Something Borrowed

As many would agree books not only create an imaginary world for us to escape to, they are also a fundamental tool in education. To end this week’s theme on travel writing we'll explain how Frontier volunteers can help to spread the benefits of reading materials to under-privileged parts of the world.

One way in which poverty can be reduced, or better yet eradicated, is through education. Whilst young people in Britain have a wealth of learning opportunities at their doorstep, impoverished children in underdeveloped countries do not. Frontier is helping pave the way towards solving the lack of learning resources in underdeveloped regions by supporting a new initiative that aims to enhance Tanzania’s education system through book-borrowing.

The scheme will construct a lending library that will store available books for schools to borrow. Frontier will be supporting this scheme by encouraging their volunteers to bring along a book or two to donate to the initiative en-route to their projects in Tanzania. The reading materials collected will then be distributed to different schools across the region with institutions being able to use the books for one term. Once term ends the participating schools will return the copies to the lending library and subsequently receive a different set.

The benefits of this initiative are abundant. Firstly this scheme would provide education institutions with exposure to a wider variety of teaching resources, which they currently lack. Secondly the scheme will ensure that books are being used and not being sold. Students will be given access to a range of reading materials, improving their analytical thinking, and increasing their English vocabulary and writing skills as a result.

Desired books to be donated will include children’s books, teaching resources; text books, and adolescent novels. So if you are planning on volunteering abroad with Frontier, specifically to Tanzania, take some books from your shelf and change a child’s life.

By Nancy Bukasa


Short Story Contest

Are you a budding young travel writer? Are you in awe of Attenborough, besotted by Bryson, charmed by Chatwin? Do you have a journal ready to fill with wondrous tales from your Frontier adventure? Well we’re giving you the opportunity to not only show off your abilities as a writer but also win some of the books we’ve been talking about all week.

All you have to do is write us a 100 word short story inspired by the image below:


Send your entries to

We’ll post the winner along with two runners-up on the blog and across our social networks.

We can’t wait to see what you come up with!

1.    One entry per person
2.    100 word maximum word count
3.    Competition closes: 19th September 2011
4.    The prize will not be transferable to another person or exchangeable for cash


What to pack - Holly - Research and Development Coordinator

"After a heinous 17 hours on a local bus and gaining a far greater appreciation for the public transport system back home, we ended up in the driest and dustiest town in the middle of Laos. We had arrived at the annual Elephant of the Year competition."

Click to read more ...


Frontier goes to the Library

Frontier has projects all over the world. So as part of this week’s theme of inspirational travel writing, we thought we’d have a look at some literature involving some of the countries we work in.

Men Against the Sea by Charles Nordhoff and James Norman Hall

The second in a trilogy about the mutiny of HMS Bounty in 1789, this novel documents the journey made by Lieutenant William Bligh and 18 members of his crew following their forced departure from the war ship. In what is frequently described as the most incredible and impressive feats of nautical navigation, Men Against the Sea chronicles the fascinating struggle faced by these men, and how Bligh skilfully led them to safety. The journey sees the crew row closely to Fiji, an area they understood to be inhabited by cannibals.   



Barefoot Over the Serengeti by David Read

This is the autobiography of David Read’s childhood spent in Tanzania during the 1920’s, an area that is today at the heart of the Serengeti National Park. Barefoot Over the Serengeti is an intriguing account of his upbringing amongst the Maasai people, with whom he spent a lot of time. Detailing their unique lifestyle and hunting methods, this book is constantly lauded as an excellent read for anyone remotely interested in the Maasai tribe, or African culture in general.


Ghost of Chance by William S. Burroughs

This short adventure story takes place in the jungles of Madagascar, and tells the tale of an 18th century pirate named Captain Mission who founds a colony on the African island. Determined to protect the region’s natural elements, including its native lemur population, Captain Mission struggles against plans of development for the island. What results is a strange but interesting work.  



Costa Rica:
Tropical Nature: Life and Death in the Rain Forests of Central and South America

An educational but highly accessible description of some of the most interesting aspects of the rain forests of Costa Rica and Ecuador. Covering an array of topics from the symbiotic relationship of the sloth with the trees they prefer, to why some plants have developed hallucinogenic properties, it is a widely respected and enjoyed account of these regions.  It also includes an extensive guide on what to pack, and what to expect from a trip to these amazing locations.  




For the Sake of all Living Things by John M. Del Vecchio

For the Sake of all Living Things is an emotional book dealing with the events surrounding the horrific genocide committed by Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge which was responsible for the extermination of approximately two-million people between 1975-79. It is the second book in a trilogy, and fuses real life analysis of the circumstances leading to the creation of the Khmer Rouge, with fictional accounts of different individuals affected by the dictatorship. A revealing look at this recent and horrifying act of genocide.




