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Archive for the ‘my adventures’ Category

What do you eat – and why?

What will you eat for lunch? As a creature of habit, you may reach for the same sandwich you always eat. Or, if you are travelling, you may be spoilt for choice and be faced with a dizzy selection of Italian pizza, juice bar, or take away sushi? There are many factors which affect what we choose to eat, but availability is a major one. I have visited North Sea offshore oil and gas platforms, where the menu selction each day is impressive. Most of the fresh food comes out of a container, which is delivered by a supply ship. These can take up to 3 weeks to arrive. This means that the fresh cabbage inside is slowly losing its vitamin C content during the journey. How much vitamin C ends up on the plate will then depend on the skill of the chefs, and the length of time the cabbage is kept warm. However, people offshore don’t tend to worry about the cabbage. Rather, it is the arrival of the fresh fruit which gets people talking. There are apples and pears, but it is bananas and grapes which seem to hit the spot offshore. These are the first to disappear when the fruit bowls are replenished. Once they are gone, there is a long wait. Individuals stare longingly at the bowl, watching apples wrinkle, and hope that the supply ship will arrive early. Limited supplies are a feature of remote places. Last week, I visited Cape Wrath – the most North Westerly point on the UK mainland. It is an adventure to get there – cycling, ferry, and then more cycling or walking along 11 miles of rough track to the light house at the end point.

 I have always wanted to go there, not least to see what is available on the menu in one of the most remote cafes, The Ozone Cafe. The food choice was limited by what could be delivered by small boat and minibus. However, arguably, whatever was on sale would be eaten by those visiting? Luckily, the day I visited, there was home made soup and cakes on the menu.


Making changes to your eating habits not only involves a conscious decision to “eat this and not that.” Availability of foods is part of the complex equation. If you would like help and advice to make some changes to what, when, and how much you eat … please send me an email, or phone, to discuss your needs and book an individual consultation.

Adventure & Travel Show, London, Olympia


It is the New Year and thoughts turn to expanding waistlines and a resolve to eat less … or better. For others it is travel, and the yearning for adventure. Happily I can help with both.

I will be speaking at the Telegraph Adventure and Travel Show in London. It is a fabulous two day event, with a programme of speakers and plenty of outdoor gadgets and clothing to be tried, tested, or lovingly inspected. I will be speaking on Saturday 28th January (at 4pm, in Lecture Theatre 4).

My talk will take the audience on a journey … of my research findings and science facts about how altitude and different environments affect food habits. The Adventure Show programme is packed with stories about travels and incredible adventures around the globe. My story takes you behind the scenes to reveal some of the planning and preparation that goes on for a major expedition.

What you eat affect your performance, whether it is the mental performance of working effectively and coping with a stressful workload, or physical performance and having enough energy to get you where you want to be. I have worked with expeditions to Everest, and individuals who want to run a marathon … or walk to the North Pole.

If you would like some discount tickets for the Show (£6 per ticket, advance price, saving £4 on door price), please enter the code DRCHRISFENN when ordering online – www.adventureshow.com or phone 0871 230 7159 (calls cost 10p per minute + network extras) and quote code.

Looking forward to the Show, and giving my talk. If you come, and would like to discuss good food and the challenges of adventure, please come and say hello. If you can’t make it, please contact me to discuss presenting a talk to your group or company. This page  has more details about one of my presentations.

Cycling from Land’s End to John O’Groats

In 2006, I cycled from one end of the UK to the other: a journey of 1,076 miles taking 23 days. The idea was to promote the Slow Food movement and to complete an ecological journey. I used as many biodegradable or recycled products on me and my bike.

Along the way, I sampled traditional, regional foods – Cornish pasties in Cornwall, Devonshire cream tea in Devon, and Cheddar cheese in Cheddar – and visited as many “eco” places as I could.

One of my favourite stops was the incredible Eden Project in Cornwall. I fitted in a week’s work for Eden where I presented some talks for their “Around the world in healthy ways” campaign, and engaged visitors with my shopping trolley full of everyday foods. Whilst I was there I got the chance to travel along the longest zip wire in Europe (see pic).

When I finally arrived at John O’Groats I met a group of cycling GPs who had completed their journey in seven days. They were amused that I had taken more than three times as long, but I saw and learned so much along the way. I’d recommend it to anyone.

I am now a proud member of the Land’s End to John O’Groats Association.

