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A Weekend Of Adventure!

ATFF - starlight screening

Adventure Travel Film Festival – Starlight Screening

If you’re looking for inspiration for your next expedition, need tips on filming or writing about your latest trip, or just want to soak up exciting tales of the road from some adventure legends, then you should get yourself over to Mill Hill this weekend. Yes, it’s that time again – the UK Adventure Travel Film Festival kicks off on 14th August in an all-new venue in North London and, judging by the schedule, it’s going to be bigger and better than ever.

Austin and Lois, festival organisers extraordinaires!

Austin and Lois, festival organisers extraordinaires!

Hosted as always by its passionate organisers Lois Pryce and Austin Vince, it promises to be a triumph of films, workshops and talks designed for both the budding adventurer and seasoned expeditioner alike. I’ve known Austin and Lois for a number of years now and their unbridled enthusiasm for organising this event, entirely under their own steam, makes the festival pretty unique in this age of sponsorship and commercialisation. Their “DIY approach” and belief that adventure is not about the gear but about getting out there and experiencing the world with what you’ve got creates a very special atmosphere where adventurers of all shapes and sizes can mingle, exchange stories and dreams, and hatch plans for new experiences yet to come.

This year’s schedule promises loads of activities guaranteed to get the travel impulses racing. There are some great speakers including Anna McNuff, who’s just run the length of New Zealand (as you do), writer and adventure legend Jonny Bealby (I love his travel books!) and Chris Scott, adventure biker and author of the indispensable Adventure Motorcycle Handbook, the book that has spawned more than a few two-wheeled dreams.

There are workshops on everything from travel writing to adventure film-making (Austin’s take on how to make your own travel movie is a must-attend!). And did I mention the films? They’ve got another fabulous line-up, including one of my favourites, Somewhere Else Tomorrow – Daniel Rintz’s heartwarming film showing that travel isn’t just about the mileage, it’s about the people – and, new for 2015, Going The Distance, a film about a married couple, a Ural sidecar outfit and a snapshot of love and life across 20,000 miles.

So check out the trailer here for a taste of what you’re in for and grab one of the last few tickets left for this weekend! Your inner adventurer won’t regret it. 🙂

http://www.adventuretravelfilmfestival.com/uk-festival/

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Adventures In Arizona

Route 66 at Flagstaff, Arizona

Route 66, Flagstaff, AZ

Well after a few months of good living in Andalucía, I decided it was time to get on the road again. And where better to do a classic road trip than Arizona, home of the Grand Canyon, spectacular desert and mountain landscapes, and bisected by the infamous Route 66?

As I write this, I’ve just arrived in Flagstaff, dubbed the “Gateway to the Grand Canyon”, after a spectacular drive up from Phoenix, climbing gradually higher through some amazing rugged mountain and forest scenery to an eventual altitude of 7,000ft. After an afternoon exploring Flagstaff’s historic downtown – which is littered with picturesque 1890s buildings and a notable number of tattoo parlours! – I’ve just checked into a motel that makes Bates Motel look positively homely! It’s right on Route 66 and slap-bang next to the railway line, so all in all it looks like I’m in for a fun night!

Railroad at Flagstaff

Railroad at Flagstaff – just outside my motel room window!

I’m very excited as tomorrow I’ll be heading up to the Grand Canyon National Park to spend a few days exploring the “big hole in the ground”. I’m going to stay actually in the park so I can really soak up the landscape, do some hiking down into the canyon, go dirt-biking, and hopefully try one of the famed mule rides along the Colorado River.

There are Harleys everywhere in Flagstaff - but this is more my style!

There are Harleys everywhere in Flagstaff – but this is more my style!

Then I’ll be heading to the Overland Expo – a huge gathering of motorcycle and 4×4 adventurers, a 3-day event encompassing heaps of adventure travel lectures, workshops, presentations and other activities for overlanders of all shapes and sizes. There’s an impressive list of VIP speakers and guests, including the legendary Ted Simon who I can’t wait to meet. I’m helping run Charley Boorman‘s stand at the Expo, to promote his motorbike tours and TV series, so that should be fun. Plus the Expo incorporates the Southwest USA Adventure Travel Film Festival and, having helped organise the Aussie one earlier this year, I’m really keen to see how the American one shapes up: it will be great to see Lois Pryce and Austin Vince again too, of course!

So lots to look forward to here in the good old US of A. It’s great to be on the road again… 🙂

 
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Posted by on May 12, 2013 in Adventure Travel, Motorcycling

 

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Aussie Adventure Travel Film Festival 2013

Yes, our limited edition ATFF T-shirts were on sale!

Yes, our limited edition ATFF T-shirts sold like hot cakes!

Well its been another busy and exciting time at this year’s Adventure Travel Film Festival in Victoria’s beautiful Alpine region. Despite the threat of bush fires, which have been ravaging the land barely 25km down the road, here in Bright our only worries have been keeping hydrated and sun-creamed up in the searing heat!

