In this article series I Want That Job! I'm interviewing people from various professions within the climbing world. If you think your job is a dream come true (it has to be climbing related) and if you're willing to be interviewed - then drop me a line. Likewise if you can think of a job that you'd like to have - suggest it in the forums and I'll try and track someone down.
This time it's Sam and Richard Mayfield of Orange House fame. The first thing I wanted to ask is whether Sam's surname is really 'Orange?!'. The second thing I wanted to ask was: "Got a spare room!?".
The Orange House
© Sam and Richard Mayfield , Oct 2008
Name: Sam and Richard Mayfield
Age: 41 and 40
Job Title: Owners of Orange House hostel Costa Blanca & Orange House Climbing ltd
Sam - Business Degree
Salary: We have not paid ourselves a salary for over 8 years, we are lucky that the business just about pays our expenses and holidays etc. One big expense this year was a home in Devon, good job we had overdrafts and credit cards to get us through the summer!
Perks and holidays/time off: For the first 5 years I don't think we have ever worked so hard and for such long periods of time. Some days we would start at 7am making breakfast and finish at 1am when the last guests arrived to be checked in. Living in the public eye the whole time made this type of work unbearable towards the end for me (Sam) Now that we live back in the UK within reason we can work when we want. With the house closed to climbers during the summer months it does give us the chance to have a 3 month holiday, not bad I suppose!
Describe your job in 100 words max:
Sam – Admin, admin and more admin. I can spend anything from 3 to 10 hours each day at the pc replying to emails. We have thought about trying to automate this system, but to be honest I really like to make it personal. I also try to reply within an 8 hour period. I am sure people get a shock when they email me at 11pm and get a reply straight away (blame the laptop).
Rich – Teaching all aspects of rock climbing, total beginners right through to coaching holidays with the likes of Steve McClure, Gaz Parry and James Pearson. I prefer to keep client numbers low; coaching courses are 6 to 10 people. But mostly I have two clients a week, this way I really get to know people and I really can push them in their desired direction. I get a huge sense of achievement watching people grow and achieve their aims. When I am not coaching I can be found with my hand down a sink clearing a blockage, or sweeping up leaves, the house still needs constant attention. I also spend time writing articles and taking photos for various magazines and websites. Never a dull day!
How did you get this job? How long did it take? Any hardships? Did you always want it or did it just happen?
Sam – I retired to Spain in 2001 after making money from the IT boom! I wanted a change but didn't “run away” from the UK, my Mum was there so the move made sense. After a year of coffee mornings with the expats I got very bored. A friend saw an ad for a walking guide for Thomsons Holidays, for someone who took the car to the corner shop this was a challenge for me. Rich also took the job and after about 3 weeks we ended up living together! (fast workers). Climbing was something I had never even seen, never mind tried! It was a shock but as a new girlfriend I was prepared to try anything! After another boring year (you can only climb so much you know) we decided to open The Orange House.
Rich – I started teaching rock climbing in the Army at 18, worked at the AMTC in Silberhutte, and have been teaching on and off ever since. Doing the same routes over and over again sometimes gets a little boring, but where would I rather be, sat in an office or out in the hills? No contest. Doing long but easy days does interfere with my personal training program.
What attracted you to the job in the first place?
Sam M at the Orange House DWS fest
Sam : If someone had said to me I would be doing what I am doing now I would never have believed them! I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up!
Rich - As a child I wanted to be a farmer or a soldier, I was a soldier for 8 years. At 14 when I started climbing I guess teaching it was always on the cards. With the benefit of hind-sight, I would rather be a climbing instructor than a farmer or a soldier.
How long have you been in the job now? How long do you see yourself continuing?
Sam – Its 7 years since I got into the “climbing world”, do I want to continue? Good question, not sure really, I don't want to go back to Spain to live and I don't want to spend my days at the PC! I am on the lookout for something new here in the South West. Not accommodation but something to get the climbers together and create a scene, (watch this space).
Rich - I´ve been teaching climbing for 22 years, and would like to think I´ve got another 22 years to go. I´m climbing harder now than ever before, but I also have more injuries than ever before. Injury management is far higher on my priorities these days.
Describe your average day at work? And the average week?
Sam – Up at 8am to get kids to school, then on the PC. I can find I am still sat there at 3.30pm when the kids come home, which is not good. I joined a gym a few weeks ago and make myself leave the house. Also the dogs need walking so I'm trying to get into a routine. It is strange been out of The Orange House, I worked so hard when we were at the house that now I am here I do feel lazy. Then I remind myself of how hard we worked and I don't feel so bad.