Climbing Kilimanjaro

At 17,342 feet hight, Kilimanjaro is the highest free standing mountain in the world. In 1995, inspired by Rebecca Stephens’s Everest expedition I decided to climb Africa’s highest peak.

Writing for Trail Walking magazine, I also took recording equipment and gathered interviews and kept an audio diary of my own experiences. With the skillful editing of Producer Mark Steven, these sounds were broadcast, as four nail biting episodes, on BBC Radio Scotland.

There is a large metal box on the summit – containing the highest visitors book in the world. Busy collecting interviews with my fellow trekkers on the summit, I forgot to sign the book. I therefore returned the next year, and climbed the mountain again just to sign the book. I wrote “Believe and Succeed!”

Cycling across America


In 1998 I decided on a new challenge: to cycle across the United States. It would be a journey of 3,500 miles, solo – just me, my bike and my tent, across America. I started at San Diego, and dipped my back tyre in the Pacific Ocean and kept going East – up and over four mountain ranges, one 8,000 foot pass, through eight states, and across four timezones. I finished at St Augustine and dipped my front tyre in the Atlantic waves in Florida.The simple question of “why?” has a simple answer: “to celebrate being able to see.”

A few years earlier, I very nearly lost my sight. Both retinas had detached and, thanks to an emergency operation, I can still drive to work, run for a bus, and enjoy the colours of nature’s changing seasons. Imagine being blind. Every day events such as crossing the road, choosing apples at a supermarket, finding clothes that match, watching a football game or film at the cinema – or riding a bike – would all be very different and take time to adapt to. Since I was not a cyclist, the challenge of cycling across America would parallel the challenges of adapting to a life without sight, learning to use my other senses and having a different vision on life. I also wanted to raise £ 10,000 for a local charity North East Sensory Services (formerly Grampian Society for the Blind). Their work cannot bring sight back, but can help individuals lead an active and independent lifestyle.

America is a BIG place! It took me three weeks to cycle across Texas, but first I had to get across the Arizona desert. You expect it to be hot in a desert, but the temperature rose to a scourching 16o degrees f. I tucked my head down against the glare and started pedalling. I stopped at the only water stop, a gas station, hinged between sand dunes, and guzzled fluid to fill my body with water. My aim was to store as much water in my stomach and then fill several large bottles. These would add to the weight of my bike, which was already laden with 65 pounds of tent, sleeping bag, portable office, food and cooking equipment.Extra weight means extra effort to cycle, which means extra sweating.Perhaps I could have taken less water, but didn’t want to risk it. My fears were confirmed when I heard of another cyclist who had collapsed from heat exhaustion. He lay on the boiling tarmac for 20 minutes before he was picked up by a passing truck. In that short time, the sun’s rays were so fierce that they had melted the lycra in his shorts. He was treated in hospital for heat sickness and first degree burns.

My coast to coast adventure took 61 days. I got through eight bottles of sunscreen, 305 litres of water, 153 blueberry muffins, two T-shirts, three bottles of green slime (to help prevent punctures), and five inner tubes. I had 11 punctures, burned 218,000 calories and raised £ 12,000 for charity.

Helping Rebecca Stephens conquer Everest


In 1993, a team of British climbers went out to Nepal, in the hope of climbing Everest 40 years after the first ascent by Edmund Hilary and Sherpa Tenzing. One of those climbers was Rebecca Stephens (pictured above, right) who, if she reached the top, would be the first British woman to climb Everest.

I was part of the support team. It was my job to meticulously plan the food that the team would eat before and during the expedition. It took six months of research, planning and procurement. I even found out what Hilary and Tenzing had eaten on their famous trip and included some of their choices in the mix.

As you can see from the picture, Rebecca made it to the top – an incredible achievement. I believe that it was something she ate, but I could be biased! Watching her achieve her goal and follow her passion for adventure, she inspired me to climb my own “Everest” – which was to reach the top of Kilimanjaro. I believe everyone has their own Everest to climb. For some it is the real thing, for others it is another challenge. I help individuals to choose the best foods to fuel their mind, body and soul – to get the most out of life and to reach their full potential.

I tell the story of this unique Himalayan expedition in one of my talks. You can find out how it was planned, which foods were taken, and why. It’s suitable for anyone fascinated by human endurance, adventure and travel. You can read more about it in Rebecca Stephens’s book On top of the world.