. If I’m lucky I get to start real editing work – writing, reading, choosing shots etc. – in the afternoon and I’ll do that until about an hour before dark, then go and surf.

 

4.What skills do you think are required to do your job?

Patience. Quick writing skills. Good communications, including politeness and respect to total strangers. A good eye for images and a good eye for synchronicity where ever it occurs. Sometimes you can be working on two things that seem totally different and suddenly you see a link or a theme that makes absolutely natural partners – perhaps shots on a page or stories you’re preparing for the page, or even parts of a story you’re editing that can unblock a piece and suddenly give it great flow. Things can become more than their component parts added together, if you can spot those lines.

 

5.Do you think a journalism degree or work experience/internships are more important?

Well, I did a post grad journalism diploma and intern work and they were both invaluable. Intern work is great because you’re in it, you’re meeting real people doing the real work and soon enough you know if it’s for you and if it isn’t. If it is, other people notice and you’re likley to get a leg up. Plus it just gives you real experiences to draw on. Degrees? They’re ok for some important stuff like law, shorthand, media theory etc. but not as essential as the job experience.

 

6.Best part of the job?

People. Waves. Perks.

 

7.Worst part of the job?

Low, low pay. Long, long hours. Super shitty, awful employers who treat you like dirt. They don’t surf. They don’t appreciate. All they want is a good bottom line and sometimes you end up fighting because of that.

 

8.How would you describe the job market for this area of work in the UK?

Is there one? It’s terrible all over. The surf media relies on surf industry support and the surf industry has been laying off hundreds of people and slashing budgets to almost zero. So the knock on effect to media is just brutal. The way to get work is to do good work and get it under the nose of an editor and keep doing it. But expect to be paid very little because that editor hardly has any budget.

 

9. Any advice for people wanting to break into the industry?

Keep the day job.

 

10. Does working in an area that you love and was once perhaps your favourite hobby, take some of the magic away from the outdoors, because your surrounded by it all the time.? As in you can no longer use it as an escape? (It’s just something I worry about.)

It works that way, for sure. But to be honest, the experience of surfing – of being in the ocean and becoming actively involved with it’s pulses – is such a visceral and powerful thing that it puts the job stuff into perspective. When you’re submerged in nature like that, the job stuff seems so minor and the here and now is all that matters. 99% of the time the act of surfing feels like a perk and actually makes the work side of it seem sort of … worth it.

Check out the website for more information on the magazine.

Thoughts while walking the Wicklow Way

The Wicklow Way. If you are in Ireland or you are on your way, you must do it. Uphill, downhill, views that make you shit your pants, waterfalls, silence, drinking out of streams, no crowds, no people, so few yellow arrows that you are bound to get lost….132km of the fairytale Ireland that you thought only existed in the mind of an eager American tourist.

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I am on it as I write. I don’t know where abouts, somewhere between Glendalough and Clonegal, there is no people here. No signpost or no coverage so I cannot find out. I have a feeling that I walked over 30 kms today, but I have no way of proving it, only to show you my weeping feet. We are camped beside a slowly churning river, my friend and I, in a dainty borrowed green tent. We are hidden from view by the trees . I sit while my friend naps beside me on his poncho.

Look at us. Envy us. For our existence is so simple. We ate baked beans and a hot pot from a packet for our dinner, a galaxy bar halved for dessert. We washed the pots, our feet and our faces in the river and now we sit in silence, just listening and thinking. How can anyone be unhappy when they have the ability to live like this. And everyone does, you don’t have to be clever, athletic, beautiful or rich. You just have to want, you just have to stop with all the bullshit. Step away from the drama and the expectations. You have to stop with the fear, the doubt, the excuses. Trust me, life is a lot easier out here then it is where you are, sitting in front of a computer screen in your warm house with all your bills and worries and unticked bucket lists.

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Alas, the night swept in. The condensation crept up the walls of the tent and began to drip. I put on more layers, another pair of socks, a woolly hat. I curled up in the foetal position and all was well for about ten minutes and then I was cold, really cold and wide awake for the next seven hours. It took a few hours of plodding along the following morning for my spirits to climb back up and get on with it. Which begs the question, although my mind has decided what I want to do with my life, is my body built for it? Can gear compensate for a body that has to sleep in a dressing gown indoors in the middle of August?

At least I’m trying I suppose. How many people aren’t?

