Wishing you a very happy New Year. How is it treating you so far? Well, I hope.
My new year has been exciting, but not in a bloggable kind of a way. I’ve been busy working on my plans for this summer’s expedition and making revisions to my Pacific book, but neither of those things are very interesting to report. And I’m increasingly a believer that if I don’t have something interesting to say, best not to say anything at all. There is enough noise in this world already without me adding gratuitous verbiage.
However, I am now ready to start revealing some details of this summer’s plan. Some background first: in early December I was due to have a meeting at the Houses of Parliament with Marcus and Anna from 5Gyres; Mike, Trish and Andrea from Greener Upon Thames, Ed Scott-Clarke of Plastic Shores, and Zac Goldsmith MP. We were having a pre-meeting at Wesley’s Cafe under Methodist Central Hall (most fitting for somebody of my parentage) and were discussing how there seemed to be a fast-growing awareness of the problems with plastic bags, and even if we didn’t manage to make the Olympics plastic-bag-free, there may well be scope for a broader campaign.
[Note: the latest letter from the London 2012 Organizing Committee shows a partial victory for our campaign: plastic bags have not been banned from the Olympics, but according to the letter “LOCOG has been very clear that it will not, under any circumstances, use single-use carrier bags. It will also not permit the use of oxo-degradable plastics (for example, materials which are degradable through the use of additives) or compostable biopolymers, which can find their way into the household waste stream.” Not as much as we’d hoped for, but better than nothing.]
I carelessly mentioned that I had been thinking about doing a human-powered circumnavigation of Britain in 2013, but maybe I could bring it forward to 2012 and tie it in with a countrywide campaign on the perils of plastic. Everybody jumped at the idea.
So now, dammit, I was going to have to do it.
Since then I have been hard at work. I have had input from a huge range of fantastic people – politicians, environmentalists, grassroots campaigners, NGOs, and town councillors, cyclists and kayakers. The plans for both the campaign and the physical adventure have undergone several metamorphoses, but finally a clear strategy is beginning to emerge.
There is still much to do, but I am very nearly ready to announce my plans. More details as soon as I have something to show you.
I am doing some presentations for National Geographic in the US in February: in Phoenix, Arizona, on 8th and 9th Feb, and in Dallas on 21st Feb. Tickets available online. I’ve been working with the Google Earth team on a very cool new multimedia presentation, combining video and photos with Google Earth animations that whisk you around the world along the track of my boat. Big thanks to Sean Askay and the rest of the team.
It’s voting time again for the People’s Choice National Geographic Adventurer of the Year. Please vote for my friend Al Humphreys, and while you’re at it, check out his website, his A to Z of London eating, and his current expedition across the Atlantic. Go, Al!
Speaking of ocean rowing, huge congratulations to Nick and Toby of Box Number 8 for a well-deserved victory in this year’s Talisker Whisky Atlantic Challenge. After a nail biting race in which 6 boats were forced to retire and Box Number 8 traded lead position with JJ the whole way across, Nick and Toby’s win was a testament to thorough preparation and a gutsy performance. And all for a fantastic cause, too: Shelterbox deliver survival crates to disaster areas around the world.
The podcast has been ticking along, even during my blog silence. Thank you, Vic Phillipson!
Thanks also to all who have been supporting me as I prepare for this year’s adventure: as well as the usual suspects named above, also Jane Hornsby, Angela Hey, Dianna Cohen of Plastic Pollution Coalition, Andy Cummins of Surfers Against Sewage, Jane Davidson, Tom Burke, Chris Rose of Campaign Strategy, James Greyson of Blindspot, Aimee Devine, Emily Utter, Helen Hammond of Elephant Creative, Julie Church of UniquEco, Helen Webb at SeaChangers, Rosie Tudge, Rick Hyman, David Church, Andy Middleton, Jeff Allen and Simon Osborne of Sea Kayaking Cornwall, round-Britain cyclist Anna Hughes, Yorkshire Wildlife Trust, and Jonathan Griffin of National Maritime Museum Cornwall.
Thanks also to Mike and Chris for letting me stay at their seafront flat in St Mawes (spectacular views!), and to Jo for the use of her lovely house in Calstock, Cornwall, while I work on my book.
Congrats to The Underwater Realm for smashing through their fundraising target on Kickstarter. I emailed a few friends on their behalf, and feel proud to have played a small part in their success – although when you see what they are up to, I think you’ll agree that the success was well-deserved. I can’t wait to see the films. Thanks to all who supported them – nearly 1,000 backers in all!
Last weekend I did a filmmaking course run by those two amazing women, Franny and Lizzie of The Age of Stupid (a Spanner Films production). The course focused less on the mechanics of filmmaking and more on how to crowdsource a project and use a film to change the world. Lots of anecdotes about the making of Stupid, largely revealing just how damned hard those two women worked to make it all happen. Every time they encountered an obstacle, they just found a way around it. Tremendously inspiring, and I wish them all continued success with the 10:10 campaign to combat climate change.
Sedna should be on the move soon, after an embarrassingly prolonged stay on the lawn of the Grand Baie Yacht Club in Mauritius. With a bit of luck, she will be on exhibit in the UK later this year – details coming as soon as confirmed.
I have just been invited to narrate my book for Audible. We are still working out the details, but hopefully it will include genuine snippets of audio from my ocean footage. I will keep you posted!
Phew, that was a lot of “Other Stuff”!
Finally and most importantly, it is my Mum’s birthday on Sunday. Join me in wishing her a very special day, and all the absolute best for the year ahead. No more broken legs!