Where is Felicity right now...?

Svalbard and Franz Josef Land

In mid-June I sailed from Reykjavik, travelling north from Iceland to Svalbard and Franz Josef Land. On our way northwards across the Norwegian Sea we stopped at Jan Mayen. This little island (no more than a volcano poking out of the waves) has always intrigued me when I've seen it on the map, so I was really pleased to visit the small science station there and see a little of the island.

Both Svalbard and Franz Josef Land were full of bears - we even saw eight bears on one hillside! Normally, this would be bad news as it means they have been left behind when the ice retreated northwards in the spring - but all the bears we saw looked fat and healthy.

It was a real privilege to be able to return to Franz Josef Land. The archipelago was as magical as I remembered it. I particularly love the walrus in all their snorting, belching, noxious smelling, gloriously ugly marvellousness!

Looking for Gold in the Yukon

Photo: Ryan Atkinson

Just back from the best part of a month in the Yukon looking for Klondike gold as part of a new BBC History series. We had lots of fun and I think I might have been left with a little gold fever for life - but I won't be sorry not to eat another chocolate bar or bag of peanuts for a while...

Sailing the China Seas

I was given the opportunity to be a speaker aboard a ship making a three-week voyage around the China Seas throughout March from Hong Kong and Shanghai to South Korea, Japan and Taiwan. This was the first time I had travelled to this part of the world and it was a revelation. South Korea and Japan have completely captured my imagination and I am anxious to find a reason to return and do some proper exploring!

Exhibition Opening in Reykjavik

Thanks to everyone who came along to the opening night of our exhibition 'Pole of Cold: What does winter mean to you?' in Arctic Trucks, Reykjavik yesterday. It was a wonderful turn out and a lovely evening with chocolates, prosecco and a Land Rover! The exhibition features images, sounds and objects from our journey to the coldest inhabited place in the world in 2013/14. It will be open to the public in the Arctic Trucks showroom until Friday 4th March - so if you are passing, please do pop in for a look!


Becoming an honorary Doctor

On Friday I was very privileged to attend a wonderful ceremony in the magnificent Canterbury Cathedral to receive an Honorary Doctorate from Canterbury Christ Church University, awarded by its Chancellor, The Archbishop of Canterbury. I was particularly touched when Vice-Chancellor Rama Thirunamachandran explained that it was the values behind my projects and expeditions that had led to the recognition from the University. I am very proud of that. It was also inspiring to be among so many graduates setting out on a new journey in their lives - thank you for sharing your day with me!


Speaking in Scotland

I spent last week on a mini speaking tour of Scotland, presenting talks about the Pole of Cold Expedition to Inverness, Perth and Bridge of Allan (Stirling) as part of the Royal Scottish Geographical Society's 'Inspiring People' series. We had a fantastic turnout, including sell-out audiences in Inverness and Perth (where we had to find extra seats for the 250 strong audience!) so thanks to everyone that came along. I was also delighted to speak to BBC Alba who reported on my talk in Inverness for the daily 'An La' news show. Appropriately for a talk about extreme cold, my final talk in Bridge of Allan ended with the snow falling outside - lovely to see Scotland looking so beautifully frosty.

Launching a new expedition!

I am looking for women from across Europe and the Middle East to be a part of an international team to ski the last degree to the North Pole in April 2017. The expedition will face many physical challenges – temperatures down to -40°C, polar bears and shifting pack ice - but the core purpose of the expedition is to foster greater dialogue and understanding between women from Western and Arabian cultures. In addition, the expedition will work to inspire all women to reach beyond the expectation of others to fulfill their own ultimate life ambitions.

Any woman of any age and level of experience who is a national and/or resident of any European or Arabian country is welcome to apply.

More information and the online application form can be found on this website here

Women's Adventure Expo

The inaugural WAE was held in Bristol. I was invited to speak and later sat on a general exploration panel alongside Arita Baijens, Ann Daniels, Lois Pryce and Rosie Stancer. It was a fantastic day overflowing with inspiration and enthusiasm. Congratulations to Tania and Rebecca who put together an impressive programme and an event with integrity. Here's to lots more!

Explore 2015

Explore! is the annual expedition and fieldwork planning seminar held over a weekend every November at the Royal Geographical Society in London. It brings together experts from a wide range of fields to share projects past and present, network, spark ideas, inspire and inform. There are panels that specialise in travel across deserts or the polar regions, sessions that are dedicated to travel by cycle or by vehicle, lectures on medical health, risk assessment and nutrition, as well as workshops on elements such as writing, filming and field research.

