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Latest News

The New Book

Friday 31st October 2014
All summer I have worked very hard on a book about winter! Based on my winter expedition across Scandinavia and Siberia to the coldest inhabited place in the world, 'Chasing Winter: A Journey to the Pole of Cold' is a collection of images and stories that highlight differing perspectives on winter. From the Shaman of Tuva who explains that winter is the season of fire, not ice, to the Eveni Reindeer nomads of Sakha for whom winter means wolves. This A4, hard-back book was edited by Paul Deegan and is printed in full-colour high-quality litho.
The book is timed to coincide with the opening of the exhibition, 'Pole of Cold: What does winter mean to you?', at the Turner Contemporary Gallery in Margate this November. Many of the images featured in the exhibition are also included within the book.
The book is available through all the normal outlets (including amazon) but if you would like a signed copy, I am happy to mail them out direct. Simply send an email to felicity (at) felicityaston.com and include your address, a cheque for GBP 29.99 plus GBP 2.50 postage and packing, and the dedication/inscription you would like along with my signature at the front. Any orders received before 15th December are guaranteed to be with you before Christmas! 


Chasing Ice

 

Headlines

Friday 10th October 2014
My book, 'Alone in Antarctica' is published in the US this month by the lovely people at Counterpoint Press. The release coincides with some brilliant coverage in two glossy magazines this October. I spent a fantastic day on a glacier with Icelandic photographer, Ari Magg, for the shot included in October's Vanity Fair (UK Edition) and there is a great article to promote the book in October's Marie Claire (US Edition). But perhaps the most fun photoshoot was for the 2015 Book of Guinness World Records. I had fake snow glued to my eyebrows and special 'cold' looking make-up - you can see the result this month when the 2015 edition hits the shops.

Vanity Fair 


Secrets of the skies

Friday 11th July 2014
I spent last summer flying across the States in an airship with the BBC and the resulting film 'Cloud Lab: Secrets of the skies' will be broadcast next week. The first episode will be shown on Wednesday 16th July at 8pm and the second a week later on the 23rd July, again at 8pm!



Women of Discovery

Saturday 28th June 2014
I'm very delighted and honoured to be the recipient of a 2014 Women of Discovery award. These are granted each year by WINGS WorldQuest a US-based organisation that promotes the work of women scientists and explorers. I have been given this year's Courage Award for which I am extremely flattered, not least because my fellow awardees are an incredible bunch of ladies...Helen Thayer (Lifetime Award), Arita Baaijens (Humanity Award) and Daphne Soares (Earth Award). I can't wait to meet them all at the award event in October.

Pole Of Cold: What does winter mean to you?

Monday 19th May 2014
After a big weekend of preparation my first ever exhibition opens today at the Royal Geographical Society in London. The exhibition brings together images, sounds, objects and interviews from my recent Pole of Cold expedition to explore the meaning of winter to those living in the most extreme winter climates in the world.
I am very excited about it and hope that some of you are able to come along and give me your thoughts. The exhibition is open all week (Monday 19th May - Friday 23rd May) from 10am to 5pm. Access is through the Exhibition Road entrance and it is completely free to the public.
We'll be launching the exhibition with a talk and event on Monday 19th May at the Royal Geographical Society (more information on the RGS website)

Pole Of Cold

Monday 24th March 2014
I've been away for the winter - but instead of heading for some warmth and sunshine I've been leading an expedition to chase the onset of winter across an entire continent. I left the UK in November 2013 in a Land Rover Defender and with the invaluable mechanical know-how of Gisli Jonsson of Arctic Trucks in Iceland, we drove more than 36,000km across the entire Eurasian continent as far as the Pole of Cold, the coldest inhabited place in the world.
Along the way we crossed the Arctic Circle, stood at Nordkapp (the northernmost point of the European continent), drove further East than Japan, drove 2000km on a frozen river and experienced temperatures down to -58C! Our purpose was to explore lives lived at the extremes of climate and to do this we spent time with shaman, reindeer herders, fishermen, scientists, school children, mayors, search and rescue teams, truck drivers and even Santa Claus!
It was an amazing trip and I am looking forward to working on all the material we collected for talks and an exhibition later in the year. But in the meantime I am enjoying being back in the (relative) warmth!

Head in the clouds

Wednesday 18th September 2013
I'm in Florida at the start of a very exciting project to fly an airship across the United States from the east to west coast via New Orleans and Las Vegas. The journey will be made into two programmes for BBC Two called 'Cloud Lab' and central to it all is a fabulous airship with a fully equipped meteorology lab. The airship will allow us to explore various aspects of the atmosphere including the life-cycle of clouds, extreme weather events, the life resident in the atmosphere and the effect of the climate on the land below. I am on board as the team meteorologist and will be particularly looking at explaining some of the mysteries of clouds.
You can follow our journey on twitter (@BBCCloudLab) and the films will be broadcast some time next year.


Cloud Lab
The Cloud Lab in Florida



Sunday Brunch

Wednesday 4th September 2013
A couple of weeks ago I was invited onto Channel 4's Sunday Brunch show to be interviewed about 'Alone in Antarctica' by Tim Lovejoy and Simon Rimmer. It was a lot of fun (if slightly nerve-wracking) and you can see the result in the clip below....


Felicity Aston chat from Sunday Brunch on Vimeo.



Signed books

Tuesday 30th July 2013
If you would like a signed copy of either of my books - or perhaps both! - please send a cheque, your address and details of any inscription you would like me to write to:
Crofton, London Road, Hildenborough, Kent TN11 8NG
It will be a pleasure to return a signed copy (or copies) to the supplied address by return of post.
Cheques should be made out to 'Felicity Aston' and the cost of each book is ?8.99. Please add ?1.50 P&P for the UK, ?3.50 P&P for Europe and ?4.50 P&P for elsewhere.
Thanks!

Book Launch!

Thursday 18th July 2013
After a year of hard work (including a rather angst-ridden editing process) the new book is finally here! I am chuffed to bits that the wonderful Joanna Lumley agreed to write the foreword and what she contributed made me laugh out loud in one sentence and well-up with emotion in the next - phenomenal. I'm also really touched by the very kind comments supplied by Ben Fogle, Ranulph Fiennes, Liv Arnesen, Ann Bancroft and irrepressible Eugene Kaspersky.
Advanced copies have gone out for review, so I'm slightly anxious to hear the opinions that filter back. My first book was telling the story of my fabulous Commonwealth team - it was as much their story as mine - but this book is far more personal, delving deep into the mental challenge of the crossing and of being alone. As a result, I'm left feeling a little vulnerable, as if I've just published my personal journal without editing. If nothing else, it is brutally honest.
The book, above everything, is a fantastic way to say heartfelt thanks to all those who have supported, encouraged and enabled over the years. It feels great to be able to hand those wonderful people a glossy-bound, physical representation of what they have helped to create - can't wait to share it with them.
The book will be launched at an event in Central London on Monday 5th August. Book signing, talks and even half price drinks. Come join in!

The next adventure...

Friday 7th June 2013
I am absolutely delighted to be able to tell everyone that me and my new expedition team are the recipients of the 6th annual Land Rover / Royal Geographical Society 'Go Beyond' Bursary. Yay!
We were awarded the Bursary for The Pole of Cold Expedition, a 30,000km, 3-month winter journey across northern Europe and Siberia to the coldest inhabited place in the world. My two team mates are Manu Palomeque, a photographer from Maidstone in Kent, and Gisli Jonsson, an off-road specialist from Iceland. Our fourth team member will be a bright red iconic Land Rover Defender 110 that is currently being built for us.
We depart in November, so there is still plenty to do - starting with a website! - but in the meantime you can read more information about our plans on the RGS website.

