So how did all this come about? Well this is a story that stretches over most of my lifetime. It is a genuine and heart felt insight into the personal journey I’ve been on, and how I ended up surrounded by these incredible wild mountains and inspirational people today. As with all stories, it contains some serious ‘bottom of the whiskey glass’ moments as well as some incredible highs. All of which I now realize have been invaluable life lessons, guiding me along a bumpy path and to the eventual evolution of Wild View Retreat.
Since my childhood days I’ve always fitted into the category of ‘non-conventional’. I probably didn’t even understand what that meant at the age of 10 nor quite where it would eventually lead me. But as teenager I soon became familiar with the stresses and strains of modern day society, silently observing my father’s struggle to balance the pressures of finances, work, relationships and life. It made me question why we pile so much pressure on ourselves if it is only going to make us unhappy and unwell. Of course I realise now the conventional path is amazing for many, but I started to understand it’s not for everyone. When my father then retired at 53 to enjoy he’s freedom and tragically died a year later from a diet and lifestyle induced cancer, it was to change my life forever. He never got to enjoy the result of 30 years of stress and hard graft and I never really had a father in my life.
Making healthy lifestyle choices is hard to achieve in our modern society. Seeing the impact of stress, a poor diet and no exercise on my Father planted the initial light bulb moment. I feel like he sacrificed his life to pass on these lessons, unwittingly never knowing they were going to have such a profound impact on me.
Pursuing a career in an out of office environment, I found myself working on environmental conservation in Fiji and then the Marshall Islands in the Pacific. This was a fascinating and rewarding experience, but was abruptly cut short when I nearly lost my leg from a terrible compound fracture and open dislocation on a remote Pacific atoll. When none of the medical staff were able to help me, my great friend Brett stood up and carried me for two days on two small aircraft, from Majuro Atoll, Micronesia to Hawaii and on to Sydney, to get medical help. After 3 weeks with my leg in two pieces doctors finally cleared a severe leg infection and were able to drill me back together. It was a very close call and I will always be eternally grateful to Brett for getting me out of there and for the use of both my legs!
This painful experience provided the catalyst to buy a bicycle and ride continuously for 8 months from the Arctic in Alaska through Canada, America, Mexico, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Honduras, Costa Rica and finally to the Panama Canal – the best physical and mental therapy I could have ever possibly imagined! It was truly enlightening, the generosity and hospitality of strangers restored my faith in humanity of this crazy World. An unforgettable journey and experience, one that I would never have pursued if I hadn’t nearly lost my leg and if Brett hadn’t come to my rescue. It’s strange, but ask me now and I am almost grateful to the guy who broke my leg but even more grateful to Brett for ensuring it wasn’t amputated.
However there was one last tragic event to come. Brett, my friend who had carried me from Majuro Atoll to Sydney, tragically drowned in a free diving accident back in the Marshall Islands, when we went back to live there 6 months later. He was 26 years old. Carrying his body back to Australia to his grief stricken family left me confused for years. I will always question why life can be so cruel and unjust. The only comfort possible I can take is that Brett was wonderfully content and happy with his life when he died. It reminded me how life can be cut short at any time and how important it is to live every day like it could be our last.
Moving forward to 2008 I found myself back in London. Unbelievably, I’d managed to sleepwalk myself back into a dull and uninspiring office. I guess back then I just wanted stability and financial security initially but I felt I had become brainwashed by the city. I started to question my endless pursuit of a ‘successful’ career, a partner and children and all those things social media say we need to be happy. I was unhappy, stressed and my anxiety would lead to occasional periods of depression. What happened to the person who used to follow his dreams?! I started to feel like I was on the same path as my father, slowly entrapping myself, becoming unwell and needing to get off fast. If I was so unhappy with my job and office life, then why didn’t I just change it?
And so I did.
It was not easy at first, but slowly I started making very small changes; trying out yoga, (yoga?? Are you mad?), swapping cows milk for nut milk (hippie fool), cutting down on red meat and alcohol (what’s happened to him?), eating more veggies (we’ve lost him), enrolling in a meditation course (ok he’s gone now). It came with some raised eyebrows and chuckles from friends who still enjoy the occasional dig at my green tea and swampy green juice. But I was really enjoying how it made me feel. Then one day the penny dropped when I started going on wellness retreats. I realised the profound impact retreats can have. Feeling mentally and physically fantastic in a very short space of time, which in turn armed me with the tools and techniques to return home to thrive in modern society.
I hadn’t felt that good since I was 16. I wanted to feel happier and healthy all the time! I realised I had found the answer to my question; I wanted to pursue a lifestyle in ‘Wellness’. I wanted to live life to the fullest yet still do something exciting with my life. And helping others by empowering them with new knowledge to inspire and motivate their own life changing healthier choices would solidify the dream.
I finally bit the bullet in 2014. I first quit the office job and then retrained in nutritional therapy and yoga with the intention of setting up my own retreat. 2 years later I was in Portugal, signing on the dotted line to purchase this beautifully secluded, tumble-down old property in an abandoned mountain village and have been working on its redevelopment and restoration ever since. Now with a wonderful wife Erika beside me, an amazing support, we have set up Wild View Retreat with the aim of living a free healthy and happy life, whilst providing others the opportunity to also re-establish balance and health into their own lives.
I recognise I have been very very lucky to have had the opportunities to make these choices and I want thank all those along the journey who have helped me to be where I am today. If you’d told me 10 years ago I’d be doing this I wouldn’t have believed you; but I’ve learned that life is about chances, love and determination, and making the most out of any opportunity that presents itself.
Very importantly, none of this would have been possible without the support of my Mother who gave me the confidence and encouragement to quit the office and follow my dreams. Thanks Mum. I love you very much.
We welcome you to Wild View Retreat and wish you a beautiful and rejuvenating stay.