All posts by London Meeting

Mary Fogarty Northern Greece and Macedonia in Search of Family Roots

Saturday, June 8, 2024 (on the 2nd Saturday)

Speaking on Saturday, June 8, 2024 (on the 2nd Saturday) we have :

1st: Joe Sheffer – The Road to Oxiana.

When Kabul fell to the Taliban in August 2021 Joe Sheffer had been covering Afghanistan for nearly a decade as a cameraman and journalist. He decided to start taking tours to the country and his company – Safarāt – became the first foreign travel company offering tours in the new Afghanistan.

Three years later, Afghanistan is experiencing a tourism renaissance unseen since the hippy trail – spurred on by YouTubers, vloggers and travellers looking for adventure. But is travelling in Afghanistan ethical at the moment, or does it prop up a repugnant regime and should you think hard about visiting? Is the country’s sudden glut of tourists a disaster waiting to happen, or simply an important source of income for Afghans hungry to work and keen to show off their country to foreign guests?

Joe will have just returned from Nuristan – a place made famous by the writings of Eric Newby, and Wilfred Thesinger – will be presenting on his latest work in the province.

2nd: Mary Fogarty – Northern Greece: in search of Macedonian roots.

Last September Mary went with Australian Macedonian Victor to find his family roots in northern Greece. They arrived in Thessaloniki, where Victor was very taken with Alexander the Great (considered by Macedonians to be theirs, and by Greeks to be theirs!). From here it was a bus journey up to Florina, near the border with Macedonia, where they hired a car and took off into the mountains to visit the many villages where his parents, grandparents, and ancestors were all born. Here, despite the fact that they were clearly in Greece, it was interesting to discover that everyone was still speaking Victor’s parents’ old dialect of Macedonian …

Driving over the border to Northern Macedonia (ignoring bear warnings and the car hire’s disapproval), they visited Bitola and Lake Ohrid, a blissfully beautiful place where Mary longed to stay but no, after a few idyllic days, it was back to the old village for a Greek wedding, which went on all day, finishing up in a gigantic, Las Vegas-style ‘wedding reception hall’: here, 850 guests watched displays of fireworks and endless Greek/Macedonian dancing and horn playing; Mary took to drinking copious amounts of retsina and Coke, which was the ‘go to’ drink of the evening.

On the final leg of the journey, they took a six-hour bus journey down the backbone of Greece to Athens, where Victor was overwhelmed by the ancient Greek architecture and Mary by meeting a famous film director. Their last staging post was the heavenly island of Hydra, where mules have replaced cars, and the sea was the deepest blue … here Mary went swimming and Victor developed a chill, which was the beginning of another big drama …


Date & Time: Saturday 8th June 2024

Doors open at 14:15 in London and on Zoom with the talks starting around 14:45 (London see Event Time Announcer for local times), please arrive early so we can deal with any issues with joining.

We would ask that anyone with respiratory symptoms participate via Zoom.

Admission costs:

  • £7 for members. (Members can access a ticket code below or from the members area.)
  • £10 for non-members. (save £3 if you join at this meeting)
  • a recording to watch later will be available to members and non-member ticket holders.

Please sign up for meeting updates to get notifications for future meetings.


For in person Tickets at the hall:

For Zoom online tickets:

Saturday, January 4, 2025

Speaking on Saturday, January 4, 2025 we have :

Around the world in eighty minutes.

10 presentations of 10 slides

The format is talks by eight to ten speakers for ten minutes giving a fast-paced journey around the Globe.

There are four to five talks before the break and four to five talks after the break, with each speaker having around 10 minutes to speak. 

By tradition, we follow this meeting with a New Year Party post-meeting.

Everyone is invited to bring food and wine or soft drinks (we are not allowed beer or spirits) and participate!


Date & Time: Saturday 4th January 2025

Doors open at 14:15 in London and on Zoom with the talks starting around 14:45 (London see Event Time Announcer for local times), please arrive early so we can deal with any issues with joining.

We would ask that anyone with respiratory symptoms participate via Zoom.

Admission costs:

  • £7 for members. (Members can access a ticket code below or from the members area.)
  • £10 for non-members. (save £3 if you join at this meeting)
  • a recording to watch later will be available to members and non-member ticket holders.

Please sign up for meeting updates to get notifications for future meetings.


Tickets go on sale just before the meetings.

