Richard Taylor (33), from Hawick in the Scottish Borders, is a man of the outdoors. He is also a man of many recreations which is a central part of his story; An Outdoor Leadership and Instruction graduate of University of Central Lancashire, a snowboarder, film producer, yachtsman and a mountain bike guide. As he graduated from UCLAN, his next progression came whilst visiting his brother in the French Alps, where he moved towards serious, more challenging terrains, learning some big mountain skills. He completed a snowboarding season (in 2007) and fell in love with the sport, the alpine environment and particularly the adventurous side to it all – exploring new terrains and new mountain ranges. I caught up with Richy to talk about life, work and adventures, but most of all to share a key part of his story, which was certainly not difficult to illuminate as a writer and editor.
One season slowly turned into twelve winters.
Where is home for you Richy?
Good question. In the last twelve years, I haven’t really had a ‘home’ and that’s through choice. From exploring the Alps and finding temporary residence, to working on boats off shore – both have given me a base to live a seasonal lifestyle. I have never had to be rooted in one place, which means I’ve always had the freedom of being able to move wherever and however I want (within reason when it comes to work).
For me there is real greatness to be found outdoors. Wherever I am in the world, there is always beauty to be discovered. It’s a lifestyle too precious to give up.
Tell me about your lifestyle…
The outdoor lifestyle is the one for me. I believe nature is healthy for the soul. Outdoor sports are addictive – they always take you to beautiful places; snowboarding in the Alps, mountain biking in the Himalayas or rock climbing with friends on sunny wall somewhere. Wherever you go, you always find absolute beauty and it’s a lifestyle too precious to give up. It’s the same when I’m at sea, you get the nice jobs of driving speed boats in glistening warm water. I’m addicted to the fun things in life. Not necessarily materialistic things, such as having lots of money and flashy cars like some people may want. For me it’s about being connected to nature and respecting the natural environemnt.
Right now I’m about to board a boat that I’ve been working on all summer. We’re sailing from Italy to Hong Kong, via the Suez Canal and through the pirated waters of Somalia. After that delivery job has finished, I’ll go snowboarding in Japan for a month with my older brother and our friend Clint, who taught me to snowboard twelve years ago. JAPANUARY!
How do you earn a living?
When I moved to the Alps, I took any job that I could. It was about what was filling my day, rather than how I was making money. The primary focus was to be snowboarding each winter. As the seasons continued, as I ping ponged between working at sea and running a ski and snowboard repair service in Switzerland, the more things happened [many things as you will discover]. From there, I started working as a mountain bike guide, in a beautiful Italian resort by the sea, called Finale Ligure. This was a mecca – I met so many people and my mountain biking flourished. I was then invited to work on a project in the Himalayas and eventually other trips far and wide. So between working offshore on boats, working in the Swiss mountains and taking freelance work all over, I have managed to create a few different channels for my income.
Life was very seasonal and there were always many jobs going on but it was mostly about what direction I wanted to find. It was about what was filling my day than how I was making money. The primary focus was to be snowboarding.
Share your highlights from this year…
At the end of last year, my entire family decided to visit Australia. My parents have just retired and my elder brother and I thought; what a wonderful way to start their retirement than on the West coast of Australia. We rented two 4 x 4 roof top campers and did a one month adventure in these amazing vehicles; driving on sand dunes, beaches, wild camping every night, drinking whisky round the camp fire and just having some solid family time. As your parents age, you find that family times are few and far between (especially with the lifestyles me and my brother live). We then went on to New Zealand to visit some relatives in Christchurch and then travel the South Island. This was more about these guys getting to see the world after having worked so long. It was our way to thank them for being awesome parents and pushing the door wide open, for us to do whatever we wanted to do with our lives. I continued on to Byron Bay in Aus, to catch up with some old snowboarding friends and have a go at surfing. That was a new one for me – learning to surf. And yeah just getting right amongst it and having some really colourful parties. 2019 has certainly been an epic year… let’s hope the next few years are equally as epic!
What a wonderful way to start their retirement than going on a family adventure down the West coast of Australia. To get time together, in a new place, under the stars.
What are you most proud of in life?
Probably the people that I’ve surrounded myself with – there’s so much inspiration in all shapes and forms. Without your friends you’re nothing. You don’t really do these adventures by yourself, you do them to share the highs.
The Himalayan reconnaissance mountain bike adventure which we did in 2015. I was very proud to be invited on that expedition. It was the first time I got to hybrid my mountain bike guiding and my film making and get paid for it, so that was pretty special.
I’m proud that I managed to get out of my small town. It’s a very traditional lifestyle, you know? Everyone wants you to buy a house, get married and settle down and I’m pretty happy that I broke away from that and found the path that I wanted to walk. It’s a path less well travelled and its a bit more out there. But that’s definitely something that I am proud about and all the people that I share it with too.
What could you not live without?
Phwor [Richy takes a moment to ponder the question] Probably gravity fed sports. Adrenaline in some way, shape or form. That’s what really makes me feel alive. When I’m away from that, that’s definitely where my mind wanders to. Obviously too, I couldn’t live without the people around me; friends, family. My Mum and Dad are pretty awesome and they’ve never questioned what I do. They may have been scared at times, but it’s all calculated [what Richy does] to some extent. So to sum up – the essence of adventure.
What does sustainable living mean to you?
We all need to simplify our lives a little bit and become aware of the choices we make, like what travelling we do, for example. I might not lead the most sustainable lifestyle, in terms of carbon footprint, but with my current adventure [sailing from Italy to Hong Kong] the boat’s already heading there. Right now I’m just tagging along for a free ride, to eventually go snowboarding in Japan. Effectively it’s free travel and not so vain as what the modern day traveller has become. It’s difficult to live in a sustainable manner when you see there are over seven billion humans with endless consumerist demands. It’s important to set good examples to the younger generations.
Moving away from unecessary plastic is a big one for me. Again, just trying to simplify. Going back to the garden. There’s a lot of young people these days that are really keen on gardening and that’s because we see what problems we currently face. The food tastes way better when it comes straight from your Dad’s allotment and it’s not wrapped in plastic. It’s about going back to basics, living how our forefathers lived and trying to create organic solutions that will benefit everyone in the long run.
Mountains or Ocean?
Mountains. Hands down. I grew up in landlocked South Central Scotland, so the oceans were never really a part of me, whereas the hills of Scotland were. [FYI Munros of Scotland is a good starting point if you are interested]. I stumbled into yachting blindly, I didn’t even know these yachts existed, until I found myself working on one. The sea has always been a place of work for me, it’s a pretty scary environment when it’s wild out there. I definitely get moments where I think, alright, I’ve got to be switched on and focused and that certainly makes you feel alive. But the adventures that mountains provide – whether you’re canyoning in gorges, sliding down the hills, climbing up the rock faces – they are all just so diverse. I think that rounds you as a person. It gives you so much freedom to do how you please. The people it attracts are just second to none. It really brings a strong connection to nature, because when you’re watching the glaciers melt, you think; How can you make changes in your life? So it’s all totally relevant. Without mountain sports, I don’t know where I would be.
Taylor Made Film