Thanks to the readers messaging me lately either saying they enjoy the blog , asking me why I stopped or telling me to start writing again.
I’ll be back soon . I’m not sure how to get started again but, I’m going to try.
Thanks to the readers messaging me lately either saying they enjoy the blog , asking me why I stopped or telling me to start writing again.
I’ll be back soon . I’m not sure how to get started again but, I’m going to try.
After all of these months of not writing , something unexpected has inspired me. Not the wild, vastness of a sweeping Rhossili Bay on a stormy day , nor the majesty of towering cliffs of Pembrokeshire. Nah, it was some daft meme on facebook.
This my dears, is the reality that faces the average British surfer who has a job and sometimes has to use precious potential surf time to do other things. This is not what I anticipated when relocating to the coast to surf. With winter reducing potential time in the water even further, this meme is my life!
I nicked this from The Surf Box
To all of the landlocked surfers, please stop torturing yourselves thinking you are missing out and that the whole UK surfing population are always surfing while you slowly suffocate in inland cities, they are not I promise you. Please stop torturing yourselves imagining all the waves you will never surf that you believe others are. Those waves were last week while we we working, maybe in a few days time if the wind swings around, maybe next week if magic seaweed is wrong or maybe in summer if the cow jumps over the moon .
In reality we have lives and jobs and especially in winter the opportunity for surf often comes down to just 2 days reducing the probability of catching it on a decent day. Ahh a decent day, now there’s another thing.
Last spring, just after Easter we had a 5 week flat spell . This Autumn and winter we have had storm after storm after storm and while some spots might light up in certain stormy conditions, the ones that do are for the kamikaze, crazy good, surfers not for your average joe like me .
The wind and tides are often right but, only in the evenings after dark. On weekday mornings the webcam often reveals a glassy 3 footer shimmering in the sun as I sit here trapped at work having my soul sucked out of me. I’ve often had 4 weekends of no waves or terrible conditions and on the 5th I go away for a weekend in an attempt to have a life other than sitting around waiting for waves and the conditions clean up and the wind goes offshore just as I’m driving across the border into England.
The truth is living by the coast is not the guarantee of regular, decent surf that as a frustrated Landlocked surfer I had imagined it would be. Don’t get me wrong, being here is fabulous especially on those magical days when it all comes together, being in the right location then really comes in to it’s own. But, now that I know the reality, looking back to when I was Landlocked, it was never as bad as I made it out to be and perhaps I sulked a bit too much back then over what I imagined I was missing out on.
Landlocked, weekend warrior, living by the coast, beginner, world champion, summer only surfers or the twice a year surf tripper. We are all the same. We are all missing out on waves, the waves that live in our imaginations . That’s what the lure of surfing is, it underpins our addiction and fuels our desire to get to the coast . The unwavering belief that the best wave of your life is still out there and it is, it really is.
The Surfbox. http://thesurfbox.net/
noun: proximity nearness in space, time, or relationship
On a hot, muggy evening in May I made my very first trip to Swansea town centre six months after moving here. It had become a bit of a joke, then a challenge to see how long I could go without going into town but, when Cinema & Co announced the UK premier of Taylor Steele’s Proximity I had to give in. People clearly got pretty excited about this film and it sold out quickly, Cinema & Co had to release standing tickets to accommodate the demand.
On arrival I was surprised to see what looked a like a shop front rather than a cinema. The little bar area was full to bursting and boiling hot, the crowd spilled out onto the street. It’s quite a bizarre thing to see people you have only ever seen in the water in a different context, familiar faces become unfamiliar because they are not attached to neoprene clad bodies. Surfers in the city and shock, horror in clothes with dry hair! A door to the side of the bar opened and we waddled into the cinema like a line of, squashed, sweaty penguins. I loved it as soon as I walked in, with it’s cushion strewn seating made from pallets and fairy lights dotted about the place.
The synopsis from the official website says
“Taylor Steele presents, PROXIMITY, a visceral portrait of modern surfing. The film follows eight of the world’s best surfers – four legends and four rising stars – as they search for new waves and deeper understanding in exotic destinations. PROXIMITY features the most prodigious collection of surfing talent on the planet. From 11-time world champion Kelly Slater and current champ John Florence, to big wave icon Shane Dorian and breakthrough performer Albee Layer, these are the definitive talents from every aspect of the sport. Six-time women’s champ Stephanie Gilmore, radical activist Dave Rastovich, and style masters Rob Machado and Craig Anderson complete the cast.”
Watching surfing on the big screen with big sound is always a treat but, the style and feel of Proximity presented a slightly different and welcome take on the often adrenaline fueled, loud, action packed surf films made by the brands. Proximity feels like a calm, gentle, flow rather than an adrenaline driven raging torrent and while this might not appeal to everyone , it did to me. With a slight art house feel to it Proximity focuses on 4 pairs of surfers in different locations around the world as they converse, banter and surf together. The film is quiet yet it leaves an impression, it’s funny at times yet thought provoking. The final message of Proximity from narrator Gerry Lopez is that in world where the ever increasing demands of modern life leave us with little time we must live in the moment, we must make the time and create opportunities to be in Proximity to our passions and what drives us. Perhaps this is why I connected with the film, my recent relocation had put me in proximity to the coast and the surf.