Camino de Santiago – Porto to Santiago 230km

Two pairs of socks pulled on over my iodine soaked and plastered feet. Runners stepped into swiftly – the faster I do it means the less pain I must endure. Laces looped and knotted up. Backpack thrown over my sunburnt back and clipped into place. Poncho and jumper hanging over the straps. Cap pulled down over my face. Step one, step two…..walk.

213km is our aim. We have seven days before our flight takes off back to Dublin, with or without us on board. We are two twenty-one year old girls with no religious motivations. We will walk the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage from Porto in Portugal to Santiago in Spain.

Here are some thoughts from the road.

Step one thousand, step one thousand and one….

Up at half five or six every morning to walk out into the rain. Greeted by rolling green hills, orange tiles, ceramic paths, terracotta flower pots, beautiful ruins, bags of cut up fish, overgrown plants engulfing Portugal’s attempt to modernise, cracking tarmac, beautiful architecture, wrinkled and tanned faces. This is Portugal. No phones, no wifi, thinking, laughing, getting lost, finding your way, the constant smiles from strangers, no makeup, no hair dryer, no hair straightener, no mask to hide behind. No distractions. This is me.

This little adventure of ours is a stepping stone into real expeditions, one with a safety net of yellow arrows and hostels to cocoon you if you panic or mess up. My walking companion Eimear lacks a sense of direction and map skills, I’m only a little better. It is a taste of the realities of what it could be like in the real world of adventure. Yet I cannot but be grateful for her presence, I would be lost in all other senses of the word, without her. Then it is the choice of tent or hostel – one room housing  40+ people, which looks like a workhouse or a hospital in the middle of a warzone or the solitude of a tent which we would have to carry on our backs. We opt for hostels this time. To everyone around we are ‘the crazy Irish girls’. In xxx -large rain jackets which we purchased off a mechanic on day 2, carrying no sleeping bags, getting excited by different flavoured callipo ice pops ,carrying tiny backpacks, wearing runners instead of hiking boots, shorts and t-shirts from Primark, no walking sticks, singing all the time and walking fast, really fast. We are here to wing it and succeed. We have no profound reason for coming. We just want to walk.

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Each evening  we enter a hostel full of older men walking around in their white cotton panties, we sprint to get into the group showers first so we can bar the door shut before other naked ladies arrive. Eimear and I are no exception to the Irish fear of nakedness , we time grabbing our clothes so we do not glimpse each other in the nude – it is synchronised showering. After the shower we massage our heel calluses and calves, thread and bandage our blisters and climb onto the plastic covered mattresses to try to fall asleep before the snoring opera commences.

Sometimes we find ourselves lapsing into a comfortable silence, taking pleasure in the simple things. In the ache of every step, in the noise pressing in on us from the constant cock crow, to the church bells chiming, to the click, click of others walking sticks. We embrace the utter joy of taking off our runners and letting our feet breath , watching them spread out and reshape like the scientist in ‘Xmen: First Class’ who has more than five toes but squishes them into a normal pair of shoes every day.

On day 4 we cover 43km by accident, as a result of some bad directions and our lack of Portuguese. It was too much. The last 5km I was a hobbling mess, nursing six blisters on my left foot and four on my right. We cross into Spain and hardly register it. That day we had walked over a mountain in the first 18km, stood in a stream in our runners to sooth our aching feet, shed a few tears and called home. When all seemed lost, I receive a tweet from a friend of mine – ‘congratulations on completing your first marathon!’ – Boom, step ten thousand, step ten thousand and one…onwards we go.

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Bon Dia, Bon Dia, Bon Dia, Bom Camino… the people here have wowed me. There was the girl on the metro who rang her friend to translate directions for us. The boy who asked us if we wanted to sail along the coast of Spain with him. The guy that saw us pushing ourselves slowly up a hill, passed us in his red van, slowed down, did a u-turn, came back and passed us a hot french baguette out the window of his car. The man who gave us two shells – the symbol of the Camino.  The old women waving from her patio and blowing a kiss. Two Americans – father and son doing the pilgrimage together.  Adam the wise Polish legend who is on his seventh Camino. The two Germans Christine and Jan each here for personal reasons who have joined our entourage and together we four will reach Santiago.

Eimear is gaining speed while I am starting to slow down.  But we are a team, and the slower pace means we get a chance to appreciate a country, it’s easy going lifestyle and its people. Day 6 – 32km. We discover a little hot springs fountain – Eimear takes off her shoes, she has tan line for the first time ever just above where he sock sits… it turns out to be dirt. Apparently if you drink the water of the fountain you will be married within the year. Christine proceeds to knock it back. Me, Eimear and Jan take a rushed step backwards. We take ninja pictures along the way, have light saver fights with the walking sticks, I pull the petals from the foxgloves that line our path.  Each morning we rise and make porridge for breakfast, the four of us functioning like a family, sharing everything, taking turns, rubbing in sun cream and fetching water.

