One summer, the author was bequeathed a hundred pounds of ripening apricots, which lay on her bedroom floor – a windfall, a riddle, an emergency to be dealt with. The fruit came from a neglected tree that her mother, gradually succumbing to memory loss, could no longer tend to. From this unexpected inheritance came stories, invitations and adventures; in a library of water in Iceland, in the basin of the Grand Canyon, in the imagined emptiness of the Arctic. Chaired by Rosie Goldsmith.
How did our mariners manage without digital GPS? Captain Wells, master of Cunard’s QM2, traces the history of navigating the oceans by measuring the heavens using sextants and astrolabes; and author and broadcaster Ridpath, Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society, explores the mythology surrounding key constellations.
A vivid history of the macabre as the author goes in search of the ancient customs, local characters and compelling tales that illuminate how people over the years have come to terms with our ultimate fate. He discovers what a small Norfolk church has to tell us about the apocalypse; why the greatest minds of the C17th were embroiled in debate over the phantom Drummer of Tedworth; and how a nineteenth-century Welsh druid completely changed the national view of cremation.
Two readings: the geographer, Dorling, tells the stories of the people who live along The 32 Stops Of The Central Line to illustrate the extent and impact of inequality in Britain today. Wadham introduces her Heads And Straights: The Circle Line, an autobiographical tale of bohemians, punk, the King’s Road in the 1970s and family.TFL celebrates 150 years of the Tube with Penguin
The new book from the author of The Old Ways. In 2005 Macfarlane and Roger Deakin travelled to explore the holloways of South Dorset’s sandstone. They found their way into a landscape of shadows, spectres and great strangeness. Six years later, after Deakin’s early death, Macfarlane returned to the holloway with the artist Stanley Donwood and writer Dan Richards.
Journeying alone through the greenest continent in what he feels will be his last African journey, Theroux encounters a world increasingly removed from both the itineraries of tourists and the hopes of post-colonial independence movements. Leaving the Cape Town townships, traversing the Namibian bush, passing the browsing cattle of the great sun-baked heartland of the savannah, he crosses the ‘Red Line’ into a different Africa.
Running through the heart of Colombia is a river emblematic of the fascination and tragedy of South America, the Magdalena, considered by some the most dangerous place in the world. Jacobs is captured by the FARC, has a chance encounter with Gabriel García Márquez and is brought to reflect on memory and identity, and the nature of mystery.
Far removed from the picture of Tehran that we glimpse in news stories, there is another hidden city where survival depends on an intricate network of lies and falsehoods. It is a place where Mullahs visit prostitutes, cosmetic surgeons restore girls’ virginity and homemade porn is bought and sold in the bazaars. Chaired by Oliver Balch.
The Trans-Siberian stretches nearly 6,000 miles between Moscow and Vladivostok on the Pacific Coast. It was the most ambitious railway project of the C19th. It is intimately involved with Russian and Soviet history. And it reminds travellers of the vastness of our world and hints at the hardships that were endured in its construction. Chaired by Oliver Bullough.
Seventy years ago Tom Rolt published the book Narrowboat and sparked one of Britain’s greatest conservation movements and rescued the nation’s canals from destruction. The Daily Telegraph’sMark Skipworth discusses with journalist Libby Purves, poet Jo Bell and industrial archaeologist Geraint Coles.
The author made plans to cycle the legendary Via Heraklea. It was an ancient path that took him deep into the world of the Celts: their gods, their art, and, most of all, their sophisticated knowledge of science. Gradually, a lost map revealed itself, of an empire constructed with precision and beauty across vast tracts of Europe. Oriented according to the movements of the Celtic sun god, the map had been forgotten for almost two millennia.
In the spring of 1553 three ships sailed north-east from London into uncharted waters. The scale of their ambition was breathtaking. Drawing on the latest navigational science and the new spirit of enterprise and discovery sweeping the Tudor capital, they sought a northern passage to Asia and its riches. When their ships became separated in a storm, each ship had to fend for itself. Their fates were sharply divided. One returned to England, to recount extraordinary tales of the imperial court of Tsar Ivan The Terrible. The tragic, mysterious story of the other two ships has to be pieced together through the surviving captain’s log book, after he and his crew became lost and trapped by the advancing Arctic winter.
Meeting the captain, the F-18 pilots and the dentists, experiencing everything from a man-overboard alert to the Steel Beach Party, Dyer guides us through the most AIE (acronym intensive environment) imaginable. Underlying Dyer’s efforts to overcome the disadvantages of being the oldest, tallest (actually, second tallest), and most self-conscious person on the boat is an intense fascination with the military world.
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The newly-conserved Roskilde 6 ship from Denmark measures over 37 metres. It is the longest Viking ship ever discovered and forms the core of the British Museum exhibition Vikings: Life and Legend. The Vikings used their shipbuilding skills to command the sea; their famous ships permitted the exploration, the colonisation and the raids with which they built their wealth. The curator explores the evolution of their sea-going vessels and celebrates this outstanding feature of the Viking Age.
Griffiths will be the International Hay Festival Fellow for the next 12 months, visiting all our festivals around the world. Her visionary and poetic work explores her interest in nature, anthropology and art. Her books include Kith: The Riddle of the Childscape, Wild: An Elemental Journey, Pip Pip: A Sideways Look at Time, and her fictionalised hymn to Frida Kahlo, A Love Letter to a Stray Moon. She talks to Peter Florence.
As you grow up, you are told to renounce most of the hopes and dreams of your youth, and resign yourself to a life that will be a pale dilution of the adventurous, important and enjoyable life you once expected. But who wants to do any of that? No wonder we live in a culture of rampant immaturity, when maturity looks so boring. The moral philosopher discusses childhood, adolescence, sex, and culture, and asks how the idea of travel can help us build a model of maturity that makes growing up a good option and leaves space in our culture for grown-ups. Chaired by Sarah Crompton.