New Book in August 2013

Saturday 8th December 2012
A huge thanks to everyone who came along to any of my 13 tour dates across the UK to hear about my solitary journey across Antarctica - I really enjoyed sharing my stories with you all and meeting many of you afterwards.
I'm delighted to say that the book I am writing about the expedition will be published by Summersdale and released in August 2013. The working title of the book is taken from the tour, 'Alone in Antarctica'.
I have written around 2/3 of the book but will be spending the next couple of months finishing the all important last chapters .... so here's to lots of happy days with laptop, coffee and chocolate buttons!

Brag blog

Tuesday 16th October 2012
Earlier this month I gave the first three talks of my lecture tour. Although slightly nervous on the first night in Loughborough I have enjoyed every performance so far and, wonderfully, it seems that the audience have enjoyed themselves too. I want to share some of the lovely comments I have received so far, in the hope of persuading more of you to join me - there are still tickets available for dates throughout November at venues from Llandudno and Cardiff in Wales, to Stirling and Inverness in Scotland (and several places in-between!).
'I really felt as though I was taken on an incredible journey through the power of your presentation and the Q&A session that followed.' - George
'Su-bloody-perb! Very inspirational and moving. Thanks.' - David
'Amazing and so well presented. Thank you.' - Val
'Fascinating talk.' - Sasa
'Thanks for sharing your amazing inspirational adventure.' - Cat
'Sincere thanks.' - Ross


Forthcoming Lecture Tour

Saturday 30th June 2012
One of the most enjoyable aspects of expeditions is coming home and sharing the experience. I love the whole process of storytelling, be it through speaking or writing. So, I am very excited to be embarking on my first public lecture tour in theatres around the UK this coming autumn.'Alone in Antarctica' will tell the story of my recent crossing of Antarctica as well as showcasing both images and footage from the expedition. Speaking about the trip still makes me very emotional but I promise to try very hard not to cry during the performances! Tickets can be bought direct from the venues.

October 2012
Tuesday 2nd October Loughborough Town Hall
Wednesday 3rd October The Radlett Centre, Herts
Thursday 4th October The Plough Arts Centre, Great Torrington, Devon

November 2012
Wednesday 7th November Malvern Theatres, Worcestershire
Friday 9th November Chapter Arts Centre, Cardiff
Sunday 11th November Assembly Hall Theatre, Tunbridge Wells
Monday 19th November Albert Halls, Stirling
Wednesday 21st November Rothes Hall, Glenrothes
Thursday 22nd November Birnam Institute, Dunkeld
Friday 23rd November Eden Court, Inverness
Sunday 25th November Arts Centre, Buxton
Tuesday 27th November Venue Cymru, Llandudno


Writing

Tuesday 15th May 2012
I've always loved writing. English was my favourite subject at school and I was often getting into trouble as a child for reading books late into the night (under the duvet with a torch when I'd been told to switch off the lights and go to sleep). My mum gave me a lined notebook for my 13th birthday and I have kept a journal more or less ever since, particularly when travelling. So it was the fulfilment of a long-held ambition last year when my very first book was published. I've been really gratified by the response to the book and chuffed to bits that it was made a finalist in the Banff Mountain Book Competition. The positive feedback has encouraged me to write another book, this time about my recent experience crossing Antarctica alone. I'm already about 30,000 words into it - but it does mean that I seem to have dissappeared a little. I have to be strict with myself and remove/avoid any distractions otherwise I will never finish! Luckily I have a few boltholes to run too and write; so for the moment that is what I am doing...type,type,type,type.


Honours

Friday 20th April 2012
Antarctica now seems like a lifetime ago but I'm still reliving the experiences on a regular basis through talks and school visits. A huge thank-you to everyone who has been so kind since my return. I've been really touched by some of the amazing tokens of support ranging from the lovely 'Clearly From Negligence' who supported me with their song 'Felicity' (you can listen at www.cfntheband.com/felicity.php) to Sir Roger, MP, who invited me and my parents to a wonderful lunch at the Houses of Parliament. I was thrilled when Outside Magazine in the US named me as one of their adventurers of the year but perhaps more gobsmacked that I was the subject of a question on legendary US show 'Jeopardy'! Most touching of all are honours from two of my local schools who have followed my adventure from the start; students at Birchington Primary School have adopted a Polar Bear and named it 'Felicity' while Hartsdown Technology College will be giving a Felicity Aston award for inspiration to a student who has shown particular determination to keep going against the odds at their annual prizegiving ceremony. It's all very humbling and very motivating, so thank you!


What a month!

Tuesday 6th March 2012
Barely 6 weeks ago I was sat alone in a tent on the Ronne Ice Shelf at Hercules Inlet waiting for a plane to collect me from the ice. It was the end of my 59-day, 1744km ski accross Antarctica and I remember feeling a slight sense of panic that it was my last few moments of having Antarctica to myself - the end of my adventure. I had no idea that the adventure would continue in such an exciting way.
Nearly 10,000 people followed my journey on Twitter and many more through Facebook, the Ipadio phonecasts or the expedition website and I was blown away by the interest in my expedition from countries as diverse as Peru and Poland. It has been a wonderful welcome home, not least by my family (who met me at the airport with flowers and donuts!) and my fantastic sponsors Kaspersky Lab.
It's been non-stop since I touched down in the UK but I've loved every minute and am now looking forward to settling down to write about my experiences. A UK speaking tour is planned for the autumn of 2012 and a possible US tour in the following spring. I can't wait!


On my way...

Sunday 23rd October 2011
What an incredible year 2011 has been! It started with the most memorable of New Year parties at the South Pole, then my first book was published in March and our expedition documentary released in June. The film is now playing at a growing selection of film festivals all over the world and my book has been selected as a finalist at the Banff Mountain Book Competition. I am chuffed to bits! Finally, to finish off the year I find myself heading back to Antarctica with the opportunity to make a journey that has been on my ultimate wish list for years. The Kaspersky ONE Trans-Antarctic Expedition.
The expedition fills me with equal amounts of terror and excitement - but I think that is exactly the way it ought to be. I leave for South America in a weeks time and I will wait there for my flight into Antarctica which is scheduled for the 8th November - with any luck I'll be skiing by the 12th.
However, in my mind and my heart I am already there. I can smell the air, hear the wind, see the pale shades of the snow - I can feel it.
I look forward to taking you all with me through podcasts, tweets and blogs on the expedition website - and of course to sharing the exprience through talks on my return. Wish me luck - I'm pretty sure I'm going to need it! Thanks to everyone who has already sent messages of support, they really do mean so much. But thanks most of all to those special people who have made this new adventure possible - to Alan and Wendy Grummitt, Henry and Melodie Yates, Phil Lennard, Sue Sutherland, Richard Woodall, The Transglobe Expedition Trust, Hartsdown Technology College, Jeff White, Harvey Hipperson, Alison and Tony Simmonds, Jo Allen, Hans Falkenburg, Petra Hilleberg, Nick Farrell, Mick Atkinson but most of all to the unstoppable Eugene Kaspersky.
I look forward to seeing all next year!


Film Premier

Sunday 2nd October 2011
I am absolutely thrilled that our documentary film about the 2009 Kaspersky Lab Commonwealth Antarctic Expedition has been accepted by two more film festivals. It will be screened at the legendary Banff Mountain Film Festival in Canada on Saturday 5th November and at the Dijon Adventure Film Festival in France on Friday 4th November.
The only pity is that I won't be able to attend either event because I will be in Chile awaiting my flight into Antarctica. Which is why I am even more excited to be taking part in the film's Premier which is being held in Cyprus on Thursday 13th October at the University of Nicosia. I will be joined my team-mates, Stephanie Solomonides and Sophia Pang.
Details are included on the invitation and you can register for the event with organisers, the Cyprus Computer Society.