Aside from the film, I really took to this little cinema, it feels like a secret club, a speakeasy, with a secret door through to a whole world of films, destinations and stories. From the funky furniture in the bar to the delicious cakes and super comfy cinema seating Cinema & Co is a unique venue well worth a visit. A week after Proximity I was back again for a screening of the absolute classic that is The Endless Summer and no doubt I’ll be back again soon. perhaps for Church of the Open Sky on Friday June 16th, trailer here CLICK ME
I spoke to owner Anna about how much I loved Cinema and Co and here’s what she had to say about the recent spate of surf films they have been showing ,
“I really love everything about the surfing community such lovely people! I’m keen to run monthly surf-related events as it was quite clear from the Proximity evening that there aren’t many social opportunities for surfers to get together and I’d love to be instrumental in providing a regular hang-out”
Please, please do Anna especially in winter when we are all struggling with the dark nights, when people hibernate and those of us living more rural become a little isolated, when we stop hanging about in the car park for hours, camping or having a fires in the sand dunes after surf , that’s when we will need places like Cinema & Co even more.
Check out Cinema and Co https://www.cinemaco.co.uk/
Hello it’s me, Surfabella. Someone who used to write regular blog posts about being a chubby, middle aged, landlocked beginner surfer with a penchant for being an absolute dick head in the water . (see below for photographic evidence)
I’ve had quite a long, unplanned hiatus from blogging since I relocated to the coast here in South Wales. There have been times where I have tried to force some writing out because I felt I should. I considered writing about the ups and downs of moving to a new place, about being able to surf just a few miles from my new home and the places and people I have discovered but, every time I sat down to write I’d find myself totally stuck. I’d either stare at the wall wondering when my new life was going to fall into place or watch Youtube videos of baby monkeys riding on pigs backs and toddlers being knocked over by cats, anything but writing. It’s taken six months and finally, I have the head space to want to write again. The distractions that were a constant drivel of noise in my head have silenced and I’ve fallen into a calmer rhythm of life here at the coast .
So, my hiatus is over and I’m coming out of hibernation. Stay tuned for tales of lightening strikes, another night in a storm while camping, falling in a badgers hole, a pilgrimage to Pembs, the continuing hope for a seal sighting, the animals that have been stalking me that aren’t seals, the UK Premier of Proximity and the recent release of the book Legacy of Stoke Volume 2 and I meet the owner of a new homegrown clothing brand x
UPDATE: Today is a momentous day in the brainwashing process of my non surfing best mate. I’m about to pick up his first proper surfboard! It started slowly and recently the brainwashing produced a result. The purchase of a hood, boots and gloves and a lush winter surf at New Year was closely followed by a ‘ I’m hankering for a wave’, and today the process is complete! Congratulations Long Legs, like Kelly Slater said, surfing is like the mafia, once your’e in you’re in. Welcome.
Read my original post below about how it all started.
Finally, I have done it. I convinced a non-surfer friend into coming on a surf trip in an attempt to make them into a surfer. Not a weekend in the UK, oh no. My non surf friend, who also had no inclination to visit Africa, is coming on a one week trip to Surfstar…
View original post 742 more words
I have now been living in my new home of Wales for 8 weeks. January is a slow and dull month at the best of times and last week was not the best of times. I’ve just experienced what I think was a post relocation crash, triggered by a tough week that had me dramatically weeping while walking through the park with a flat tyre on my bike on the way home from work and looking at jobs and flats back in Leicester at one point. I’m sure most people who relocate get this feeling at some point.
Settling into my new role at work has been a struggle as I’ve come into a department with a lot of shall we say, issues. My crazy landlord has made it impossible for me to stay in my flat so I’m now looking to move again meaning my sense of home is once again disrupted. I feel more at home in the car park of my favourite beach, mind you I think a lot of folk spend more time there than in their own homes.
My social life is pretty limited, by that I mean I have one proper friend, others are the people I see in the sea or in the car park. The sparks of potential friendships are there, they are just little lights in the dark right now. Apart from a few hours on a weekend I’m alone the rest of the time and I got really fed up of it this week. I’m usually pretty good in my own company but, perhaps it’s never gone on for this length of time. Friends from home just assume I’m living the life, surfing with dolphins through sea spray rainbows but, I’m mostly home under a blanket watching youtube videos of cats in boxes. This weekend I spent about 5 hours with Welsh Surf Bird and we had a great morning but, it’s now Sunday night and I’ve not spoken a word to anyone since. I’m sure it’s pretty normal at this point in moving to a new town on your own but, bloody hell it’s hard going sometimes. I learnt this weekend though that it doesn’t take much to turn it around.
