Interview With Al Humphries

Think adventure involves a passport, re mortgaging or explaining over the sound of their laughter to your boss just precisely why you need 6 months off to ‘find yourself’ in India?

Sounds like you need a microadventure instead.

Al Humphries first came to our attention after he gave a talk about his cycling tour. By tour- we mean around the world. Which took 4 years.

Al finds a friend who can keep up with his adventures

So obviously, we knew he wasn’t sane. But then he took 2011 as the year of the microadventure and decided to walk the M25.

“The basic rule was we had to walk where we could hear it. It took us through towns. Some beautiful places, some less beautiful ones!” Explains Al. “It took a week and we slept as we went. It was to make a point really, the M25 is a bit of a symbol of everything that’s wrong with modern life, so to find adventure and beauty in it was proof that you can do a microadventure anywhere.”

So what is the aim of microadventure? And what is acceptable as an ‘adventure’?

“I didn’t want to write a list of microadventures and have people copying what I did, adventure is personal. So mine might be a bit more flexible, but it could be anything. Sleeping in the wild instead of going home after work. Just having a bit of adventure in your life and not putting it back for another time- living for now. On my blog I’ve suggested river swimming, bivvying, camping out, entering a race, biking or just getting a  map and starting to walk. ”

So what is your background? Or how did you get into this?

After graduating from university I decided that I wanted to have a job out of no job, that is going on expeditions, talking at schools and lecturing, blogging. Social community is such a huge love of mine and the blog keeps me really happy and of course I manage to get about travelling and adventuring. I also write books on all my adventures which you can buy here.

Putting the M25 on the map..

What is your ‘specialist subject’ or passion? Obviously you were on a bike for a long time when you went around the world…

I was pretty much done with cycling after that! I’m a jack of all trades. I love pack rafting which is basically a dinghy for grown ups, you can just inflate in up and it’s a tough thing – I took one of those and crossed Iceland, the Marathon de Sables…I’ve done all sorts really but as I say this year was dedicated to staying in the UK with an aim of 12 microadventures.

Have you done them all?

I have done 10. I was saving the others to be done in a really grizzly, cold British Winter.

You’re either brave or mad.

I’m actually a bit of a wimp. I wouldn’t do  bungee jump for instance.

We saw this you wrote about yourself on your blog. 

“To my immodest glee a newspaper in Cape Town had labelled me an ‘intrepid young British adventurer.’ But on that first night at sea I was brought brutally back down to size as I hung over the side of the boat retching my guts out. Lasagne (“how on earth did I manage to fit so much inside myself?” I marvelled) reappeared with gusto, my eyes streamed and the damnable prospect of three weeks of this awfulness added to my misery. In my cycling clothes and shoes I was soaking wet and cold. Pride comes before a hurl.”

You must just have the skill of endurance rather than sea legs or the adrenaline bug! What sort of gear do you have with you at all times as an ‘intrepid young British adventurer’?

A thermarest. I think I’m getting a bit too old to have a bad night’s sleep!

Where do you live, and do you get out locally?

Well I live in Kent In Graves End so there’s not much adventure on my doorstep – but that’s where I practise what I preach, I get in the car or onto the train, and just get out for a weekend or an evening in the wild for an adventure to refresh my spirits.

What sort of feedback have you been getting?

I’ve been getting great feedback, from people who say that they didn’t think they would have time to go away. These are people who read outdoor blogs, but the gear but don’t think they can get away. It’s been really encouraging – people have been saying that they are buying Bivvy bags and that they are actually using them so that’s good.

Are you sponsored by anyone?

No not at all- although with all these bivvy bag sales maybe I should be!

Have you been on a microadventure? What’s local to you that you need to see?

You can read all about the Year of the Microadventure and get inspired by seeing Al’s blogs at http://www.alastairhumphreys.com

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