The Final Push
Courier life was allowing me to live the dream as far as cycling and working went. I was working roughly eight till six everyday and had weekends off. Weekends we're fucking great. Having them off was a novelty I'd never experienced before... Well, not weekly any how. Me and Abi soon got into the routine of waking up early on a Saturday mornings. She'd enjoy sleeping in while I made a trip to a local coffee shop to buy breakfast and coffees. On my arrival we'd sit in bed and enjoy various baked goods and fresh coffee. It was bliss.
Some of my happiest memories to date are from some of these weekends. It was like I was living an "ordinary" life. I was so used to having to enjoy my days off during the week when everybody else was in work. Suddenly when someone asked "what're you up to Saturday/Sunday?" I'd grin wildly and say "sweet fuck all". I now had the freedom to see family, go on day trips and hang out with regular 9-5 mates. Still a novelty when I think back to it.
As much as I enjoyed my weekends and super active social life, the courier gig was loosing it's charm. I fuckin loved what I did and I left work every day feeling like I had accomplished something. Sadly what I was earning at the time didn't reflect he efforts I'd made. I had a few run ins with a few sketchy drivers and all of a sudden I felt very exposed. Blasting through traffic was dope and I was never in any immediate danger in the city centre. It was when I was on the runs I used to enjoy the most I felt most exposed. If there was a drop that was way outta town I'd be the first to volunteer for it or have the job assigned to me. I liked the challenge of covering serious ground in not a lot of time. It usually came with a little more cash as well! It was on one of these runs I had my first sketchy moment. I was climbing a steep hill when a truck with a flat bed trailer passed me a touch too close. Usually close passes didn't bother me. It was part of the job as sad as that seems. This one was different. I knew it was close as I could feel the heat from the engine as it was along side me. As the truck passed it pulled in a little too soon and one of fastening points caught my bag and started to pull me along, wedging me into the kerb in turn making me eat shit. Suddenly, The Doors "this is the end, my only friend the end" started to play out in my head. Scared the fuckin shit out of me.
It all sounds super dramatic, I'm well aware of this, but it hit home that my job came with it's down sides. We were in traffic all day every day and our chances of getting fucked up were only getting greater as the days passed. We'd joke with one another that we were due an accident soon. Fuckin hilarious, though secretly we all knew it was true. I had a few more run ins with drivers but nothing life threatening. More frustrating than anything. Having the same conversation time and time again about how somebodies impatience could be the difference of us going home to our loved ones in the evening. I'm super aware this all seems really dramatic. Very much like the product of the YouTube videos. The ones of arrogant, annoying cyclists with a chip on their shoulders.
A few months had passed and I was miserable again. Constantly fighting with motorists and earning fuck all money was really getting me down. Suddenly weekends were spent getting shit faced with my MessBros instead of spending time with my fiancé. Old habits were slipping in again. Despite being able to eat two tubs of ice cream every night after dinner, being the fittest I'd ever been it was time to move on. After making this decision I spent a few more weeks working until I finally lost my temper with someone who fucked with me on a bad day. They had passed me in a really dangerous spot causing me to hit the kerb as they sped off. Again, it sounds dramatic, but if I was hurt I couldn't work. If I couldn't work, I couldn't pay bills. I'm ashamed to admit the next part. I gunned after the driver in a rage and grabbed them at the next set of traffic lights. After a physical confrontation I had to have a serious chat with myself. The fuck had I become? Constantly on edge and letting my short temper get the better of me. It was time to get out... As much as it pained me to accept it.
Luckily, one of the guys I would chat to every weekend in the coffee shop was an old customer from the shop, Nat. He was moving jobs to open a bar and asked me to join him. He was to be my new boss at BrewDog when it opened in Cardiff. From there I left the couriers and took a few weeks off to start learning about beer and looking after our new kitten Rollo. Looking after a Rollo and learning about beer put me back to a good place.
Much like the bike shop I started with a basic knowledge and was thrown down a gauntlet of training, revision and exams. Soon becoming a part of the best bar team in the city.
I became one of the management team and also looked after the kitchen later on in my time at BrewDog. The team were super tight. We were all good friends, sick at our jobs and all enjoyed "learning beers" with one another on the evenings we weren't working. Yeah you guessed it, we would get fancy beers in and would get a few bottles between us and continue to get shit faced into the early hours of the morning. Time would pass and my inevitable itchy feet would soon catch up with me. We worked some super long hours and would were all earning fairly good money... But it wasn't enough for me. I missed being home. I was falling into poor habits again. I'd leave work in the early hours of the morning to then spend a few hours in bed and repeat the process soon after. I know it seems like I'm moaning and that I've not been grateful for always having a job. That's not the case. There's just more to life than being in work all the time. At least for me any how.