Yesterday I picked Welsh Surf Bird up early and we surfed a new break for me, there were some delightful little waves perfect for my longboard. We stuffed our faces with cake and hot chocolate next to the fire afterwards and I chewed her ear off with two weeks worth of stored up chatter. Lush.
While we were in the water, looking back at Caswell and out towards the sun peeking around the headland I looked over at Welsh Surf Bird and, alluding to my situation she confirmed exactly what I was thinking, ‘this is why you’re here, don’t let anyone spoil it’ . My tough week, my dramatic weeping, the urge to get in the car and drive straight back to Leicester, it all washed away and became nothing I couldn’t handle. I drove home singing along to 21 pilots full blast with a big fat smile on my face. The sea is such a cleanser. This morning I got up early for round two, this time to surf alone, and now I feel restored to my normal optimistic self, ready take on a tough week and deal with it differently.
Anyone who has relocated will tell you that it’s not easy, there are huge highs at the beginning then crashes when you think you have a handle on your new situation and realise actually, you haven’t. Luckily for me, I have the sea and it washes everything away as soon as you step in with your board under your arm and feel the energy of a wave under your feet. The sea is like a factory reset for people, we are restored to what we should be, what we could be and all of the unnecessary crap is removed.
The poor sea though, everyone dumping their angst and problems in there. I like to imagine that all the negative that is washed away from us by the sea is tossed around, recycled and thrown back at us as something marvelous, as waves. Like a ginormous recycling plant the sea is taking something we don’t need and turning it into something beautiful. So every time there’s a wobble at work I’ll be like yep that’s going to turn into a wave, landlord being a creep again yeah another wave, feeling a bit homesick and missing the best mate, that’s another 10 waves. It’s rather a nice thought and one I’m going to use this coming week. Maybe you should try it to.
This time last year I was knocking out mildly amusing, vaguely interesting blog posts regularly. I’m not sure what’s happened in the last six months. It looks like as I surfed more and spent a lot of time at the coast the urge to write has dwindled. Finally moving here two months ago, rather than fuelling a creative fire has done quite the opposite . There’s nothing. You’d imagine I’d have stories about the build up to moving, funny tales about my new city, new friends and adventures but, there’s nothing. Nada, niente, niks, nic, nichts. I’ve even resorted to repeating words in different languages to make up my word count.
Longing for the sea was my muse and now I’m here my writing mojo has just got up and walked out of the door, flipping the bird at me on the way out. I shouldn’t do it, but I do compare myself to the other blogs I follow and wonder am I doing this all wrong? Other bloggers are pumping out these lists posts, 20 ways to improve your surfing, 5 surf camps you must visit, 6 tips for buying a wetsuit. This list writing seems to be popular, everyone is liking and sharing them and I have wondered if it could help me to do some list posts to get things rolling again but, it’s just not me, I have tried but, it just doesn’t fit with my subject matter.
Is it even important that I write blog posts? Why do I even have a blog? I think it’s just important to me that I write regularly because I love it, because I like sharing it with other people and well, not writing is like a musician not playing their instrument. Saying that a musician would still get enjoyment from playing a guitar alone, where nobody can hear so there’s definitely some element of showing off in my motivation to write on Surfabella.
For some help and inspiration, I typed ‘writers block’ into google and guess what? Writers Block: 27 ways to crush it forever, 41 tips to overcome writers block, 7 ways to beat writers block, 10 types of writers block. More lists. Is this even writing? Maybe I’m just not moving with the times.
Looking back at all of the posts I have written, I realise I’m telling a story, my story. I’m not trying to be a cool kid, writing lists for likes, I just want to write in my own voice.
Perhaps a blog isn’t the right arena for the type of writing I want to do. I already have a story being included in the next edition of the book, Legacy of Stoke which is a real honour. Is this where I should be concentrating my efforts?
So, is this the end of Surfabella Blog? I’m not sure. Unless inspiration suddenly makes an appearance and I’m genuinely excited about posting then yes, maybe. Don’t give up on me just yet though, this could simply be a momentary lapse of reason, a slight change of direction as in what I want to a write, maybe a book, maybe short stories. Or it could be a giant sulk at having come back to work after a marvellous 10 days off.
Four weeks ago today I was waiting in a ridiculously long queue at passport control at East Midlands airport, fresh off the plane with a glowing tan. I had been to Surfstar Morocco then met two of my oldest mates for a week in Fuerteventura. I had a ball until the last few days when the shadow of what I was about to do descended.
Coming home from holiday this time was to be like no previous home coming as I was returning to a place I had never lived before. While I was on holiday, when I thought of home the picture was blank but, home was Wales now and it was confusing. I had one last night in Leicester at my best mate’s house then I’d be off. New job, new town, new house. That night fear and doubt punched me in the gut, I was winded and I cried myself to sleep, quietly of course so he didn’t think I was bonkers.