Jon Muir signs books after his talk

Jon Muir signs books after his talk

Our festival organiser Rupert did us proud this year with a superb line-up of speakers. TIm Cope and Jon Muir returned for a second year to jam-pack the big (sweaty!) marquee with those eager to hear more of their incredible exploits. Tim’s stories of his time living with locals in Mongolia were truly mesmerising, and Jon’s tales of walking solo across the Aussie Outback and wanting to push himself to the limits of endurance had me marvelling all over again at the sheer balls of the guy!

Lisa and Simon enjoying a cold beer in the Brewery

Lisa and Simon enjoying a cold beer in the Brewery

2RideTheWorld Brit motorcyclists Lisa and Simon Thomas were probably my favourite speakers this year, giving a really entertaining insight into life on the road as a motorcycling couple. They’re both really down to earth, no pretensions, and their “anyone-can-do-it” story really did endear them to the crowds, I think. It was great poring over their bike, wondering where each little dent and mud-splatter might have happened… Still can’t believe they’ve ridden over 400,000kms through 77 countries. Brilliant stuff.

I also loved hearing Kate Leeming talk about her epic cycle across Africa from West to East through the Congo – a tale of true daring if ever there was one. And Melbourne-born Eric Phillips is proof that you really don’t have to come from a freezing cold country to be a polar explorer extraordinaire – his talk was also fascinating.

Kate Leeming and Eric Phillips outside the marquee

Kate Leeming and Eric Phillips outside the marquee

And the adventure travel films really were top-notch this year again – too many to list, but my personal favourites were the golden oldie 1933 epic solo motorcycle adventure Twice Upon A Caravan and Congo kayaking epic Mazungu (both shown as starlight screenings out in the balmy open air, wonderful).

Austin and Lois at the registration tent

Austin and Lois welcome punters at the registration tent

As ever, the festival was hosted by the affable Lois Pryce and Austin Vince who once again lent their special brand of informality and good humour to stamp this event with its unique trademark. They’ve curated all this year’s films and have a genuine and excitable enthusiasm about each and every one, which is truly infectious, I can tell you.

And that’s the key to the success of the Adventure Travel Film Festival, I think. This year, I was the Aussie festival’s chief “spruiker” (Lois will love me for using that word!), drumming up press and publicity for an event which last year had me so excited as an attendee, as I mingled with like-minded adventurous types, sharing stories of the road and planning new ones over lashings of cold beer. I’ve really enjoyed being involved this time round and I’m already thinking hard about how I can wangle it so I can attend the UK one in August! 🙂

Adventure Travel Film Festival UK, 16-18 August 2013:

http://www.adventuretravelfilmfestival.com/uk-festival/

 
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Posted by on February 18, 2013 in Adventure Travel, Motorcycling

 

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A Place To Hatch New Adventures

Mondo Enduro’s Austin Vince regaling the crowds at the 2012 Festival

As many of you know, in recent months I’ve been helping set up the 2013 Australian Adventure Travel Film Festival. I went to the inaugural Festival in Bright, Victoria, earlier this year and had the best time mingling with the great and good of the Aussie and international adventuring world and watching some truly inspiring adventure travel films:

https://jeaniedavison.com/2012/02/26/adventure-travel-film-festival-2012/

Well, I enjoyed it so much that when asked if I’d lend a hand with the next one, I was only too keen! Brit motorbike adventurers Austin Vince and Lois Pryce, curators of the Festival, are coming back to Oz again 15-17 February 2013 – and this time the line-up of films and speakers is going to be even better, oh yes! Just take a look at who’s already confirmed:

http://www.adventuretravelfilmfestival.com/australian-festival/added-attractions/

I can’t think of a better way to spend a long weekend than soaking up some amazing scenery, hanging out with motorbikers and adventurers of all persuasions, watching great adventure travel films, swapping adventure stories and generally getting inspired to dream up new plans. Plus it all centres around the Bright Brewery – which is actually being refurbished and enlarged this year, just for us! – a suitable watering-hole indeed for such a glorious gathering.

Tickets are on sale now and selling like hot cakes already. So don’t delay – when they’re gone, they’re gone! http://www.adventuretravelfilmfestival.com/australian-festival/buy-tickets/

Hope to see you there, folks! Come say hello. 🙂

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2012 in Adventure Travel, Motorcycling

 

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What Makes An Adventure Traveller?

Jon Muir and Tim Cope (with adoring companion Tigon!) at the Adventure Travel Film Festival

At last weekend’s Adventure Travel Film Festival, I spent a brilliant few days hanging out with fellow adventurous spirits from far and wide. Some were high-profile adventurers like Tim Cope, Jon Muir, Lois Pryce and Austin Vince. But many were unknown explorers, trekkers, mountaineers, motorcyclists, rock-climbers, off-roaders, overlanders, kayakers… ordinary people with an insatiable hunger to see the world or experience the great outdoors in its broadest sense.

