About Your Guide
Carlo Raffa is well-known in Brighton as the tour guide for the Brighton bike tours, the number #1 Activities in Brighton for over 6 consecutive years.
Carlo is also the founder of Jolly Explorer where his passion is to share with others his knowledge of being a fun tour guide and offer a dynamic experience to their customers.
Read our reviews
My Work Story
In 1993, I got my first taste of working with domestic and international tourists at Leicester square in central London, working as a co-rider at the London Carriage company. This was a fleet of horse-drawn carriages and drivers that gave guided horse-drawn carriage rides to tourists and visitors to London. Our tours used to trot around Leicester square, Trafalgar square and Soho. The first horses I ever drove in a carriage were a pair of 18 hand shire horses called Kevin and Berty, they were amazing.
In early 1994 the London Carriage company received the contract to offer horse-drawn carriage rides at the prestigious Hampton Court Palace. Yes, that’s right, this is were where Henry IIIV used to live.
I spent the next 3 very happy years here, working with great people, stunning horses and beautiful Landau carriages, in the spectacular surroundings of the great fountain garden on the east side of the palace.
Here, I not only fell in love with my job, horses and history but more importantly with meeting new people, and this is a passion that never really left me. Tourists are in my mind the best customers one could ever wish for. Their free and adventurous open frame of mind always makes for a very memorable experience for all parties. Plus I get to see my surroundings with new eyes each day and this is quite a blessing.
A Great Exsperience
“A very informative tour with good bikes at a sensible pace. Carlo was great, we really enjoyed the experience, and would highly recommend as a good introduction to Brighton.“Mark S – Tripadvisor Review
In case you’re wondering, the most famous person I ever gave a carriage ride to was Jamie Lee Curtis and her 2 super amazing kids. Sadly only Jamie Lee has photos of this event, so if you’re reading this, I would be very grateful for a copy of the photograph you took of your Hampton court horse-drawn carriage ride. (worth a shot)
I left this dream job in 1997 when I followed my passion for fine art when I was accepted to do a Fine Art and Art History Bachelor of Arts degree at De Montford in Leicester, UK.
It was this achieved degree that lead me to move to Brighton, East Sussex on the 1st January 2020 where I started my new job as a gallery manager at the auction house Sotheby’s in the quaint town of Billingshurst, West Sussex.
Although I loved the stunning artworks that would come through my hands in this job, and the bustle of an auction taking place, I never greatly took to office politics and so wasn’t overly disappointed when I, along with many others were made redundant. This was due to Sotheby’s being fined by the European Commission for price-fixing with its rival auction house, Christie’s.
“Great trip! Carlo was fab. My bike was a doddle to ride and really comfy. Totally recommend it” 🚴♀️Jojo K – Tripadvisor Review
It was with this redundancy package that I decided to become self-employed and start the frame game, an art-based business supplying made to measure artists canvases to painters as well as a digital artwork stretching service.
This business boomed as did the economic boom, alas it struggled during the economic crash of 2008. The Framegame closed a couple of years later taking everything I had achieved over the years with it.
The next couple of years were searching for me, I lived in Thailand for 14 months and Painted 72 paintings, I also taught as a TEFL teacher, something I had always wanted to do. I even managed an all-night diner in Portugal for a year, but still, I felt I wasn’t answering my calling.
It was in 2013 I decided to question, what I really want in life. The things that make me feel alive were being outdoors, meeting new people, cycling, history, art, culture and the sea. I’ve always loved the water and lived by it. (Take a look at my paddleboarding blog. www.improvepaddleboarding.com – Now Sold)
The answer was obvious, that I should start up Brighton Bike Tours, and years on I now co-own Portsmouth & Hereford bike tours as well and have developed a passion to help others set up their bike tour business in their chosen city.
Jolly Explorer is the realisation of this passion and started in November 2019, it is getting off to a great start. My goal when I wake up each day is to give visitors to Brighton and Portsmouth the best experience they could possibly have in their short visit. I also feel passionate about helping our partners set up a successful business and become the best tour guide they could possibly be.
My Bucket List
- Archive a degree COMPLETE!
- Study Photography COMPLETE! I studied and achieved a city and guilds and BET First in photography in the very early 90’s. 3 years later everything went digital.
- Start my own business COMPLETE! I have done this a few times now, and I love it.
- Cycle the London to Brighton bike ride COMPLETE! I have done this 3 times now and raised over £1000 for the British heart foundation charity.
- Teach English COMPLETE! I taught English at a language school in Thailand, as well as taught English privately.
- Eat insects COMPLETE! The Deep-fried grasshoppers, crickets, meal worms are not that bad. I could not talk my brain into biting into the hard shell of a cockroach.
- Learn to horse ride COMPLETE! Though my transition from canter to gallop still gets a bit wobbly.
- Do a bike tour in Paris COMPLETE!
- Do a bike tour in Bangkok COMPLETE!
- Live on an Island for a year and paint 72 paintings COMPLETE!
- Read the bible – COMPLETE! I listened to the complete audio book of the bible, Quran and Tripitaka
- Stand in the Sistine Chapel COMPLETE!
- Ride a scooter around Phnom Penh, Cambodia COMPLETE!
- Start a blog COMPLETE!
- Visualise more COMPLETE! Work in Progress
- Visit Thailand COMPLETE!
- Visit Papa New Guinea
- Visit Africa COMPLETE!
- have a business that helps people COMPLETE!
- Fall in Love COMPLETE! ‘Tis better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.’ – Alfred Lord Tennyson
- Take my mother on holiday COMPLETE!
- Serve a higher power COMPLETE!
- Archive a full motorbike license COMPLETE!
- Become a wiz in the kitchen COMPLETE!
- Learn to meditate COMPLETE!
- Visit the Vatican and Vatican Museum COMPLETE! An inspiring place
- Go to Athens and visit where Socrates was imprisoned
- Hold a world record
- Rekindle old friendships
- Go on a bike tour in Berlin
- Tour England by motorbike
- Drive a tractor
- Tour England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland by motorbike
- Paddle board in each of the 48 counties of England
- Become a digital nomad
- Cycle from London to Paris
- Write a book and sell 1000 copied
- Visit Ireland and enjoy a traditional Guinness
- Tour North America on a Motorbike
- Visit the Great Pyramids of Giza
- See the Northern Lights
- Tour South America on a Motorbike
- Island hop around Greece
- Visit Iceland
- Start a You tube channel
- Paddle board the whole of the river Thames (215 miles)
- Buy an apartment in Asia
- Go fishing and catch a fish – then a big fish
- Visit the Accademia Gallery, Florence, Italy
- Drive a motor-home from LA to Las Vega
- Get a gym me
- Get a gym membership (lol)
So, that’s a little about me and I hope to meet you on a bike tour soon.