Do Lectures

Lectures, festival, conference, happening? It's impossible to capture the essence of Do Lectures in one word, or even a few. 

A gathering of like-minded people who make a pilgrimage to remote West Wales (in my case almost as far from East to West as it's possible to go in the UK). It's the chance to do things you've never done before - share a tent with complete strangers, drink coffee with the former captain of a US nuclear submarine and practise breathing sitting in a wild flower meadow.

The core of the three day event is a series of talks - the speakers are challenged to tell a story they've never told before. All the most memorable talks for me were the ones I was least expecting -  two unbelievable Irish teenagers, Ciara Judge and Émer Hickey, whose school science project to look at improving crop fertilisation and yield went on to win the Google Science Prize and see them named as two of Time magazines most influential teenagers. David Marquet, a former US nuclear submarine captain on turning followers into leaders, CJ Bowrey founder of Sal's Shoes which started with her regret about throwing away her young son's barely worn shoes when so many children in the world are shoeless, she has now coordinated the distribution of over 30,000 pairs of children's shoes from the UK to Africa, Cambodia and Romania.

What did I learn at Do Lectures?

1. Join the Dots - find the connections in your life, how and why you came from one place to another. Many of the speakers at Do, like me, have had really varied careers, take a moment to notice the connections. And allow yourself space to not know what’s going to happen to create an environment where you can pull through and come out of a bad situation thriving

2. You don't have ideas - ideas have you - follow them and see where it takes you.

3. Don't be afraid of being you - work out what makes you tick, make a list of the good things and follow your curiosity.

4. It's ok not to have a plan - if it feels right - do it.

For other people's attempts to sum up Do Lectures in one word have a look at this video of the 2015 Do Lectures Wales.



Anthony Gormley - Aldeburgh Martello Tower

Aldeburgh has a new skyline and now can claim two sculptures by internationally important artists (the other Maggie Hambling's Scallop at the other end of the beach). To celebrate their 50th anniversary the Landmark Trust have commissioned Antony Gormley Sculptures by Antony Gormley to create five site specific sculptures for their properties. 

In Aldeburgh a figure stands atop the stark Martello Tower built to keep Napoleon out in the early 19th century. His arms crossed and he's staring out to sea. As you approach down a narrow spit, rough sea on one side, the gentle river and boats on the other, he looms above you. Is he guarding our coastline or about to jump?

It's worth the bracing walk to see it (it will only be there until May 2016) - don't drive down there as I saw several people doing - the impact just wouldn't be the same.

Bryn Cocyn - North Wales

Bryn Cocyn Farm is my uncle and aunt's farm in North Wales. It's to Patrick and Joyce that I owe so much of my interest in food and determination to get people to think more about the value of food and where it comes from.

"Have you any idea how much grass went into that butter?"

A story I've told many times is about my aunt telling off my young cousin for playing with butter and making me think for the first time about that anonymous pack of butter you pick off the supermarket shelf without any thought to what it is, where it's come from and the effort that's gone into producing it. 

Patrick and Joyce have farmed organically since the 70s and only sell directly to consumers through farmers markets and farm gate sales. Originally they produced lamb and beef but markets have allowed them to develop a more mixed way of farming producing organic vegetables - the most delicious tomatoes you'll ever eat, shiny chard and from their orchard an amazing diversity of apples, some of which are turned into juice.