It struck me what a diverse group we all were. No “type”, no particular age, height or build. Adventurers, it seems, come in all shapes and sizes.

Some are super-fit athletes for whom physical endeavour and achievement is a huge part of what drives them. For others, it’s the compulsive desire to break away from the  “nine to five” and propel themselves into unknown places and cultures – to learn in some way about the world and the people that inhabit it. For others still, it’s the need to get back to basics, to live “off the grid” and escape the stresses and trappings of modern “civilised” life – to experience “life in the raw.”

In fact, the more time I spent talking to people at the festival, the more reasons I heard as to why certain individuals give up the safety of the sofa, whether for a weekend or a lifetime.

But there was, I think, a uniting theme. In their own unique ways, most of these people had gone out there and DONE IT. Not just talked about an adventure, but actually given it a go. I met one couple in their 50s just back from a week motorcycling in Morocco’s Atlas Mountains – they’d always wanted to do it but weren’t sure they’d be up to the long days of gruelling off-road riding in desert heat. Now they have the photos to prove they did it, and boy do they look good! At the other end of the scale, adventurer Jon Muir talked about his solo trek across Australia – it took him FOUR attempts, but he said failure was all part of the adventure and it was something he just had to do. (This from the guy whose first thought when he arrived at the top of Everest was that he desperately needed a piss and a cigarette!).

Jeanie trekking the Sahara (2010) - one of my all-time dream adventures!

It was an inspiring weekend and I certainly came back with renewed vigour to keep pursuing my own adventures whenever and wherever I can (I’m cooking up another one for Easter, yeeha!).

And I’d say to anyone that thinks they’re too unfit, too old, too cash-strapped, too tied-down, or too scared for adventure – think again! People like you are out there dreaming up and then pursuing their own challenges great and small. You don’t have to break a world record or be the first to do something (although if you do, big respect to you!).  Your adventure is unique to you, so own it – then get out there and do it!

You won’t regret it, I certainly haven’t.

And you can check out a video report on the Festival right here (keep an eye out for yours truly!): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xqv5qAe4XPE&feature=youtu.be

 
 

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Adventure Travel Film Festival 2012

Mondo Enduro's Austin Vince regales us with his wit and charm at the opening drinks!

Hey there! I’m writing this from the Adventure Travel Film Festival in beautiful Bright, a small country town in Victoria’s Alpine region about four hours out of Melbourne. For three days in this picture-postcard setting, the air has been filled with the sound of people talking adventure, regularly punctuated by the vroom of yet another motorcycle rolling into town to join the throng.

It’s the first time the festival’s been held in Australia and if this weekend’s anything to go by, I really hope it comes back next year. It’s being hosted by the affable Austin Vince of Mondo Enduro fame and his adventure motorcycling other half, Lois Pryce, and has been a veritable smorgasbord (I never use that word, but it’s absolutely appropriate here!) of adventure films, talks, and general waxing-lyrical about all things adventure.

This weekend, I’ve met some of my adventure heroes: Lois Pryce, whose motorbike travels in Africa inspired me to get my bike licence; Tim Cope, the Aussie adventurer whose travels through Mongolia, Russia, Kazahstan and Siberia have long had me wanting to visit those parts of the world; and Jon Muir, legendary mountaineer and explorer who amongst many feats has walked solo and unsupported across Australia. All gave inspiring and entertaining talks about their adventures – their motivations, the highs and lows, the rewards and the challenges. All had one clear message: you have to grab life NOW, don’t wait for “the right time” or worry you’re not good enough, JUST DO IT!

The Festival organisers sported these very fetching Italian Job-style jumpsuits throughout the event - where can I get one?

I’ve seen an amazing array of films here. My favourites are Riding Solo To The Top of The World, about an Indian guy who rode his Royal Enfield Bullet to the highest motorable road in the world, and Back Of Beyond, a classic film about a crazy truck journey across the remote Aussie Outback. Austin Vince’s Mondo Enduro and Jon Muir’s Alone Across Australia have also been brilliant viewing.

Soaking up the vibe in beautiful Bright over the long (and scorching!) weekend, it’s been wonderful to mix with adventurers of all shapes and sizes, amateur and professional, from weekend biker to long-distance expeditioner. You can tell everyone here has been really inspired by the films and the speakers – and for my part, it’s been brilliant spending time with like-minded people who are all adventurous spirits and have the wanderlust riddled through their souls like I do!

As the festival comes to a close and we head to Bright Brewery for one last witbier, I’m absolutely sure many new adventures will be hatched as a result of this inspiring weekend.

 
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Posted by on February 26, 2012 in Adventure Travel, Motorcycling

 

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