Parenting hit us like a brick.
As a couple, and as individuals, Keri and I had built our identities and careers around being outdoors. We couldn’t believe how hard it was to spend quality time outdoors whilst maintaining full-time jobs and running a house with two kids.
By the time you’ve cleaned up after one meal, it’s time to prepare another. By the time you get home from work, the kids are way past bedtime.
Life felt like it was slipping away.
As a result, we lost a lot of our self-esteem, self-worth and we suffered mentally and physically.
Don’t get us wrong, we were so grateful to have our children.
The problem was us, we didn’t feel like we were being the parents we wanted to be.
We just hated that actually spending time together always had to be put on the back burner after jobs and other responsibilities.
Every day felt like it was being spent simply to make it to the next.
We had a choice; we could blame our circumstances or we could do something a little wild.
It was time to do something a little more drastic.
Time for a little more outdoor.
Now we’re building a business online. Something we wouldn’t have even understood the concept of a few years ago.
As you read our story I hope you get a better idea of why we want to:
Explore this alternative.
Share what we learn with others who feel like us.
And why we want to inspire others to take what they find valuable from our experience and use it in the way that suits them.
Keri grew up loving sports and anything physical.
Going to Uni to study Sports Science and Counselling was the obvious choice but Keri’s real desire was to travel.
Keri’s work ethic and likeable nature saw her funding her travels with all kinds of serendipitous jobs. From farms to managing Ski shops, Keri created opportunities for herself around the world.
Whilst on her travels Keri’s energy and ability to lead and inspire people led her into work managing Outdoor centres.
This is where she met Nick.
As a child Nick was more likely to be stuck in a tree than doing school work. Always a bit of a daydreamer. Nick ended up doing Media Arts at Uni with every intention of changing the world.
Youtube and facebook had only just been invented then. No one had heard of “online business”. The idea of working in an office making tea before getting to do anything worthwhile in the media industry sent Nick into the outdoor industry.
After some brief stints as a pig farmer, Au pair and builder, Nick found work in children’s activity centres.
What started as a summer money maker became a passion. Nick saw it as a way to get the experience and qualifications to achieve a lifelong ambition to sail across the Atlantic.
Whilst both looking to gain more Outdoor experience and qualifications, Nick and Keri both ended up in an outdoor centre in the wilderness of Northern England.
It quickly became apparent they both had ambitions to live a life less ordinary. That started a quite literal whirlwind romance.
The picture you see is their first valentines together where they went up a mountain in the lake district only to get caught in a snowstorm whilst climbing sharp edge.
After a year living and working together, Nick convinced Keri that the only way to reach their ambition of working outdoors, traveling and making enough money to start their own outdoor centre was to take out almost £15k in loans and spend their life savings on a yachtmaster course.
Keri and Nick sold all their worldly belongings. Packed an old Renault Clio called Roxy with a few remaining clothes and drove the 10 hours from Cumbria to the Isle of Wight.
Poetically Roxy blew a head gasket 5 miles from the Isle of Wight ferry crossing and had to be scrapped.
With everything they owned strapped to them, they spent 4 months being intensively sail trained and sea sick.
In hindsight they probably should of tried sailing before investing 15k and four months on a course.
However by the end of the September, Keri and Nick were “Commercially Endorsed Yachtmasters”.
October is no time of year to start looking for sailing jobs in Europe. They had £1 between them so travelling to other side of the world wasn’t an option.
With a loan hanging over their heads they needed to do something fast.
Normal outdoor jobs wouldn’t pay enough to make our repayments so they aimed a little higher.
A training provider in Wales called ACT training were looking at a way to help young people on their vocational courses.
ACT training brought a derelict centre in the Welsh valleys and put a call out for a couple who wanted to rebuild it from scratch.
Long story short after bonding with the Director over the correct way to keep Pigs and how good Pizza can taste in a wood oven Keri and Nick had their own outdoor centre.
They didn’t have many activities to begin with, but somehow they figured it out.
After less than a year at the centre Keri and Nick decided to get married. It had to be an Outdoor wedding so down to to the beach in devon they went. Bit nippy in March but everyone powered through.
Nick got his first real taste of traveling on their honeymoon. They went to Borneo and Bali. In true Nick and Keri fashion, they spent most of it up mountains.
After the wedding and the honeymoon it became a question of “What next?”. Keri and Nick had achieved their combined goal of opening an outdoor centre. They’d done some more traveling. Got physically fit and were financially comfortable.
They needed a new challenge.
Running had become quite an important part of their lives.
After doing one “tough mudder” they decided the next logical challenge was to run from Ilfracombe to Plymouth (over 100 miles). This lead to some medium term injury but also sparked a passion for big trail running.
They set themselves the goal of running all of the national trails. (I’m sure there will be an article on that later.)
They were lucky enough to have enough income to be able to go abroad to find other challenges.
By this time Nick and Keri had also got the outdoor centre running efficiently and effectively.
However this largely meant running the same residential programme and sessions every week.
On paper life was ideal but after 5 years, somehow they couldn’t picture this being their entire life…
something was missing.
It was only a matter of time before Keri and Nick began discussing children.
However they weren’t sure that working 80 hour weeks and dealing with fire alarms at 3am was conducive with a newborn or a family.
They were also far away from friends and family.
They had always loved Devon.
They’d got married there. Nick went to Uni there. They had some family there.
Devon also has a lovely mix of coast and moors, perfect for a couple that loved to run.
The focus became new jobs and a house in Devon.
Many evenings were spent searching for jobs that could support a family and equal the challenge and fulfilment of running an outdoor center.
As appropriate job opportunities seemed to dwindle and house prices kept rising out of reach, they began to appreciate how good they had it. The centre was their home and both their jobs.
They’d be mad to give it up.
Also despite their best efforts there was no sign of a baby.
A couple of years passed. 2015 had been a tough year:
A few deaths and illnesses in the family.
Quite a significant health scare for Keri.
A few rejections from potential jobs and some house offers falling through and children potentially not a possibility.
Nothing seemed to be changing.
They decided to change their tack.
Keri’s decided that she would like to qualify as a yoga instructor.
She found a month long intensive course in india. Nick joined her for a few weeks before and they used the opportunity to trek up some Himalayas.
All good fun if you discount the fact Nick got deported and Keri got stranded in India. Not to mention During a £700 course of immunisations they found that Nick could be harbouring rabies from a monkey bite sustained on honeymoon.
After giving up on bambinos and planning a life of travel and changing the world. Then..
Then I got an offer for a job in a charity in Devon. I’d be using outdoor education to change big business and policy.
All that was needed was a house.
After a summer of dragging a very pregnant Keri around houses we managed to move in two weeks before our first born arrivedI
This little legend has been on it since day 1. Like me, he just wants to know how everything works. This usually involves some rather interesting science experiments. Also, like me, he’s in his own head a lot. If you’re ever privileged to get an insight, what comes out is an amazing world of fantasy and incredibly vivid memories from times we were sure he was too young to remember.
Like his mum, He’s fiercely loyal and full of love. Also like his mum, there is huge FOMO. Not one to decide between two options he often finds creative ways to make sure he doesn’t miss out on anything.
Besides that, there’s a whole load of pure him that grows every day.
My new Job wasn’t quite what it was cracked up to be. After a few months of uncertainty I was made redundant. This coincided with Keri’s maternity pay ending.
Keri found work immediately managing a community centre.
I used my garden leave to build a small business helping small local businesses improve their operations.
Although part time, Keri’s Job required a lot of extra hours that did not work with a 9 month old.
My business seemed to be flourishing. We took the decision to get the business going full time.
By new year after sleep was more than 3 hours at a time, they had decided that they could think about baby number two.
Well this time it seemed thinking about it was all that was needed.
What they hadn’t counted on was that a local business had relied on face to face selling a one off product.
After 3 months it became apparent Nick had sold to almost every eligible business in a 50 mile radius. He was travelling further and further to make money.
Somehow they were about to have two children and a lot less income.
This little sausage gave us quite a scare early on. She is a true fighter. you could not imagine a more loving and attentive child but my goodness she has always held her own boundaries.
She makes it very clear what she wants and what she doesn’t. Something I’m probably a little too proud of. She’s an absolute rockstar.
She’s inherited my well-meaning but often brutal honesty. I’m am now under no illusion that I have a good singing voice and when my cuddles are no longer required.
Just like her mum she has me wrapped around her little finger.
By this stage I really did not think a normal job would cut it. Have you ever heard the term. Job means:
For this reason I took a punt with a consultancy. Something i was massively underqualified for but had the potential to pay very good money.
The reality was that the job involved being in a room for 8 hours a day making cold calls and for me to be a talented salesperson. I loved helping people improve their business but the method or model did was not a good fit, so ended.
The week before losing the job, our 8 week old became very ill and was in the hospital on a ventilator. I was unable to be by her and Keri’s side. Providing financially had to take precedence.
Even once we were out of the hospital I don’t think I really delt with the trauma of it all till much later. I’m pretty certain there’s some stuff I’m still waiting to deal with in their somewhere.
At the time it was a new low. But we just powered through. With a recovering 8-week-old, a 2-year-old, Keri had her hands full at home and I had to find work fast.
In less than 2 weeks I started a new job. Something that on paper ticks a lot of boxes. Great role, not bad money, good company. That said my first week took me 200 miles away from my family. After always working together it felt wrong that they weren’t able to share raising our family.
I felt like I wasn’t playing the role I wanted in my families lives and Keri felt like she wasn’t able to fulfil potential outside of the amazing role she played as a mum.
By this stage, I had little trust in employers. Just living in constant fear that the rug would be pulled from under our feet again. Neither of us felt like we were utilising our skills or following our passions.
We weren’t making the most of Our lives. we always thought and promised we would live a life less ordinary. We simply didn’t know how.
One evening Keri and I found that other people made money with online business. Things like blogs and developing products, apparently working whenever, where ever and however they wanted.
Keri and I had always wanted our own business. We’ve had so many ideas, but so many excuses. Excuses like we don’t have the money, or the time. We don’t have the right idea yet or the right expertise. We don’t have a guarantee it will work. There would always be an excuse, always a reason not to start.
Surely having a very young family and no expendable cash would be a crazy time to start a business?
But, if not now then when?
What were we waiting for? We wanted freedom as soon as possible. We wanted to make the most of our time.
If we had to be inside most evening now we might as well make it count.
We decided this would be their next venture, so in May 2019 A Little More Outdoor was born.
What started as a blog about outdoor activities for young families is becoming so much more.
I suppose, when we started, we thought the best value we could give was what we knew form our careers in the outdoors: Session planning and risk assessment.
Over time we realised that, not even we wanted session plans and risk assessments for going out with our family.
We just wanted the time and financial freedom to do it.
We wanted to have amazing experiences together and feel like we were actually being of value to the world.
We’ve grown, regained some self-worth, some ambition. As we have grown, so has ALMO.
So now we’re leading by example, If two broken down outdoor instructors with two young children can take control of their lives and steer towards something better why can’t others.
When lockdown started we started paid marketing on youtube with the aim of finding other people who wanted to create freedom and get a little more of life. We wanted to share what we’ve learnt so far and continue to explore what’s possible these days.
We want to inspire others to start their own adventures. Whether it’s using the internet to start a business like us or finding more ethical and fulfilling ways to fill our days.
We want to share as much value with those that want to get a little more outdoor.