I am an experienced public speaker with regular speaking engagements at branches of NADFAS/ The Arts Society, the WI, the U3A, English Speaking Union, Rotary Clubs, and schools. The last few years have also brought speaking engagements at the Albanian Presidency at the invitation of the First Lady, in London at the Royal Anthropological Institute, at the London Book Fair and Orllan and Ilkley Literary Festivals, at RHS Wisley and the American Embassy, Prishtina, a lifeboat station and a jazz club.
I've appeared on the BBC World Service, Radio 4, Australian ABC Radio, and BBC Radio Oxford. You can hear the Saturday Live recording of me interviewed by John McCarthy or watch the video produced by LandRover featuring me in the Accursed Mountains of Albania. I am a regular contributor to Radio 4's 'From Our Own Correspondent' e.g. with the dispatch I wrote about the 'Troubleshooting Teddies of Tirana' which you can hear on iPlayer or my recent pieces telling the story of manhole covers in Kosovo or Kosovo's sportsmen's ghosts, Albania's adventurous pelicans and the 'ill winds' of Montenegro. Recently I also contributed to Radio 4's 'From Our Home Correspondent' with a piece about yoga in prisons.
You can also watch my recent TEDx talks in the UK and Albania.
The talks are illustrated with my photographs (you can see examples on my Flickr photostream, under the name 'ElizabethinKosovo'). My photographs have been published in national newspapers in Kosovo and by National Geographic as well as being exhibited at the National Gallery of Kosovo and in London.
I offer seven talks:
Unlikely positions in unlikely places; a yoga journey around the UK - tells the stories from my explorations of yoga. I am not a likely yogini; I am too fond of chocolate and To-do lists, and sometimes fall over on my mat. So this is not a 'how to' talk - it's given by an explorer rather than an expert. Sometimes funny, sometimes touching, it evokes the characters and communities met along a fascinating journey, from doga (yes, yoga with your dog) to my dripping day of 'hot yoga', hanging upside down in aerial yoga, to yoga in prisons and with asylum-seekers, children and Stand-Up Paddleboards. It will be of interest to those who love Britain – its quirkiness and its multiply layered communities, from inner city community centres to exclusive spas. It will also be loved by the ‘armchair yogini’ and the armchair traveller. It’s a light introduction to some mind-bending ways that ancient positions can find new homes, and ordinary and extraordinary people in crisis can find peace and a sense of belonging. (photo credit: Paddy McEntaggart)
Edith and I; on the trail of an Edwardian traveller in Kosovo - drawing on the adventures which led to my book of the same title
|The silver thread; filigree jewellery - an ancient craft which spread across the former Ottoman Empire. Still practised by men and women who turn into dragons as they puff fire, sprinkle silver dust, and magic thick silver rods into fine wire and this into lacy jewellery, adornment and religious artefacts. My book The Silver Thread; a journey through Balkan craftsmanship was published in 2017 and is available on Kindle|
|The Rubbish-Picker's Wife; an unlikely friendship in Kosovo - what happens when you find your community but it's a long way from home. The story of what I've learned with, from and about the Roma and Ashkali community over four years of working and living with them in Kosovo. The book of the same title was published in 2015.|
|‘A courageous and skilled shot’; Montenegro’s photographer princess, Ksenia Petrović-Njegoš (1881 – 1960) Princess Ksenia’s father, King Nikola, was nicknamed ‘The Father-in-Law of Europe’ having successfully married off his daughters to the royal houses of Italy, Bulgaria, Germany, Serbia and Russia. His eighth daughter – Ksenia - chose a different route, carving out a place for herself as secretary and valued advisor to her father, becoming the first woman in Montenegro to drive, and developing a particular talent for photography (though a contemporary also described her as ‘a courageous and skilled shot with a pistol’).|
This lecture shares the photographs she took during her years in what contemporary British traveller William Le Queux described as ‘the little city in the sky’, the brand-new Montenegrin capital of Cetinje, where the royal family had their palace before they were exiled to France in 1916. Despite her privileged life of garden parties and tennis, Ksenia’s photographic record also shows how she drove out to take beautiful photographs celebrating ordinary life in Montenegro among its schools, soldiers, fishermen, cooks, horses and villages.
This lively lecture draws on my research in the archives of Ksenia’s correspondence, and on collaboration with the staff at the National Museum of Montenegro (to whom thanks for permission for use of the photograph reproduced here, and those used in the lecture). It gives a face and a human narrative to the history and culture of a part of the Balkans which is just beginning to be visited by British travellers. Further photographs can be seen in the books Crna Gora u Magicnom Oku Princeze Ksenije by Ande Kapičić and European Fashion at the Montenegrin Court by Tatjana Jović
|125 000 flowers - what it takes to make a spoon of honey, and how you can use it in cooking and natural remedies. This draws on my experiences as a beekeeper and my research for my Little Book of Honey, published in 2012.|
|A sabbatical in a day At the end of 2017 I began a six-week sabbatical. I wanted to recharge, refocus, and find out what was left of me when I removed the busyness of my life as an active volunteer and board member of our charity, The Ideas Partnership, and a writer - of 5 books in 6 years, among other things. I also just wanted to do yoga and then to sit still, to have time to look out of the window and daydream, and to eat chocolate.|
I turned my Facebook and Twitter accounts to ‘inactive’ and took myself to find calm among the stormy winter seas of North Cornwall.
With the combined help of the chocolate and my partner, the life coach Robert Wilton, I emerged with a clear sense of the seven areas where I wanted to focus my new energy, and how I was going to make time for them. I kept a journal during the sabbatical and at the end of it I reread my notes and my narrated dreams (even the one about Jay Rayner and the cha-cha-cha) and identified Nine Lessons learned.
If you can take a sabbatical in North Cornwall for six weeks I would recommend it. If you can’t, take my suggestions for one day when you can eat chocolate, review your dreams, refocus and to decide how you’re going to make time for the things you – really - want to do.
Feedback from my talks:
'A fascinating and inspiring speaker... I received many warm and enthusiastic comments concerning your address from parents, girls and Governors afterwards' (Head, Oxford High School)
|'A wonderful presentation... they listened with such rapt attention... top quality' (SW19 WI)|
'An excellent talk... everyone enjoyed it hugely' (Kent ESU)
'It was superb' (Broxbourne U3A)
'Last night we had the amazing Elizabeth Gowing come and speak to us. Fascinating women, as was her book and her stories. Highly recommend her!' (Harrow WI on Twitter)
'What an interesting, amusing and informative talk' (Worcestershire ESU)
'Such an entertaining and informative address on such an unusual subject... one of the best speakers this year' (Diss U3A)