From Everest to Antarctica - in a day!

Wednesday 24th August 2011
Next month I will be taking part in a unique one-day film festival that has a specific focus on Mount Everest and Polar Exploration. Billed as 'a cinematic journey from the heroic age of exploration to the present day' the festival will be a screening of four documentaries that chart the course of expedition film-making over the past 100 years - ranging from a colour tinted silent movie to a high definition video. You can see short extracts of the four films on the festival website www.phoenixvilleadventure.com
To make the day even more interesting Paul Deegan will be giving a live Q&A about climbing Everest and I will be answering questions about travel in the Polar Regions. The festival is taking place in Phoenixville, USA, so I can't be there in person but I will instead be presenting the session via video-link. Isn't technology awesome.
I'm delighted to be part of the festival because the films themselves, as well as the subject matter, are fascinating but I'm doubly glad to be involved because the event will be raising money for Maggie Doyne's Kopila Valley Children's Home and School. If you haven't yet watched Maggie's talk about her work, please do. It will be the most inspirational 25 minutes of your year.


Call of the White: The Film

Monday 15th August 2011
The 43-minute documentary film about the Kaspersky Lab Commonwealth Antarctica Expedition was completed back in June and will be screened at several international film festivals over the coming months. A few dates have already been confirmed:
Saturday 1st October - US Premier! Phoenixville Adventure Film Festival
Friday 14th October - Flagstaff Mountain Film Festival
Wednesday 16th November - Explorer Festival, Lodz, Poland

I also have 3 remaining talk dates this year:
Equaladventure lecture, Glenmore Lodge, Scotland - Friday 26th August 2011, 7.30pm
Cardiff Explorers, Terra Nova Pub, Cardiff Bay - Thursday 8th September 2011, 7pm
Hay Walking Festival, Swan Hotel, Hay-On-Wye - Friday 7th October 2011, 7.30pm.


60 seconds to help me find a sponsor

Monday 6th June 2011
I have a unique opportunity to attempt a world first in Antarctica this year but need to find a title sponsor to support the expedition. Finding sponsorship is all about making connections. Perhaps you know someone whose company might be interested in worldwide brand exposure, association with a dynamic adventure and branding at the south pole? I have exciting returns to offer for sponsorship of GBP 500 to GBP 30,000. If you are able to donate the next 60 seconds of your time thinking about the people you know and work for - and introducing me to anyone you think might like to know more about my next expedition, I'd be forever grateful! Thank you.

Pirates and Afternoon Tea

Wednesday 20th April 2011
I stepped off the Queen Elizabeth in Southampton yesterday after 20 days at sea giving lectures about Antarctica and my previous expeditions. I was bowled over by the kind words of encouragement from those on board and the offers of support for my next expedition. I still have a long way to go in raising the funds for my planned solo expedition at the end of the year but your belief has made me more determined than ever. Particular thanks to Henry and Melodie Yates, Terry and Wendy from Cornwall - and of course to Mark Adams for the memorable dedication!

Cardiff date

Monday 28th March 2011
As promised, I have a final talk date in Cardiff. I will be speaking for the Cardiff Explorers on Thursday 8th September 2011 at the Terra Nova, Cardiff Bay.

Women as Agents of Change

Monday 14th March 2011
It is Commonwealth Day today and I was really pleased to read that the Commonwealth theme for 2011 is 'Women as Agents of Change.' Over 75 million girls around the world remain out of school because of their gender - it's a shocking statistic for the 21st century - and yet the issue of gender inequality is closer to home than we would expect. The Royal Commonwealth Society has published a new report today that looks at the best and worst places to be born a girl. The report takes into account life expectancy, education and political participation amongst other indicators. What is startling about the reports findings is that poverty doesn't necessarily correlate to greater inequality - that it is political will, rather than economic wealth that is the issue.
A good illustration of this is the fact that the UK ranked just 8th in the report, behind Barbados and Dominica, and just one place above Rwanda.


A short film about a Polar legend

Friday 11th March 2011
I was very fortunate to be involved in a journey to the West Coast of Ireland to find out more about the hero Tom Crean. This is the short film that was made about the trip:



Remembering the 29

Monday 7th March 2011
I am an ambassador for the British Antarctic Monument Trust so I am really pleased that, thanks to the hard work of Trust Chairman Rod Rhys-Jones, a memorial tablet is to be placed in the crypt of St Paul's Cathedral in London to commemorate the 29 men and women who have lost their lives in the British Antarctic Territory. There will be a dedication of the memorial at St Paul's during Evensong on Tuesday 10th May 2011 at 5pm followed by a reception in Saddler's Hall.
Two days later on the 12th May the first half of the Antarctic Monument will be sited in the garden of the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge and there will be a dedication that afternoon at 3pm. The second part of the monument will be placed in the Falkland Islands but the Trust needs to raise ?60,000 in order to make this happen. However, the dedication of the northern part of the sculpture is a major step towards completion of the Trust's aims.
If you would like to attend either the dedication of the memorial tablet in St Paul's or the sculpture in Cambridge, please contact the Trust at brianb_d@hotmail.co.uk


Book Tour !

Tuesday 22nd February 2011
To celebrate the release of my very first book I will be giving a number of free public talks about the Kaspersky Lab Commonwealth Antarctic Expedition and signing copies of my book at the following events accross the UK:
Tunbridge Wells - Waterstone's, Tuesday 15th March, 7pm. Call 0843 890 8657 for tickets.
Bristol - Cotswold Outdoor, Wednesday 23rd March, 7pm. Email bristol.shop@cotswoldoutdoor.com for tickets.
London - National Geographic Store, Wednesday 20th April, 6.30pm.
London - Ellis Brigham, Thursday 12th May.
Harrogate - Cotswold Outdoor, Wednesday 18th May, 7pm.
Manchester - Ellis Brigham, Thursday 19th May.
Canterbury - Waterstone's, Thursday 26th May, 6.30pm.

An additional date in Cardiff will be added soon....
Buy the book ...


Book Launch

Monday 14th February 2011
My first book "Call of the White: Taking the World to the South Pole" all about the Kaspersky Lab Commonwealth Antarctic Expedition that took place at the end of 2009 is due to be released by Summersdale next month. To celebrate I will be giving a talk in Waterstone's Tunbridge Wells on Tuesday 15th March, 7pm. It is an informal venue so there will be plenty of opportunity to ask questions, sign copies of the book and enjoy a glass of wine or two! You can buy tickets by calling into the store in Tunbridge Wells or ringing 0843 890 8657. Tickets cost two pounds but can be redeemed against the cost of a book on the night.
Incredibly, you can already pre-order copies of the book from Amazon, Tesco Books and Waterstone's online. In New Zealand it is available on mightyape.co.nz. When you get hold of a copy, be sure to let me know what you think!
Buy the book ...


Preserving an Antarctic Heritage

Wednesday 9th February 2011
Last year I became involved in the British Antarctic Oral History Project which is a joint initiative of the British Antarctic Survey, BAS Club, the UK Antarctic Heritage Trust and the Scott Polar Reasearch Institute to record and archive the experiences and memories of those who worked with Operation Tabarin (1943-45), Falkland Islands Dependencies Survey / FIDS (1945-61) and BAS. So far, I have conducted 4 interviews with Antarctic veterans for the project including the 'Ice Pilot', a veterinary consultant and a radio officer - all of whom worked in Antarctica in the '50's and '60's. It has been an honour and a pleasure to meet such incredible characters and to hear, first hand, the stories that are now part of Antarctic legends. Clips from many of the interviews conducted as part of the project can now be listened to online on the BAS website (Scroll down the fifth column to find audio and video clips). Look out for the clip about transporting huskies by plane and another, near the bottom of the list, about social tensions on base...


