Photo of Bluebell Woods in Sussex Photo of Bluebell Woods in Sussex

Travellers’ Tales Festival

I was at the Royal Geographical Society for the Travellers’ Tales Festival yesterday, to give a talk about my book. Less than a fortnight until it hits the shops!

I arrived early to listen to some of the other speakers, including the National Geographic photographer, Frans Lanting. The speakers’ notes are very explicit about not running over your alotted time, but Frans was on a serious roll. That guy is not short of slides. It was enjoyable but as it shot past it’s slot, and then on some, enjoyable though it was I had to nip out. I’d inspected the schedule for the day and had a plan of sorts; listen to this talk, pop out for a bit to meet a friend, return for my talk at 3.30 etc.

In the nicest possible way it all went wrong. Outrageous name-dropping time…

In the speakers’ waiting room (called the ‘Green Room’ in a rather ‘Oprah’ way), I was helping myself to a juice when all the people at one of the tables stood up and left. All except one and there was a face I recognised from the back of many, many good books. Jan Morris was sat all on her own and I couldn’t resist, so sat down for a chat. We chatted for quite a while and all the time I was feeling quite surreal to be chatting to such a legend over their sandwich. I kept volunteering to leave her in peace, but she she insisted on chatting and I wasn’t about to say ‘no’. What a lovely person, everything she said was scintillating, in a very normal way.

Met some other interesting new and old names, renewed a couple of acquaintances and generally felt very inspired by the event. If you have considered travel writing or photography as a career then a visit is not just recommended, but something of a rite of passage I think. There is still one day left to go this year (today).