Tag Archives: INSPIRING

Travel Writers & Photographers London Weekend

“It’s amazing to be standing here in this place where  such great explorers as Livingstone and Shackleton stood before.”  Benedict Allen, a quirky traveller if ever there was, opened this year’s  inspiring Travellers’ & Photographers’  Tales Festival last weekend at the Royal Geographical Society in London. He was so funny and self-deprecating about his time as an idealistic young  man sharing the inaugural Manhood ceremonies of the Amazon tribes and living with indigenous peoples of Papua New Guinea, from whom he learnt so much.

What a brilliant line-up it was. Just a few of the people I saw …

  • Impish DERVLA MURPHY, now in her 80s and as feisty as ever, talking about her youth in Ireland and how it inspired her love of travel
  • Moving FERGAL KEANE sharing his stories as a BBC foreign correspondent and the impact on him of the horrific war in Rwanda
  • Hilarious CHRIS STEWART, author of ‘Driving Over Lemons’, keeping us amused with his tales of how he got into writing and his tales of life in rural Spain
  • Internationally renowned (tho rather long-winded!) photographer FRANS LANTING, sharing with us ‘The Life Project’ and his visualisation and musical realisation of the Cerne Hadron Collider project in Switzerland
  •  Thought-provoking NEEL MUKHERJEE, sharing the genesis of his award-winning Indian novel, ‘Past Continuous’
  • Creative world-renowned photographers CAROL BECKWITH & ANGELA FISHER, sharing with us their magical images of African tribal body painting 

The absolute highlight for me was seeing and hearing one of my absolute Travel Heroes, Jan Morris, reading from her latest book  of travel reminiscences, ‘Contact!’  As a young English teacher in the West Midlands, I hankered after foreign climes. I yearned to live in another culture and be not just as a tourist but to really experience what it was like to be a ‘foreigner’.  One day I heard Jan Morris speaking about her travels in Europe and I just knew I had to follow my dream …

… And so I told her as she signed my slightly battered copy of ‘Venice.’  “What shall I write?” she asked. “Can you put ‘In search of Letitia’ please,” I said. “I recently discovered she is my Venetian Gt Gt Gt Grandmother, and I am trying to find her. You inspired me to give up my teaching job and follow my heart …”  She smiled vaguely and wrote as requested.  No doubt for her I was just one more ‘star-struck fan’ but for me it meant a huge amount and I shall remember that moment forever …

I am Travel Editor for Wandering Educators. In this article you can read about Virginia Woolf’s birthplace, in the same road that Winston Churchill lived a died, just round the corner from the Festival venue.


Remembrance of things … when?

This week I spent a lovely couple of days relaxing in the Lake District, taking time out from a very hectic schedule to reflect and consider what next.  I stayed overnight at the luxurious Waterhead Hotel on the shores of Windermere, near Ambleside, Cumbria.  I will be writing about that another time but I just wanted to share with you a brief snippet of conversation I overheard in the queue for the Lakes Ferry last Wednesday.

The Waterhead Hotel from Lake Windermere

Elderly gent to his elderly lady companion: “Where’s my camera?” “I don’t know. Is it in your pocket?” “No, I’ve looked there. Where is it?” “Maybe we left it in the hotel room.” “No it’s not there. Where is it?” “I don’t know. Perhaps it’s … maybe it’s back home.” “Where’s the camera. I never go out without my camera?” “Oh, I don’t know – why can’t we remember things these days?  We used to be able to remember things … We used to have a memory; now we don’t have one between us.”

Five minutes later the elderly gent asked his lady companion, “What day is it today?” “I don’t know. Just a minute – let me see …” She go out her mobile phone, peered at it and said, “It’s the 11th of November. Oh, it’s Remembrance Day. It’s 11.30 on the 11th of November.” “I said, ‘What day is it?'” “I told you dear, it’s the 11thof November. Remembrance Day.”  “NO – what DAY is it. I mean, what DAY is it?” “I’ve TOLD you, it’s the 11th of November …” “NO… what DAY…? “Oh, what DAY? Oh …”  She looked at her mobile again. “Oh, I don’t know … What day IS it? …”

I whispered “Wednesday” to her and she told her husband.  “Thank you dear. So silly, but I am 88 and he’s 91 and we can’t remember much these days.  But we’ve been coming here since 1946 and we do know we love it here… So many happy memories.”

And I pondered on the companionship these two have shared as their collective memories gradually fade away … What happy memory might you share today?

What does ‘quirky’ mean?

QT logoThe past few weeks have been really exciting with lots of new opportunities to explore, places to visit and people to meet.  The Quirky Traveller seems to have a life of her own – and it’s mine!  Very frequently people ask me why I chose the name ‘Quirky Traveller’.  It came about quite by accident and I’ve written about it for Mark Shaw’s Twitter Success Stories .  But the main thing people want to know is ‘Why Quirky …?’

‘Quirky’, for me, is about being real, about seeing the world from a different angle, about looking at things from all sides, finding the unusual, the interesting, the fascinating. It’s about quality combined with classiness, it’s about being curious about everything and wanting to know more… It’s about travels of mind, body and spirit, recognising that life is not one, two or even three-dimensional, but multi-dimensional.  And most of all, it’s a celebration of life and its uniqueness

What does quirky mean to you?  What is quirky about you?  What are the elements of you that make you unique?  Do leave a Comment – and get out there and celebrate quirkiness in style! 

Follow me on TWITTER and share the quirkiness …

Cumbria’s very first TweetUp!

“Excuse me, could you tell me where the … er… people from Twitter are meeting?”  Well, you feel a … Twit,  asking that, don’t you!  I was meeting up with a group of complete strangers, some of whom I FELT I knew from our connections, but still – a rather strange, definitely quirky and slightly daunting prospect.  The venue was The Lounge, a very chic hotel bar in the centre of Penrith (with great food – thank you!).  Linda Mellor, a local photographer,  had organised the event and about 12 of us turned out last Wednesday evening to meet the personal face of Twitter.

Lovely LindaM and Nick in Cumbria

 It was a really enjoyable evening.  We were from all walks of life, with a wide range of jobs and interests.  Tweeps included Julie, a friendly bee fanatic, there with her husband Graeme, ubiquitous John the writer, my mate Ali the apostrophe obsessive (quite right too IMHO!), Lee the bag fetishist and even a very friendly representative of Cumbria Police – (who did not seem able to get me off my fine for overtaking a Penrith copper with my mobile jammed to my ear, in spite of blatant attempts to bribe him with extra peanuts …)

 Nick, a journalist from a local newpapaper group, interviewed everyone about why they had joined Twitter and what they got from it.  I think I told him that I couldn’t remember why I had joined, but it brought me lots of new friends, information and advice, that it is a very generous place to connect and that it was also helping me to create a completely new business around the Quirky Traveller persona … 
Friendly Twits relaxing ...!

Friendly Twits relaxing ...!

 By the time we left, there had been a lot of laughter, some great connections made and a renewed enthusiasm for the phenomenum that is Twitter.  Don’t ask me HOW it works, but it does – and last Wednesday proved that.  Nick has written a great article all about our night out in Cumbria News & Star so you can read it for yourself!

I am very much looking forward to the next TweetUp, whereverand whenever it is… and if you have any Twitter tales do share them here.