I got up on Sunday morning and cried my leg off before I’d even got out of bed, I slipped out of the house to visit my girl BFF then came back to face the inevitable. We had a last, silent cup of tea and it was time. I loaded the car silently. What was I doing, why was I upsetting the balance, why was I risking so much? I was terrified and devastated. I mumbled a weird goodbye of very few words to my best mate, I couldn’t articulate anything resembling a proper sentence or even look at him, I closed the door behind me.
Heart in my mouth and tears streaming down my face I got into the car whereupon I forgot how to breath , my lungs were crushed. After 15 minutes I managed to calm myself and started the car. This was supposed to be my big adventure, my dream was to live by the sea and I was doing it so, why was I finding it so hard to drive away? It felt like mourning and that’s exactly what it was, mourning the life I was leaving, fear of leaving the security of my normal and fear that things would never be the same again , that friendships might drift and I’d end up dying alone in Wales but, at least I’d be by the sea right?
I’ve now been here for four weeks, I stopped crying a few miles into my journey, unpacked, explored, spent time with Welsh pals and started my new job. This is what I’ve discovered since I arrived.
I cannot walk, run or cycle up hills. On my first week an old man with a walking stick almost overtook me just walking up my street from the shop.
Swansea rubbish collection is so complicated that nobody understands it. I thought I’d got a handle on it until the binmen refused to take my bags because I’d done some unfathomable wrong. I’m now hoarding rubbish and don’t know what to do with it. I might drive it to Liverpool with me at Christmas! Sorry mum
Gower animals are hardcore. Driving across the common in the darkest of dark on Gower I had to stop for sheep, cows and horses. These little furry bad asses are not like English ones who go to a little shed at night, oh no. Gower animals wait in the dark and cold until your are driving along a lonely road, a lonely road a bit like a horror film lonely road. They then jump into your path and laugh at you while you sit nervously in the dark waiting for them to move. I love them.
Welsh people are the friendliest folk I’ve ever encountered from shop workers to strangers in the park, everyone is up for a chin wag. Other drivers smile at you and let you out and people don’t seem to be as impatient and in a rush as I’m used to. I like it. Although I’m spending a lot of time alone which is to be expected at this point in my move, the friends I made here over the last few years are amazing and the new folk I’ve met couldn’t be more welcoming.
The reality of living by the sea it seems, is that you don’t surf as much as you think you will. We wait, patiently through flat spells and despair at work when swell hits on a weekday and it’s dark outside before you have even finished. Then, when swell comes on a weekend it’s too big. I am however, finally getting in tomorrow with my new board.
I was just wrapping up this post and was writing about how I desperately miss my best friend, I had a little tear rereading the top of this post remembering the day I left Leicester and the absolute weirdest thing happened. I was interrupted writing by a whatsapp from a number I half recognised. It was a very dear, old friend I’ve not spoken to for ten years, he lives abroad, our numbers changed over time and he doesn’t do social media. We have searched for each other over the years to get in touch but with no luck. Today he found an old sim in a box and found my number . I’ve had a lovely hour catching up and plan to visit soon. So, on a last note of things I’ve discovered since moving, I guess the most important thing is that time and distance don’t mean a thing when it comes to people we love. It’s going to be ok here.
Since I returned from my Endless Summer , or rather six week surf adventure in Wales, I have found it difficult to write anything. How do I put into words the seemingly endless weeks of unplugging from normal life and living in a tent, in a field, next to the gorgeous Rhossili Bay, surfing up to three times a day and watching countless sunest?
How do I explain the simple pleasures and slower pace of life I experienced which when written down seem completely trivial and insignificant to other people? How do I write about the feeling of walking on grass in bare feet every day, about not looking in a mirror and how that made me feel a sense of freedom I’d never had, about sitting quietly outside my tent starring at the night sky with no noise in my head, about the smell of bbq’s and haze from the smoky fires in the sunset?
How do I write about how I felt at home in a place I’ve never lived, about surfing at sunset alone, with the red sky on fire (see cover photo), about the quiet letting go of nonsense and noise from my normal life, about becoming less wasteful and more resourceful, about how days felt like weeks as I got up with the sun, slept with the darkness and made the most of the in between? How do I write about the strong, amazing, women I spent time with , who lit the path for me like the stars that they are, about the revolving door of rather handsome neighbours I had who each taught me something about myself?
I drove away from Gower at the end of summer with tears streaming down my face . I could barely mumble a goodbye to Welsh Surf Bird for the lump in my throat. It felt like my heart was trying to escape out of my throat and stay there in Llangennith, like a dog who doesn’t want to leave the park. I was scared of losing how I felt that summer but, with four hours drive home I had plenty of time to think about how I was going to deal with this.
I stopped off an hour into my journey in Abergavenny to say goodbye to Ozzi, another of the Welsh birds and when I pulled away from her house I knew a decision had been made without me realising. It wouldn’t be easy and could take a while to orchestrate properly. Although the thought of leaving my friends and the familiarity of 23 years in my adopted home city scared me, looking back at the number of visitors I had over my six weeks away, I knew that distance would be no obstacle to those very long and strong friendships. Surf Bloke had been up and down like a yo-yo from Lancashire all summer and my surf brainwashing had finally taken a hold of Long Legs who had visited twice and bought himself a wetsuit .
