Toby is an avid explorer and social entrepreneur. He’s currently running two expeditions: Kenyan Everest Expedition 2015 and Walk the Congo Expedition, the world’s first attempt to walk the length of the Congo River. The patron of the Congo Expedition is Sir Ranulph Fiennes, who generally is described as the world’s greatest living explorer.
Seeking adventure isn’t anything new for this Londoner residing New York, as he’s traveled the circumference of Africa from Kathmandu to London – on a motorcycle. He’s also a founder of a children’s home in Kenya called Flying Kites. The school helps to develop the next generation of Kenyan leaders through a focus on excellence, compassion and social justice.
And he’s never eaten a banana, a cucumber or a courgette. Amateur Freudian psychoanalysts can have at that one!
What’s your historical London and New York connection?
I was born in Cambridge and I studied in City University. When I first moved to the USA, I moved to Newport, RI in 2008 and made an escape to New York in 2010. It was love at first sight – arriving late at night, the Great Hall at Grand Central on a train from Greenwich. I was entranced.
Describe your experience in New York as a Londoner.
First surprise was how familiar NYC felt. Having seen it so often on the big and small screen alike there were frequent uncanny déjà vu-esque moments in my first few months here.
I was really surprised by my love for the city. It was the only one I have ever had any desire to live in or to make my home. I still can’t quite work out why. Perhaps it is the obvious things: the vitality, the diversity, how excellence is the default position, the casually brutal way that it can destroy ambition in one breath and reignite it with the next.
How can New York and London better engage with each other?
Football (the real one) on cable TV in NYC and American football games at Wembley. That’s a level of engagement you couldn’t have imagined ten years ago!
Favorite NYC secret spot:
Moustache in the West Village – Food is simply Mediterranean perfection, cheerfully brusque service, warm in winter, cool in summer, quick eats when in a rush, slow as you like when time is no issue, feels like home.
Favorite London secret spot:
The Cavalry and Guards Club – The ultimate in London traditional. The only problem is you have to have served in certain British Army regiments to be eligible for membership. I go as a guest of my brother, a former British Army colonel.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be and why?
I live exactly where I want to be. I spend enough of my time away that this city never becomes old for me. I would never risk provoking jealous fury of my adopted hometown by even imagining a life elsewhere.
In flight entertainment:
- What’s playing in your headphones right now? Elgar – Nimrod (I kid you not!)
- And what are you currently reading? On rotation depending on mood – Walking the Amazon by Ed Stafford and Haiti After the Earthquake by Paul Farmer.