As much as I love the online world, there’s something special about curling up with good old-fashioned printed pages, poring over words and pictures and breathing in the strangely comforting smell of paper and ink. It’s a little escape from the madness of day-to-day life – something to be savoured when time allows. I’m not alone, either: independent magazines are flourishing, and now another beautifully crafted title, Lodestars Anthology, has joined their ranks.
This is a travel magazine with a difference. Every issue focuses on a single country and contains a collection of stories and observations which capture the essence of that place and let the imagination roam. It’s slow travel at its best, and I was hooked as soon as I read the evocative description on the back of issue two:
“Within are tales of warriors, vagabonds and battle-ready clans; of artisans, gourmands and monsters from the deep. Shaped by scenery that astounds and a rich cultural legacy, this is the country of bright-eyed princes and fickle skies, seafaring towns and islands shrouded in mist. Here we honour Scotland, with its warmth, Munros and penchant for the wild.”
With the third issue, Australia, due out in August, I chatted to founder Liz Schaffer about the thinking behind the magazine…
Please can you tell us a bit about Lodestars Anthology?
“Lodestars Anthology is an independent travel magazine for the curious and creative. In each issue we explore a single country through features, interviews, profiles, photo essays and creative writing. We aim to be more than just a travel guide and instead give our readers a real insight into a country, while bringing on a spot of wanderlust. We’re a jumping-off point, an informative publication that encourages people to get out there and discover the world for themselves.”
How did the magazine come about?
“I’d worked as a freelance travel writer for quite a while and starting my own publication – one that spent time exploring a single country and did so in a slightly different way – had long been a dream. Eventually, after telling a few too many people about it, I had no choice but to put it into action. There’s only so long you can dodge the ‘so how’s the magazine going?’ question! And it’s amazing how fast things can happen when you finally decide to commit.”
What do you want readers to take away from the magazine?
“A sense of place. We want readers to be inspired to travel, create and talk. To see a destination as more than a collection of restaurants, hotels and attractions. To discover the people behind places, learn their stories and understand their history. And to enjoy getting a little swept up in our words and photography…”
And why a single country in each issue?
“There’s so much life and excitement in a single city, let alone a country. I just feel it’s impossible to begin to capture somewhere like Scotland, Australia or Italy in less than 152 pages. And even with that much space, it’s a bit of a challenge. It also gives us an excuse to spend a considerable amount of time really exploring a country, getting to know its people and falling a little bit in love.”
What inspires you and the team?
“I think everyone is driven by a love of adventure and words. That’s what I’ve discovered working in this field over the years. As much as travel writers, photographers and illustrators adore getting on planes, we also love coming home, working on projects and feeling that we’re keeping the traditional print industry very much alive. Print is not dead. Too many creatives believe in it.”
How do you source such fascinating subject matter?
“So much of it comes from just talking to people. Everyone knows someone working away on a passion project, whether that be a ghillie on the Isle of Skye or the first distillery in Sydney in over 100 years. Chatting to people about their own ventures, or those of their friends, leads to fantastic introductions.
“As the magazine has grown, wonderful contributors have also found us and shared tales about people and destinations that have really meant something to them. Being out in the world, travelling, seeing something different – that’s what inspires great stories.”
You have a very distinctive photography style. How does this reflect the voice of the magazine?
“We want to be completely natural and honest in our style, but we can’t help getting swept up in the magic of travel and place. So yes, our views are a touch rose-tinted and we do seek out the sublime, but that’s what travelling is all about: discovering the beauty in the world and taking a little bit of it home with you.”
Finally, what are your future plans?
“World domination! Ha, just to keep spreading the joys of travel in any way that we can. Destination-wise, our Australia issue will be out in August and brainstorming for Italy, out early next year, is well under way.”
Head over to the Lodestars Anthology website for details of stockists and to view previous issues.
Photography by Abi Dare
The Lodestars Anthology team kindly gave me a free copy of the second issue to review for this post, but words and opinions are my own.