Simon Parker is an Oxfordshire-based travel writer, author, filmmaker, broadcast journalist and public speaker. His work across a wide range of themes and subjects has taken him over the world; from Venezuela and Northern Columbia to Greece and Svalbard. He has paraglided solo through the Andes, hiked up Bali’s highest volcanoes and driven a rickshaw the length of India. In 2016 he sailed and cycled from China to London in 133 days for a BBC World Service documentary.
With the start of the first lockdown in 2020, Simon’s travel journalism career vanished overnight. He had also received the tragic news that a close friend had died. With a long-suppressed anxiety disorder starting to rear its head, he turned to the only therapies he knew and trusted: travel and exercise. Simon embarked on a 3,500-mile journey across Britain and what emerged was his first book; Riding Out, a story of optimism and hope. In it he paints a picture of Britain throughout the pandemic and, as restrictions lifted, of a nation on the mend.
What Makes Simon…
Cricket. I’ve been lucky to report on the sport all over the world for the BBC, and watch England play in half a dozen countries. In a busy world, cricket makes me feel more present than anything else. During the winter I play for a club in Cape Town, but when I’m back in Oxfordshire between April and September I play for Blenheim Park, on the South Lawn of the Palace.
Unfairness. The world is an unfair place, and I see that over and over again when I travel. If you’re reading this, you’re probably one of the most fortunate people on the planet. I want to live in a world of equal opportunity, where every person has the chance to succeed. There’s still a long way to go, though.
Books. I’ve read more books in the past two years than I have in my whole life. It was one of the few positives to come out of the pandemic. I also got round to writing my first - Riding Out - and my second one is on the way. I enjoy accessible non-fiction and mundane fiction. This is partly down to my wife, Alana, banning me from reading anything work-related before bed, to stop my mind whirring.
Am I allowed to say alcohol? I’ve been on a 100-night UK theatre tour this year. And there will be another one in 2023. Before I go on stage I have a glass of wine or beer, as a bit of a ritual to loosen me up. I think one or two drinks can often be a performance enhancing drug in life. Public speaking, snooker, darts… it loosens up the limbs and makes us less self-conscious.
Cruelty to animals. People who treat animals badly are abhorrent. As the most intelligent species on the planet it’s our responsibility to protect everything else on it. A life with animals is certainly a richer existence.
Journalism. I love what I do, and my industry is always striving to ask questions and better understand the world we live in. When I’m not reporting overseas I lecture at schools and universities about how journalism can be a force for good. I look forward to helping the next generation of travel writers and journalists because lots of people helped me.
Riding Out (Summersdale, 2022) is available now from bookshops, including Amazon. Simon’s award-winning Earth Cycle TV show can be viewed in the UK on YouTube and Amazon Prime Video. Follow Simon on social media or check his website for updates on his upcoming 2023 tour.