Tom Crean and the South Pole Inn

Wednesday 2nd February 2011
Last week I had the real pleasure of traveling to the Birth place of legendary polar hero Tom Crean and meeting one of his grandsons, Enda. Tom Crean was a member of both of Scott's expeditions and of Shackleton's Endurance expedition. He played a central role in some of the most famous episodes in polar exploration and survived what is arguably the most incredible feat of heroism out of the entire 'heroic age' of exploration - a 30-mile solos trek to save his friends at the end of a 4-month sledging journey which had left them on the brink of death. Crean was awarded the Albert Medal for his bravery at the time, but it is only now that he is recieving recognition as a true Irish hero. Crean returned from the Antarctic and retired in his home town of Anascaul where he built the South Pole Inn. It is still serving pints, now covered in Tom Crean memorabilia, and was the perfect place to hear some of Enda's wonderful family stories. The article about Tom Crean and interview with Enda will appear in the next Onelife magazine.

South Pole Inn
The bar inside Tom Crean's South Pole Inn

The A Team

Wednesday 26th January 2011
Last October I was invited to take part in The Radio Festival organised by the BBC Radio Academy in Salford Quays, Manchester. I was interviewed with Sir Clive Woodward about putting together and leading teams, particularly the pros and cons of democratic versus dictatorial styles of leadership. It was an interesting discussion and you can now listen to the interview online here (Scroll down to the 1430 session called 'The A Team' and click play).


Back from the Pole...

Wednesday 19th January 2011
I finally got home from Antarctica this weekend after spending the last two months on the ice working for Extreme World Races. I was part of a team of 5 supporting a German/Austrian film production which involved driving from the coast of Antarctica to the South Pole - and back - a journey of just under 6000km. It was my first experience with the modified Toyota Hilux's and I was totally blown away by them. Until now, travel in Antarctica has been restricted to aircraft, snowmobiles or slow, heavy tractor-trains. These new vehicles are not only cleaner and more efficient but much, much faster enabling greater access to more of the continent. Not only are they outrageous fun to drive but the implications for science on the continent are revolutionary. You can see more images on my Flickr site.

In convoy to the South Pole
The trucks in convoy en route to the South Pole


The Snowleopard

Wednesday 24th November 2010
While looking for a Ghanaian woman to ski to the south pole with me back in 2008, I was contacted by Kwame Nkrumah Acheampong who is more commonly known as The Snowleopard. At the time he was in the middle of attempting to qualify for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. He went on to qualify and successfully compete in the downhill alpine skiing event as the first athlete, ever, from a West African country to do so.
So I guess I shouldn't be surprised that he recently sent me word that he has also succeeded in his second ambition - to build a dry ski slope in Ghana and establish a Ghanaian Ski Team. This month The Snowleopard will launch the Ghana Ski Slope Project which aims to build the first dry ski slope in sub-saharan west africa. You can find out more on the project website at www.ghanaskiteam.com or join 'Kwame's Army' on facebook to find information on how to help by donating your unwanted ski equipment.
Don't you just love it when a crazy plan comes together.....?


Join the International Scott Centenary Expedition in Antarctica

Monday 27th September 2010
For anyone who has a long-held fascination with Scott or the Antarctic, a unique competition was launched in the Telegraph over the weekend in conjunction with the International Scott Centenary Expedition (ISCE);
"The ISCE 2012 in conjunction with The Telegraph is offering a reader the chance to win a place on the tribute journey. The winner of our competition will join the sledging team from McMurdo Sound to the last campsite of Captain Scott's Polar Party, where a memorial service will be held, and then return to McMurdo Sound. Applicants should be aged between 18-30, and write an article of 500-1000 words entitled; "Why Captain Scott is important to me." Applications must include a ?10 non-refundable entry fee. Cheques and Postal Orders should be made payable to "ISCE2012". Short listed candidates will be invited to a training day in the UK to assess their fitness to participate in the ISCE2012. Two finalists will be chosen, one to participate in the sledging party, and one reserve. Terms and consitions can be found at telegraph.co.uk/isce2012. Any polar expedition is complex and unpredictable, so applicants should be prepared to commit to a flexible itinerary. Entries should be sent to: ISCE 2012, BOX 20, Unit C, 203 Sandgate RD, Folkestone, Kent CT20 2HT.


WINGS over the Poles

Wednesday 15th September 2010
I am extremely excited to have been invited to take part in an event at the American Museum of Natural History in New York alongside two of my polar heroes, Liv Arnesen and Ann Bancroft. The evening will revisit the race between Captain Scott and Roald Amundsen, and look at how it helped to shape Antarctic exploration and science today. The event takes place on September 22nd at 6.30pm and is free. You can find more details on the WINGS website.
WINGS is an organisation that supports and promotes women in exploration and science. Their website highlights hundreds of women who are making exciting scientific discoveries and completing unique adventures. This short video gives a brief overview of what they do (watch out for a familiar face!):


Great Britons

Monday 13th September 2010
British Airways holds a regular competition to select inspiring Britons to support with free flights. In this year's round of the competition is Tim Moss, adventurer and blogger, who so wonderfully held the fort for the Kaspersky Lab expedition while we were on the ice. Tim has now launched his own expedition, 2012 Inspire South Pole, with a team that includes an Olympian, Paralympian, and Special Olympian athlete. He would like the free British Airways flights to enable his team to train in Scandinavia. Voting for Tim and his excellent expedition will take just two minutes. You can vote for him here


The book is on its way!

Friday 16th July 2010
Over the last few months I have been busy writing about the recent Kaspersky Lab Commonwealth Antarctic Expedition and I'm pleased to say that we now have a publisher. The book will be published by Summersdale in March 2011 and is called, Call of the White: Taking the world to the South Pole. It will be available through WHSmith and Waterstones in the UK, as well as through Amazon. It will also be distributed overseas (details to follow). If you have a local independent bookshop that would be interested in stocking the book (or perhaps holing a talk and signing event) let me know!


400 Seconds

Wednesday 23rd June 2010
A few weeks ago I was challenged to speak in the Pech Kucha format (talking to 20 slides which each appear for only 20 seconds - no going back, no going forward, no stopping) for the 'Night of Adventure' event organised by Alastair Humphreys in aid of Hope and Homes for Children. There were some 16 speakers, talking about a variety of adventures and sports. It was a great event which, most importantly, raised nearly ?10,000 for the very deserving charity.
You can take a look at my 400 second talk, below, or browse all the talks on Alastair's website.


Pecha Kucha: Felicity Aston. Commonwealth Women's South Pole Expedition. www.felicityaston.com from Alastair Humphreys on Vimeo.


Join the Scott100 celebrations

Tuesday 15th June 2010
The infamous Terra Nova Expedition led by Captain Robert Falcon Scott took place between 1910 and 1913. Although Scott and his companions didn't reach the South Pole until January 1912 (and subsequently died a few months later on the return journey), the centenary celebrations of their remarkable journey have already begun. Captain Scott and his crew on board the Terra Nova departed from Cardiff heading for Antarctica exactly 100 years ago today and so there was considerable excitement in Cardiff this weekend as three years of centenary celebrations were kicked off by a round of events. On Saturday I attended a dinner held in the same room Scott used for his farewell dinner and on Sunday I visited the HMS Scott which had come to Cardiff especially to mark the centenary.
If you would like to know more about events being held across the country to mark the centenary of Scott's Terra Nova expedition go to the Scott100 site run by the Scott Polar Research Intstitute which provides listings.


Lunchtime Lectures in Cardiff Bay

Monday 31st May 2010
If you live or work in the Cardiff Bay area you should take a look at Lunchtime Adventures - a series of lectures from polar adventurers and enthusiasts, historians and artists organised by local polar expert Jim Mayer. The lectures are held in the Norwegian Church and cost just ?2. Bargain!


