5 top animal guests on the Royal Institution’s Christmas Lectures, by Helen Scales

The Royal Institution Christmas Lectures are perhaps best known for the noisy, messy physics and chemistry experiments, performed to demonstrate aspects of cutting edge-science in front of an eager, young audience. In years when the lecturer’s chosen subject is biology – in particular the science of the natural world – these demonstrations often take on a distinctly wilder tone, as menageries of living animals are welcomed into the RI’s world famous lecture theatre.
I delved into the last century of the RI’s biological Christmas Lectures for my book 11 Explorations into Life on Earth, and here’s my pick of the most delightful, intriguing and tricky animal assistants. Read More 5 top animal guests on the Royal Institution’s Christmas Lectures, by Helen Scales

Events this autumn at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)

The Royal Geographical Society’s programme of events this autumn includes something for everyone, with a wide range of talks, discussions and exhibitions at venues across the UK. Read More Events this autumn at the Royal Geographical Society (with IBG)

Be More Adventuress this International Women’s Day

Whether it’s exploring new territories, sailing around the world, cycling across continents, or immersing themselves in a different culture, we’ve been seriously inspired by the women writers whose books have graced our shelves.

And it’s not just the writers. Since opening in 1853 we have heard some amazing stories of the adventures our female customers have been on. We even have a letter from Florence Nightingale thanking Stanfords for a mounted map. Read More Be More Adventuress this International Women’s Day

Across the Arctic Ocean photo gallery & win a Rab Kitbag

Huw Lewis Jones new book offers a fascinating insight into Wally Herbert’s Arctic adventure – PLUS there’s a chance to win a Rab Kitbag worth £90, for your own expedition! Read More Across the Arctic Ocean photo gallery & win a Rab Kitbag

Stanfords announces line-up for Stanfords Travel Writers Festival


Stanfords is delighted to announce that Kate Adie, Simon Armitage, Ned Boulting, Frank Gardner, Tristram Hunt, Griff Rhys Jones, Tim Moore, Richard Parks, Simon Reeve, Chris Stewart and Levison Wood will headline a superb array of talented authors at the Stanfords Travel Writers Festival 2015.

The festival will be held in a purpose built auditorium at the Destinations Show 2015, and will be a unique opportunity for visitors to meet well known explorers, adventurers, food writers, poets, TV presenters, journalists, politicians, and comedians.

Alongside the auditorium there will be a ‘Signings At Stanfords’ shop where visitors will be able to purchase copies of the author’s books and have them personally signed and dedicated.  The signing area will be complimented by the Stanfords Shop selling guidebooks, travel literature and accessories.

Stanfords Managing Director, Tony Maher, said: “We are delighted to present such a prodigious array of authors at the first ever Stanfords Travel Writers Festival.  I would especially like to thank Jo James for her energy and input, publishers for their show of support, and Clarion Events for their continued help in making this dream become a reality. The programme line-up ensures that the festival will be a huge draw for travel connoisseurs and enthusiasts alike and will further underline Stanfords’ position as the market leader in the retail of travel books, maps and related product”.

Jo James, who is working with Stanfords to develop the programme and look after authors during the event said: “I’m delighted by the amazing response and support from publishers, and of course our experts and speakers. The Writers Festival will be the big attraction for visitors at Destinations 2015, promising a jam-packed programme of travel writing talent”.

Sam North, Show Director, Destinations Show, said: “The line-up for the Stanfords Travel Writers Festival is truly fantastic and will provide show visitors with a unique insight in to the authors stories, experiences and expertise. We are incredibly proud to be hosting the Festival at Destinations, the UK’s number one consumer travel event and look forward to welcoming the authors to the show”.

Further announcements will be made on the Destinations Show Website. The current line-up of speakers at the Stanfords Travel Writers Festival is available to view at http://destinationsshow.com/london/stanfords-festival-line-up

Entrance to the Travel Writers Festival is included in the ticket price for Destinations.

About Stanfords

Edward Stanford Limited was founded in 1853 and located at Charing Cross Road in London. In 1901 the Company moved to its current flagship location in Long Acre, Covent Garden.

