How to spend a day in East London – Eat, Drink and Find Street Art, featuring the Amazing WordPress Theme Team

You’re one of the best designers for WordPress themes in the world, your work is downloaded and used by millions of people a month, and you usually work at home in your pyjamas. Now you’ve have a free day in London.  What do you do?  The first thing is get dressed. The second is call me. Inspiring Adventures helped some of the guys that run WordPress.com have a great day out in London.  Read on to find out exactly how you can have a fun time in London too, with your clothes on, of course.

More than 73 million people currently use WordPress.com to run their website, and 387 million people view WordPress.com hosted websites every month. This Inspiring Adventures site runs through WordPress.com and, if you are interested, uses a the theme called Superhero. It turns out this theme was designed by one of the guys in my group. And if you’re reading this, Mr Cain, I’m still waiting for a fix on the headings.. why do they all look like H1 size, hey?  (Support update – OK, OK they are all different sizes, thanks Kathryn!)

For now, let’s just learn the best way to spend a day in East London.

The Morning – Eat Continue reading

What is Social Enterprise?

I was recently invited to be part of the Beyond Sports Summit, in Philadelphia to help the audience answer one question – What is Social Enterprise? I want to give you an answer to that question too.  It’s a question that keeps coming up, and I don’t think it’s going away any time soon.

A little background

I’ve worked with several different social enterprise support services in London over the past couple of years, and had the privilege to know and work with a number of social entrepreneurs over that time.  When the organising team contacted me to answer the “what is social enterprise” question, I knew it wasn’t going to be easy.

You see, even for us in the social enterprise industry, we don’t all have one strict definition that everyone around the world agrees on.  We do all have a sense of what it means, and I’ll give you my answer:

Social Enterprises use financially sustainable business models to solve social problems.  

Wikipedia says Social Enterprises apply “commercial strategies to maximize improvements in human and environmental well-being, rather than maximising profits for external shareholders.”

I like my answer better.   Continue reading

Is This The Best Travel Blog 2013?

Inspiring Adventures has been recognised and shortlisted as one of the Best Travel Blogs in the UK, 2013.  Thank you to those that nominated me.

The Web Awards, run by TravelMole.com, are now in their 10th year, and recognise travel and tourism companies for their efforts online.  The award ceremony was on September 12th, at the new Doubletree by Hilton, London Hyde Park, and very nice it was there too.

And the winner was…

And the winner is...

Continue reading

New York For (Almost) Free – My Guide

I was invited to the USA to speak about social enterprise at a conference called the Beyond Sport Summit.  I was on a tight budget while there, but I didn’t want to let that stop me exploring what New York had to offer.  Here are my recommendations for spending a few days in New York, without spending a lot of money.

The High Line

I saw pictures of the High Line in the newspaper about 6 months ago, and thought it looked really cool.  It’s a public park built on a rail line above the streets of Manhattan’s West Side.  It’s looked after by a non-profit group called the Friends of the High Line, and it’s a great place for a walk, or a walking meeting.   And we know the value of walking meetings, I already linked to the TED Talk in my last post.  My companions for the walk were sharing economy and collaboration experts Melissa O’Young of LetsCollaborate, and Odile Beniflah of carpooling.com.  It’s funny to be walking past apartment block windows, but it’s a beautiful place to spend an hour or so.

9/11 Memorial

Two huge pools cascade water into a dark abyss.  They stand in the footprint of the original towers, and are outlined with the names of those that died.  Around it, the new world trade centre is still being constructed, with the new One World Trade Centre being the tallest tower the USA.  Entrance is free, but $5-$10 donations are appreciated.  Book online to avoid queues.  Continue reading

Touring London for Social Enterprise – My Hub Crawl Route

I’m a big supporter of Social Enterprise.  I’ve worked with several of the leading social enterprise support services in London.  I love to introduce people to the fascinating world of business for benefit.

That’s why I created the Hub Crawl – A four-hour guided tour of three of the best social enterprise coworking spaces in London – Hub Islington, Hub Kings Cross and Hub Westminster.  I only run it on special occasions, but I want to describe it here to encourage you to learn more about social enterprise and these amazing hotbeds of social innovation.

You may still be wondering, what is a social enterprise anyway?  Here’s my short answer – it’s an organisation that has both social and financial goals.  What makes it different from a regular business? The social goals are at least equally as important as the financial ones.

What does social enterprise look like in action?  It could be anything from a small group of committed citizens, like the team at Hub Westminster, to a large international organisation like the Big Issue.

And that’s what’s great about the Hub Crawl, you get the chance to see and meet people from both of these organisations, and everything in between.

The Hub Crawl Route Continue reading

A diverse, multicultural walking tour around East London – my recommended route

I was recently asked by non-profit UK-Japan Learning Net to guide a group of Japanese students around East London, and give them a flavour of  our multicultural city.

I want to share with you the route we took, because it’s one of my favourite walks around London, and I hope that you get the chance to experience it too.