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The last day has pounced upon us, one last 32km stroll. We take it slow, stopping for lunch at an outdoor bar in the middle of nowhere, a Swedish man plays the accordion, there are men letting off fireworks in the day time, I am drinking coca cola and eating my last Spanish omelette. The four of us walk into Santiago. No fuss is made, no big celebrations, a group hug and then we get ice-cream and sit on the ground in front of the cathedral. It is sunny for once. Around us others celebrate their finish.

We did it.

One lesson learned.

I can do this. I can do anything.

An interview with Simon Reeve

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Check out my interview with adventurer and TV presenter Simon Reeve on Sidetracked online.

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Over the last ten years, author, adventurer and TV presenter Simon Reeve has travelled the world with a camera in tow to record his extraordinary experiences for shows such as Equator, Tropic of Cancer, Tropic of Capricorn and Indian Ocean and now his latest adventure ‘Australia’, is showing in the UK on BBC 2. We spoke to Simon about his past, current and future adventures.

Sidetracked: Hi Simon, thanks so much for taking the time to talk with us. Author, adventurer and presenter: which do you think best represents you?

Simon Reeve: An adventurer would be one of the descriptions I might use if I was feeling really poncey along with author. I like calling myself an author because I wrote a book and I’ll be trading off that for probably the rest of my life. Also now, probably my most important title is dad and that’s the hardest one to live up to.

So tell us a little more about your book, and how did you go from writing to presenting?

I really don’t know how that happened to be honest. It’s really bizarre. I wrote a book on al-qada that came out in 1998 which warned of a new era of terrorism and nobody took any notice whatsoever and then 9-11 happened and it became a best seller, I went on the telly to talk about it quite a lot and that lead to discussions with the BBC about making TV programs for them. I had my own hair and teeth and I had written this book that had given me some experience and legitimacy and so I set off on a journey for them around central Asia which was interesting. It was an area in which I was really interested in and I thought BBC viewers might like to learn a little bit more about it and so that was my first TV gig. That was around Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan for a series brilliantly titled Meet the Stans and I’ve been going ever since. I can’t believe it. Here I am now ten years later. Don’t tell anyone.

Read the rest of the interview on the Sidetracked website here.

#microadventure with Al Humphreys

Credit: Alastair Humphreys
Credit: Alastair Humphreys

In my years stumbling awkwardly around this planet, I have met many whom I admire. Some became heroes in my eyes. But I have always had a flaw in my way of thinking, I tend to put people on top of a pedestal so high up that even in all their apparent brilliance, they could not possibly live up to my high ideals. Alas, one such individual has succeeded in capturing my imagination with his normality, his humour and his enthusiasm.  His ideas have provided me with a path to freedom and the possibilities I hold. All of it spawns from a concept of his; the microadventure.

Up the Campsie Fells we scrambled on a Tuesday evening, backpacks on our back. Me inappropriately dressed for the activity as always in my trusty Doc Martens and jeans. Climbing over a barbed wire fence, I typically lose my footing and get two pretty gashes across the palm of my right hand. Onwards we climb, the weather could not be more perfect. We source a suitable spot to set up camp, protected from the brunt of the wind and lay out the sleeping bags and bivvy bags, pee, layer up and then tuck ourselves  in our blankets and try take it all in; the madness, the simplicity of it all, the thoughts of the people tucked up in their beds below, the possibilities…

Credit: Alastair Humphreys
Credit: Alastair Humphreys

The night swept in bringing the cold, the rain but also the stars. I toss and turn but eventually I fall asleep. At 4.30am, the birds begin their song, the sky turns pink and seeps through the hole in the top of our sleeping bags, coaxing me and another from sleep and leading us out of our bivvys and over the hills to watch the sun rise. Two hours later the boys rise, we gather up our stuff and scramble down a different route towards home. Me sliding on my backside for the majority of the descent.

I open the door of my flat at 10.30 am, one flatmate still in bed, the other hears me and gets up to greet me, she whips up some pancakes for us to share. It is as if I was here all night, nothing on the outside has changed but if you look closely you might notice the spark in my eye that was not there before. Inside I am buzzing. The key has finally been turned, the door pushed open. I am free, the doubt erased and I know what I need to do.