My aim is to travel from the UK to Brisbane for one of my best friends' wedding. Plane travel is so environmentally damaging so I am looking for another way. I also think that by travelling over land and sea I will be able to understand our world better as I will connect with the people and landscapes and not just look at the departure board in the airport. Any tips gratefully received!! Departure date 1st September.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

World Refugee Day - June 17th

Out in the wilds of west Wales, where we have actually been suffering a drought of our very own (no water coming out of the taps at our off-grid hilltop farm), it is sometimes hard to remember there are millions of people worldwide whose lives are acutely threatened by drought on a daily basis.

ABC News reported on a day of events that aimed to draw attention to the issues of water resources in Africa, which some argue is directly increasing the number of refugees worldwide.

The former Portuguese prime minister, Antonio Guterres, is now the UN's High Commissioner for refugees.

He says climate change is an ever-growing problem, fueling conflict and thus indirectly fueling the growth in refugee numbers, as in the case of Darfur.

"There is an increased competition for water resources. We need a political solution for Darfur, but that solution will not be stable, if at the same time we don't solve the underlying problems of dwindling water resources.

"What climate change is doing is in many circumstances reducing resources, increasing the competition for resources and because of that, triggering or amplifying conflicts."

UNHCR, the United Nations Refugee Agency set up a refugee camp in Trafalgar Square yesterday to draw attention to the scale of this humanitarian issue, which is happening now, people are suffering now because of climate change.

For now I can collect water from elsewhere, but for others there is nowhere else to go for this life-giving liquid. In the greedy 'West' our actions are already severely affecting the lives of our fellow humans. When are we going to stop being selfish and cut our emissions?

Thanks to cayusa on flickr for photo of water drop

Tuesday, June 03, 2008

Hay Festival

So finally I have to own up to it. I feel guilty for keeping quiet so long. For the last year since returning to Wales I have been writing a book about my travels to Brisbane. It has been a wonderful experience with much heartache and debate with myself over whether this was the right thing to do as well as how on earth do I write a book!? But I have done it, I have written it and my book is due out in January 2009!!

So I decided to take a trip to the Hay Festival to see what I could discover about the literary world.

I knew from my previous cycle travels that Hay was only 81 miles away from Machynlleth, on Lon Las Cymru, the National Cycle Route 8. In fact it is about 5 miles from route 8 as just before it hits England it sensibly dives back into the Brecon Beacons National Park.

I miraculously missed the rain and the mud and cycled this stunning route in 9 1/2 hours over two days and arrived, pitched my tent just as the next lot of rain fell on the festival.

Hay was an interesting experience. There were a lot of talks from an amazing range famous and less well known writers. This year I was pleased to see there was a strong 'Green' theme as Hay seems to be taking sustainability issues seriously. On a pauper writer's budget I was only able to see a few talks. 'A Women's Guide to Changing the World' was a discussion based on a book by Karen Eberhardt, who presented the talk with Clare Short and Elaine Brook (one absent contributor was my friend and colleague Tanya Hawkes who wrote a piece about Cuba for this wonderful book). It was an re-inspiring hour and I was impressed by the high turn out, so high they had to change the venue! And it was not just women, there were lots of men there all ready to do their bit.

I also went to see ecological writer Rory Spowers give his slideshow of his 'Bio-versity' project in Sri Lanka. It was interesting to see what he had done but I preferred the more native discussion 'Trust the Woodland' which was hosted by Clive Anderson. He led an interesting and humourous talkshow style discussion about Trees, along with Monty Don and Will Cohu.

I think Hay is ready for more ecological tales and hopefully is ready for me and my book and I hope to be back, with my bike and my book, next year......