Saturday, March 2, 2024

Speaking on Saturday, March 2, 2024, we have :

1st: Jay Ginn – Peru and Ecuador

Jay went to Peru in 2008 to explore its fascinating history, its current situation, and the fabulous scenery of the Andes range. Leaving crowded Lima, she went on to visit the vast Lake Titicaca with its islands, where indigenous Quechua-speaking campesinos live; also the floating sedge islands which are home to fishing families. A ride northwards along the Andean range then took her to sprawling Cuzco, once the capital of Peru. Here, modern buildings mix with older ones and ancient dry stone walls.

From Cuzco, she took the train to Aguas Calientes on the Urubamba River, and from here it was a bus up the steep switchback road to Machu Picchu far above. The remains of this world-famous Inca city reveal its architecture, terraces and Sun Temple.

Following this spectacular visit, the tour bus descended down towards the Pacific Ocean, taking in Colca Canyon, and then the old colonial city of Arequipa with museums illustrating Peruvian history and customs. At the coast, she visited giant sand dunes, took a boat to a sea lion colony and then returned to Lima.

From here she took a bus north to Ecuador, arriving in Quito to find the Mayday demonstration in full swing. After this came an unwelcome surprise…

2nd: Nick Marchant – A Toast To Georgia

A land of beautiful landscapes and passionate people, where guests are ‘gifts from God’, I tell the story of my five trips to this dramatic Caucasus country, from its post-Soviet and civil war chaos in 1996 to its modern 21st century West-leaning democracy. With Russia to the North and Turkey, Armenia, Azerbaijan and Iran to the South, it has always been at a critical juncture in geography and civilisation.

Visiting mostly the same family over almost 30 years, I describe how the country seems to have changed. A country steeped in tradition where the custom of ‘toasting’ with friends and family at a table laden with their delicious cuisine and local wine is a wonderful, joyous way of celebrating life. What characterises the Georgian people and what might survive of that character? And how might I have changed as a result of my three decades of friendship with this fascinating country and people?


Date & Time: Saturday 2nd March 2024

Doors open at 14:15 in London and on Zoom with the talks starting around 14:45 (London see Event Time Announcer for local times), please arrive early so we can deal with any issues with joining.

We would ask that anyone with respiratory symptoms participate via Zoom.

Admission costs:

  • £7 for members. (Members can access a ticket code below or from the members area.)
  • £10 for non-members. (save £3 if you join at this meeting)
  • a recording to watch later will be available to members and non-member ticket holders.

Please sign up for meeting updates to get notifications for future meetings.


For in person Tickets at the hall:

Get in Person Tickets at Eventbrite

For Zoom online tickets:

Saturday, July 6, 2024

Speaking on Saturday, July 6, 2024 we have :

  • Elspeth Beard –  – A pioneering solo round the world motorcycle trip in the early 1980’s

ELSPETH BEARD is a motorcyclist and award-winning architect. In 1982, at the age of just twenty-three, Elspeth Beard left her family and friends in London and set off alone on a 35,000 mile solo adventure around the world on her 1974 BMW R60/6. In an age before email, mobile phones and satnavs, and with no sponsorship or support the journey took two and a half years covering 35,000 miles. She rode through North America, Canada, Mexico, New Zealand, Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Europe.

Returning home in 1984, Elspeth finished her architecture degree and in 1988 brought a derelict water tower, which she spent seven years converting into her home. She runs her own architectural practice, specialising in creating and remodelling interesting and unusual buildings. She lives in a converted Victorian water tower in the southeast of England and still enjoys riding her collection of motorcycles, which includes the trusty BMW R60/6 which carried her around the world.

More information at:

  • Leon McCarron – Wounded Tigris: A River Journey through the Cradle of Civilisation

Leon McCarron and his small team journeyed through the Turkish mountains, across north-east Syria and into the heart of Iraq. Passing by historic cities like Diyarbakir, Mosul and Baghdad, keeping the company of fishermen and farmers, but also artists, activists and archaeologists who rely on the river’s flow. Occasionally harassed by militias, often helped by soldiers, Leon rode his luck in areas still troubled by ISIS and relied on the generosity of a network of strangers to reach the Persian Gulf.

Wounded Tigris is the story of what humanity stands to lose with the death of a great river, and what can be done to try to save it.

