A Walk to Remember

Photo Credit: Melanie Sangwine

On a cold January morning in Edinburgh, when most people are tucked up in bed, the sun begins to rise, illuminating the castle and gently melting the frost. Towards the esplanade, a small group huddled around one man begin a countdown.

As they reach zero, a faint cheer is heard and a bearded figure emerges wheeling a buggy piled high with equipment. The man’s name is James Thomas and he has just begun a walk from Edinburgh to New Zealand.

On a trip that will cover 12,500 miles, through 15 countries and take him two years to complete, he will be crossing hostile territories, Indonesian rainforests and the Australian desert to reach the antipodal point of Edinburgh, Dunedin. With no support team, he is carrying all the equipment he needs himself and intends to spend his long nights camping, couch surfing and staying with friends where possible.

Originally from West Cork in Ireland, Thomas has been living in Edinburgh for the last five years whilst studying film and photography at Edinburgh Napier University. Having graduated last year, he notes, “I was struggling to find work in film and photography so I decided to fulfil this thing I’ve always wanted to do.”

Aiming to walk 130 miles a week- a distance which equates to roughly five marathons- it is undeniable that this will be a very demanding challenge.

However, Thomas remains admirably optimistic, he comments, “I don’t think it is going to be too bad physically. There are people who do physical labour, working on building sites every day and doing much harder things than what I’m doing. I’m just walking.” Already a keen rambler, he has experience trekking in the Annapurna and a couple of months ago made the trip from Inverness to Fort William in preparation for his expedition.

Ultimately, this is not simply a personal endeavour but an effort to raise funds for children’s charity UNICEF. On choosing the organisation, he says, “It’s a very international challenge so I wanted to support an international charity. I wanted a charity that no matter where I went people knew what it was for.”

He has high hopes, with aims of raising £1,000,000 over the course of the trip. But, as he rightly points out, “If David Walliams can get it for swimming the channel, surely I can get it for walking around the world.”

The motivation behind his adventure appears ambiguous. “It changes every day. Most recent is I just turned 30 so I’m saying to myself this is the last chance I can go out and do something as I’m not getting any younger. I’ve always wanted to do this. Travelling to the antipodal point has always been the thing.”

With a keen desire to have something to show for himself, it is apparent that for Thomas this is a very personal ordeal. When asked how he thinks it will affect him as a person, he contemplates for a second before answering, “It is inevitable that it will change me somewhat but I don’t know yet whether it will change me for the better or for the worse.” As the interview draws to a close, we come to a stop and I thank him for his time, already glad that in a few minutes I will be inside and beginning to get warm after what was a bitterly cold morning. However, for Thomas, this is only the beginning, and as I bid him farewell, he turns and begins to walk the long road, alone.

For more information, or to sponsor James, you can visit his website here.

Taken from The Student, published Tue Jan 31st 2012.

Cineworld thinks big with launch of IMAX in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is set to unveil its first IMAX screen next month in collaboration with Cineworld, Fountain Park.

As part of a new partnership with Cineworld, IMAX are opening three new cinemas in Edinburgh, Nottingham and Sheffield, which will increase the total number of screens in the UK to 19.

According to the Cineworld website, Cineworld Edinburgh will offer cinemagoers, “the most immersive cinematic experience for many a mile. With ground-breaking digital projection, cutting edge audio technology and one of the largest screens around, the IMAX Experience will allow Edinburgh’s film fans to enjoy the biggest blockbusters like never before.”

Edinburgh has often been criticised in the past for its lack of an IMAX, which offers a superiority in both size and picture quality to the conventional cinema screen. Neighbouring cities such as Glasgow have been sporting IMAX for over a decade, so it is only now that Edinburgh will be able to offer similar entertainment possibilities.

Lindsay Cook, Cineworld’s general manager in Edinburgh, said of the project: “We couldn’t be more excited to be bringing this uniquely immersive cinema experience to our customers.”

The cinema is set to be finished in time for preview screenings of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol on December 21st, whilst the Sheffield and Nottingham screens are planned to open in early 2012.

With many upcoming blockbusters filmed with IMAX in mind, the new Edinburgh screen is already set to showcase titles such as: Dark Knight Rises, Wrath of the Titans, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Men in Black 3 and The Amazing Spiderman.

Taken from The Student, published online Mon Nov 28th 2011.

No Posts For While

I won’t be able to post for a while as I leave in the morning on a hitch hike from Edinburgh to Morocco in aid of the charity Link Community Development which aims at providing quality education to Sub-Saharan African Schools.

For more information or to make a donation visit my justgiving site here.

Thanks for all your help and support