Frank Gardner

This article is from 2009.

Frank Gardner

A travel journalist like no other

Frank Gardner is not your average two-weeks-by-a-pool-in-Majorca kind of fella. Words like ‘wanderlust’ and ‘globetrotter’ don’t really do justice to a life spent doing what the BBC Security Correspondent describes as ‘epically hard travelling’. Fortunately for us, he took epically hard notes. ‘When I was travelling round places like Sumatra, Socotra and Djibouti, I kept detailed diaries and sketches, and those form the backbone of Far Horizons,’ he says. ‘It’s really a celebration of independent travel to unusual and adventurous – but not necessarily dangerous – countries.’

Some of the countries were perilous though. Five years ago, reporting from what ought to have been a routine assignment in Riyadh, he was shot six times at point-blank range by an Islamist extremist. He no longer has the use of his legs. This event forms the centrepoint of both the book and his Edinburgh talk, which he hopes to illustrate with music and slides from his travels. However, as he says, both talk and book are a celebration.

‘It starts with me as a teenager, being “beasted” up some Austrian mountain in the rain by a Royal Marine PT instructor, and carries on through the 80s and 90s via a mistaken stint in a Greek hospital for acutely infectious diseases,’ he says. ‘Then there’s trekking in search of a lost city in the Colombian jungle and the strange experience of trying to scuba dive in the Red Sea with paralysed legs. Basically, I’ll be giving an insight into some of the more bizarre and absurd encounters I’ve had in out-of-the-way places.’

30 Aug, 6.30pm, £9 (£7).

Frank Gardner

THE OPTICAL SOLUTIONS EVENT Wanderlust had already shaped the BBC's Security Correspondent by the time of his shooting, in Riyadh in 2004; now, despite his disability, it gives Frank Gardner new purpose and takes him far afield again. In Far Horizons he recounts the journeys he has undertaken since his student days.

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