Find out more at


Date & Time: Saturday 6th July 2024

Doors open at 14:15 in London and on Zoom with the talks starting around 14:45 (London see Event Time Announcer for local times), please arrive early so we can deal with any issues with joining.

We would ask that anyone with respiratory symptoms participate via Zoom.

Admission costs:

  • £7 for members. (Members can access a ticket code below or from the members area.)
  • £10 for non-members. (save £3 if you join at this meeting)
  • a recording to watch later will be available to members and non-member ticket holders.

Please sign up for meeting updates to get notifications for future meetings.


Tickets go on sale just before the meetings.

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Speaking in February we have :

1st: Mark Weston – Life and Death on Africa’s Greatest Lake.

Mark Weston, author of The Saviour Fish (a Daily Telegraph Travel Book of the Year in 2022), will discuss what it was like to spend two years living on remote Ukerewe Island in the Tanzanian half of Lake Victoria.

He will describe his adjustment to island life, his encounters with Ukerewe’s notorious witches, his nighttime expeditions with the illegal fishermen of his neighbourhood, and the rise and fall of the Lake Victoria Nile perch industry, which has impacted the lives of more than 20 million people. He will also share the ancient recipe of the island’s last banana beer brewer.

2nd: David Lee – In search of the real Ho Chi Minh Trail – when would you turn back?

David’s talk concentrates on a journey in pursuit of the Ho Chi Minh Trail, a series of tracks and trails from North to South Vietnam used in the Vietnam War. We were a team of six riders on enduro motorcycles, and our route was met with many obstacles which we overcame by building bamboo bridges, crossing a swollen river by floating motorcycles on rafts, crossing dense bamboo jungles, and then sleeping on a riverbank next to hungry leeches and soulful-sounding frogs.

David has been going to Southeast Asia for over ten years in search of trail routes and themes for his company, RAMS Adventures.

Website: rams-adventures.co.uk


Date & Time: Saturday 3rd February 2024

Doors open at 14:15 in London and on Zoom with the talks starting around 14:45 (London see Event Time Announcer for local times), please arrive early so we can deal with any issues with joining.

We would ask that anyone with respiratory symptoms participate via Zoom.

Admission costs:

  • £7 for members. (Members can access a ticket code below or from the members area.)
  • £10 for non-members. (save £3 if you join at this meeting)
  • a recording to watch later will be available to members and non-member ticket holders.

Please sign up for meeting updates to get notifications for future meetings.


For in person Tickets at the hall:

For Zoom online tickets:

Saturday, April 13, 2024 (on the 2nd Saturday)

Speaking on Saturday, April 13, 2024 (on the 2nd Saturday) we have:

1st: Jacqui Trotter – Homegoing: Part 3.

Jacqui will be talking about travelling in 2019 back to Australia through pre-COVID Tibet, eastern China, Vietnam, Cambodia & Thailand. From -20’C in Harbin to 38’C in Ayutthaya, I wanted the trip to go on and on.

Independent travel through China was much easier than I expected and Vietnam was a delight. Cambodia was fascinating and visiting Angkor Wat was a long-held dream! Thailand was a great place to take stock, play tourist and still visit places I had not been before.

Going home was something I had done many times before but this time was different – it would be my home for the next five years (and still is) and the world of travel would not be quite the same for any of us ever again.

2nd: Lucy Lethbridge – Tourists: How the British Went Abroad to find themselves

Lucy Lethbridge, author of Tourists: How the British Went Abroad to find themselves, will look at the rise of popular tourism in the 19th and early twentieth centuries. It is a story of business titans, new technologies, commerce, invention, snobbery, vision and nostalgia – and, with its apotheosis in the self-contained world of the beach resort, even a search for Eden.

Find Lucy on Twitter – @LucyLethbridge


Date & Time: Saturday 13th April 2024

Doors open at 14:15 in London and on Zoom with the talks starting around 14:45 (London see Event Time Announcer for local times), please arrive early so we can deal with any issues with joining.

We would ask that anyone with respiratory symptoms participate via Zoom.


Admission costs:

  • £7 for members. (Members can access a ticket code below or from the members area.)
  • £10 for non-members. (save £3 if you join at this meeting)
  • a recording to watch later will be available to members and non-member ticket holders.

For in person Tickets at the hall:

For Zoom online tickets:

Saturday, September 7, 2024

Speaking on Saturday, September 7, 2024, we have :

1st: Chris Grant – Ethiopia

2nd: Jessica Finnamore – Highlights from 8 months of solo backpacking.

