I have been travelling the world by boat with my partner, Jamie, since 2005. At the time of writing, we’ve made it from Turkey to Thailand. It’s a slow boat.
About this website
This site is about travel and writing.
If you are looking for an advertisement-fuelled, SEO-grabbing, patronising list of all the fantastic countries I visit and you can’t, you’re in the wrong place. If you are impressed by the number of passport stamps a person has, this website is not for you. If you like crazy-kinda-guy-adrenaline-junkie-lust-for-life type blogs, this probably won’t do it for you either.
But if stories about people and cultures interest you, this might be the right place. If you prefer to read uncluttered pages with images that don’t include the author gurning at the camera, you’ll feel right at home (I promise the pictures on this page are the only ones you’ll find of me). And if good writing is important to you, jump right in.
Of course, there are a few lively pieces. You don’t sail a yacht across the world’s oceans without a few mishaps and adventures.
My earliest travel memories include learning to ski in Norway in the days of wooden skis and leather boots, and paddling in the sea in Torremolinos when it was still a coastal village. In the late 60s my Dad’s job took the family on a trip behind the Iron Curtain, which was my first culture shock. No Coca Cola? No advertising hoardings? No fish fingers? Since then I have travelled for work and pleasure. But have still not managed to cross the equator.
Winning a story-writing prize at school, aged seven, was a pivotal moment. I don’t remember much about the subject other than it had something to do with woods and a little girl, but I do remember that it was a page long, an achievement of stellar proportions in my south London classroom. The orange lipstick worn by Mrs Billings, my teacher, as she handed me first prize (a striped pencil with a rubber on the end) still sticks. It took forty years before I entered another competition and rekindled a desire to write.
Mum and Dad are my biggest travel influences, Dad instilling a love of antiquities and Mum a passion for the natural world. Journeying is always exciting, but it is the people I have encountered along the way who have formed my most cherished travel memories.
Columnist and contributor: Wanderlust Magazine
In 2011 I began contributing articles to Wanderlust Magazine’s website. More recently I was a guest columnist in three editions of the printed magazine. Filled with information about all the destinations you could ever want to discover, Wanderlust’s website has an excellent readers’ page for aspiring writers to showcase their work. If you share travel writing ambitions, have a look at my 10 tips on how to write for a travel magazine.
Writer and contributor: Sailing Today
When Jamie and I completed the Vasco da Gama rally from Turkey to India, I pitched an article to Sailing Today about our six month passage. The editor was interested in the idea, but could I guarantee good quality images along with engaging text? I knew Jamie’s photographs would be fantastic, but since this was my first professional writing assignment wondered if I could deliver. In the end we sold a series of six articles to the magazine for that first commission. There have been quite a few more since then.
About the Itinerant Writers Club
After a visit with Jamie’s aunt to her creative fiction class in the UK, I searched for a web-based writing group. All I discovered were expensive writing courses and wild promises of making money through travel writing (we all know that’s a lie). So I started an online travel workshop, and the Itinerant Writers Club was launched in 2011.
The club continues to grow in size, producing some award-winning writing along the way. Six members feature in the Writers Abroad anthology, Foreign Encounters. In 2014 two members made it to the final six of the Bradt/Independent travel writing competition, two were highly commended, one was commended, one made it to the ‘best of the short/longlist’ and one made it to the final 25. That’s seven members in the top 25. The two in the final six came first and second overall. Not bad for a self-help web-based group.
The club makes Wanderlust magazine’s “Top 18 travel blogs you must read” list.
About The Itinerant
A quarterly magazine to showcase work from the Itinerant Writers Club and other new voices. No top ten thises and thats, the stories are all real experiences from travellers on the road. First issue coming out September 2014.
About writing competitions
When I started to write, I thought entering travel writing competitions would be a way to test if I was any good. A few unsuccessful attempts with the Daily Telegraph later, I re-read the winning pieces, cleaned up my prose and won in 2010. Then again in 2011 and 2012. The Bradt/Independent travel writing competition produces great work. In 2011 I entered. To my astonishment I reached the final. I didn’t win, but one of the judges told me my piece was the best, I promised never to name her. I’ve won or been short-listed in a few competitions like the Guardian, Daily Mail, Walkopedia, Mountain Council of Scotland, Sheldrake Publishing and others. I’ve come nowhere in many more.
Entering writing competitions can be a tough way to improve writing skills. If you win you know you are doing something right; if you lose it’s easy to feel bruised. Reaching the final can be a game of chance, a decision pulled out of a hat or made by a caffeine-fuelled PR girl in her lunch break. Reading winning pieces is a useful way to understand what makes a successful entry. Make sure you only enter legitimate contests, usually those which don’t require an entry fee.
Of course, if you are serious about improving, then join a writing group!