The Great (East Anglian) Outdoors.

Hi Ricky, firstly thanks so much for using Ipswich Embroidery and Print for your workwear and feather flags, Adam and I have to say we absolutely love the sound of the new business, perhaps you could tell our readers a bit more about you and what East Coast Adventures is all about?

Thanks guys! In my former life I was actually senior in the world of Project Management, having worked for several years in Life & Pensions and Local Government before completing my MBA. However having grown up in and around Suffolk, I’ve always loved loved exploring and been fascinated by all things outdoors, something definitely fostered and encouraged by family holidays hiking, walking and cycling. Naturally this love of the outdoors continued into my adult life and has led me to climb Mt Toubkal in the Atlas Mountains, abseiling waterfalls in Uganda, hiking the Annapurna circuit, canoeing the River Ganges, kayaking every river in Suffolk and summiting 40 Scottish Munro’s!

Anyway, my love of the outdoors has lead me to launching East Coast Adventures which is a mobile outdoor activity provider, passionate about all things outdoors and facilitate safe, exciting activities for groups, schools, and businesses all across East Anglia.  Our adventures range from Archery and Bushcraft to Orienteering, Guided-Hiking, Kayaking and Stand-Up Paddle Boarding, and as our tagline suggests, “Tailored adventures for those aged 1 – 100” we’re all about creating fun, inclusive adventures!

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Sounds brilliant, I know speaking with you you’ve had to do a lot of compliance type requirements to work through such as professional memberships, accreditation and insurance. How have you found that? Also how did you source your insurance? Would you recommend them to fellow business owners?

There has been a bit of paperwork for us to get here I won’t lie … but it’s all been necessary and ultimately makes us better, more prepared instructors. I got my Public Liability Insurance through Howden, they covered all of ECA’s activities and were really helpful and professional, so I’d certainly recommend them. But with all of our expertise and training we hope to never need them!

Personally I’m a qualified outdoors instructor, so I hold my Archery GB instructor, Paddlesports Coach (Kayak & Canoe), NCFE Level 2 Bushcraft Instructor and Lowland Leader. As well as being outdoor first aid trained, Safeguarding trained and Enhanced DBS checked. We’re also a member of the Institute for Outdoor Learning (IOL).

Obviously bushcraft is part of what you offer… What quick, helpful survival tips can you pass on to us today incase we find ourselves lost in the woods!

Haha, great question Matt! Well, if you’re in a deciduous woodland in the UK then I would say it’s all going to be alright, there’s an abundance of food and resources if you know where to look.
Firstly, you could make shelter, but nice and easy is an A-frame shelter using existing trees and leaf litter. My tips here would be to scan high, middle, and low before choosing your pitch. High to ensure there are no dead branches that may drop (this occurs often with beech trees and is often called Sudden Beech Drop), middle to ensure no branches will be in your eyeline at night and then low to check there are no exposed roots or that the ground is too low and your shelter will be more than uncomfortable to sleep in if there’s a downpour!
I would also look to get a fire going, to both keep warm and cook, but also for morale! It’s such a vital skill and there are so many ways to do it, I will happily teach you both on one of our upcoming bushcraft days.

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Obviously there’s always a diminishing separation between technology and all aspects of our lives, so what apps, tech or services have you found useful?

I’m absolutely loving an app called ViewRanger, which has a seriously cool feature where you can put your camera to the horizon and it will point out locations and their distance away from you, which works especially well at the summit of a mountain so you can see all the other peaks around you! On the safety front, I have what3words, which has mapped out every 3m square on the earth’s surface and given it a unique 3-word code to be identified by. Emergency services now use it because of its pinpoint accuracy.

What’s been your biggest challenge to getting the business started and how much has COVID and lockdown been an issue? How have you overcome that?

I can’t think of any other word to describe it, so I’m going to have to use the cliché here guys … but the last 18 months have been unprecedented. An event that nobody could have envisaged. We have all faced hardships in one way or another, but I have been very fortunate and have only had courses set back and bookings cancelled, but I’m aware some people have lost much more than that.
So as we begin the unlocking phase I’m reminded that COVID, in a strange sense has given me a huge surge of motivation to get people outdoors, reconnecting with nature, healing and having a bloomin’ good laugh whilst they do it!

I know you’re really happy with the designs Adam made for you for your flags, can you give us a bit of an overview of how the whole process has been working with us.

It’s been a pleasure working with you and I have been seriously impressed with everything I’ve ordered through you. With a startup, you’re almost always on a shoestring budget and Adam worked really hard to make my budget go as far as possible. I only had a logo and a slight idea of what I wanted, and you were both incredibly helpful in the process of deciding what was right for me and my business. Adam even reformatted our logo to fit the feather flags perfectly, which went well and truly over what I expected, or what I could have designed myself or got done online. The quality of the polo shirts and their embroidery, as well as the feather flags was also fantastic. So seriously lads, 5 stars, I’m over the moon and wouldn’t hesitate to recommend you to anyone!

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We’re obviously able to share some of your brilliant marketing videos as you love your drones… What make and model do you use? Would you recommend it, or any pointers for anyone out there wondering if they’re worth the investment? Where did you buy yours?

Mine is a DJI Mavic which I bought directly from the DJI retailer, as they often have deals on and offer very reasonable warranty packages. They are just so much fun and I absolutely love being able to get the eye in the sky and get a really great feel for the lay of the land. I have countless videos now taken in the UK and all over the world (although approximately half of them now are of archery ranges and kayaks on the river!) If you’re thinking about one, I’d say they’re well worth it, but just make sure you’ve read up on all the latest drone rules and regs before you get out there and fly.

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So, if any of our readers want to get back in tune with nature and the great outdoors, what options are available to them? I’m assuming they don’t need to book a whole week off work?

Haha, not at all! So the best thing to do whilst we navigate coming out of lockdown is check my socials, on Facebook and Instagram. There I’ll be posting about courses coming up such as archery at Helmigham Hall and Ipswich High School in Woolverstone, or our guided walking events coming up in Framlingham and Orford which are open to anyone to sign up to and take part in.

Equally If there’s a group of you, perhaps from work, or for a Stag or Hen Do or just a group of likeminded people then drop me a message and be happy to discuss how we can put something together to match your sense of adventure!

Ricky, thanks so much for your time, been great picking up some tips and recommendations from another business owner in Suffolk. Just out of interest is there anything you could benefit from by way of contacts or services from our readers?

Actually, I am always on the lookout for woodland we can use. We currently have some great locations, but am always interested to secure more venues. When working with schools, for example, we are happy to discuss contra deals by way of offering activities to pupils, but also am interested in talking with anyone who has woodland or land we could use even if that was on a more formal agreement.

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