Commonwealth Competitions 2010

Wednesday 31st March 2010
If you are under 30 and have a creative spark, a unique insight or a new idea, take a look at three annual competitions run by the Royal Commonwealth Society for young people. The Commonwealth Essay Competition is looking for compositions, be it an essay, a play or a poem, focused on the theme: Science, Technology and Society. The Commonwealth Photographic Award asks for images on the same theme and the Commonwealth Vision Awards would like to see 30-90 second films from aspiring young filmakers. Prizes include ?1000 seed grant, camera equipment, training workshops with leading experts and a chance to see your work exhibited around the world.


Celebrating Captain Scott in Cardiff

Tuesday 22nd March 2010
January 2012 will mark the centenary of Captain Scott reaching the South Pole but the commemorations of his legendary journey begin this summer. To mark 100 years since the departure from Cardiff of Scott's ship, the SS Terra Nova, for Antarctica in June 1910, the British Antarctic Monument Trust are holding a fundraising lecture at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff. On Saturday 12th June at 2.30pm I will be speaking about my recent South Pole expedition along with Dr David Wilson, great nephew of Edward Wilson (one of Scott's companions to the South Pole) and leading Antarctic Scientist Dr Julian Paren. Tickets cost ?10 and can be bought in advance by emailing briand_b@hotmail.co.uk or calling 01923 447422.


Pecha Kucha

Friday 19th March 2010
Pecha Kucha means 'Chit Chat' in Japanese and is a presentation format in which each speaker is allowed 20 slides that scroll automatically after 20 seconds. This means that in a single evening an audience gets to hear a lot of speakers talking about a variety of subjects in bitesize chunks. I've just agreed to speak at my first Pecha Kucha which will bring together all sorts of adventurers talking about their latest projects. The event is in aid of Hope and Homes for Children and will take place on May 17th at the Vue Cinema in Leicester Square, London. Tickets are ?20 and can be bought in advance by emailing david.james@hopeandhomes.org or calling 01722 790111. Pecha Kucha website


Say "I Can"

Friday 22nd January 2010
This coming Wednesday (27th January) I will be co-chairing the Equaladventure Lecture at the Royal Geographical Society in London. There is a packed programme of speakers during the evening, all with the aim of providing inspiration, support and guidance to anyone wanting to promote, provide or take part in inclusive sporting and adventurous outdoor activities. Chairing the evening with me will be the awesome Dame Tanni Grey-Thompson and other speakers include Michael McGrath, Major Jim Bonney and Miles Hilton-Barber.
The evening starts at 7pm. Tickets are still available and more information can be found on the Equaladventure website


Good to be Home

Monday 18th January, 2010
I finally made it home from Antarctica last Monday after a series of delays ironically caused by the snow in Europe. I'm looking forward to getting stuck in to all the post-expedition jobs but my first priorities are sleeping and eating! Many thanks to everyone who has sent messages and made our return home so incredible - you are all really, really appreciated.


Antarctica

Friday 21st August, 2009
For the last two years I have been working on a project called the Commonwealth Women's Antarctic Expedition. As well as creating a team, training the team, organising logistics and sourcing kit - a great deal of time has been spent searching for a title sponsor to fund the project. I am completely delighted to announce that we have found an excellent partner in Kaspersky Lab, the IT security specialist. With their help the expedition is now scheduled for a November departure this year. With everything that needs to be done in preparation for our departure, I will have little time to update this website but you can follow the progress of the newly renamed 'Kaspersky Commonwealth Antarctic Expedition' on our website; www.kasperskycommonwealthexpedition.com. See you there!


Equal Adventure

Friday 31st July, 2009
Much of what I do is aimed at introducing new people to adventure, expeditions and the outdoors. From encouraging more overseas expeditions for young people as a Councillor of the Young Explorer's Trust to training competitors for the Polar Challenge or going into schools to talk about aspirations and goal-setting, it is fantastic to see more and more people enabled to have their own life-affirming, adventurous experience. I strongly believe that, whatever the obstacles, they can usually be overcome by a bit of inventive thinking.
One charity proving this on a daily basis is Equal Adventure. Set up with the aim of helping people with a wide range of disabilities to gain greater access to adventure sport and the great outdoors, Equal Adventure provides practical support for individuals and organisations by developing equipment and resources. Equal Adventure have also led the way in promoting inclusive expeditions and in previous years have helped inclusive teams kayak The Inside Passage of British Columbia, travel overland through Africa and canoe the length of the Burnside River in Canada's North West Territories This year a team of 12 disabled and non-disabled adventurers will be setting off to canoe the Yukon in Alaska.
If you would like to get involved, Equal Adventure are currently looking for disabled and non-disabled team members for their 2010 programme involving open canoeing, sea kayaking and hand cycling. If you'd like to know more go to www.equaladventure.org.
I really admire the work of Equal Adventure, especially after my experiences cobbling together vital equipment for the Yippee Timberland Iceland Expedition and so I am delighted that EA have asked me to become an ambassador to help them promote inclusive adventures. I'm very excited about working with them in the following months.


Speaking Up For Heroes

Friday 17th July, 2009
Last night I was invited to what turned out to be a very inspiring and thought-provoking event. The evening, held at the Royal Institution in London to raise money for the charity Help for Heroes involved 5 speakers talking about thier experiences of heroism - either their own perceived heroism, or those of others. The speakers included Polar Explorer Ben Saunders, Yachtswoman Dee Caffari and journalist John Simpson. But perhaps the most affecting speaker of the evening was Phil Packer, who was wounded while serving in the Army and now wants to help inspire young people with disabilities. This perhaps struck a particular chord with me after my experiences with the Yippee! Timberland expedition in 2005. It was an honour to see the change that expedition made to everyone involved, particularly the young people with ABI.
However, the theme of the evening was; How do you define heroism? What makes a hero?
By the end of the evening, the answer seemed to be that we all have the potential to be heroes - it is a matter of making the desicison to do the right thing when it really matters. Food for thought...


Citizen Science

Thursday 4th June, 2009
Very bizarre to hear a voice I recognized while driving along listening to Radio 4 Yesterday. Paul Rose (my ex-station commander in Antarctica) was speaking on Radio 4's You and Yours programme about holidays in Britain. In particular he spoke about Citizen Science - the idea that individuals and families can get involved with real scientific research during their holidays or spare time. Paul has a whole section on his website with links to various projects. I had a look on the internet and came up with two more good resources with plenty of ideas on how to get involved - a BBC Radio 4 site and a well-run Citizen Science Blog. Projects range from wildlife surveys and comet monitoring to using your computer to search for alien life.


British Antarctic Monument Trust

Wednesday 22nd April, 2009
I spent 2 1/2 years at Rothera Research Station on the Antarctic Peninsula between 2000 and 2003 as a Meteorologist with the British Antarctic Survey. My time at Rothera included 2 winters during which the base was completely cut off from the rest of the World. The worst fear of the small winter team of 20 was that we would have to deal with a serious injury or fatality of one of our number. Thankfully we all returned home safely but, over the last 70 years, 27 men and women who travelled South to work on Britain's Antarctic stations haven't been as fortunate.
The British Antarctic Monument Trust aims to commemorate the achievements of all those whose scientific exploration in Antarctica has led to a new understanding of our planet and to honour those amongst them who did not return. They intend to do this by ensuring that all the 27 who lost their lives in Antarctica have a geographical feature named after them and by funding a monument in two parts - one sited in Antarctica and the other in Britain. The monument has been designed by British sculptor Oliver Barratt and can be seen on the Trust's website.
I believe that paying tribute to these men and women is important as an acknowledgement of the vital nature of their work as well as a mark of respect. For this reason I was delighted when the Trust invited me to act as an Ambassador for the British Antarctic Monument Trust. I look forward to helping the Trust find the funds needed to make this fitting memorial a reality.
www.antarctic-monument.org


Adventure First Aid

Wednesday 15th April, 2009
I'm lucky enough not to suffer too badly from blisters but that doesn't mean that I haven't had plenty of practise at strapping up feet over the years - not least while completing the Marathon Des Sables earlier this month. Fortunately, apart from the odd bit of frost nip or dodgy knee, I've never had to face a serious medical emergency on an expedition. However, good First Aid training is something that I consider essential for both myself and my team before any expedition. I'm extremely fortunate to have had the support for a number of years of a First Aid training company that knows all about expeditions and working in remote wilderness locations. Last week I was invited to take part in the latest course developed by Adventure First Aid. The 4-day Overseas Medical Intervention course is designed for anyone operating in regions that are days rather than hours from professional healthcare and goes just a little bit further than conventional first aid courses. Not only did we cover the staples of CPR, shock and the immediate treatment of common injuries but the course ventured into prolonged casualty care. We were taught how to monitor vital signs, how to use painkillers and antibiotics effectively, when and how to give IM injections and fit canulas in order to administer IV drips and to suture wounds. On day 3 we were treated to an outdoor casualty scenario involving 3 actors. The experience was completely enlightening, even though we all knew it was 'pretend' and a great test of our new skills..
Huge thanks to Guy of Adventure First Aid as well as Dr Ross and both of the Laura's for a really valuable Easter weekend.


Desert Foxes

Monday 23rd March, 2009
This morning I leave for Morocco in preparation to start the Marathon des Sables at the end of the week. Having just spent a fortnight in Norway at sub-zero temperatures I need to do some serious acclimatisation to the heat!
I'm very glad to have the company of the rest of the team, not least, my sister Alex. Not only is it a confidence boost to be surrounded by a team of friends, I'm also sure that we will keep each other going when we each hit those difficult moments.
Thank you to everyone who has offered advice, encouragement and support - not least Barney at Sundog, James at Xsocks and Rob at SheRunsHeRuns in Bluewater.
Sahara Desert - here we come!


Cold Snap

Wednesday 28th January, 2009
As the temperatures here in the UK begin to warm up, it's worth noting what is happening at either end of our planet. The Arctic Sea Ice has been in the news a lot recently but if you'd like to see for yourself what is going on - you don't have to look further than the good old internet. Antarctic veteran John Smith told me about the AMSR-E sea ice maps which give daily sea ice concentrations in both the Arctic and Antarctica.
The site has all sorts of sea ice information but the really fascinating bit is the animation of sea ice concentrations since 2003. The 3-minute movie takes a few seconds to download but watching the hypnotic growth and disintigration of sea ice - particularly over the Arctic Ocean - is worth the wait. It also leaves a rather scarey image for the future of the Arctic.


The Foxes Return

Tuesday 20th January, 2009
In 2006 I formed a 4-woman expedition team, called the Arctic Foxes, to cross the Greenland Ice Sheet. Last year part of the team reformed and crossed Lake Baikal as the Siberian Foxes [you can now read a full account of our adventures on the Siberian Foxes website] but this year, as a slightly altered team of 4, the Foxes are back!
In March the Desert Foxes will be traveling to the Sahara to take part in the 24th Marathon Des Sables. I can honestly say that no previous trip has struck as much pure terror into my heart as the thought of this one. You can read more about the challenge that lies ahead (and why I'm so nervous) on the Desert Foxes website.
To prepare for this monster of all endurance events, the Desert Foxes got together at the weekend to run the Thames Tow Path Ultra - a 50 mile run from Reading to London alongside the River Thames. I made 30 miles before deciding to stop after an ominous twinge in my knee but I'm really proud of the other Foxes who went on to complete 40 and 50 miles - well done you's!


Tactics of Hope

Tuesday 29th December, 2008
New Year is a convenient time-mark for taking stock and reassessing progress - not just in our own lives but also in the World around us. However, with so much hype and misinformation it can be hard to get a clear picture of the true state of the World today and even harder to see how we, as individuals, can make a real and measurable difference. I've spent time this week looking at two websites that go some way to solving both these problems.
The first is an initiative by the Royal Geographical Society. 21st Century Challenges is a website intended to improve public understanding and engagement with some of the key issues facing Britain and the World in the coming decades by providing 'independent, unbiased, reliable, up to date information and guidance'. The issues discussed range from housing and immigration to Climate Change and Africa. The information on the site is supplemented with expert discussions, a programme of talks at the RGS and extracts from the media.
Aiming to turn 'concern to passion to action' Tactics of Hope is a resource that promotes social entrepreneurship. The website not only provides inspirational case studies and links to useful organisations but it also has a unique online tool that allows you to connect with organisations working in the area of your interest. The website is a practical first step towards making a difference and could provide a new direction for your New Year's Resolution.


Family

Tuesday 23rd December, 2008
As most people prepare for a big family Christmas this week, would you like to find out whereabouts in the World your extended family might have ended up? Or get a clue as to where your family came from in the first place?
I found the fascinating Worldnames Project recently and spent hours looking up various family names with some surprising results - definitely worth a look.


Inspirational Reads

Tuesday 9th December, 2008
Years ago I read Ellen MacArthur's book 'Taking on the World'. Like many people, I found it had a huge impact on me, despite having no previous interest in sailing. At the time I was working hard to find sponsorship for a race across the Arctic. It was stressful and emotional and really, really hard work. I often wondered if I was completely mad putting myself through such an ordeal. Reading about someone who saw the World in the same way, who had been through similar experiences and come out the other end successful gave me motivation.
I'm a voracious reader and collector of other people's stories but nothing I read since had quite the same impact. But now, I have found a book that I know is going to be as pivotal for me as 'Taking on the World' but for quite different reasons. I had never heard of American long-distance swimmer Lynne Cox before I started reading her book 'Swimming to Antarctica' but her achievements are quite beyond belief. Her story has reminded me why we should strive and take risks and never, ever give up. If you get the chance - read it!


National Tree Week

Sunday 30th November, 2008
You may never have heard of it before but the 26th November to 7th December has been designated National Tree Week in the UK since 1975. It was originally intended to launch the start of the tree planting season but has grown into the UK's largest tree celebration. The Tree Council website has a list of events taking place all over the UK from tree planting drives to tree appreciation walks but if you'd like to celebrate National Tree Week by planting your own tree, you can have a ready-to-plant sapling delivered to your door by tree2mydoor.com. You can choose from a range of native trees including rowan, holly and beech.
Spreading the tree-love further afield, the International Tree Foundation is a UK charity that works to promote trees all over the World from mangrove restoration in Thailand to erosion control in Rwanda.
So as you contemplate buying this year's Christmas Tree why not also contemplate buying your folks a ready-to-plant sapling for Christmas!


Explore

Monday 24th November, 2008
Explore is the annual expedition and fieldwork planning seminar held at the RGS in London. I went along on Saturday and, as always, came away with my head full of new ideas and a back pocket full of business cards. Every year I hear about loads of new and exciting projects that are either being planned or taking place. This year I came away particularly inspired by Andy Pag's overland journeys using vehicles powered by chocolate or waste vegetable oil scavenged from restaurants (Biotruck) and a new company who puts independent travellers in touch with local experts who can help with travel plans and finding free local volunteer placements (Your Safe Planet).


A wise man once said ...

