A stack of slick-backed brochures now glistens on top of the unread newspapers bedded down in my magazine basket. I’ve just been to the Destinations Travel Show at Earls Court (http://www.destinationsshow.com/london/welcome/) and have come back loaded up with leaflets and with a brain brimful of trips I could take – if only I had the time and the money. From yurts in Mongolia to bears in Alaska, the temptations are endless.
Some of the places I’m hankering after might be easier to get to than Ben Fogle’s interview this afternoon with Jane Knight, Times Travel Editor. Too far back in the queue to hear Ben’s enviable tales of adventure, I chatted instead to the guys on the Book Bus stand. A charity whose aim is to ‘improve children’s lives one book at a time’, the Book Buses take books and volunteers to disadvantaged communities in Zambia, Malawi and Ecuador, providing a mobile library service. (http://www.thebookbus.org/) This really appealed to me and is definitely something I will consider for the future.
The high altitude trek to Everest base camp, following in the hallowed footsteps of Edmund Hillary and Sherpa Tensing has been a long-term dream of mine. Kev Reynolds, trekking enthusiast, guide with Mountain Kingdoms (http://www.mountainkingdoms.com/) and author of Everest: A Trekker’s Guide (http://tinyurl.com/66c5tyd) has lived this dream many times. His passion for the Himalayas was palpable as he talked us through a mesmerising slideshow in a deep, cashmere-smooth voice. The photographs themselves looked a little washed out, but there was nothing pale or insipid about Kev’s narrative. As he talked us through the peaks, valleys and passes of the trail I was itching to drag on my hiking boots and get out there to gorge on the mind-watering mountain peaks myself.
Paul Goldstein, Exodus guide, travel writer and photographer extraordinaire, is a bit of a hero of mine. I’ve seen him present several times. The first time he talked about African wildlife, whisking us from the outdoor clothing shop in which we were assembled into the sun seared air of the Serengeti in search of unique pictures of lions, giraffes and wildebeest. The second time he described an Antarctic expedition with such eloquence and sheer joy that I had to be almost physically restrained by my companion from signing up straightway for a similar voyage. (I didn’t know it then, but a year or so later I was lucky enough to be setting off on an unforgettable Antarctic adventure of my own – see previous blog posts for some of my experiences.http://wp.me/pDm5m-3D and http://wp.me/pDm5m-3H ). And today, he sat on a panel of expert travel writers, offering advice, encouragement and inspiration to an eager audience of budding scribes. On each occasion I’ve been gripped by his exuberant attitude and inexhaustible energy. Today’s highlight was meeting him in person, when I chatted briefly to him on the Exodus stand. I could hardly contain my excitement. Just goes to show, you don’t always have to climb a mountain to get a natural high.