There was nothing I could do but, move there as soon as I could, somehow.
Regular readers of surfabella.com will know that I have barely written a word since the start of summer when I went on my 6 week solo adventure living in a tent next to the beach in South Wales, UK
I wrote a lot while I was away but, for some reason those words remain as hastily scrawled ink in a note book and I haven’t felt the urge to change that. Those six weeks were too big, too significant, too much to write about in a blog post so perhaps they will remain ink in a book. Instead I’ve been reading other people’s writing and digging about for some good films.
Today I watched a short film recommended by a friend called A Woman’s Guide to The World. It’s a document of one woman’s solo surf trip around the South Island of New Zealand. Film maker and surfer Apolla Echino by her own admission, is not an amazing surfer but, she is an adventure seeker and a girl we’d definitely like to share a wave and vino with. The description of this film on her facebook says
With her great curiosity as an adventurer, Apolla is driven to inspire more women to be bold and follow their dreams.With the viewer as her close companion, she will show how by leaving the comforts of home and relationships, and by venturing off the beaten path, you can find your voice, shape your world view, and ultimately, transform your life.
She is one of us, she is freezing her ass off, she is pouring hot water on her boots to keep warm, running out of gas in her van, sometimes getting scared surfing alone, she is struggling to carry her long board down big sand dunes, getting frustrated in a line up full of blokes and she is pushing herself beyond what she thought she could do. I love this girl, she is me, you and every woman you know who strikes out to do something outside of her comfort zone, to go despite hesitation and who paddles out despite failure because there will always be another wave.
Please, just put aside just 40 minutes today to watch this beautiful film, this one is worth your time and needs to be seen by more people. I loved it so much it inspired me to post something on Sufabella after quite a long spell of silence. Surfer, non surfer, man, woman, creature, it matters not. Just watch it. Keep up with Apolla’s adventures through facebook here.
I’m filming this trip to inspire other women to be the subject of their own adventure story’
Surfabella.com was almost silent over the summer while I was living in a tent for six weeks in Wales. Now that I’m home , back in the city, I have my laptop and internet access again but, I cant even think about writing about my summer, I just don’t know where to start, there’s too much.
They say live for the moments you can’t put into words. In place of the words I can’t seem to find right now here are a few pictures.
I’m hoping to resume normal service soon and I have some very, very exciting news to share x
The sense of danger must not disappear: The way is certainly both short and steep, However gradual it looks from here; Look if you like, but you will have to leap.
(you don’t really have to but, I like this verse)
Anything to do with getting in the sea and I’m there so I jumped (pun intended) at the opportunity to go Coasteering with Jump Bros in Pembrokeshire during my latest trip to Wales where I discovered that Coasteering is so much more than just climbing up stuff then jumping off into the sea.
We booked to go with Jump Bros who are based near Tenby on a perfect, hot, sunny day with not a cloud in the sky. With a little trepidation regarding the heights, some nerves and excitement we set off to meet Andy and Ollie, our guides.
These two local chaps have a plethora of experience and qualifications between them and an easy going camaraderie that you can sense could switch in a split second should a situation arise. You can tell these guys love their jobs and seeing guests have a great time.
After possibly the sweatiest walk of my life, ( I was wearing a 5 mm wetsuit, buoyancy aid and helmet) one by one like baby ducks we plopped into the cool water and followed Ollie, with Andy coming in behind us.
Adrenalin kicks in for the first few minutes as you adjust to the enormity of your surroundings. It’s somewhat intimidating floating in the sea surrounded by these colossal, ancient rock faces, unsure of the hidden depths below and taken up and down by the rise and fall of the sea as it breaths.
Maybe it was just me but, I felt a bit shaky and nervous, perhaps it’s the old demon, ‘I Can’t’. I’m not great with heights, I think I’m crap at climbing and scrambling and often think I’m the weakest link in most activities so I tend to decide I can’t do things before really trying. Ollie and Andy are masters at spotting this in people and Ollie’s next move was genius and evil in equal measure.
Continuing to follow Ollie’s encouraging voice like a good little duckling, I scrambled out for my first climb up to Pirates Plank. I was first, how did that happen, how did he do that?
I looked down, the jump from here wasn’t high but, it was in to a small cave. I’d already made my mind up, no, just no. Ollie looked me in the eye and said (with a serious face, a hint of a smile and a very calming voice) do you trust me, well, of course I did so, I jumped.
A split second of fear followed by a leap and a moment of nothingness and I was rewarded with a refreshing shock as I hit the cold water then pinged up to the surface like a cork with a massive grin on my face and my heart absolutely pounding. I’d done it and so I’d found my confidence for the rest of our salty escapade.