Famed throughout the World as a publisher of maps, Stanfords expanded into retail following the move to Covent Garden. To this day Stanfords stocks the largest range of maps in the World, as well as travel guides, a large selection of globes and furniture, and other travel related product. It has a further shop in Bristol, a website and a specialist Business Mapping Service based in Manchester. Edward Stanford Limited is a wholly owned subsidiary of Edward Stanford Group Limited.

Read more about Stanfords at www.stanfords.co.uk/The-History-of-Stanfords.htm  

About Destinations: The Holiday & Travel Show

The Times presents Destinations: The Holiday & Travel Show, Olympia London, is the UK’s biggest and longest running consumer travel exhibition, due to celebrate its 21st year in 2015. Organised by Clarion Events and with over 300 exhibitors and more than 37,000 visitors attending, the show is the perfect place for those passionate about travel to indulge themselves, be inspired and book their next holiday. The show’s sister-event, held in Manchester each January, is the North’s biggest travel show and will be held for the 4th year in 2015 at EventCity.

Stanfords Travel Writers Festival – Essential Information:

Taking place within Destinations: The Holiday & Travel Show

Dates: 29th January – 1st February 2015

Venue: Olympia Grand, Olympia London Hammersmith Road, London, W14 8UX

Open times: 10.00am – 5.30pm every day

Ticket price: Entry is included in the ticket price for the Destinations Show

      Advance Adult Ticket: £11

      On-the-door Adult Ticket: £13

      Children under 12 go free when accompanied by an adult ticket-holder

Festival information: http://www.destinationsshow.com/london/stanfords-travel-writers-festival-new

Festival line-up: http://destinationsshow.com/london/stanfords-festival-line-up

Destinations Show website: http://destinationsshow.com/london/

Stanfords website: http://www.stanfords.co.uk/



Steve McCurry Untold: The Stories Behind the Photographs

We were delighted to have a visit today from world reknowned photojournalist Steve McCurry. Steve called into our Long Acre store this afternoon to sign copies of his latest book ‘Steve McCurry Untold: The Stories Behind the Photographs‘. Buy your signed copy today!

For the first time,we hear the stories behind over 200 images taken by McCurry over the past 30 years from across the globe.

In the finest documentary tradition, Steve McCurry Untold includes never before seen ephemera from McCurry’s personal archive, including beautifully reproduced snapshots from assignments, notes, journals, portraits, maps and more. This is the most personal book that McCurry has ever published, and offers a unique insight into photojournalism sure to fascinate any aspiring or experienced photographer. Read More Steve McCurry Untold: The Stories Behind the Photographs

Adventures Start at Stanfords – Competition!

Share your greatest adventure with us to be in with a chance to win 1 of 4 Stanfords vouchers for £50.

With 160 years of experience behind us we’ve seen some epic adventures start here at Stanfords. Great explorers like Ranulph Fiennes, Amy Johnson, David Livingstone, Michael Palin, Captain Robert Falcon Scott and Ernest Shackleton have started some of their most incredible journeys with a trip to our Long Acre store. We are proud to have supplied them with the maps they needed to make history but we’re equally delighted to have guided so many of our other customers around the globe many times over the past 160 years. Read More Adventures Start at Stanfords – Competition!

Interview: Michael Palin on Brazil

Michael Palin BrazilHe’s trekked to the North and South Poles, traversed the Sahara Desert and climbed the Himalayas. But despite visiting all seven continents, there was one glaring omission on Michael Palin’s visited-countries map: Brazil. So why had it slipped through the net for so long?

“I can’t think how I managed to miss the fifth-biggest country in the world,” Michael says, “and I wasn’t really planning to do another series after New Europe. We’d done all seven continents and thought that was a fair place to stop. But then everybody started talking about Brazil, partly because the World Cup is going to be there in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016, then there’s the huge economic boom that has put its economy above the UK’s.”