The guys at the bar were like brothers and sisters. We all shouldered each others burdens and would lighten the load for each other where ever we could. I will be forever grateful for the late night rants we'd all share over a beer.
During my time at the bar Abi and I went away to Norway for our pre wedding shoot with our now good friend Claudia. She was the photographer we had chosen to shoot our wedding. A few months after Me and the lady were wed in Rosedew farm. All captured beautifully by Claudia. These were excellent times.
A few months before getting married Abi fell ill which meant she couldn't work anymore. To support us both I worked every hour under the sun to make sure we could still enjoy the life we were living. This was a turning point. If we were to be happy in life I thought at the time we'd need more money. I was soon on the hunt for a new job. This is where everything peaked.
Cue The Grazing Shed.
I left BrewDog after my usual fannying around for a few months making sure I was making the right decision. I started with Grazing Shed as their development chef. It was another huge shake up for me as I was exposed to what being "professional" was really about. Having free reign to do what I want with things, managing my own time and working to deadlines. My time at the shed is a bit of a blur to be honest. It was next lever fuckin crazy. We pulled a restaurants standards to a new level, worked festivals and opened a new store. It fried my fuckin brain. I wasn't cut out for it. I went into that job chasing big money and worked myself into the ground. I don't regret it though. It strengthened my work ethic and opened my eyes to what I thought I knew about the food industry. This was big boy stuff.
During my time at the shed Abi landed her dream job with the legends at DesignDough. Not long after my buddy at the deli took over from the original when she retired. He was looking for a bit of help running the place and asked me if I was interested. Shit yeah. Now was a good time to put everything I had learned into practice. I had managerial experience from two previous jobs, a pretty good knowledge of operations management and a newly ignited passion for food. Like fuck was I turning this down. Especially taking into consideration I already knew the deli really well!
In the months running up to Christmas I joined the deli. It felt as if I had returned home. I was back with fresh eyes and eager to help my buddy take the place from strength to strength. Over the course of a few months we made little changes very often with the help of John, the brother of said mate. It seemed like we were all banging our head against the wall at times but looking back at it all now, we achieved a fuck tonne and now the deli is fuckin excellent.
While working for BrewDog, Grazing shed and New York Deli I had been flirting with photography a lot more. I had bought a real camera instead of just relying on my phone. In roughly two years I had gone from taking snapshots to really getting a feel for what makes a good photo. When on my days off from the deli I'd travel far and wide in hunt for new landscapes to shoot. Like most people with a new camera I'd solely shoot landscapes. I fuckin loved it. It was nice to be out in wide open spaces. In the silence of the wilderness. Letting time pass while the birds sung. Being behind a camera was a real nice pass time. Especially now I had stopped cycling due to work. I failed to mention that.
Months passed in the deli and with my new found love of photography I had managed to wing a few freelance jobs. This is where things began to get tricky. I was currently the manager of the best lunch spot in town, working for one of my closest fiends and his brother, then suddenly I was juggling clients given to me from a design company. You guessed it. I started to become anxious knowing that I couldn't balance the two well enough. In one hand I had something extremely satisfying, that I had worked hard on with close friends that was constantly improving. In the other I had a new found exciting love for something that was creative and rich with mystery.
Soon came the time where I would have to choose between the two. As you know I chose photography.
This is when becoming a freelance photographer called me day and night. I lost sleep trying to weigh up the risks and the sacrifices I'd have to take and make. It was with a heavy heart I had to have the chat with the guys and come out bluntly with how I wanted to drop my hours down to part time to really push this photography gig. It felt really fuckin shitty having to do this, but my gut was demanding I stick with what I felt was right for everybody. Trying to juggle the two was stressing me out no end and was having an effect on how I was performing in the deli. If it was a regular run of the mill job then I wouldn't really have given a shit. It was different with the deli. These were my good friends. They deserved better than what I was giving. So I made my bed and continue to lay on it to this day.
I have made a lot of mistakes in the past but they have taught me a lot. I have had to make sacrifices in certain things but they have led to greater things. All of the job hopping and drinking I have done over the past few years have had some negative effects that in turn have led to more positive results. I hardly drink anymore. I fear my years of fuckin about with the stuff have rinsed my body of its tolerances. I'll enjoy a whiskey every now and then but it'll be just the one for a special occasion. The job hopping has finally stopped now I'm a photographer. I feel at peace with myself knowing that every bit of work I get now is a chance to create something that someone will connect with and enjoy for many years. Chasing money is no longer an option for me. I choose to chase happiness and fulfilment. To be curious, creative and committed.
That ladies and gents is how I got here.