The Vitamin Sea Film Tour, 2019
I’m so excited to be taking Vitamin Sea on the road!
The film documents my world-record Stand up Paddleboarding expedition last year, the full length of mainland UK, from Land’s End to John O’Groats.
The film has been made by award-winning photographer and film-maker James Appleton, and really shows off the UK in all it’s beauty. However, as well as detailing the adventure, the underlying messages are a big focus of the film. There is a focus on plastic pollution, and the positive things happening in the UK to tackle them. But also a focus on one of the most important lessons I learnt during the expedition. People Protect What They Love. Without that connection to our natural world, we can't hope for people to want to protect it. There’s another twist in the tale too. In a time and society where mental health problems are running rife, anxiety and depression on the rise, and suicide tearing peoples’ lives apart, could reconnecting to nature be the answer? We are increasingly frazzled, increasingly disconnected from our natural world, and what it means to be a human as a part of it. Scientific research is proving that being amongst nature, particularly around water, is beneficial for our mental health. I strongly believe the two are connected - if we can reconnect to nature, appreciate what it means to us and our wellbeing, we’re more likely to want to protect it. And doing something good for the environment in turn makes us feel good. It’s the way nature intended.
Off the back of this, I’m setting up the Vitamin Sea Project - where connecting to nature, environmentalism and mental health intersect. I’m so excited to get it set up, and the raffle from the film tour will be raising funds to get the project off the ground.
I’m also so stoked to be able to be at the film screenings in person for Q and As afterwards. The discussions so far have been incredibly eye-opening and powerful and very humbling. Mental health is too rarely talked about openly; I feel privileged to have shared in these conversations about people’s struggles, and about what the natural world means to them. Ideas have been circulated about what we can do in our own communities to protect our wildlife, based on what local threats it faces. I feel honoured to be able to help facilitate these discussions through the film tour, which will also help to inform the Vitamin Sea Project.
To limit my carbon footprint, I’m doing the film tour by bike! Until about a month ago, the only bike I had owned that wasn't a downhill mountain bike was one I bought from the tip for £10 and weighs more than me. So learning how to ride a ‘proper’ bike has been a very steep, but incredibly fun, learning curve. It’s involved lycra, bum grease, and going very quickly from vertical to horizontal at zero miles an hour more than once. But I’ve also loved whizzing around the country lanes and using my body in a new way.
I’m really grateful to Specialized for loaning me the most beautiful bike. It’s ocean-coloured, so even when I’m miles from the sea I can still feel close to it.
It’s been a strange transition to start training for something that isn’t ocean based, and at first felt a little disconnected from the idea. But travelling by bike is such an amazing way to see our countryside, fast enough to really cover some miles and feel a sense of escape, but slow enough to be able to actually take in the surroundings.
I’ve been particularly blown away by the hedgerows! They are simply amazing! So full of life - birds twittering away, insects buzzing around, flowers and grasses of all sizes and colours. And occasionally - the most delicious-smelling honeysuckle. It really makes cycling along the country roads an absolute joy. I’ve written a blog about my cycling training here.
A big part of this tour, for me, is reflecting on the findings of a recent IPBES report (my good friend Dan, of Save Our Rivers, interpretation of it here) ranking the most pressing environmental challenges our planet and society face, and discussing how on Earth we can go about tackling them. The takeaway message is that protecting natural spaces, wild spaces, and avoiding changing land use from its natural state is the single most important thing we need to focus on. A lot of the themes are interlinked, for example climate change, which is also a very pressing matter, is mitigated by in-tact ecosystems which act as a carbon sink. But preserving biodiversity and functioning ecosystems has to be first on our mind.
The report also details an important consideration. To achieve the targets set out, we need to have a very rapid and dramatic paradigm shift, away from our current economic and social models, and focussed more on preserving the natural world rather than unconsciously using it.
There are too important points to this.
Firstly, land and oceans owned or managed by indigenous people or local communities are in general much better protected, and have a much higher biodiversity index. We need to be taking ownership within our communities of our local environments.
Secondly, we need to completely change our relationship with the natural world, away from consumerism, the current economic models which are simply not working, and towards putting our planet first. How do we do this? We desperately need to reconnect to nature, and to what it means to be a part of it. We need to shift our societies’ priorities, through a love for our natural world. But we cannot expect to love what we do not know. This is where the Vitamin Sea Project comes in - reconnecting people with our oceans and to our place within our natural world, and to a world where we are kind to ourselves, to each other, and to our planet.
I’m going to be checking out some particularly special places during my journey up the country - some terrestrial, by bike, and some marine, swimming.
The tour starts on 11th August in Cornwall, and will finish up in Shetland in late September.
Thank you for being a part of it, and I’m so looking forward to meeting lots of you lovely people along the way.
Tour Dates (click on links for tickets):
11th August - Porthtowan - Mount Pleasant Eco Park - Surfers Against Sewage fundraiser
12th August - Newquay - The Wave Project - The Wave Project fundraiser
23rd August - Preston - The Larder - Surfers Against Sewage fundraiser
24th August - Kendal - The Studio - Cactus Creative with Klean Kanteen
25th September - Lerwick, Shetland
26th September - Hillswick Wildlife Sanctuary, Shetland