One by one each of us made the first jump, got our confidence then continued to have an absolute blast with Ollie and Andy. It was as if we needed that first exit, climb and jump out of the way to loosen things up and start having the real fun.
We made our way around the coast climbing, traversing and scrambling out of the water and jumping back in off various ledges and sea stacks, admiring the view from the water as the gentle current took us around. To see the incredible Pembrokeshire coastline with its sea cliffs and strange looking Dali-esque caves from sea level is quite an experience.
The beauty of this activity is that really anyone can do it, it’s not the reserve of super fit dare devil’s or groups of young lads. Anyone over 8 can do it. Our guides made sure there were always a few options so nobody felt pressured to climb up or jump off anything that was out of their comfort zone and we all felt safe and supported all of the time.
I I absolutely loved Coasteering and it did a lot for my confidence, I think doing something you’re a bit scared of actually makes you feel safer because you did it and none of the crazy bad things you imagined happened . I’ll definitely look up Jump Bros again over summer when they are also planning on running snorkeling trips.
Jump Bros website
Jump Bros facebook
Visit Pembrokeshire website
Visit Wales website
Well, riding old boards is where my budget is at. I have never bought a new surf board, a mixture of lack of budget and skill meant I was quite happy to go second hand and not spend too much. However, buying old boards has not only bought me the equipment I need at a fraction of the cost of new, it’s also brought me to people, told me a little of their stories and given me an affirmation that people in the surf community are a fabulous bunch of humans.
My first old board was Malcolm, a 7’6 O’Shea. He belonged to a friend who also had him as a first board. I remember the excitement of seeing Malcolm in the corner of my room the first night I had him. I kept sitting up in bed and putting the light on to look at him when I should have been sleeping. Malcolm came with me the week after I passed my driving test and made my first journey to the sea under my own steam. When we weren’t on a trip he sat in the corner reminding me, in my landlocked state, that the sea was just a drive away and that I was a surfer. I loved him, my friends did too, everyone knew his name.
My next old board was Big Frank . An 8’4 BIC, In a previous life he belonged to Birstol Uni Surf Club. He helped me get some waves after my injury took away the tiny bit of ability I had. He allowed me to surf when I couldn’t get to my feet quickly and while my shoulder healed. On my last trip his size and my crap paddling stopped me being able to get out back easily and I realised that although he was a lot of fun, he was actually starting to hold me back, he needs a bigger, stronger rider. This brings me to my next board.
Ever since I tried my mate Rob’s longboard I’ve been in and out of the Custard Point shop in Newquay like a yo-yo for two years. I like annoying the lovely bloke in there, stroking the boards and talking shit. I know I can’t afford one, so it’s a sort of torture. Enter stage left, Jeremy and The Board Swap.
Board Swap is exactly what it says, a place where you can swap boards. Jeremy who runs it is a top chap who will go out of his way to help you get the right board by either trading and paying the appropriate swap fee or buying outright. On his face book page he says ,
Be good to each other. Share the stoke. Happiness, smiles and memories are the most valuable things.
After Jeremy sending me a lot of board porn over a few months, he finally found something suitable for me. I hot footed it up to Staffordshire , agreed a trade fee and said a sad goodbye to Malcolm. I drove off with Daisy Duke on the roof of my silly, tiny car.
Daisy Duke is a 9’2 single fin, yellow, Custard Point Ultimate Nose Rider and just like Malcolm, she is currently in the corner of the room reminding me of the summer to come. I’m hoping to try her out for the first time very soon.
Finally, this week I acquired an 8ft Redback Revolution performance soft top. I’ve been after one of these for a while for friends to use when they visit me in summer and for myself to have a fun board that fits inside the car. I’ve named her Rosy Redback.
Rosy, was owned by a lady from Cardiff who has now treated herself to a beautiful Howzi custom board. I had planned to collect Rosy over the bank holiday weekend in a few weeks. In order to pay for Rosy Redback I put Big Frank on e bay the same night. He sold in a few hours, the buyer is a chap who lives near the lady from Cardiff so, Rosy’s seller is dropping her off with Franks buyer to make the exchange easier when I make the long journey to Wales. These two strangers have been so helpful, I love surfers I do.
I’m now looking forward to getting Daisy Duke in the water and putting my mark on her and enjoying seeing friends who don’t normally surf playing on Rosie Redback. Who knows where we will end up.
I remember once finding a Lonely Planet book in a hostel in Uruguay and inside the cover it said you must give it away when you finish with it and write your name, country and a few words before passing it on. I loved this idea. Sadly it’s not so easy to do this with our surfboards so it’s great to meet the previous and new owners of the boards I’ve had.
Every old board has a tale to tell, every old board has a past and when you take ownership of one you become part of it’s story as much as it becomes part of yours. You care for it, clean it, wax it, protect it from bumps, you repair it if it’s broken and treat like it’s made of glass, all the time adding your own invisible layer to it’s history before passing it onto the next person.
Buy an old board, give it a name, be part of a story.
