What an honour to get to give a TEDx talk! This was a really exciting event, and particularly as it also fell on International Women’s Day (it was a busy day – Downside in the morning and TEDx in the afternoon).

I was hugely nervous before it. I think I’d built up the idea of ‘TED’ and how the talk needed to be in my head, after watching ‘classic’ polished TED talks. I fretted and worried in the lead up to it, but found I was able to relax into it on the day. I saw the variety of talks that people were giving, and realised that there is no ‘one’ way of giving a TEDx talk. Mine was just my version.

The title of my talk was ‘Why row 2,400 miles across the Pacific Ocean, alone?’ I’d decided to focus on that question that I get asked the most – why? – and this was a really fruitful way into attempting to convey why I am determined to do this slightly crazy thing.

Check out the video if you’d like to see what I said!

Downside School

International Women’s Day falls on the 8th March every year, and has been observed in some form for over 100 years.

I was invited to speak at Downside School to mark International Women’s Day. I was in the distinguished company of author Maria Farrer and academic Dr Bruna Gushurst-Moore – who both gave really thought-provoking talks.

Yet again, the questions at the end of my talk were what really made it for me, and I was pleased to have a real range of thoughtful questions.

I also ran into an old friend from university who is now working at Downside, which was a lovely surprise in a very busy day!

Oxford and Cambridge Explorer’s Evening

The inaugural Oxford and Cambridge Explorer’s Evening was held in an upstairs room at St Hilda’s College, Oxford, overlooking the river. I was lucky enough to be the warm-up act for renowned Arctic explorer Pen Hadow – it was amazing to be invited to speak alongside him.

Listening to Pen speak, I was able to reflect on my preparations for the challenge, particularly the aspects that are relevant to the solo adventurer. I spent a good long while chatting to him about it afterwards, and came away with more ideas about how to prepare my mind for the challenge to come. Next step – booking a couple of sessions with a sports psychologist.

Sea Survival

After completing my Sea Survival RYA course last Sunday, I’m now fully qualified for the ocean row. The timing couldn’t be better, as I’m picking up my boat this coming weekend, and also today hit the ‘100 days to go until race start’ marker.

Fewer people are inclined to spend the day learning how to survive in a small, wet life raft during the winter months, which means that we were a very small group in the Training Room of Greenwich Yacht Club on Sunday. The morning was theory based, and ranged from what to keep in an Emergency Grab Bag to why one might start to crave fish eyes (Vitamin C), while the afternoon was about getting into the pool and going over all the practical steps.  It was great for me, as I was able to ask lots of questions, and have a go at dealing with the life raft by myself.


You only get 2 of these a day on a life raft!
You only get 2 of these a day on a life raft!

Much of the focus of the morning was on how to avoid things going wrong in the first place, and how to be best prepared for anything that does go wrong. Although the afternoon that we spent in the pool was fun, I definitely want to avoid ending up in a life raft in the middle of the Pacific – they are pretty unstable and uncomfortable.  Hawaii is by far the preferred option!

Paddling a life raft is slow...
Paddling a life raft is slow…
Getting an unconscious person out of the water
Getting an unconscious person out of the water
How to await helicopter rescue
How to await helicopter rescue


Thank you so much to Nigel of Laminar Sails (Greenwich Yacht Club), who sponsored me through this course, and who was a dynamic, patient and downright excellent course tutor!

life jacket

Churchill Academy and Sixth Form

On Wednesday 12th February I spent a brilliant afternoon at Churchill Academy. I spoke at the Year 12 assembly about the challenge, and fielded some really interesting and thoughtful questions.

My visit made it into the school newsletter, and I look forward to staying in touch with them and hopefully visiting again.


Big thank you to everyone at Churchill Academy!

VIP Launch Event

What an evening!

Last Tuesday (28th) we held the VIP Launch Event at MShed in Bristol. Local business people, core team members and sponsors were there, all to hear a bit more about the challenge and the reasons for doing it.