After graduating from university, I decided to spend the next year travelling in Central America, South East Asia, and India. My talk will explore the highlights of these 8 months of budget backpacking, and what female solo travel is like in different parts of the world.


Date & Time: Saturday 7th September 2024

Doors open at 14:15 in London and on Zoom with the talks starting around 14:45 (London see Event Time Announcer for local times), please arrive early so we can deal with any issues with joining.

We would ask that anyone with respiratory symptoms participate via Zoom.

Admission costs:

  • £7 for members. (Members can access a ticket code below or from the members area.)
  • £10 for non-members. (save £3 if you join at this meeting)
  • a recording to watch later will be available to members and non-member ticket holders.

Please sign up for meeting updates to get notifications for future meetings.


Tickets go on sale just before the meetings.

Saturday, November 2, 2024

In November we have:

AGM: The club AGM starts at noon (card-carrying members only)

Speaking at 2.45 pm we have: 

1st: Sheila Robinson – Uzbekistan

2nd: Jim Holmes – English Breakfast and the story of Ceylon tea

The slopes of Sri Lanka’s southern mountains are clothed in neat rows of low bushes that produce one of the country’s greatest exports, tea. The famed ‘English Breakfast’ name is known the world over, and disputed, but the story of tea in old Ceylon is far less refreshing. I toured hillside tea estates, factories and met the villagers who still hand pick this everyday product to bring you the true story of the UK’s favourite hot drink.  From its beginnings in 1824, tea still goes through a growing and drying process that is little changed in 200 years, this is an industry steeped in tradition and the often questionable roles that colonialism set in place.

Introduction: Jim Holmes

Jim Holmes is a professional documentary photographer that has lived and worked around the world for over 30 years.  Assignments have taken him to over 50 countries where he worked extensively on humanitarian projects for numerous international agencies. Making S.E. Asia his home for over 20 years he used this base to work around the region for commercial and not-for-profit clients. Jim has also worked on the visual documentation of large river hydropower projects, as well as for well-respected travel guide and educational publishers.  

Find out more at:


Date & Time: Saturday 2nd November 2024

Doors open at 14:15 in London and on Zoom with the talks starting around 14:45 (London see Event Time Announcer for local times), please arrive early so we can deal with any issues with joining.

We would ask that anyone with respiratory symptoms participate via Zoom.

Admission costs:

  • £7 for members. (Members can access a ticket code below or from the members area.)
  • £10 for non-members. (save £3 if you join at this meeting)
  • a recording to watch later will be available to members and non-member ticket holders.

Please sign up for meeting updates to get notifications for future meetings.


Tickets go on sale just before the meetings.

Saturday, December 7, 2024

Speaking on Saturday, December 7, 2024 we have :

1st: Brian Anderson – The High Life – the altiplano of Peru, Bolivia and Chile

Brian Anderson is a Wirral based, tutor, lecturer and travel
photographer. For over 35 years he has travelled to 66 countries and
territories around the world. North to South, from the North Pole to
Antarctica, and East to West, from Japan to Rapa Nui (Easter Island).
Based on his trips to South America in 2019 and 2023, he now takes us
in this new talk, to the Andean altiplano (high plains) of Peru, Bolivia
and Chile.

In a richly informative, colourful presentation, Brian shares with us the
otherwordly landscapes and the amazing wildlife that survives in this
barren, high altitude (14,000 – 16,000 ft asl) region.

We will also meet the proud indigenous people – the Aymara and
Quechua – who live in these high altitudes, and look at their unique and
colourful culture which is rooted in the remote environment.

This talk is a must for lovers of travel, diverse cultures and wildlife.

Find out more at:

2nd: Neil Pitts – Cycling Norway


Date & Time: Saturday 7th December 2024

Doors open at 14:15 in London and on Zoom with the talks starting around 14:45 (London see Event Time Announcer for local times), please arrive early so we can deal with any issues with joining.

We would ask that anyone with respiratory symptoms participate via Zoom.

Admission costs:

  • £7 for members. (Members can access a ticket code below or from the members area.)
  • £10 for non-members. (save £3 if you join at this meeting)
  • a recording to watch later will be available to members and non-member ticket holders.

Please sign up for meeting updates to get notifications for future meetings.


Tickets go on sale just before the meetings.