Where I look for 2nd Hand Boards
Pre-loved Surf Stuff on facebook is fab direct owner to buyer group, no fees here
Second Hand Surfboards 12,000 members on Facebook, so many boards, here
Surfboards for Sale Wales, also on Facebook here
Second Hand Surf Cornwall, click here
Gumtree used surfboards, here
A mountain or fell, like the sea, reveals all. It demands your strengths and magnifies your weaknesses both physical and of the mind. Nature does not care how much your gortex, hyper thin jacket which transforms into a tent cost or how much you paid for that Nineplus long board or all singing all dancing wetsuit. Nature does not care if you talk the talk, she is only interested in if you can walk the walk. Believe me, during my weekend in the Lake District, I certainly walked.
On day one I was tricked into going up Fairfield Horseshoe by a whiley wayed mountain goat . As a local fell runner, these peaks are mere hills to him, to me they might aswell have been Everest.
When I first saw what we were about to do doubt kicked in immediately. Walk Lakes website declares,
Do not underestimate the seriousness of this walk
In total it was a four hour ascent. I struggled in parts, especially the steep start. I threw a hissy fit and hurled abuse at The Goat and Long Legs . ( read about my surf strops here) I also laughed a lot, made it to the top with a huge sense of achievement, enjoyed spectacular views, saw some cool ninja sheep and slid down some of the two hour decent on my arse which was fantastic fun.
Afterwards, when we were in the pub sinking a few pints I felt exhausted and exhilarated. The Guinness tasted like the finest liquid to ever pass my lips. I had worked for it, I’d got up the highest peak I have ever been up under my own steam. After meeting up with the Friday night arrivals, a belly full of food and beer and neat rum back at the hostel somehow I managed to get up and walk another 14 miles the next day. I had no idea I enjoyed walking so much.
Climbing the peaks of The Lake District showed me a few things about myself in exactly the same way that surfing does, mother nature and her incessant lessons eh? Firstly, it showed me that my weakness is not in my body but, in my head. My weakness is self-doubt. It also showed me that I am stronger and fitter than I think but, I still have a way to go.
I spent most of the day looking at two backs in the distance and I found it really disheartening at times but, I have to remember that three years ago I wouldn’t have been able to do a quarter of this height.
Perhaps most importantly this trip showed me that I need to start seeing myself as I am now. I’ve been what I’d consider an active person for just a few years. I was everyone’s fat, daft, drinking buddy who couldn’t really do much in the way of activities for most of my late 20’s and 30’s. It’s time to stop saying I can’t do things and realise I am actually walking the walk, albeit not as steadily, quickly or skillfully as the others but, I’m bloody doing it.
I came home from this trip with a similar feeling I get after a surf trip. I felt the best kind of tired, a bit grubby, slightly hung over and very satisfied. I also felt a comforting amity with the group of old and new friends that I’d shared the weekend with.
I highly recommend that you get yourself up a mountain this spring and walk the walk. Get a blister, throw a strop, sit down and refuse to move if you must. But, also breath in the fresh air, take in a spectacular view, enjoy overcoming something you thought you couldn’t do and come down just a little different to when you went up.
Some Useful Links for Getting Out and About
Join the National Trust for free entry and parking to heaps of cool places around the Uk
2016 is Wales’ year of Adventure explore the vast mountains and coastline and find #yourepic
Join YHA for budget friendly accommodation in spectacular locations around the Uk
Visit trekking Great Britain for inspiration on walks, hikes and climbs
If it all seems a bit much read Wild by Chery Strayed from the comfort of your sofa
I’m going on a road trip this weekend which requires a day off work, a drive of 370 miles and 3 nights away. IT IS NOT A SURF TRIP. This is highly unusual and it’s strange not to be packing my board or hunting for tent pegs, not to be digging out misshapen chunks of board wax from the sandy bowels of the car or wondering if my wetsuit will fasten.
Ironically, I am going to a place which holds a huge body of water, it’s even named after water but, I can’t surf there. I’m off to the heady heights of the Lake District, Cumbria to meet up with 9 friends and a few dogs. I’ll be sampling my second YHA Hostel this month in Langdale which lies in the Lake District National Park .
Perhaps this whole surfing malarkey is settling down a bit now. In the first flourish of obsession, (the last 3 years) I wouldn’t even contemplate a 3 day trip that didn’t involve surfing, time off was too precious to spend inland and it would have been torturous. Not now though.
My trusty old mate, Long Legs and I are car sharing and will be travelling in the super high performance 799cc Baked Bean after we have ripped out the front seat and made a hole for his head in the roof. Believe me, it is this small.
In return for me chauffeuring us, Long Legs vehemently denies this but, he did agreed to carry me uphill in a tartan papoose like a giant baby when I get tired. Recently though he has seemed quite anti-papoose, I’ve no idea why. I can rest my legs and be fed cakes and tea on the move, what’s not to love? I’m seriously going to get a punch for sharing this. He says the papoose is not going to happen, I however, live in hope.