By Alex Prior


Interview with Dorothy Conlon

Continuing with this week’s theme we have an exclusive interview with author Dorothy Conlon. Dorothy Conlon is nothing short of inspirational, “a born traveller” she has explored a host of countries and has consequently written her very own travel book titled “At home in the World”. Here we have some interesting insights on her views on travel. I am sure you will enjoy reading this as much as I enjoyed interviewing her.

Frontier: You have signed up for our Cook Islands Project – what appeals to you about this particular project?

Dorothy: Well first of all, because it is to a place that I haven’t been to before and I really like the home-stay aspect of it. I will be leaving from Tahiti shortly after for a cruise around the surrounding area including the Marquesas Islands, so I wanted to volunteer in the same general region. It was really hard to find a project but this one just sounded wonderful.

Frontier: Your life has been filled with interesting travels across the globe. Do you have a favourite place that you have visited?

Dorothy: I am always asked that so I have learned to answer, wherever I am at the moment! My favourite places change. I went to Vietnam a few times because I was so smitten with it, but I think my all time favourite would be India as we lived there the longest, so I do keep going back. It’s sort of a tie among various different places, wherever I am is my favourite.

Frontier: Is there anywhere you haven’t been that you would like to visit?

Dorothy: Of course! You name it, Mongolia, New Guinea, Ethiopia, Crete, Madagascar… I would love to do the Trans-Siberian railway; I have never been to Russia.

Frontier: What is your view on gap years and people volunteering abroad?

Dorothy: I think it is the most wonderful development in recent years. You people in England are ahead of us, but even here I know some top-notch universities that do not issue a degree to students unless they have spent a semester abroad. My mantra is no tourist sees a country like a volunteer does. Volunteering at a young age will alter your world view for the rest of your life; it’s about experiencing the place rather than looking at it through a tour bus window.

Frontier: Are you planning a follow up to your first book ‘At Home in the World’?

Dorothy: Oh I am so glad you asked me that. Yes, Born with Wings is about 75 per cent finished, at least in draft from. It is more autobiographical than the one I did before, and I am not telling many people this but after that will come Seeing the World through a Volunteer's Eyes. I have written many travel articles on volunteering in different countries because I have had all these experiences, so it will not take a lot of work to expand upon each of these in a book with stand-alone chapters focusing on one particular experience. Of course the Cook Islands will be one of them.

Frontier: This week’s theme on our blog is travel writing, what is your favourite travel book and why?

Dorothy: I am afraid I am going to have to weasel out of the wording of this question. I have favourite travel authors but not one particular book. I really adore the stories of Victorian women, like Gertrude Bell, Isabella Bird, Mary Kingsley, Freya Stark… I just can’t imagine that in that day and age they had to dress the way they did, and yet they went to all these wild and remote places and had these adventures that were unheard of from that period. I just think we complain about problems with air travel now, but oh boy they had it really bad back then. As for contemporary authors I like Paul Theroux; Michael Crichton who wrote Travels and an Australian woman called Robyn Davidson who wrote Tracks.

Frontier: What advice would you give aspiring travellers wanting to go out on a gap year?

Dorothy:  Expect the unexpected; and go with an open mind, an open heart and realise that you are not only seeing new things there, but back home you'll see familiar things with new eyes.

Frontier: We like to give all our future volunteers some advice on what to pack on a gap year trip.  What one thing do you always take on your travels that you wouldn’t leave home without?

Dorothy: [laughing] I am going to have to weasel out of this too I can’t put it down to one. It would have to be my journal, my camera and a torch.


Frontier Style: Overseas Geek Chic

As our avid readers will already be aware, this week’s theme is travel writing. So it is only appropriate that we dedicate our current edition of Frontier Style to the fashion-forward nerds among us, le Geek c’est Chic. Travelling across the globe can be incredibly tiring, so rest your eyes without fear that your modish glasses will be destroyed by the wilderness with a Fun Spex black & red faux leather glasses case. With soft lining to protect your specs and a magnetic clip on the side, this case is practical yet still oozes the phrase Geek wears Prada. It can be purchased for as little as £7.99, and if you don’t fancy the traditional red and black colour trend, there is a wide choice of colour tones to pick from, so get choosing!

Now, one is only a true nerd if along with their various travel essentials they are lugging around numerous hardbacks en route to a wild location. Do not despair fellow literary people, pack Orwell, Larkin, and Tolstoy in this comfortable and yet incredibly trendy Herschel rucksack. Inspired by classic mountaineering, this contemporary bag, aptly named Little America, can carry as many books as you can possibly fit in.

