Writer, poet, artist, teacher – many will know Rick Vick as one of the many creative figures in Stroud.

But beneath this artistic exterior lies a tale of intrigue and adventure. Jamie Wiseman spoke to him about his extraordinary life.

RICK’S has been a life of exploration of body and mind, a life of freedom, travel and truth-seeking that few can equal.

During his years of travels across the globe he has hitch-hiked the length and breadth of the USA, searched out native tribes in the jungles of Brazil, explored the Amazon on a river steamer, explored the deserts of Africa, sailed tropical seas and meditated with monks in Nepal.

This incredible journey has brought him into contact with some of the most creative minds of his generation, sparking a lifelong passion for writing of his own.

He says of these adventures that 'almost anything is possible with a touch of wit, determination and a hearty helping of guile'.

This life of exploration began age 18 when after leaving a sixth form college he found himself in the blossoming youth culture of 1960s London.

“It was a different time,” said Rick, “You could really feel something new, something different was emerging. The post war generation’s shackles had been thrown off.”

Immersed in the new culture of art and music, he soon managed to land a job as a reporter in Fleet Street, the then bustling heart of British journalism.

Working as a roving reporter in the capital from 3pm until 3am, he covered a range of different stories and was often one of the first at the scene of murders and even the Hither Green rail crash, one of the worst disasters in British transport history.

He had been thrown in at the deep end and although excited by the job he set his eye on more distant horizons.

“I was young and unworldly at the time. I was often out of my depth. I found the job amazingly exciting at times, but I needed a break,” he added.

It was at this point that he reached a stark crossroads in his life.

The choice was laid bare in front of him - join the hundreds of correspondents in Vietnam covering the escalating war, or head out to the USA and pursue his very own American dream.

So with one small suitcase and £50 in his wallet he boarded a flight to New York in the spring of 1969, a few days after his 21st birthday.

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After working for a time as a biographer at an art gallery in Manhattan, he decided to make his way west, travelling in a car with a young woman and her cat across the continent to San Francisco. The trip took three weeks, taking in many of the States.

This new world was the California of the late 1960s – the beating heart of the hippie movement.

“When I arrived in Manhattan I was wearing a suit and had a dinner jacket also. London thought it was swinging but New York was wild – by the time I rode into San Francisco I was on the way to becoming a hippy,” he said.

“These were exciting times. Everything seemed possible. You could walk out onto the road, stick your thumb out and hitch a ride within seconds.

“We went to beach parties, got into Buddhism, meditated naked on mountains and smoked a lot of pot.

“It was a far freer time. Free expression and free love. Most of all though, there was a real feeling that things could change for the better. It had to.”

At this time San Francisco was also the spiritual heart of the Beat Generation – a literary and cultural movement in America which focused on the spiritual quest, exploration of Eastern religions, a rejection of materialism, explicit portrayals of the human condition, experimentation with psychedelic drugs, and sexual liberation.

After visiting an event featuring the San Francisco Beat poets Ginsberg and Gary Snyder, he began writing poetry and prose of his own, a passion that would remain for him the rest of his life.

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After a year in California though, Rick decided to travel down to a new frontier in Mexico.

He hitched through Central America and from Panama he travelled on a fishing boat to Columbia then on to Peru, Chile, Argentina and Brazil, where he flew in a tiny plane into the depths of the Amazonian jungle to search out undiscovered tribes.

After finally running out of money, he managed to talk his way onto a yacht, a gaff cutter with no engine, bound for England with a family, including two young children.

During the three-month journey across the ocean they made port in the Azores and explored the islands.

After stopping off in London for a few months, realising he did not want to go back into journalism, the travel bug took over again and he set off for Paris in 1971 and then hitch-hiked on to Athens.

Falling in love with Greece, he settled for eight years on a tiny island called Hydra.

This eight-mile long isle was populated largely by a small community of artists, writers and wanderers of different nationalities.

It was here he met many writers and artists, including the music legend Leonard Cohen.

During this fairly stationary period he also went to visit his uncle in Sierra Leone, travelling through Egypt, Sudan, Cameroon and Nigeria.

He also travelled overland, via Iran and Afghanistan to India and Nepal where he stayed in a Tibetan monastery.

Shortly after this he met his Canadian wife Shelley. They spent years together in Greece and Canada, having three children, Lucian, Faye and William.

After all these years of movement the family moved to Stroud in 1997, where Rick would finally settle. Living first in Randwick, Rick immersed himself within the community, setting up and running a number of creative ventures.

Over the years he has worked as a sailor, ferry skipper, salmon fisher, journalist, biographer, teacher and published poet.

While in Stroud he became front of house manager of the newly opened Performing Arts Centre in Lansdown – The Space – now Lansdown Hall and Gallery.

He has organised events, festivals, gigs, poetry readings and started the film club at The Space and also taught at Stroud College.

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He now runs a weekly writing club alongside teaching creative writing at the Brimscombe-based charity The Nelson Trust, which provides support for those freeing themselves from addiction.

Rick has published two collections of his verse and a recent pamphlet, Indian Eye, following a trip to India with his partner artist Gypsy Gee, a couple of years ago.

He now lives in a cottage in Bisley Road, which is a veritable treasure trove filled with his various art productions and interesting items and objects from his years of travel.

Rick certainly has a tale to tell. So if you ever see him enjoying a pint in his favourite pub, The Woolpack, ask him for an anecdote or two.

You won’t be disappointed.