I won’t think about how I could be surfing this weekend, it’s not all about the coast. There are adventures to be had elsewhere, doing different things and exploring these wondrous Islands I call home. There’s hanging out with old friends, sitting in pubs with open fires and wet dogs, drinking tea from a flask at the top of a mountain after a tough climb, seeing beams of sunlight break through black clouds and lighting up the valleys, putting a brave face and waterproofs on in the face of driving rain, walking up things and then back down them. Then there is the icing on the cake, carrying your best mate up a mountain in an adult papoose because you are a good egg.
Eight hours after leaving Mawgan Porth in Cornwall I finally pulled into Gower and the warm welcome of my friend and her fella with offerings of red wine, comfort and doritos. The journey there had been arduous but, once the hills of Wales loomed up in the distance I felt an immediate sense of relief and a sort of homecoming.
At last I saw the final sign to Llangennith which led me to my friend’s house and into a tight hug that said, ‘we’ve got you,’ . A night of wine, eating, catching up and possibly the most comfy bed I’ve ever slept in passed all too quickly and I woke to a typical wet Welsh morning and the final drive over to Pembrokeshire.
For an exhilirating but, very doable experience Coasteering in Pembrokshire check out http://jumpbroscoasteering.co.uk/
I’m sitting outside writting this , it’s 8pm and the sky is pink in the distance , hinting at the last of the sunset. It’s also my last night in Cornwall as I continue my surf adventure North, to The Gower in Wales tomorrow and then onto Pembrokshire, Wales on Saturday.
Miraculously when all seemed lost and I was going to give in and go home on Tuesday afternoon, the weather turned, the wind dropped a bit, the sun came out, the sky was blue (in patches), I surfed, Kernow Surfgirl dropped by the beach and it all changed. I’ve surfed today and yesterday and the day before. I spent wednesday with Kernow Surfgirl and we had a great surf and some laughs. Then, today I met a nice man at the beach, a surfer, how unfortunate I’m leaving tomorrow. Who knows he could have been the Silver Surfer. It’s amazing what a turn in the weather can do.
I’ve never experienced a storm like this, I mean heart pounding stuff, not my usual exaggerations. I’m half expecting to be a news story in the morning. The caravan is shaking as if it were about to take off like the house in the Wizard of Oz and the noise, sounds like a train coming full speed towards me.
It’s been a pretty epic week for UK surfers on the west coast from Penzance to Padstow, Harlyn to Hell’s Mouth and as usual, I missed it. A combination of being 3 hours from the nearest break and being broke after holiday meant all I could do was watch on the webcams. I’m also still a bit broken from Morocco so it’s probably best that I stay in dry dock.
There are a so many down sides to being a landlocked surfer but, instead of whingeing about it I started to think about the plus sides. Of course, I’d rather be living in a beach house right in front of my favourite break with the Silver Surfer but, I have to put a positive spin on my landlocked reality. Please, just humour me this is part of my therapy.
You will ride anything. Someone once said to me that the best time of your surfing life is when you are beginner as the better you get the worse the waves get. I get this, the better you get at surfing the less likely you are to get in onshore chop but, as a Landlocked, rubbish surfer progress is much slower and so this phase of getting in for anything and loving it lasts longer.
Generally, property is cheaper inland in comparison to near surf spots. My cosy attic in the East Midlands is cheap as chips and on the salary I’m currently on with only working 39 weeks a year, keeping living costs low is paramount.
Every surf is a holiday because you have to travel and stay over night. You take every wave you can grab and surf until the very last moment you can because you know next week when you are home you would give anything for one more wave, just one more……
You will discover the beauty of this amazing country. I’ve surfed in North and South Wales, Devon, Cornwall, North Yorkshire and Dorset and there’s 100’s of miles of coast I’ve yet to see let alone Scotland and Ireland yet to discover. If I had a break on my doorstep perhaps I wouldn’t have explored the Uk coast so much.
You go to huge efforts to surf , which proves this isn’t just another fad so your mum, partner, boss, mates from the pub can piss off.
Transport links are really good. I have 3 international airports under an hour away. This makes Portugal, France and Northern Spain viable for short breaks. Being centrally located also means it’s equal distance to the East and West coasts of the UK.
You are the special one. You are the only salty soul at work, at the gym, out of your friends or in your family and no matter how crap you are at surfing you’re always going to be the best one around you. For someone who is as crap as me this is a fantastic illusion even if it’s not true.
You will meet a lot of new people. In an effort to connect with other surfers I joined a number of online communities and as a result I’ve met some wonderful folk in person who I might never have reached otherwise. This is especially true of connections I have made through Surf Senioritas and this blog. I’m building a little network of surf buddies all over the place.
Excitement. The anticipation of a surf never grows old and for the Landlocked surfer this anticipation has many manifestations. There’s the booking time off work, the countdown, lists, planning, researching accomodation, reading about spots and then the nervous checking of the surf report in the run up to S day. Quite simply, anticipation is the sweetest part of longing.