Story Cafe round up: Adventure!

Our first Story Cafe of 2024 was well-attended even though the weather was at its January worst! Wendy welcomed everyone and was especially happy to welcome those at Story Cafe for the first time (I counted at least six).

Our theme for January was ADVENTURE and Wendy read two extracts from The Life Cycle: 8,000 miles in the Andes by bamboo bike by Kate Rawles. This is Kate’s second book of what she calls her ‘adventure plus’ trips. In her first book, The Carbon Cycle, she cycles across America talking to people about climate change. In The Life Cycle, she’s cycles across the Andes finding out about the impact of biodiversity loss, and the remarkable biodiversity that remains that is worth fighting for. She meets incredible activists and campaigners – people who are standing up against gold mining and other extractivist industries. She does all in this an engaging, ‘as if she’s sitting down chatting to you over a cup of tea’ style of writing.

The first from the chapter on Bolivia entitled Birds and Bees where she describes “some of the strangest landscapes I have ever seen”, but they were also the habitats of humans, animals and plants, “collaborative, interactive”. In these remote areas she found it easy to wild camp. Then we heard of her time in Chile in the chapter called The Atacama Desert where Kate revelled in cycling on asphalt rather than gravel, but realised that Chile’s wealth came from copper mining with the resulting damage done to “Chilean ecosystems, Chilean water, Chilean social justice, Chilean biodiversity”. During a chat about adventures big and small, Chris spoke of her time in the salt flats of Bolivia, staying in a salt hotel where everything, including the bed, was made of salt and Annie who had stopped off in the Sahara en route to Gambia said that even in the desert there was always something to be seen.

Finally Wendy read from Tough Women Adventure Stories edited by Kate Tough, a piece by Kate Rawles called Two Postscripts where she reflects on her adventure where “each day is shaped by the need to find food and shelter” but with a “feeling of being really, truly alive”. Her Andean adventure was 2,288 miles long and Woody the bamboo bike proved itself to be the most reliable bike she had ever owned.

After the break I read Quest by Lynn Blair which had been included in Adventure, The Scottish Book Trust free publication for Book Week 2023, a beautiful piece (which reads like a prose poem) describing some of the small adventures we could all experience which starts “Not there. But here, now…” and finally I read the poem Freedom by Olive Runner.

Our theme of Adventure was a great antidote to a wet, windy January day in Glasgow.

The Life Cycle and Tough Women Adventure Stories are both available from GWL.

Our next Story Cafe is on the 22nd February, when we’ll be delving into the history of the Women’s Land Army, followed by a Story Cafe Special with Susan C. Wilson on 29th February. We hope to see you then!

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