The story of the Herschel bag began in the early 1900’s, in Wick, Scotland where Peter Cormack’s wife, Annie, packed the belongings of their entire home in preparation for their exciting journey across the Atlantic to Canada. The government of the time encouraged families to immigrate through the homestead program. Since then the great grand children of these extraordinary characters gave birth to this classic rucksack, giving it an edgy, modern twist. Adventure and style are effortlessly entwined, making the Herschel bag a perfect travel accessory.

By Nancy Bukasa


Travel Writing: Frontier Staff Picks

Continuing this week’s theme of travel literature, Frontier staff have been talking about their favourite travel books. For your chance to win a copy of each of these exciting titles, as well as some other travel writing goodies, keep your eye on our blog this week to find out the details of our latest competition.

Paul Thompson – Partner Projects Manager

The Rum Diary by Hunter S. Thompson

This book is set in one of my favourite eras, the 1950’s.  This easy to read fictional rollercoaster carries you through the debauched and hedonistic lifestyle of Paul Kemp, a journalist in Puerto Rico with a taste for rum and a general disdain for authority.  Hunter S. Thompson has a writing style that I like a lot and really captures the mood of what it is to be young and ambitious with the odd vice or two, and to have as much a passion for life as for work, which hopefully most of us can relate to.  A good one for the beach!




Drea Davila – Events and Marketing Intern

Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson

It’s the story of a brave girl called Maia who moves to Manaus in the South American jungle to join her only living relatives, after the devastating loss of her parents in a terrible train accident. She moves in with her uncle, his controlling and selfish wife and spoiled two daughters. Maia embraces this new life and becomes friends with the natives and a half-Brazilian Indian, half-European child called Finn Taverner. Thanks to Finn, Maia sees the beauty of the jungle and together they embark on an incredible adventure. I won’t tell you more because that would give the story away. I liked it firstly because it’s set in the South American jungle. Secondly, because it is the story of a young English girl who moves away to a completely different country, which I can relate to. And lastly, it is just a really fun and inspiring read.


Jo Pollett – Volunteer Co-ordinator

Life on Air by David Attenborough

I found this book fascinating. Obviously he’s a really interesting man having travelled so extensively and witnessed so much of the natural world, but I had no idea about some of the other stuff he’s done, like being made Controller of BBC2. If I could choose an extra grandad, it would have to be Sir David; he’d just have so many stories to tell. For example, his travels to Indonesia where he visited islands that were off limits to visitors and his description of the infamous encounter with the mountain gorillas of Rwanda back in 1978. Great stuff!




By Alex Prior


VOX POPS - Travel Reading

This week’s feature focuses on travel writing. To kick things off we took to the streets around Frontier HQ and questioned people on their favourite, most inspirational travel reads. So what did they say:

Name: Robert Phoenix
Occupation: Artist
Choice: Wanderlust: A History of Walking
Author: Rebecca Solnit
What he said: “It interprets walking as a wider activity than just putting one foot in front of the other”

Name: Pia Chaudhuri
Occupation: Art Director
Choice: Midnight’s Children
Author: Salman Rushdie
What she said: “Set in the time of India gaining independence, he uses magical realism to portray people’s struggle in a really surreal way”

Name: Claudia Schroegel
Occupation: Graphic Designer
Choice: The Various Flavours of Coffee
Author: Anthony Capella
What she said: “It’s set in London and Africa. It describes the different flavours of coffee, like perfume. It’s amazing”

Name: Daniel Gilbert
Occupation: Social Media
Choice: Kafka on the Shore
Author: Haruki Murakami
What he said: “It’s just an amazingly descriptive book, evocative of traveling by train in Japan”

Name: Matteo Merla
Occupation: Contemporary Artist
Choice: Peer Gynt
Author: Henrik Ibsen
What he said: “It tells the story of Peer Gynt who leaves home in search of his fortune. His adventures take him to places like Morocco and Italy. It’s a very good story.”