Monday 17th November, 2008
While in Ghana, I was given a book of proverbs. Some express great truths, some are plain obvious and some just baffling - but I thought I'd share a few:
Money is sharper than a sword.
No one tests the depth of a river with both feet.
If you understand the beginning well, the end will not trouble you.
One lie can annihilate a thousand truths.
It is the calm and silent water that drowns a man.
A big blanket encourages sleeping in the morning.
He is a fool whose sheep ran away twice.


Marguerite Bay Reunion

Wednesday 12th November, 2008
Last weekend I travelled to the Lake District for the Marguerite Bay Reunion, an annual get-together of all the men and women who have lived and worked at any of the British Antarctic Survey bases and research stations that have been located around Marguerite Bay. Currently, Rothera is the only station in use in the Marguerite Bay area but over the years there have been quite a few. Some of these early bases are long gone but several are still maintained as historic buildings, or as refuges and the Adelaide Island base has been given to the Chilean Antarctic programme, renamed Carvajal.
Many of the men I met at the reunion worked with BAS during the 60's and 70's; they were the men who first built the buildings that still stand at Rothera, who were witnesses to some of the great BAS stories that have been passed down like Antarctic folklore and whose names have been immortalised in the Mountains and Islands around the Bay - names which are so familiar from my own time there.
The reunion is open to anyone who has spent time at any of the Marguerite Bay bases regardless of whether you stayed for a few weeks or multiple winters. Those from the nineties and naughties are particularly welcome so drop me an email if you'd like to be put on the reunion database - I'll send you the organisers contact details.


Framed

Friday 7th November, 2008
For me, travelling anywhere usually means photographs - lots of them. I just can't help myself. And sorting through the images once I get home is a way of protracting the travel, making the journey last just that little bit longer. My last trip was all about mixing cultures, so I have uploaded a selection of images from the 7 countries I visited into one file - all jumbled up together. You can take a look by visiting my Flickr site.
If, like me, you are always taking photographs - but are stuck for something creative to do with them all, you will like Living Art. It's a not-for-profit organisation which creates giant themed works from collaborations of professional and amateur photographers as well as national touring exhibitions. The works promote the beauty of nature and the link between art and environment. They are currently inviting contributions for The Big Picture of Natural Britain, the World's first online portrait of a natural heritage.


I'm back!

Friday 31st October, 2008
Wow. Over the last 10 weeks I've been travelling to 7 different Commonwealth countries to create a team for an Antarctic expedition next year. 800 application forms and 60 interviews later, I now have a squad of 16 very determined (and very different) women. From 19-year old Aniza, an air hostess from Brunei, to Sophia, a kick-boxing mother of 3 in Singapore, and from Charmaine, a 33-year-old New Zealand Army Doctor to Sheillah, a 24-year-old biochemistry graduate from Ghana in West Africa, the women represent an exciting mix of backgrounds and cultures that will make one awesome expedition team! You can find out more about the women and the project on the Commonwealth Women's Antarctic Expedition website.
During my travels I was also lucky to meet some tremendous adventurers including the entire Singapore Women's Everest Team; mountaineer and Guillain-Barre Syndrome survivor, David Lim; Brunei's 'First Lady Explorer', Norhayati Bakar; and the leader of the Indian Navy team that reached both poles as well as the summit of Everest, Commander Satyabrata Dam. Talking to people like this who had either already achieved their dreams or were on the brink of doing so - sometimes overcoming unimaginable obstacles along the way - is both daunting and hugely motivating but I perhaps drew even greater inspiration from the hundreds of women who wrote so honestly and so profoundly in their applications, and the many women who shared their thoughts and experiences with me during the interviews. I return from the journey more convinced than ever that the key to our future is as a global community and that although the differences between us are obvious (and wonderful), at heart we are all very much the same.


Around the World in 70 days ...

Tuesday 12th August, 2008
Tomorrow I leave on a very exciting but rather unique journey around the World. Over the next 2 months I will be visiting 7 different Commonwealth countries in order to find 7 women to join me on the Commonwealth Women's Antarctic Expedition at the end of next year. So far, the expedition has received over 800 applications through the expedition website from women in Cyprus, Ghana, India, Singapore, Brunei, New Zealand and Jamaica. I will be meeting a short list of applicants in each country. Choosing the right women is a daunting task, but at the same time I am looking forward to meeting so many ladies who share my passion for adventure. If you'd like to read more about the journey, I will be making regular updates on the expedition website over the next 70 days.
The expedition is also looking for a woman from the UK to join the team as a reserve, so if you like the idea of being a part of the project, please take a look at the expedition website at www.commonwealthexpedition.com.
My journey to find a team of women from around the Commonwealth has been funded by a 2008 Travelling Fellowship granted by the Winston Churchill Memorial Trust. The WCMT awards a limited number of Fellowships every year and applications are currently open, in several categories including Adventure, Exploration and Leaders of Expeditions, for 2009.


SWET!

Wednesday 6th August, 2008
Having completed several expeditions with all-female teams, it's always great to hear about other women doing the same. I came across the 6-member Singapore Women's Everest Team (SWET) this week and was really inspired by their attitude!
Another awesome group of ladies are the Turbulence Angels, a group of kitesurfers based in North Wales who organise All Girl Kitesurf Trips.
If you know of any other all-girl ventures, I'd love to hear about it, so please get in touch.


Face to Face

Wednesday 30th July, 2008
A fantastic new exhibition opened at the Scott Polar Research Institute in Cambridge last week. 'Face to Face: Polar Portraits' brings to light many unpublished and rediscovered images of British and International polar exploration since the 1840's. The images were revealed by the Freeze Frame project which is in the process of capturing in digital format some of SPRI's 20,000-strong archive of daguerreotypes, magic lantern slides, glass plate and cellulose negatives. The project aims to ensure the preservation and greater accessibility of this irreplaceable historical collection. The exhibition concentrates on portraiture and includes work by today's leading expedition photographer, Martin Hartley. The exhibition runs until the 13th September.
Face to Face: Polar Portraits


Talk in New Delhi, India

Friday 25th July, 2008
I've been invited to give a talk about some of my previous Polar expeditions at the British Council in New Delhi next month. The event will take place on Saturday 30th August at 6pm and is open to all. See more details on the British Council Offices, New Delhi website. The talk is to mark the selection of two Indian women to compete for a place on the Commonwealth Women's Antarctic Expedition. The names of the two women will be announced at a reception after the talk.


A drop in the Ocean

Tuesday 22nd July, 2008
This week I was reminded, once again, that the World is full of interesting stories. I was helping out on a crevasse training course on a rather soggy glacier in Kaprun, Austria, being run by three guides from the local Mountain Rescue team. On the last evening one of the guides, Tom, started talking about a project he has been running since 2004. Every year he puts together a team of volunteer doctors, drivers and mechanics from the local area who drive cars laden with supplies across the Sahara to Mauritania. The team travel around the country setting up temporary clinics to see and treat as many people as possible in the limited time they have in the country, and to facilitate proper hospital treatment for more serious cases when they can. The need is much greater than the temporary clinics can cope with. 'The longer we stay,' says Tom, 'the greater the number of people that arrive each day.' In recent years his teams have also taken medical equipment and water treatment systems discarded in Austria to the communities in Africa that they visit.
Tom's project is changing lives in a very direct way, an experience that has obviously touched him deeply but he says people often ask why he continues to put so much personal time and effort into a project that is barely scratching the surface of the problem. The project may be a drop in the ocean but can you imagine what would happen if we all found a way to contribute our own drop with such conviction? You can see pictures (and if your Austrian is any good, read more information) on the project's website : Help for Self-Help.


Thought for the day ...

Thursday 3rd July, 2008

We that acquaint our selves with every Zoane,
And pass both Tropikes and behold the Poles;
When we come home, are to our selves unknowne,
And unaquainted still with our owne Soules.

Written in 1599 by Sir John Davies


Want to go to Baikal?

