Michael Palin (photogenic) and me (not photogenic) at the RGS today
Michael Palin (photogenic) and me (not photogenic) at the RGS today

I had a big day at the Royal Geographical Society today, speaking as part of their Explore seminar weekend, on “Journey with a Purpose”. The last time I attended Explore was in 2002, shortly after I launched myself into a life of adventure, when ocean rowing was not even a glint in my eye and I was getting ready for an archaeological expedition to Peru. I was the “sponsorship organizer” for the expedition, i.e. the muggins on the team who didn’t know just what a tough call sponsorship is!

Explore was an amazing induction into the life of adventure –an intense series of talks from all kinds of luminaries of the world of exploration, sharing the benefit of their accumulated wisdom. I can still remember some of the presentations now – and my memory isn’t usually that good, so they must have made an impact.

And now, 7 years on, I was there again. All those years ago I would never have dreamed that I would one day be hearing Shane Winser, the esteemed and universally respected doyenne of the Expedition Advisory Centre, describing me as “one of the foremost female explorers” or some such thing – incredibly high praise, coming from someone who has seen more than her fair share of adventurers. In fact, I wasn’t sure how I’d live up to the generosity of her introduction.

But it all seemed to go pretty well. I only had a few minutes, which happily restricted the amount of nonsense I could talk. My theme was how to use an expedition to serve a greater purpose – as an advocate for a cause. I was extremely happy when Shane asked me to speak on this subject, as this year has seen a big evolution in me finding my voice as an environmental advocate, and condensing that learning experience into a 10-minute talk in an attempt to share with others such things as I may have learned was a very good process for me.

And I must have made some sense, because many of the members of the audience came up to me afterwards to say that my words had resonated with them. Different people picked up on different things that I had said, so even if not every person found everything useful, at least most people found something useful.

So that was very cool. Also extremely cool was getting to meet Michael Palin, the new President of the RGS. He gave his talk just after me, and I bagged him outside the coffee room to thank him for the wonderful audiobooks that kept me entertained for so many hours at the oars this summer. My favorite Palin books:

1. Around the World in 80 Days

2. Full Circle

3. Himalaya

4. Michael Palin’s Hemingway Adventure

5. Sahara

He was most gracious, and agreed to be photographed with me. He also asked if I would like to lecture at the RGS. Yes please – was my most emphatic reply! So maybe one day….I also confided in him that one day I want his job – to be paid by the BBC to go travel the world and write books about it. Would be amazing if that dream came true.

In case I got too carried away with my big dreams, tonight I decided to put things in perspective by going to the movies for a dose of disaster – 2012, which was released yesterday. But I’m tired now, and back to the RGS early in the morning for some lectures on expedition technology. Although I reckon I know a thing or two about it, there’s always more to learn. So review for 2012 coming tomorrow.

P.S. An afterthought – I was only able to stick around for a few of the other lectures today, as I’m in the thick of organizing our Big Ben to Brussels walk, but of the other ones I heard, all seemed to include some element of advocacy or research – often relating to environmental issues such as extinction of species or climate change. So now that “adventure” is what so many travel companies are selling – and it still baffles me how you can sell a prepackaged and prescheduled “adventure” – maybe the people that we would once have called adventurers are now classified as expeditioners to differentiate them from the tourist-adventurers. And explorers? Do we have anything left that can feasibly be explored? Or are explorers now also an extinct species – or at least on the endangered list?

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  • Dear Roz, I can absolutely see you traveling around the world to report for the BBC–just not quite yet, since you have a few little projects on your plate in the interim: BB to Brussels, Copenhagen, a little excursion to Australia next year . . .

    Anyway, they’d be silly not to hire you!! (when the time comes! And if it’s still what you want!)

    Meanwhile, congratulations on this latest accomplishment, and I completely disagree that Michael Palin is the photogenic one!

  • It’s certainly great we still a strong group of people in our society wanting to explore, and achieve goals many of us have only dreamed about.
    You are certainly a great example to us all.

    Good luck in all your future endeavours. gp.

  • Dear Roz,

    Thanks for the post. Congratulations on the speech. One thing: it’s really all relative. My sister says that “camping” means staying at a Holiday Inn. To some, an adventure really is going somewhere new on a guided tour. To some, it means rowing, solo, across the ocean. And just because every place has been “discovered” doesn’t mean that one should stop looking. I mean, all the words have already been written, but not in the unique combinations that you, for instance, or I, for instance, might try. No need to stop writing or stop looking or stop thinking or searching. How do we KNOW everything has been found? I don’t think it has.

    Ah well. Congratulations on everything.

    Don’t forget about Asheville, my friend.


  • ALOHA ROZ! I am reading with gladness in my heart
    at the opportunities that are unveiling themselves to
    you! You are inspiring people at so many levels and
    the EARTH is benefiting from your energy…
    Stay happy, keep smiling, ENJOY THE MOMENT!!!!
    We are standing with you and are happy to be a part
    of the adventures!!! We are always close in our hearts…
    MAHALO for sharing! Love
    the blogs, photos! PEACE.. Carol in Oregon

  • Dear Roz, Let me start by saying, I am sooo in awe of you, and your determination. I first discovered you on Leo’s show a few weeks after you left S.F. last year, and have been following you and your adventures since. And I want to thank you for the ‘Best Wishes’ note you wrote to me, on the card my friend Linda thrust in your face in Laguna Beach,Ca. on your book tour.Many Thanks.
    I signed up as a follower, and enjoyed your trips with you. I was there with you helping clean up the poo, and rub cream on your sore bum, and listening to your books with you. And with many words of encouragement and support. I know you heard me. Along with all the other thousands of voyeur lovers of adventure and exploration. So we watch you and listen to you and read your notes with love and support, and thrills.
    I used to think of you alone on that gigantic body of water, so wide and deep, and shudder, as it is my one big nightmare, alone on that ocean.
    And we will all be with you from BB to Brussels, or any other new place you care to take us.
    For we are all, through your journeys, adventurers and explorers.
    That also makes us singularily explorers of the inner worlds our own minds offer, which can be the biggest adventure of all.
    So my Blessings and Prayers (and some jealousy) go with you always.

  • Thank you all for your lovely messages – so lovely to know I have a (virtual) team of people who care about me. I really appreciate your energy and support. I feel very lucky.

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