My first Explore! was more than a decade ago and every time I am invited back to speak or sit on a panel, I come away invigorated to start work on a new project. It is also pretty much the only occasion that brings together many of us expedition-types, so it is a much-valued opportunity to catch up with friends old and new.

This year, as well as sitting on the Polar Panel with Ben Saunders (awesome to hear from him about his recent epic across Antarctica), we were also both asked to be a 'dragon' on an expedition-dragon's den alongside Emily Penn, Neil Laughton, James Borrell, Dave Cornthwaite and Andrew Harper. Lots of fun and, I hope, a useful session for those that presented. See! We're not so scary!!

Krasnoyarsk, Siberia

I was in Krasnoyarsk, one of the largest Siberian cities, for a little while this month and took the opportunity to visit the Regional Museum which has one of the best ethnographic collections in Siberia. There were some good displays on a variety of the ethnic groups across Arctic Asia including Yakut, Ents, Evenki, Dolgan and Ket, with a special section dedicated to shaman.

I was particularly interested because I have been invited to guest curate a brand new exhibition about Arctic peoples that will be based around the Pole of Cold expedition. The new exhibition is due to open in late 2016 but the development work has already begun. I see myself as a story-teller, so this new creative challenge feels like a wonderful new extension of that. Whether through books, talks or exhibitions, it is sharing stories in brilliant new ways that I find exciting. 

Women of the Year lunch 2015

Yesterday I was invited to join the 2015 Women of the Year lunch - an annual event held by the Women of the Year Foundation to highlight the achievements and struggles of women in all sections of society and across all industries.

The room was full of so many incredible women, all of whom have excelled in their own fields, such as Wing Commander Nikki Thomas (first woman to command an RAF fast jet squadron), politician Shirley Williams, actress Nicole Kidman, Reverend Libby Lane (first female Church of England bishop) and, one of my personal heroines, Joy Lofthouse who flew Spitfires during WWII.

Among the award winners was Dame Stephanie Shirley who started her own software company in 1962 which became a vast concern valued at £1.2 billion by the time she retired. Calling herself 'Steve' at first in order to be taken seriously, she made a point of only employing women in her company - right up until the Gender Equlity Act of 1975 forced her to do otherwise.

But the story that struck me most was that of another award winner, Dame Jocelyn Bell Burnell. In 1967 she discovered a new type of star - a Pulsar - but despite the importance of this discovery it was her male colleagues that were awarded Nobel Prizes. In her acceptance speech she said, 'The world is unfair but it is how we respond to that unfairness that is important.'

Chasing the Lights to Greenland

It didn't take me long to get back on the sea. This time aboard the M/V Sea Spirit as it sailed from northern Iceland to East Greenland and back. I was on board as a lecturer talking about aurora, vikings and polar exploration as we nudged through close pack ice in the Franz Josef Fjord and Scoresby Sund fjord systems - some of the biggest by area in the world.

Summer at the North Pole!

I've just returned from a summer on board the 50-Let-Pobedy (50 Years of Victory), a Russian nuclear powered icebreaker and the most powerful icebreaker in the world. We made four trips across the Arctic Ocean to the North Pole from Murmansk. The ship will now return to its normal icebreaking duties, keeping shipping moving along the north-east passage throughout the winter.

The world's icebreaker fleet will only grow in importance in the decades to come, so I valued the opportunity to experience what they do for myself. I was also fortunate to take part in a new Arctic Ocean Sea Ice Research Project run by Alex Cowan and Lauren Farmer (www.polarcollective.org) which has the potential to set a new and important standard practice for Citizen Science in the Arctic.

Images and film clips from the journey are shared on my Facebook page if you would like to take a look.

Investiture at Buckingham Palace

An incredible day with my family at Buckingham Palace in London to receive HM The Queen's Polar Medal and an MBE for services to Polar Exploration. I felt both incredibly proud and extremely humble to be surrounded by so many people who have done such amazing things.

The investiture was carried out by HRH Prince Charles and I found the day surprisingly emotional. Huge thanks to everyone who nominated me. I am one very happy Polar Explorer!

'Call of the White' film on DVD

Back in 2011 we made a film about the 2009 Kaspersky Lab Commonwealth Antarctic Expedition. The film was a finalist in the 2011 Banff Mountain Film Festival and made the official selection at a number of other film festivals around the world. It has been broadcast in 5 countries and is now available on DVD. If you would like a copy please order one through the shop.