Becky Bradley, director of a London surf club, talks about her favorite ways to escape as well as her time in the Surf Cooperative.
Running a surf club out of London always raises a few eyebrows but that is exactly what I do with the Surf Cooperative. I work part-time in digital marketing and I use my free days to arrange monthly trips to the coast.
A big fan of escaping the city, I have come to realize there are four key ingredients to any escape. Different combinations of these ingredients give rise to different types of escapes, and my current setup allows me to escape regularly without making a dramatic dash for freedom. I’m still looking to make my great escape, but at the moment I am focused on making it a sustainable one.
The four ingredients are:
- The company you work for
- The industry you work within
- The function you have within that company or industry
- Where you live
Everyone will change the company they work for and many will change the industry they work within. Few, however, will change their function and fewer still will up sticks completely.
The ejector seat
The ejector seat is using all four key ingredients in large quantities. Usually deployed with absolute abandon at times of extreme confusion and even desperation. This was the nature of my first escape when I left Google to study condor populations in the Patagonian Andes. You couldn’t get two worlds further apart and in my mind this spelt broadened horizons and a gained perspective. As it turned out the distance between the two worlds meant that it just felt like a holiday from reality. Lasting change is rare with the ejector seat approach but it is a good catalyst.
The sideways shuffle
Following the condors, the next logical step was to travel to Costa Rica (obviously) to help some friends set up and manage an all-inclusive surf coaching resort. Whilst a little incongruous in the life of a digital marketer, the function I played within the team was very familiar – business administration, sales and marketing. This was a sideways shuffle: Escaping The Easy Way with minimal risk, allowing the escapee to continue with their original career should they wish to (which is exactly what I did next when I returned to the UK to take a job with the BBC).
I left the BBC to try my hand at freelance marketing consultancy, and although I was working in the same industry, in a similar function, and in the same city, this was another sideways shuffle. Having to market and sell my own skills took more getting used to than moving to Costa Rica and I shuffled back again quite quickly.
The free limb
‘The free limb’ is an expression I have concocted off the back of a vague memory of climbing techniques. I think there is a rule of thumb that says you are safe if three of your four limbs are secure (i.e. one hand and both feet, or one foot and both hands), which sums up my current lifestyle. My part-time role at a leading digital agency gives me the security to be fully experimental with my free days. Which is where the Surf Cooperative comes in.
I set up the Surf Cooperative when I returned from Costa Rica to ensure I kept surfing (and because I couldn’t get out of my wetsuit on my own and needed to recruit helpers) and momentum has built. I book cosy farmhouses next to the UK’s best surf spots and put on all food and drink to make for a chalet-type surf weekend. Too time-consuming to manage with a full-time job, now I just need to decide how far I want to take it and how quickly. There are more surfers in London than you might think!
The free limb can also be used for freelancing, or for volunteering with interesting companies, … or for researching locations for a life in the sun.
To sum up, if you are thinking of changing certain aspects of your life but without absolute clarity as to the end goal, then you might want to think about which factors you want to change and to what degree, to see what works in the long term.
And, if you fancy a short, refreshing break from the city grind, then you’re very welcome to join us on a surf weekend. Please feel free to email me at email@example.com.