Brazil was fast becoming one of the most talked-about countries in the world, but what provided the spark for the comedian-turned-explorer’s latest trip, one that would inspire a book and a four-part BBC TV series? Read More Interview: Michael Palin on Brazil

Cricket on Everest: Alan Curr's World Record-Setting Himalayan Adventure

Cricket on EverestFour years ago, Alan Curr was a man on a mission. His goal? To play the world’s highest ever game of cricket on the slopes of Mount Everest. A plan that started over a beer quickly turned into record-setting adventure…

In 2006, Alan Curr’s friend Richard Kirtley completed the Everest Base Camp trek. Coming from a cricket family – his cousin played for England – he noticed a frozen lake bed during the climb and immediately visualised the world’s highest game of cricket. On his return, he pitched his thoughts to Alan.

“I loved the idea, and by 2008 we had put it out to as many people as we could, with the idea of starting in April 2009,” Alan explained.

Despite the eccentricity of the itinerary, the pair attracted an impressive 85 applicants, much to their surprise.

“It was a really mixed bag; generally we had a group of people in their 20s who wanted to go out and do something interesting. We took 50 people in total, many of whom didn’t know each other beforehand.

“Our youngest was 23; the oldest 37 or 38. We had guys who are married – one whose wife was pregnant, another who changed the date of his wedding. We had nine girls, insurance workers, teachers, and a number who were made redundant during the preparation.”

A key part of the group, Alan said, were the ‘trektators’ – girls who completed the trek but didn’t take part in the game, who he described as “the best fundraisers of the lot”.

After 18 months’ planning with Richard and Gareth Wesley, another friend – which included sponsorship deals with Nokia and Qatar Airlines – the party of 50 was ready to travel to Nepal to begin their Everest ascent, but things hadn’t all been plain sailing.

Cricket on Everest book“When we started, Nepal was still a monarchy. It only became a democracy in 2008,” Alan added. “Myself and Richard went there in the winter of 2008-09 to meet ministers and begin laying the foundations for the trip – we were coming up against a fair amount of opposition, and we were worried about being denied access.”

Fortunately, permission was eventually granted – but the pair decided to keep their bureaucratic wrangling from the rest of the group, just in case it affected morale during the build up.

While completing an Everest Base Camp trek is an achievement in itself, Alan said he didn’t want the focus to detract from the task at hand: a fully-recognised, Guinness World Records-approved cricket match.

“We had to take up our own pitch, we all wore helmets and we used proper bats and balls,” Alan explained.

“We had coloured uniforms made up by one of our sponsors, which all needed to be carried up. On top of that, we had to measure out the outfield and put up a scoreboard.

“Because we were worried that not everyone would make it, we took playing squads of 15 – four people from each side had to be left out on match day, which added incentive and motivation in the build up to make sure people contributed.”

When it came to picking the teams, Alan said it was a fine balance between making them competitive and trying to ensure tensions didn’t boil over. Two brothers were part of the group, and they were put on separate sides to ensure that competitive edge.

“We played a 20-20 match, which was the shortest we could do to constitute a match. Any longer would have been really hard work – the guys were struggling bowling and fielding because it was so competitive. It ended up being 120-odd against 130-odd, which made it more legitimate rather than a damp squib.”

But Alan was worried that the match might never go ahead – when the teams arrived, the weather was beautiful and clear. But on matchday, he woke up to a ground covered in mist. Fortunately, it cleared by 08:30 – just 45 minutes before the match’s scheduled start.

The game attracted a fair amount of media attention, with the 50-strong group accompanied on the climb by an ITV journalist, who sent back daily reports to London Tonight.

Cricket on EverestWhat became officially the world’s highest cricket match raised approximately £100,000 for charity, which was split between the Himalayan Trust and the Lord’s Taverners. All the group’s cricket equipment was donated on their Everest descent.

So what does Alan make of his achievement?

“What I liked about the cricket idea is that it’s such a hospitable game, quaint in nature, and we took it to the most inhospitable place we could think of,” he said.

“We were in the shadow of Everest with landslides happening and yaks running around. The grey shale landscape looked like the moon.

“What I want Cricket on Everest to show people is that anyone can do something like this. We decided to take an idea, run with it and make it happen.”

Alan will be appearing at Stanfords Covent Garden on Thursday 18th October at 18:30 to talk about his world record-setting achievement. Please see our events page for more information.

You can buy Cricket on Everest by clicking here.