London – Multicultural and Diverse 

Why talk this journey? Because you can walk from the biggest banks to the smallest market stalls in 10 minutes.  You can see how London changes from smart suits to street art as you cross the street. You can meet trendy London hipsters and market stall owners from Pakistan.   Here’s the route on Google Maps

The Route: Continue reading

7 ways to be a terrible volunteer abroad

You’re going to volunteer abroad, and you want to make sure you do a terrible job. Here’s how.

1. Be a Super Hero

In another country, you are a Super Hero.  Your simple deeds will fix the world, probably in two weeks or less.  Make sure everyone knows that you, and you alone can save them in their hour of need. You are not there to be of service,  you are there to be the saviour, and of course should be treated as such.  Expect local people to worship you and bring you offerings.

2. Don’t accept the unknown

Make sure that you are not open to any kind of new experience.  Demand that everything be exactly the way it is back home, otherwise you will leave.  Do not be flexible and adaptable, and definitely don’t try anything new.

3. Be the smartest person in town

You know best, and make sure every else knows it.  You know how to do everything better, so make sure you tell everybody that what they are doing is wrong. Don’t learn why they are doing things the way they are, just tell them what they should do.  You are foreign, so of course you must know better than the local community, right?

4. Go with the most expensive and famous volunteer operator Continue reading

What is responsible volunteer tourism?

Volunteer tourism, or “Voluntourism” comes in many shapes and sizes.  Just like any holiday, or travel plan it can be adapted to suit the tourist or traveller.  There’s a lot to think about though, and that’s where the “responsible” bit comes in.

Irresponsible volunteer tourism

You probably don’t want to be volunteering at an orphanage in Cambodia right now – Why? Because so many people want to volunteer with orphans in Cambodia, that unscrupulous operators are filling houses with children (that still have parents) just so that wealthy tourists can see and work with them for a few weeks.  Siem Reap, home of the fabulous and beautiful Angkor Wat, has a population of 100,000 and 35 orphanages.  That ratio is wrong, and it’s driven by irresponsible volunteer tourism.   Responsible Travel has stopped offering all orphanage voluntourism packages while it fully investigates the situation.

 Responsible Responsible tourism 

During my recent adventure in Thailand, I was introduced to a responsible volunteer tourism operator.  Set up 11 years ago as a partnership between local Thai Gaweechat Joompaula (known as Toto) and Swedish social entrepreneur Sven Mauleon, Openmind Projects is role model in responsible volunteer tourism.  Now they operate in four countries, in partnership with over 70 grass roots projects.

“The background to a lot of the problems in this world, poverty, pollution, environmental destruction, is knowledge…  Knowledge brings awareness, and a motivation to change. Helping people to learn, Helping people to learn how to learn, and helping people use new technology. That is our mission. That is Openmind Projects”

What experience can volunteers abroad expect? Continue reading

How we got more than a million votes in two weeks, and won the Little Big Project Blogging Challenge

This in-depth article is about how my small team managed to smash all expectations and get more than 600,000 rating votes for our blog in less than two weeks.

**UPDATE – THE OFFICIAL COUNT IS IN – WE GOT 1,078,049 VOTES – OVER ONE MILLION!!**

First of all – a big thank you. Without you, and thousands of others, my team would not have been able to win the Little Big Project. With your help, we were able to win a grant of $5000 for an NGO that specialises in ecotourism and responsible volunteer tourism – Openmind Projects.

Thank you to all of you that voted, shared, liked and participated. My team-mate and I also won $1000 each, and courtesy of Thai Airways, return flights to Thailand for me, and return flights anywhere in Asia for my Thai team-mate.

Here ‘s a quick recap, before we get into how we did it.

From July 3rd to July 17th  myself and nine others were selected by the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT) to promote ecotourism and responsible volunteer tourism in Thailand.  The five international bloggers were paired up with five Thai bloggers, to make five teams – all working with different host organisations around Thailand.

My team’s project was responsible ecotourism and marine conservation in Phuket.  My amazing Thai teammate was Wimalin Chalermporn, known to everyone as Fha.  Our host organisation was Openmind Projects (OMP).  You can still see all our coverage of the two weeks, and the huge number of voting hits we received, at the official competition website. The competition – whichever team gets the most total combined rating votes for all blog posts, wins $5000 for the host organisation.

So how did we win?  Continue reading

Help promote ecotourism in Thailand

Are you a supporter of ecotourism, and responsible volunteer tourism?  Do you want to help protect and preserve marine national parks

I’ve been selected to help the Tourism Authority of Thailand promote these types of activities in Phuket, and I could really do with your help.

I’m working with a great team at Openmind Projects, and together with my Thai team mate Wimalin (Fha), we are trying to help them win $5000.  We’re doing many things, and focusing on the amazing work the Park Rangers are doing to protect and preserve the marine national parks.

Please help out this great organisation by following the steps below. Continue reading