On July 8th I had the fortune of being given four VIP tickets by prominent trade magazine The Spirits Business to an evening of adventure with The Black Grouse and four of the UK’s leading adventurers and explorers – Sir Ranulph Fiennes, Ben Fogle, Olly Hicks and Kenton Cool. The venue? The Natural History Museum, London, and wow what a venue.
This was one of two signature ‘in conversation’ events The Black Grouse are putting on with these four intrepid explorers who happen to be their brand ambassadors.
We arrived at the museum at the time I had been told without realising that our tickets were VIP and meant that we were there earlier than the paying attendees that meant we got to enjoy cocktails and drams with the explorers themselves.
Having mingled with four of the world’s greatest adventurers for an hour or so, we went through to the main hall where we assumed our seats in the front row, I literally could not be more excited.
The setting was incredible.
Four gorgeous leather chairs were curated on the stage with a traveller’s chest, a big screen and of course a bottle of The Black Grouse. Behind us stood Dippy, the iconic Diplodocus that has a cult following of its own.
As our adventurers entered they were ‘announced’ by some of the most dramatic music possible, as well as rapturous applause from around three hundred people who had come to hear their tales.
The conversation was exciting.
I was literally on the edge of my seat for the entire evening, tales of their expeditions, their motivations, their fears, their highs, their lows, and the intricate details of how they summon their mental strength and will to carry on.
As someone who has been a huge fan of Sir Ranulph Fiennes for many a year, I was quite literally hanging off his every word and of course his biting wit.
We heard how he had dedicated 26 years to fulfilling the ambition of his first wife to find a lost city in the desert, how he’d lost a couple of fingers to frostbite and how he had always wanted to explore and will never cease in his adventures.
Olly Hicks talked about how he prepared himself for months of solitude as he rowed the Atlantic, making friends with a spade a la Tom Hanks in Castaway, and how he finds solace and enjoyment in his own company in the ‘near perfect’ surroundings of the ocean.
Kenton, who took an excitable shine to us both in the pre-talk reception and afterwards, spoke about how he rationalises his tendency towards climbing Everest or the Triple Crown with his family. He said the key to his mental strength whilst away was making sure that everyone knows why he wants to do what he does and that nothing is left unsaid or unfinished back home whilst he is away so he can concentrate on the task at hand.
Ben Fogle explained how he had caught the adventurer’s bug whilst taking part in a social experiment for TV relatively early in life and now focuses not on exploring as such but setting incredible challenges for himself and sets about completing these challenges in record speeds.
Once the talk had finished and the audience had had their questions answered, the VIPs and adventurers headed back into the private space for a couple more drams and to continue the conversation.
When GreatDrams.com asked Sir Ranulph Fiennes about his views on The Black Grouse and the parallels between their strength of character and that of the blend’s, he said:
“In order to continually challenge themselves and push themselves to the limit, adventurers require a certain blend of characteristics that sets them apart from everyone else. This mirrors the unique blend that gives The Black Grouse its distinctive character.
I am delighted to be part of this group of adventurers assembled by The Black Grouse to discuss and debate what components make up the unique character of those with a sense of adventure.
Kenton, Olly and Ben are all highly experienced and respected in their fields and I am excited to see what comes out of our discussions and pleased that the public have the opportunity to be part of these unique events too.”
I would like to thank The Spirits Business, The Black Grouse and our four incredible adventures for a fantastic night, truly inspiring and just goes to show that you really can do anything if you prepare yourself mentally and make sure you know what you want to achieve.
Our adventurers profiled
Sir Ranulph Fiennes
Deemed the world’s greatest living explorer. Sir Ranulph’s expeditions include the first to visit both the North and South Poles by surface and the first to cross Antarctica on foot.
A popular TV personality, Ben’s many adventures have included rowing tandem across the Atlantic Ocean, cycling across the Rocky Mountains and travelling through the empty quarter of Oman.
The youngest person to row solo across the Atlantic Ocean and Tasmania Sea, Olly also attempted an around the world solo row but was thwarted by a boat failure. Olly will attempt to row around the world solo again in 2016.
A well as reaching the summit of Everest 11 times (a British record), Kenton was the first to complete the triple crown of the summits of Everest, Nuptse and Lhotse in a single trip. Kenton has also led many of Sir Ranulph Fiennes’ expeditions, including their tackling of the North Face of the Eiger.