Name: Hannah Wray
Occupation: Teacher
Choice: For Whom the Bell Tolls
Author: Ernest Hemingway
What she said: “It evokes a different and interesting period”

Name: Vidak
Occupation: Inventory Manager
Choice: A. A. Gill is Further Away
Author: A. A. Gill
What he said: “A collection of different travel accounts. It’s just good writing”

Name: Jake Brewer
Occupation: Graphic Designer
Choice: Long Way Round
Author: Ewan McGregor and Charley Boorman
What he said: “It’s definitely inspiring. I like it because what they did was such a simple idea. I don’t think it’s anything to do with the fact that Ewan McGregor is involved; it could be anyone and still be just as good. It’s just so real and personal”

Name: Billy Holland
Occupation: Marketing
Choice: Less Than Zero and Imperial Bedrooms
Author: Brett Easton Ellis
What he said: “Not the most beautiful picture of LA, but intriguing nonetheless”

Name: Rhianna
Occupation: Research intern
Choice: Down and Out in Paris and London
Author: George Orwell
What she said: “It’s just a really good book”

Name: Tom Vaughn
Occupation: Film Distributor
Choice: A Sport and a Pastime
Author: James Salter
What he said: “It really made me want to go to the south of France”


Champandongo – A Novel Little Latino Lasagne

Here’s this weeks recipe. Tasked with finding something relevant to this week’s blog theme of travel writing, I remembered a novel I studied at university containing recipes at the start of each chapter. Como agua para chocolate (Like water for chocolate) is a satisfying little read written by Mexican novelist Laura Esquivel in 1989. This recipe is one of the most interesting included. A few difficult ingredients to get your mits on, but please don’t let that put you off chicos.

1 lb./450g minced beef
1 lb./450g minced pork
7 oz./200g walnuts, chopped in small pieces (not ground)
7 oz./200g almonds, chopped in small pieces (not ground)
1 onion, chopped
1 candied citron or juice of an orange
2 tomatoes, chopped
1 cup chicken stock
1/4 cup molé sauce (some markets stock it)
1-2 tablespoons cumin
1 tablespoon sugar
1 lb. tortillas
1/4 cup cream
8 oz. Manchego cheese

Preheat oven to 200°C/400°F/gas 6.

Make your Mole first, as this has many ingredients and may take a while unless you find a pre-made version.

Sauté onion in large pan with several tablespoons oil. Once onion is translucent, add beef and pork. Sprinkle meat and onion mixture with cumin and sugar. Once beef and pork are golden brown, add tomatoes, nuts and the citron.

Meanwhile, as meat is browning, add molé into the chicken stock and stir constantly until molé has a thick, soupy consistency. Heat tortillas in 1-2 tablespoons of oil in a non-stick pan, and stack to one side.

Spread the cream on the bottom of a large, glass casserole dish. Top with a layer of tortillas, then a layer of the meat mixture, then a coating of molé, and finally the cheese. Repeat this process as many times as necessary until the dish is filled. Put the pan in the oven and bake until the cheese melts and the tortillas are softened.  About 15 min.  Slice into squares and serve immediately, perhaps with re-fried beans and a cheeky salad.


A Few Handy Travel Tips


What to pack – Nicki – Research & Development Intern

"I spent three months zigzagging across the country, clocking up thousands of miles by every means including 24 hour train rides, buses with no speedometer whizzing round mountain bends at g-force speeds, playing the ‘how many people can you balance on a bike’ game and an all Chinese boat cruise down the river Yangtze."

Click to read more ...


Frontier Style: Swimsuit Issue

With it being August it is only appropriate that Frontier Style comes back with some sizzling wardrobe suggestions. Feel cool in this summer’s sweltering heat with today’s feature on ethical swimwear. For the girls we recommend Fair + True Hava Fair Trade African Print Bikini. Besides its incredibly long name this African Print Bikini is a gorgeous two-piece that risks being perforated as eyes burn green with envy.

Fair + True is a new eco fashion line that is both fashion-forward and ethical, usually a hard combination to come by. Its innovative line features organic silks, jersey and fabrics made in the UK and fair trade groups in Africa. This week’s featured bikinis are made in Kenya under a Fair Trade scheme which supports the local communities there.

As well as being wholly unique and original, these bikinis can be purchased for as little as £35, and girls you will definitely get your money’s worth as the top is designed to be worn four different ways. The Hava African print bikini has everything you’d want in swimwear; it’s flattering, trendy and doesn’t involve poor women working in sweatshops. So I ask you, what’s stopping you from buying one?

Boys don’t worry we have something for you too. Keep your swagger up to date (and no not the Cheryl Lloyd version) with Vilebrequin’s men’s swimwear. This will definitely attract all the right attention. Established in 1971 Vilebrequin continues to maintain the Saint Tropez spirit and lifestyle. The swimwear oozes luxury and elegance despite its vibrant array of colours and prints.

40 years ago the founding designer wanting to veer away from the traditional designs gave birth to a new and original style of freedom, expressed by the stand-out-of-the-crowd tones, and elegance, shown by the cut and quality of the material. The material is made of spinnaker canvas that dries at a faster rate than the usual fabrics. For those who think pink is the new butch, have a look at the practical, comfortable, colourful and yet masculine swimwear collection. Fanciful is the new pink.

By Nancy Bukasa

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