The last few weeks and days leading up to this were frantic – emails flew around, plans changed and changed again, the guest list grew, and talks were prepared. I tried to think about what people would be interested in hearing, and who might be best to talk about all the different areas.

We had a group of fantastic speakers in the end, each bringing something very different to the table:

– Chris Martin, Race Director, New Ocean Wave
– Jo Ruxton, Founder, Plastic Oceans
– Justin Adkin, Boatbuilder, Sea Sabre
– Judith Squires, Pro Vice-Chancellor, University of Bristol
– George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol
– (and me)

The whole evening was a bit of a whirlwind for me. I spoke to lots of different people and felt like I never quite had the chance to speak to anyone. At one point there was a photographer from the Bristol Post; I stood outside in the cold to be photographed with the lights from the city behind me, looking in on the event suite at MShed, and feeling thoroughly grateful to everyone who was in there helping to prepare the event. I had amazing support from a whole lot of people who voluntarily gave up their time to make this event work, from photographers to speakers, those who prepared name badges and those who wore them.  Thank you everyone!

It was a brilliant evening, and I look forward to seeing where it takes us, particularly following the Mayor’s challenge to the business community to get behind the row in the run-up to Bristol as European Green Capital in 2015.


Before the kick-off. Courtesy Guthrie Freeman
Before the kick-off.
Courtesy Guthrie Freeman
Courtesy the Bristol Post
Courtesy the Bristol Post
Me with the Mayor of Bristol. Courtesy the Bristol Post
Me with the Mayor of Bristol.
Courtesy the Bristol Post
Me with my most recent sponsors: Richard from Excalibur Communications, me, and Judith and David from the University of Bristol. Courtesy Guthrie Freeman
Me with my most recent sponsors: Richard from Excalibur Communications, me, and Judith and David from the University of Bristol.
Courtesy Guthrie Freeman


Adventure Travel Show

I spent last weekend at the Adventure Travel Show in London, helping out on Dave Cornthwaite’s Say Yes More stand. Everyone on the stand – Luke, Louis, and Dave himself – was lovely, and the atmosphere there was a great mixture of relaxed and proactive.

Dave Cornthwaite has hit on a project that I’m pretty envious of – he is part of the way through undertaking 25 journeys using non-motorised transport of at least 1,000 miles each. He is also the founder of Say Yes More – like it says on the box: live life with passion and a positive attitude.


I chatted to a lot of different people over the two days, and was pretty chuffed to catch Sir Ranulph Fiennes speaking – I don’t think I’ve ever heard so many crazy and difficult experiences packed into one hour before! I was also excited to meet explorer David Hempleman Adams – by a strange coincidence I had just been listening to his Desert Island Discs a couple of days before, and it felt slightly unreal to then be meeting him in person so soon.

West of England Winter School Games

A few months ago I was asked by Wesport CEO Steve Nelson if I would present at the Opening Ceremony of the West of England Winter School Games on Friday 24th January. The School Games are held in forty five different regions across the UK twice a year, and bring together hundreds of young people at each event. The games are inclusive, and range from gymnastics to boccia, from indoor rowing to sitting volleyball. It was a real privilege to be asked to speak, and it felt great to be doing something purposeful that was not focused on fundraising for the row for a change.

I showed a short video about the row and the preparation that I am doing for it. Then I spoke about my background in sport and expeditions, and how I got into rowing, before finishing up with some questions, including where my inspiration comes from and how I deal with the idea of failure.

After speaking, I spent the morning seeing the different games that were being played, and talking to teachers and pupils. There was so much enthusiasm, and I really look forward to speaking to more young people in the coming months. For any teachers or parents reading this, I’m really interested in coming to talk at more schools – take a look at my talks page for more information.

Thanks again everyone!

New Video!

Hello everyone,

It’s been a long time coming, but we finally have a video about the row – my preparations for it and the cause that I’m rowing for. Hopefully this will make it more real for everyone. I’m really excited about it, and want to say a big thanks to Guthrie Freeman for all the filming and editing – there would be no video without him.

Please do watch and share as widely as possible.


Thank you! 🙂