30 Oct 2013, Posted by Nick.

Sorcerers’ Tales

RENATO Cardenas lives alone in a bleached wooden house, shielded by pine trees and the kind of mysterious smile you might expect from a wizard. Not that he will admit to being a wizard. "I've heard that people call me El Brujo Cardenas," is all he will concede, tantalisingly, as he ushers us inside, amusement twitching at the corners of his pointed grey beard. He has good reason to be reticent. According to the luxuriant folklore of Chiloe, this mist-shrouded archipelago a few miles and Read more [...]

27 Sep 2013, Posted by Nick.

Exploring Dangerous Truths

Great to see John Rae finally getting the recognition he deserves on his 200th birthday.  Never heard of him?  Me neither, until I came across the story of Britain’s most undervalued Arctic explorer a few years ago in Orkney. Born in Stromness, Dr Rae's accomplishments tower above those of many of his more famous Victorian contemporaries. Starting his career as a surgeon with the Hudson Bay Company, he was the first to identify the last link in the elusive Northwest Passage between Atlantic Read more [...]

29 May 2013, Posted by Nick.

A Quiet Hero

You've probably never heard of Sir John Crofton, but if you value your lungs, you should certainly toast him. It was Crofton, half a century ago, who discovered the first 100 per cent cure for the age-old scourge of tuberculosis. Crofton, too, who pioneered the global method currently being used to fight terrifying new drug-resistant strains on Europe’s doorstep. With his campaigning doctor wife, Eileen, he also laid 30 years of groundwork for Britain’s first smoking ban in Scotland. And Read more [...]

08 Mar 2013, Posted by Nick.

Confused in Venezuela

WATCHING the vast and emotional crowds at the funeral of Hugo Chavez today reminded me of the last time I was in Venezuela - when the masses took to the streets for a very different reason. It was April 2002 and I was heading for the Orinoco delta to write an eco-tourism feature for the Sunday Times, when the news broke that Chavez had been deposed in a coup after mass protests in Caracas. It was a surreal and confusing experience following the turmoil on television from my cabin in the rainforest. Read more [...]

23 Jan 2013, Posted by Nick.

Backstage at TEDx Bucharest

Watch Nick's talk on YouTube  Romania's Palace of the Parliament is designed to intimidate. Twelve stories tall, with 1,100 rooms decked in a million cubic meters of Transylvanian marble, it was originally built by the Ceaușescu regime at a cost of 3 billion euros. I first took a tour of its vast, echoing halls about ten years ago when I was in Bucharest on a story for the Guardian, and could only imagine how this opulent white elephant (the chandeliers and lights alone required 3500 Read more [...]

23 Jan 2013, Posted by Nick.

TEDx Talk: On Meaningful Risk

TEDx conference, Palace of the Parliament, Bucharest, Romania  November 2012 "My name is Nick Thorpe, I'm a writer and journalist, and I have a fascination with risk-taking. Despite my innate anxiety - or perhaps because of it - I seem compelled to stretch myself, force myself into the present moment. But what's changed over the years is the kind of risks I take. In the past it was physical, an adrenalin buzz from a reed boat adventure or a leap off a cliff. But I like to think I am learning Read more [...]

20 Dec 2012, Posted by Nick.

Critic Meets Child

Written as encouragement for those taking part in the Safe Space charity Write-athon  * * *  “A writer is somebody for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” Thomas Mann I laughed with relief when I first heard this wise quotation from the great German novelist. I can never quite relate to those who talk cheerily about the way their work “just flows out”, because the truth is that my first draft often emerges with all the lightness and fluidity of a house brick. Read more [...]

10 Aug 2012, Posted by Nick.

The Rites of Men

Psychotherapist Michael Boyle is in Edinburgh tomorrow (11th August) to talk about his visionary approach to directionless or delinquent young men - lead them through a modern rites of passage they will never forget.  Published in The Herald on 10th Aug 2012 AMID the depressingly high statistics for male youth offending, unemployment and suicide, Michael Boyle believes society has forgotten a simple truth – that to grow up at all, boys must somehow be initiated into manhood. While shipbuilding, Read more [...]

08 Aug 2012, Posted by Nick.

My travels in 6 minutes

A few weeks ago I took part in an unforgettable fundraising Night of Adventure at the Vue Cinema in Edinburgh - the biggest-screen slideshow of my life thus far. It was organised by the intrepid and slightly nuts Alastair Humphreys in aid of Hope and Homes for Children - a charity close to my heart because it matches abandoned or orphaned children with permanent families who can love them. (Donations always welcome). My task was to tell the story of all my adventures Pecha Kucha style - that Read more [...]

22 Jun 2012, Posted by Nick.

The Power of Menswork

"Most men don't have a life. Instead we have learned to pretend. Much of what men do is an outer show, kept up for protection. Like a tiger raised in a zoo - confused and numb, with huge energies untapped. He feels there must be more, but does not know what more is." Steve Biddulph, Manhood After spending many years trying to prove myself on expeditions and voyages, it’s strange that the bravest acts I’ve ever witnessed have turned out to be ordinary men daring to tell the truth about their Read more [...]
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