Thursday 26th June, 2008
If you've seen the pictures of Lake Baikal and thought it looked incredible - you're right, it is. Sean Chapple, an experienced Polar expedition leader, is looking for people to join his expedition team on a journey across Lake Baikal in 2010. For more information take a look at his website.

[Update: Sean's 2010 Siberian Challenge expedition is now over-subscribed with applicants but he has several other opportunities available on expeditions to various Polar Regions.]


Advice for itchy feet

Friday 20th June, 2008
This week I visited Woldingham School in Surrey and was asked how to get involved in Polar expeditions. This is a great question that comes up a lot so I thought I would repeat my answer here.
The first thing to do is to get some expedition experience and there are a number of ways to do this. If you are under 25, get in touch with your local Duke of Edinburgh's Award co-ordinator (perhaps there is even a group at your school or college) and join their award expeditions to get some basic camping skills. If you are specifically interested in Polar expeditions then you can't do better than apply to join a BSES Expedition. The charity runs at least one expedition to an Arctic region during the school holidays and longer Gap Year Expeditions to the Arctic and Antarctic every year.
If you are over 25, look for a place on a commercial, guided expedition. There are several companies and guides who will train clients with no experience for an expedition to the North or South Pole but be warned - this is an expensive undertaking. Greenland is a good destination choice for your first Polar experience as you will learn real Polar skills but at a fraction of the price of an expedition to the Arctic or Antarctic. Tunu Expedition Specialists and Tangent Expeditions both offer expedition places on their websites. You should also register for the Bulletin of Expedition Vacancies compiled by Geography Outdoors at the Royal Geographical Society (RGS), who also publish an online list of expeditions you can join.
Once you have some expedition experience you might want to organise your own expedition. A great place to start is to attend Explore, the expedition and fieldwork planning seminar at the RGS, held annually in November. Not only is the weekend full of advice sessions and expert panels, it is a great place to gain confidence and inspiration.
If you are planning an expedition or looking for an expedition to join and think that I can help, please don't hesitate to get in touch - I'd be delighted to hear from you.


The tangled Web we weave ....

Thursday 12th June, 2008
Over the last week I've been spending a lot of time thinking about websites of one variety or another. Up until a year ago I was completely clueless about the apparent magic of the web beyond email attachments or buying a book on Amazon - but then I started putting together this site. It took me weeks of trial and error, wading through endless web-help pages but eventually - largely thanks to the discovery of the gloriously non-technical Page Kits produced by Elated.com - I found myself enjoying it. Now, I am totally fascinated by the wealth of possibilities out there. Unfortunately, my own web-skills are still too hit and miss to take advantage of most of it (The Twitter link on this page was a hit while the fact that there are no embedded Flickr images beneath it are evidence of an unresolved miss!) but I intend to keep learning!
Expedition websites seem particularly good at demonstrating the potential of the web, from live feeds and interactive maps to 360 degree images, allowing more communication and more sharing of experiences than ever before. One website I looked at today goes one step further and demonstrates how all this potential can be put to use. It also offers training which provides others with the skills to do the same: Digital Explorer


Expedition Leaders

Friday 6th June, 2008
Recovering in my sodden tent in a campsite in Edale (from a series of self-inflicted long days in the High Peak), it was fantastic to see the field next to me occupied by a big school group - all out on their first ever camping trip. Fantastic because so many teachers and youth leaders are being put off taking groups of young people out on trips like this. The general perception today is that there is a high risk of litigation and a large volume of paperwork. In fact, there is currently more protection for those taking young people outdoors than there has ever been before. In most cases it seems to be knowing where to start that is the problem but there is help out there.
I went straight from my tent in the Peak to a Council meeting of the Young Explorers' Trust which operates to promote youth expeditions. The Trust offers courses covering issues like insurance, safety procedures, planning and risk assessments to anyone who would like to lead a youth expedition in the future. The next Expedition Leaders Planning Course takes place in November and details can be found on the YET website.
The RGS also run similar courses aimed specifically at teachers. The Off-site Safety Management course deals with shorter outdoor activities in the UK, while the Overseas Expeditions Fieldwork Course looks at longer, more involved ventures. More details can be found on the RGS website.


Polar Challenge 2008

Wednesday 14th May, 2008
I've just returned from the Canadian Arctic after spending 6 weeks working as part of the support crew for the Polar Challenge 2008. After taking part in the race myself in 2005 it was incredible to be on the other side of the fence and to watch all of this year's competitors go through the range of emotions that the race provokes - from despair to elation. Congratulations to all those teams who battled through to the finish line - you are complete heroes.
Cajun Beans anyone?


Lake Baikal images Online

Wednesday 2nd April, 2008
Images from the Baikal 2008 expedition are now online on both the Siberian Foxes website and Felicity's Flickr site.


Leadership Workshops at Highsted Grammar School

Wednesday 2nd April, 2008
I've just spent the last two days at Highsted Grammar School in Sittingbourne and would like to say thanks to the students for taking part so wholeheartedly in the workshops - I'd take any of you on an expedition anytime!


Success!

Sunday 30th March, 2008
Felicity and Jenny are back in the UK after successfully traversing the length of Lake Baikal in south-eastern Siberia. The pair walked over 600km during 30 days on the lake. To read more about their experiences and to see some images from the expedition go to Siberian Foxes.


Foxes are Go!

Sunday 24th February, 2008
Felicity and Jenny started their journey to Lake Baikal this morning with a 10 hour flight to Irkutsk via Moscow. They'll be spending the next 5 weeks on the ice of the lake. For more information see Siberian Foxes.


Antarctica presentation at Cheltenham Ladies' College

Saturday 23rd February, 2008
Many thanks to all the Year 9 students at Cheltenham Ladies' College for giving me such a warm welcome this morning and for asking some really great questions! For those of you who asked about travelling to Antarctica in your GAP year, you can find a link to BSES Expeditions on the links page.


Siberian Foxes

Friday 22nd February, 2008
With only a few days to spare until departure, the Baikal 2008 website, Siberian Foxes, has just gone online so please take a look and let me know what you think!


Super 7

Monday 18th February, 2008
My Baikal 2008 team-mate and fellow Arctic Fox, Jenny Pugh, will be presenting a lecture about both the Arctic Fox Greenland Quest and Baikal 2008 expeditions throughout January 2009 in various venues across the UK as part of the Super 7 lecture series. For more details and to purchase tickets see the Super 7 website.


WINGS WorldQuest

Thursday 14th February, 2008
WINGS is a US-based organisation which aims to support and promote women in exploration. Each year women explorers carry WINGS WorldQuest flags all over the world on their expeditions. I'm delighted to be carrying a WINGS flag #15 on my next expedition; Baikal 2008. You can read about previous flag-carrying expeditions on the WINGS WorldQuest website.


Wilderness Award

Monday 11th February, 2008
Felicity and Jenny are chuffed to bits that Baikal 2008 is the winner of this year's Wilderness Award. Wilderness Lectures are based in Bristol and present a series of lectures each year from a variety of adventurers. They make an annual award to a project with an unusual and adventurous objective in a geographically remote wilderness area. As part of the Award, Felicity will be delivering a presentation about the expedition during next year's Wilderness Lecture Series on February 18th 2009. For more details see the Wilderness Lectures website.


Talk at Oxford University Exploration Club

Friday 8th February, 2008
Last night I gave a talk at the Oxford University Exploration Club about previous expeditions including the Arctic Foxes Greenland Quest. Thanks to Kate Harris for the invitation and to all the members I met for their welcome. Good luck with all the plans - you will get there!


Expedition Images on Flickr

Thursday 17th January, 2008
You can now see a selection of images from my previous expeditions on my Flickr site at www.flickr.com/felicityaston.