Rich - Either fly to Spain, or drive the camper van to a location in the UK. Up at 8 for breakfast with clients and climbing by 9. All day on the hill, finished by 5 ish, but on really big days or if I´m called upon for a rescue it could be an 18 hour day. Longest period without a day off is 21 days. Plays havoc with your personal climbing and training.
Is it how you/other people imagine it to be?
Sam – If anyone had made me realise how hard the job would have been at times I would never have believed them and I might have not have given it a go. However, one think about me is that I don't think too far into the future. Now I am back in the UK life is looking better.
Rich – I didn't imagine that I would have this job!
The best day? The worst day?
Sam – Best day – We gave the house as a gift to a school in South London, most of the girls had never been out of the city, never mind overseas. They had the most amazing time and I did cry when they left after they made us a big thank you card.
Worst day – storms that bring down trees and phone lines, water coming in through places it shouldn't be (houses in Spain are not built for the rain). Russian students turning up at 2am asking for rooms “we have booked for today they said”, “yes after 12pm” I replied. Too many really to mention, maybe I should write a book!
Rich - One of my fav days, isn´t really a day at all but a night! Climbing Puig Campana in the summer is a ridiculous thing to do. So if I have people who want to climb it we set of a 9pm and get to the top 30 minutes (5.30am) before sun up. Full moon, a cloud inversion beneath me, no need for head torches and warm. I smiled all the way to the top, brilliant!
Not really had a bad day, but I´ve had a few near misses. Climbing with novices you need to have eyes in the back of your head, I´ve been unclipped on multi-pitch belays by accident, unclipped during a lower off, and had seconds untie when you least expect them to.
Rich at work and play: England and Spain
© Sam and Richard Mayfield , Oct 2008
Why is it great owning a climbers hostel, and why is it rubbish?
Rich Orange Swinging
© P Dunlop, Aug 2004
Rich - I get to climb every day if I want to. I can´t because my fingers bleed and my arms ache - having to have rest days is RUBBISH! Clients hire me as a professional, and they expect the highest level of care and expertise, which they get. But they don´t always return that duty of care when holding my ropes.
Do you 'love' your job? Why? Why not?
Sam – I don't hate my job, but I don't love it either. I know that I am lucky that I don't have to get up and leave the house and go and make money for someone else. I do miss working with people during the day and miss the banter. However, that is about to change!
Rich – can´t think of anything else I would rather do.
If a teenager said to you 'I want to own a hostel, like you' – what would you say? Recommend it? Warn them off? Laugh?!
Sam – I had an email only this week asking for information from someone that wanted to open an Orange House in the South of Spain! I don't think anyone would believe just how hard it has been, you never listen do you? Would I say give it a go, of course!
Rich - I´d laugh and say, it´s not really a job, more a way of life.
Any tips and advice on how to get to where you've got to?
Sam – Never take no for an answer.
Rich - Climb for yourself, do what you want to do, and don´t do anything than isn´t fun. If it leads to employment then that´ll be very lucky indeed. If not, you´ll have a fantastic climbing life style anyway.
Any friends through work?
Sam – this for me is the most important thing from the past few years of hard work. I now have the most amazing friends and have met the greatest characters. That is the one and only thing that I would say makes what I do worth it.
Rich - I think climbing is one of those strange activities, it´s not really a sport, it´s one great big adventure where you battle to survive and over-come your weaknesses and fears. That person holding your ropes, they´ll safe your life, even jump off a cliff for you.
Any amazing stories?
Sam – Hard Rock Challenge – check the website and then buy the dvd! - www.hardrockchallenge.blogspot.com
Rich – Read Sam´s book, should be quite funny!
And finally - What's your dream job? Why?
Sam – anything that makes you glad to get out bed in the morning, maybe one day I will find it, maybe not!
Rich - One of my army friends said, “Rich you´re living the dream, but you live in a village called Finest Rat!” In a way that does sum it up well. Doing your hobby, what you love doing, as a job, can sometimes taint the pleasure you get from your hobby. I´m very lucky I can pick and choose my clients and what I do with them, so I hope I can always stay keen and fresh.
Rich –I am doing it!
Sam and Richard Mayfield
© Sam and Richard Mayfield , Oct 2008
For more I Want That Job! Articles take a look here: