Surf Tour – Cornwall Done

CAPTAIN’S LOG

in the officeI’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.

TWO days have passed with no sign of human life……

It’s been a mixed bag this week where I’ve felt at times quite lonely and isolated, then really happy in my own company in equal measure.  Interspersed with seeing friends a few days I have spent most of this week on my todd.  The week started off great as I picked up a friend who’d flown in from Dublin for a few nights. Much debauchery at the infamous Retorrick Mill was had , that’s a story in it’s own right that to be frank may never be told or quite remembered. I blew my budget for the whole week in one night, my bank statement certainly jogged my memeory on that front.
Due to the high winds there was no surfing but, we’d had fun  and we know, you can’t always get lucky with waves. That’s ok, for two days.  As soon as I dropped her off at the airport that’s when Storm Katie decided I needed some girly company and she more than outstayed her welcome . You can read about my hellish night here.
All By Myself
Storm night was followed by long days and longer nights alone, listening to torrential rain beat the roof of my caravan. I live alone so am used to occupying myself but, what do you do all day in a caravan with no TV and no tasks or chores to fill the time?  I started  wondering,  what the hell am I doing here? Do I actaully have any friends?  Will I die alone? Where did it all go wrong? This  is when I questioned whether I could do this for six weeks in summer and in a tent.

A CHINK OF LIGHT IN A STORMY SKY

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.

So, coming to the end of the Cornwall leg of the surf tour, having driven the beautiful coast road home from Newquay as the sun started sinking and satisfied after surfing,   I am certainly sad to be leaving this stunning place, it’s got a hold of me and I feel like I’ve always been here . More importantly though,  I’ve answered many questions and raised more about if this is the place I’ll spend my surfing summer and that was the reason I came on this trip.
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 I packed the car with a stupid sad face tonight but, I’ve absolutely nothing to complain about, the sun has not set on this trip as the tour continues.  Bring on Wales, tomorrow’s first Welsh stop is the Gower where I’ll be  calling in on a beautiful soul and Surf Seniorita who I haven’t seen since last summer. I think I might need a chaperone as she also has a little devil in her and I’m in possession of wine, hey ho here goes.

Storm Katie in a Caravan Alone in Cornwall with a Spider

me no likeI’m currently being battered by Storm Katie on the Cornish coast. I’m  cowering inside a caravan and my friend went home today so I’m scared and alone with my wild imagination, great combination.

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.

 Adding to this a massive spider has taken up residence in the corner and keeps moving in my eyeline.  I suppose we have in common that neither of us are enjoying this storm so perhaps we are on the same team for tonight and at least it’s some company.
There’s never a phone signal here, there’s only one other caravan occupied and the 5 chalets are right down the hill, out of sight and  too far for their lights to provide a little comfort. It’s pitch black when I look out. I’ve tried getting attention on Facebook with alarming status’ so I can at least interact with a humans but, the rest of the world apart from one or two are asleep so it’s me, Storm Katie and the spider, who I’ve named Toto  for the night.
Spider 'friend' Toto
 So far and I’ve no idea how we haven’t lost the wifi or the power but, I have an emergency bag of essentials I made up including a head torch, candles, car key, waterproofs and welly boots and I’m about to go and get the half bottle of red wine left over from last night. How am I going to cope alone in a tent for 6 weeks in summer if a storm while I’m in a caravan has scared me this much? Oh heck.
Right then , hopefully morning will come soon and without incident, see you on the other side.   Come on Toto, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home ………

Why Being a Landlocked Surfer is Not So Bad

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.

The Silver Surfer's House

The Silver Surfer’s House

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.

the benefits of being a landlocked surfer

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,Morning Fistral 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.

The Only Mermaid in the Village

 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.

Holiday Blues , First Day Back from a Surftrip

I arrived back in the UK less than 24 hours ago after another fabulous surf trip to Surf Star Morocco.  I’m never  prepared for the shock of the first day at home. I’m so flat today I’m only a  few moments away from sobbing my heart out and I feel like I’ll never get over it.  I took  my  first walk to the shop earlier. Down the cold grey streets, walking past the  grey houses and  the grey people it hit me,  this is my grey life.
As I sorted through my bag and grains of sand fell on the kitchen floor I thought about  the warm colours  of Morocco, the deep reds and earthy oranges of the houses which  glow in the sunset when I look out towards Taghazout.  The splashes of  bright  blue of the fishing boats and  the jalabas and head scarves of the camel guides. I remember  the unknown smells and sounds, the fires that filled the village with a smoky haze, the mosque’s call to prayer , the orchestra of dogs barking in the distance and  the inky blanket of stars at night.
Of course a  trip to Morocco always means surf, fun and some massive, massive laughs. But,  it almost always has some sort of transformative effect on people  and this trip was no different. Having been through what can only be described as ,  the trauma of being a beginner surfer I had the joy of having two friends along for the ride going through it for the first time. While Surf Bloke went off to do ‘grown up’ surfing, we named ourselves Team Circus on account of our ridiculousness on the beach.  It was an absolute pleasure  to watch the highs and lows, the epic battle of body and mind  and finally the reward when they both got to stand up and ride a wave. What a beautiful moment on the last day when the entire beach and the line up erupted into cheers every time someone got a wave, after all,  we’d all been through the battle together.
The peacefulness and total detachment from normal life that people always feel at Surf Star gives you head space to think about the things your brain is normally too busy for. At one point I forgot what the inside of my house looked like.  Many people during our week said they had thought about the things they want out of life or want to achieve  and were  motivated  to make some changes back at home, surfing will do that to you. It gives you a motivation to go out and grab life by the balls  outside of the water too.
So, with heavy,  thankful hearts, tired limbs, a collection of bruises,  a serious ibuprofen addiction and a head full of happy memories all we can do is accept a return to  normality tomorrow, start work on the grand plans we have come back with  and plan the next trip. Thanks to the wonderful team at Surf Star Morocco once again  xx

Surfabella Surftrip is On

moroccon adventure

If you read my post entitled Tired of Solo Surftrips a few weeks ago you will know that I convinced my friend who I call  Long Legs to come on a surfing holiday to Morcocco, despite being a non surfer. Hoo-rahhh.  Long Legs is also Surfabella’s, Art Director, and Chief Designer, more to come on what he’s tinkering with later in the year.  He also  makes a smashing cup of tea in our meetings. We love tea.

 

Also coming is Surf Bloke, my ever  patient surf buddy and Surfabella’s  Tech Guru.  I normally beat him up when I’m in a Surf Sulk so,  for protection from my sulks he’s bringing  his non surf friend along too.

So, as all three of us are away we are on shutdown here at Surfabella. Apart from posting a few snaps,   our out of office is on. The Yorkshire Tea bags and suncream are packed, lets go!

Bonjour Surfstar Morocco, Au Revoir cold, wet UK

Team Surfabella xx

Surfabella_logo

Yoga for an Absolute Beginner

yoga is not for me or i’m not for yoga?

So many people have suggested I take up yoga to compliment my  surfing. From yoga teachers, which isn’t really surprising, to surf instructors, friends, seasoned yogis, new yoga converts and pretty much every article I read about surf fitness includes a yoga for surfing video or guide of some sort.

You can read about Kernow Surf Girl’s recent adventures in hot yoga for surfing  here .

Despite taking up numerous activities I’ve managed to avoid yoga . Why? Well, I’ve been a bit scared of it to be honest. Seeing the lithe, slim, beauties coming out of yoga classes at surfcamps is  intimidating. They look like they  would have no problem getting into position, that holding their tiny body weight on one finger would be a piece of cake (or maybe not hence the lithe)  I can’t even  sit cross legged because my right knee won’t go down .  I’ve always thought yoga just wasn’t for me and I’ve ended up seeking out  bonkers, boisrous things like insanity and circuits.

The feeling  that I’m not an ideal  candidate for yoga is in part  down to  the way I’ve interpreted it, as the domain of the affluent, honey haired, yummy mummies and the Gwyneth Paltrows of this world  where as I am more Rebel Wilson .

I’ve told myself that I have enough things I’m  struggling to master without adding another one. I have visions of falling on my face and sweating like a beast in my first class , of being laughed at by the beautiful people who don’t have a hair out of place, then me  sulking and never going back. So, the idea of yoga has been put in a box, sealed and hidden at the back of a cupboard.

phot credit http://www.fremontfair.com/blog/uncategorized/yoga-talk/

However, my love surfing is greater than my fear of  inadequacy and I need to improve and get out of the beginner stage I’ve been stuck in for two years.   So, much to my delight and fear in equal measure,  a friend who also happens to be a yoga teacher, Ayurvedic Wellness Consultantt, co director of Santosa Wellness and all round goddess of peace  and calm, suggested she could help me get started. Why on earth I hadn’t discussed this with her before I don’t know.

 TOMORROW I’LL BE AN ABSOLUTE BEGINNER YOGI

Tomorrow I’ll meet her to get my bespoke yoga practice, we’ll go through it all together so I can be sure I’m doing things right ready for practicing at home, I can ask questions and she can catch me when I fall. She’s made me feel confident and comfortable that yoga is for anyone and I feel pretty excited. Report on my progress to come.

 

How to be Single, A Mermaid’s Tale

It’s St Valentine’s Day on Sunday, as if you didn’t know.  I’m single so I don’t  generally  partake in this day.  Although, if somebody felt the need  to buy me presents that’s fine, I’ll partake in accepting them.

However, there is a film being released this weekend called How To Be Single, so perhaps there is something to partake in  . The film follows the lives of a group of single folk in New York,

somewhere between the teasing texts and one-night 
stands, what they have in common is the need to learn  how to be single in a world filled with ever-evolving definitions of love

I  wonder if it will buck the trend and conclude that these New York singles can be happy as they are  or if the writers will have them all paired off by the end.   Although, why they had to make a film called How To Be Single  when they could have just asked me I don’t know.

I’m exceptionally skilled at being single and quite happy with my status. I’m so comfortably single I don’t even look for potential matches.  In fact,  I do ridiculous things that would have most chaps slowly backing away on tip toe. I’m so oblivious to romance that  I never even consider anyone I meet for a  potential  tryst. I know you are impressed by how fantastic I am at being single . ‘How does she do it?’,  I hear you ask in admiration.

HOW TO BE SINGLE ACCORDING TO SURFABELLA

Have mostly blokes as mates and always go on holiday, to parties and to the pub with  bloke mates.

Unless you are away surfing don’t go out except to work, the gym or food shopping.  Socialise at friend’s houses and if you do go out, don’t talk to anyone other than who you are with. Make sure that if you have lots of dresses and lady like shoes that make you feel all girly do not wear them. Basically, dress like a 15 year old boy, with boobs. Read more about this here.

rsz_1474553_10153507048310316_528338097_nIf you are approached by a potential mate make sure you actually call him ‘mate’ ten times in the first minute of conversation. In the company of such a man point out all the girls you think he might fancy, make sure all of them are super-hot and make you look like widow twanky. In addition,  regularly point out all of your flaws repeatedly and with particular attention to your beard, moustache, giant arse and personality defects.

Completely ignore any indication of flirtation from a man.  If you think there is flirtation panic, call him mate again  and retreat  to your bloke mates immediately.

Spend hours  setting up a profile on a dating site, browse the wares but, don’t pay the joining fee and never log into your account again, ever.

Finally and crucially, Surf. If your first thought at the idea of a boyfriend or girlfriend  is that they could  interfere with your surf plans or stop you taking off for the weekend and that date expenses will deplete your surf trip fund then carry on doing all of the above, stick a picture of  Ryan Gosling on your surfboard and continue to be a  mermaid.

See, being single is so easy,  they really should have consulted me on this film.

 In a world filled with ever evolving definitions of love, celebrate what you love . It doesn’t have to be a partner, other half, husband or wife or even a human  to be valid . Here’s to loving  your mates , your dog, surfing, adventure, fun, drinking rum, the smell of neoprene, campfires, running,  mountains, clear night skies, music, waves, singing,  laughing,  having the bed all to yourself and never having to hold a fart in.

Tired of Solo Surf Trips? How to brainwash your mates into coming surfing with you

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 Morocco. Hehe, I’m good at this.

So why is this a triumph? Well, I don’t have any surf friends living anywhere near me, the nearest being a 3 hour drive away meaning there’s little opportunity for impulsive one night trips over to Wooly or Scarborough. To address this, like Dr.Frankenstein I’ve been trying to actually  make a surf friend, hopefully the outcome will be that at  least one of my mates will  occasionally say, ‘yes I’m in’ when I decide to drive the 3 hours to the sea for one night rather than me actually creating a monster.

Of course, I can go away alone and I’m not too bad at meeting new people, I’ve done this and I’ve loved it. Sometimes though, you just want an old pal to come along on a trip. You know where you are, your friendship has a familiar rhythm, you can have a full conversation including jokes with punchlines with just a funny look and no words, you know there’s someone there who will whoop your wave when necessary even if they didn’t see it, and vitally, they know what to order for you at the bar while you take ages over your post surf shower. More than anything though, is that you just want to share the wondrous thing that has taken over your life with your friend so they can experience even a little of that feeling themselves.

So, you see why I’m stoked that I convinced Long Legs into coming to Morocco. A whole week there with me, Surf Bloke and the SurfStar Morocco crew and he’s sure to want to surf again, meaning the possibility of an ocassional  surf buddy living just around the corner.  For anyone in the same position, trying to convert a friend this is how I did it.

HOW TO ‘MAKE’ A SURF BUDDY FROM A NON SURFER IN 7 SNEAKY STEPS

Subliminal Messages. Two years of mentioning the words surf, sea and waves at least ten times an hour every time we meet even though we are not talking about surfing.

Gentle Suggestion,  England is so cold, did you know it’s 25 degrees today in Morocco? You really should get some winter sun you look tired and pale.

Great Expectations. The waves are perfect for learning and the teaching is fantastic you’ll be up on the first day (all true)

Tactical Gift Giving: Happy Christmas, here you go, have a rash vest.

Feigning Nonchalance.  ‘I haven’t booked my flight yet’   Me, nonchalantly and audibly, ‘whatever’.  Inside screaming, book the fucking flight now, I need to convert you.

Boobs: There will be loads of hot girls there in bikinis and yes they will need help with their sun cream. I’m ashamed of this, sorry in advance to all of the surf chicks in the world, I know this is a very low move.

Blatant Lying.  No, we won’t be surfing from dawn until dusk for 7 days and not see any of the culture and no you won’t get bruised ribs again.

While writing this post,  now that it’s all booked and paid for  I asked Long Legs for his version of what I said  when I was trying to sell a surf holiday to him and  this is the exact response I got .

‘It’s hot all year with more tagines than one man could possibly eat.  The water is like glass, not like Fuerte or Wales (the other 2 times he tried there were pretty rough conditions) so you’ll be up on the first day. The man brings you coffee on the beach. You can buy a rug for 50p and yet a bag of spice costs £50 (a reference to Surf Bloke who famously came back from Agadir with said bag of spices) Eldorado can be found up on the hill, there are goats in trees’

This made me laugh and realise that I’ve not really been sneaky  or strategic at all. I didn’t need to be.  I just told the truth about how fantastic Morocco is. Apart from not being able to guarantee glassy waves, the rest is true.  It would be nice if once in a while after this trip we do a surf weekend here or there but, if he gets really good, better than me during this week there’s going to be big trouble and we all know what happens when I sulk .

If you haven’t read my post Surf, Sulk and the Hulk click here to read it.

New Year’s Resolutions Still Going Strong ?

resolution versus revolution

We made it through January hooorahh. Nights are getting a little lighter and even though it’s cold and windy and still clearly winter  it’s rather warming to think that  March is in touching distance, closely followed by spring.

Four weeks ago, pretty much everyone I know made a New Year’s Resolution around food, activity or booze. Most were  the result  of opulent living over Christmas.  So, four weeks in, how are people’s  resolutions going?

New Year’s resolution are usually  laced with the regret and guilt  of Christmas. Often, because we feel pretty rotten we want results fast and our expectations are really  high. A resolution by definition is a firm decision to do or not to do something. So, essentially it’s a strict rule. It’s an I will do this or I won’t do that. The problem for me is that the breaking of the rule or the resolution is a catastrophic failure, there’s little room for flexibility.

 I have not seen many people succeeding with their resolutions. All around me I’m hearing and reading, mostly from women , ‘ I’ve been good, I’ve been bad, I fell off the wagon, I’ll start again tomorrow, I ONLY lost half a pound what’s the point, I had a bad week, I need to refocus, start again on Monday’. I must admit, these are all words that have fallen out of my mouth, the type of words that do nothing apart from chip away at your motivation until there is none left.

 Don’t get me wrong I’m very goal driven and  a big advocate of having something to aim for as it helps motivation but, I like to try and set positive goals. See my post How to Recover from a Debauched Christmas. I can’t live with  rules so narrow that it’s inevitable I’ll  break them  and  beat myself up about it. I have been guilty of this in the past and learnt it does not get you anywhere apart from stuck where you are and miserable.

change of ideas

Stuff resolutions, I’m all about Revolution. By definition revolution  is a forcible overthrow in favour of a new system. A few years back when I first embarked on my own health and fitness  mission, which is still a work in progress,  I overthrew the bad habits I’d had for years, the negative thinking and guilt, the cycle of setting the goals too high and always failing .

Most importantly, I stopped believing in the myth that there is a quick fix for everything . There isn’t.  This myth  is fed to us by shows such as the biggest loser and myriad celebrity diets and fads which  only serve to make us normal people with limited time and money,  feel like we aren’t doing enough and we need to try harder.  So, we buy the book, join the slimming club, join the gym, buy the pills and  keep the diet industry’s tills stuffed.

So, I set myself a new type of goal. For the first time ever a goal that would be fun and make me happy. To get fit and lose some timber in order to have a fighting chance at learning to surf rather than to stop being a fat munter which was the kind of language I used before, how is that even  a goal? Well, it’s not, it’s a giant shit stick  and that’s why it never worked. The key to success was going to come from a revolution in my thinking and  it would all start in my head, not necessarily  with what was on the end of my fork.

My revolution  was quiet and not extreme in any way. I adopted a  lifestyle  in which moving more and eating right most of the time have become the new normal. I made changes so small they can be sustained, a weekend or even a week of drinking and eating whatever I want is ok. I don’t have strict rules so I can’t  break them and declare a catastophic  fail. I’m determined to no longer be driven by guilt. I get my motivation from the  positive effects my efforts  have on my well being and of course my ability to surf.

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Interestingly the one place I have seen lots of  people succeeding and feeling great this month is in the running community. Particularly the runners page This Girl Can Running. The excitement, the positive language the girls are using, the celebration of even the smallest progress and the support and encouragement on that page is inspiring. Take a look here.  These ladies of all ages, shapes, sizes and abilities  are feeling good about themselves and it shows. If you want some motivation go and read some of the threads.

Playing  the long game,  a more relaxed approach and not having unrealistic expectations has worked. Taking up activities that make me feel good has worked. Having positive motivation has worked. Wanting to stay in good health as I approach my middle years has worked. As it stands it averages out that I’ve lost half a pound a week for 30 months and  that’s awesome. Sometimes I don’t make any progress for weeks on end and I have also now experienced  that health and fitness aswell as my commitment to the revolution  goes in cycles and that’s ok.

As the short lived fads and resolutions of others fade into the past I will keep moving forward, slowly but, always moving, experiencing  small changes, celebrating small victories and enjoying a nice cake and a bottle of wine when I want one.

If this is what revolution looks like, Vive La Revolution , fill my glass!

Interested in taking up running but, don’t want to do it alone? That Outdoor Girl are booking people in for the April course now here if you are lucky enough to be near one of their classes

How to Recover From a Debauched Christmas

STICK A FORK IN ME, I’M DONE

Its official, the festivities are over. We are hurtling into January at warp speed and into the new frontier of 2016, darkness reigns across the galaxy as we return to work, broken and bewildered. Ok,  I went to see Star Wars on Saturday, no more references I promise. It was meant to be a quiet, sedate and relaxed end to a few boozy days away with some pals. New Year’s Eve hangovers had just begun to retreat and we were all feeling decidedly better.

It started so well but,  somehow, after the film I drank my body weight in red wine, ate a whole pig and a kilo of cheese, smoked fags, stayed up after 5am, performed a self-choreographed modern dance in the kitchen set against the backdrop of 90’s gangster rap (although I was not the only one) and physically wrestled people to stop them from going to bed, again. This has been happening since mid-December.

So, the upshot of having lived like Henry VIII for almost three weeks, (apart from the wives, rolling heads, opulent lifestyle and that I’m not a King or indeed a man) is that I feel like I’ll never be able to run again and I’ll live in giant pyjamas for the rest of my days, get gout and only respond to the name Jabba.

Alternatively, I get off my ass, get moving and stop moaning because the longer I moan about it the less I’m doing and the more likelihood there is of slipping into old habits.

I’m sure I’m not the only one feeling this way so here is what I’m doing to move on from a debauched Christmas towards feeling more sprightly and getting into the swing of being active again. It’s all very obvious and simple but, sometimes we need reminding that we really are only a few steps away from feeling great again.

Acceptance

Be kind to yourself, what’s done is done, don’t beat yourself up. So, you stuffed your cake hole and didn’t make it out for a run or even a walk and can’t fasten your work trousers, regret won’t change that or make your trousers looser. Remember, your newly shaped belly was cultivated with love, what a comforting thought. Drinking, eating and being merry with your favourite people are the reasons for your food baby and you had a great time, just accept it and move on.

Set a Goal

 What is your goal? Is it just to deflate a little and get your energy back? To take up a new activity? Setting realisitc a goal, even a small one is a great way to get you back into the swing of things. Without a goal how will you motivate yourself? I need to be Surf fit for Morocco in 8 weeks so there’s mine right there. My goal of being able to surf my brains out every day and not get tired or injured is a really positive one. Note that my goal is not guilt driven or a punishment and it’s not so narrow that I can’t have a lazy weekend or a takeaway.

Make a plan and stick to it

How will you reach your goal? Make a simple, realistic plan and stick to it. Make sure your plan  has flexibility so you can enjoy the unexpected things that may crop up, like a night out or cancelling a run because you are tired. Just do it, don’t create obstacles or make excuses. It’s your decision to follow your plan or not, the time will pass anyway.

Today was my first day back in the office after finishing on 18th December, during my time off I travelled 800 miles around the UK, eating, drinking, surfing and being a dick head here, there and everywhere. I enjoyed every minute of it, clearly seen in  my puffy ‘Elvis in the fat years’ face . I had to goto  to work in ‘lounge pants’ today as I genuinely cannot fasten any work clothes. I imagine a lot of people were sneakily unfastening the the top button of their trousers and feeling uncomfortable today too! Lets not wallow, instead get outdoors, run, walk, bike,  do something new, break a sweat doing whatever.  You are only a few steps away from feeling great again .

All I Want for Christmas

IS TO WEAR MY SPARKLY SHOES FOR 10 MINUTES (AND A GO PRO)

Actual me can usually be seen in  jeans, black t-shirts in a variety of shades of ermm  black, black vans, slightly mad hair, often grubby hands and an unkempt lady mustache. I’m usually wearing an oudoor activity type of coat and a hat as I’m always on my bike. For most of winter I look like a fat 15 year old boy with a feeble mustache and man boobs. Think  Kathy Burke in Kevin and Perry crossed with Jimmy Crankie but, with long hair.

Then there’s the me who I call other me. She keeps going on e bay and buying girly  things, she thinks she lives quite a different life to actual  me. Actual  me is at a loss as to why  on earth I have a cupboard full of dresses that I never wear and why on earth  I just bought these sparkly shoes that guess what? Yes,  I’ll probably never wear.

Other me thinks she wears dresses every day, just to swan around in like a glamorous mother fucker and that chaps should open doors for her. Other me clearly thinks she has lots of events to go to that require a dress and sparkly shoes. This is not true. Despite this, other me keeps buying things  when regular me is  off guard.

Regular me just shakes her head at other me, gets on surfdome.com and buys another wetsuit with the profits of secretly reselling other me’s unworn dresses on e bay. I currently have 17 dresses for sale on ebay and more in a bag ready to go.  It’s a vicious circle. I’ve no idea why I have this urge to buy girly things that I’ll never wear. Maybe I just don’t want to be one of the lads all of the time or perhaps it’s just the lure of sparkly things.  I do wear a few dresses on a rotation here and there but, the number I have tucked away you’d think I was living on the set of Madmen.

Christmas is an ideal dress and sparkly shoe kind of time but, regular me isn’t  going to any fancy, frock type of  dos or even really going  out, out. My Christmas do is better than being in a bar full of work do’s with people who secretly hate each other and  tomorrow’s regrets in full swing . Tonight, in a  cosy house, with twinkly lights and laughter, there will be a gathering of old, old friends who I love, who  I have now known for longer than I haven’t. It will start as a civilized affair, all warm hugs and catch up chatter in the kitchen, helping to get the food ready, sorting out the ice  blah, blah.  The evening  will quickly descend into us behaving exactly as we did at Uni where we all met 22 years ago, except we will all fall asleep in our chairs early,  having not quite realised that we can’t hack it anymore.

this, by 9pm

this, by 9pm

Anyway, I can wear what I want tonight, if I turned up in a batman outfit and only spoke in a batman voice nobody would care. ReguIar me has chosen to wear jeans but, I WILL WEAR MY SPARKLY SHOES BECAUSE IT’S CHRISTMAS. If only for the first ten minutes,  I’ll swan around the house like a glamorous mother fucker to please other me. I’ll close the kitchen door and make chaps open it for me, then close it again. After a short time I’ll  chuck my shoes off and borrow a big,  fat pair of mans socks for the rest of the night and get pissed  with the lads.

ps, I’ll do Batman voice  for a bit and see what happens

 

 

Buy a christmas card  version of my cover photo for charity here 

Alfred & Joan and the Mysterious Travel Trunk

Rummaging in junk shops on Saturdays while hung over is a common pastime for me .

I’ve found a lot of junk and a few treasures over the years but, today I found something more. Amongst all of the old wardrobes, odd chairs, teapots with no lids, piles of dusty books and random golf clubs I saw two travel trunks . Proper,  old fashioned, steamer travel trunks, the type you’d imagine Pilleas Fogg or gentleman explorers with swirly mustaches and Panama hats to have hauled around the world . Whether or not these trunks have seen Blackpool or Buenos Aries,  Clacton on  Sea or Cairo  I’ll never know.

$_57

 Team Surfabella’s artistic guru, otherwise know as  Long Legs has been looking for a trunk for a while so as soon as I saw these ones I called him to haul his ass up to the junk shop and take a look. As I stood guard over the them to avoid a gazump  I looked inside. Sifting  through old cd’s and empty photo frames, a few plates and some knives  I wondered where the trunks had been, who owned them, where they lived, what were their lives like, how was it that their personal belongings had ended up in a junk shop. The banality of the items gave me a bit of a pang, objects not of great value but, from normal life.  A plate,  maybe used for Christmas dinner, an empty photo frame that might once have held a loved one in a photograph.  At the very bottom of these remnants,  I found an envelope marked birth certificates and a postcard from ‘mother’. I’d made a unexpected connection with the owners. I felt a bit weird holding the envelope,  finding out their names would give the trunk a story. Maybe Long Legs didn’t want a story with his purchase. I was unable to resist. Alfred and Joan were born 1914 and 16 respectively.
I put the envelope back where I found it as Long Legs arrived and I quickly told him what I’d found and how sad I thought it was, why had their birth certificates been thrown away? Didn’t they have any family? Blah,  blah , blah, blah….. Quite used to my nonsense he was not greatly moved by my sentimental  ramblings or intrigued like I was but, bought one of the trunks nonetheless.   Emptying the contents out of it  for the sale to be made , the shop oike  dropped the envelope on the floor and stood on  it with his big, fat,  dirty trainers. It made me so sad, these were people who lived a life, they meant something to someone and now some stranger was just standing on their stuff.  Long Legs, (now seeing where I was coming from)  and I did some looks and pulled a few funny faces between us when we saw his  foot on the envelope so  he asked if we could have it. We decided I’d have the birth certificates and he’d take the trunk . This somehow seemed right.  Someone had to remember them so why not me, even though I hadn’t met them.
And if you die before I die, I'll carve your name out of the sky. I'll fall asleep with your memory and dream of where you lie
In my head Alfred and Joan had a great life, they were childhood sweethearts who had met at school.  They never had children but, they had a full and fun life. They had many friends and were renowned for throwing a good party. Joan liked a G & T or two. They  travelled in a time when travel was less common, they did a grand tour of Europe and took the Trans Siberian Express, they rode camels in the desert  and trekked across Patagonia. They were inseperable and in their later years, when their bodies were weary and their memories less sharp they would look at the travel trunk and remember the adventures they had together. Or maybe they just used them to move house, who knows? It really doesn’t matter, nor does it matter why their lives ended up on a junk shop floor.  I’ll keep Alfred and Joan’s  birth certificates and postcard on my book shelf, inside a rough guide to Morocco.  I hate the thought of them being  discarded  and  being forgotten as if they had never been here.
It’s a nice thought to imagine that even after I’m gone someone else who didn’t know them will remember them. One day someone is going to go through my belongings. They will  come across Alfred and Joan’s envelope , read their names aloud  and wonder who they were to me.

Soundtrack to Alfred & Joan

I

Paradise Lost – Paris

Today was the first day back at work after a fabulous week of surfing in Morocco, as  I put my ID badge over my head it felt like I was putting my shackles back on , signifying the end of a week of freedom.  In a landlocked office full of mostly married or seriously attached  ladies, many of whom have children and grandchildren I’m a bit of an oddity. I’m not odd at all in my own world, in fact I’m quite run of the mill really but, in this environment I’m not  with people who have similar interests and I don’t  fit nicely into any of the normal  boxes;  over 40, single, no kids and not even living in a grown up house. I can’t join in the lengthy chats about the kids or the DIY job my husband did at the weekend and equally when I harp on about surfing or a band I caught at the weekend the conversation peters out pretty swiftly.

So, I arrived at work still stoked, tanned and blue-eyed from my trip but, I quickly remembered, nobody is really interested.   Nobody  cares about how this was one of the best surf trips we have ever done or that I conquered some  fears, paddling out despite taking a big fat set on the head and not skulking  back to the white water. I must note that thanks to Freya screaming ‘facking paddle’ at me I got out to the back and I was able to chuck myself onto some sweet green waves. More to come about the trip in my next post .

DSC_2169

I walked into  office, grunted a hello, sat down,  briefly said I’d had an awesome holiday, looked out of the window thinking about this time 48 hours ago and  I immediately felt like bashing my head on the table and yelling ‘fuck this shit’ at the top of my voice.  I fired up the computer,  my emails filled the screen and dazzled my eyes and I looked at all the post it notes and papers that had been left on my desk. Urgghhhh, I thought,  how can this be my life?  I was  back to feeling like a fish out of water, desperate for an escape plan. Despite my promises to myself to try to be more positive at work  I was already joining in the moaning.  The familiar feeling of loathing every task I had to do, wanting to punch every sender of a stupid email or asker of a stupid question returned to me quite quickly as if I’d never been away.

darkness in the city of light

Making tea is one of my temporary escapes at work which is why I drink about 12 cups a day. While I waited for the kettle to boil something dawned on me. This morning in many work places there would be more than 120 empty seats that would normally be occupied. There were colleagues not daring to ask but, hoping,   praying  to a god they had maybe never believed in that the empty seat at the desk over there was down to the cold that swept the office last week, or that the teacher who hadn’t arrived to teach a class had just got stuck in traffic on the way to work, that the young waitress in the coffee shop who was always there on a  monday morning had just taken a holiday. 120 seats that will be empty again tomorrow. 120 seats that belonged to someone’s best friend, child, girlfriend, father, mother.  120 seats, empty.

What happened in Paris on Friday shook us all, we could all have been that guy at the gig or the friends sitting in the restaurant enjoying a glass of wine when all hell broke loose, people like you and me just gone in the blink of an eye with no warning,   futures never to be realised and chairs left empty.

This made me think, I should be more grateful for what I have. I should be more positive and make the most of things and try to see the best in everything because life is short and my problems are  trivial. But, then it struck me,  just how lucky I am to have trivial problems.

I’m grateful I can moan about my job, that  I even have a job to moan about.  I’m grateful I have a severe case of  the holiday blues, that I hate being so far from the sea and feel sorry for myself because I can’t surf every day and that I have a fat belly.  I’m grateful that my colleagues would rather coo over pictures of someones stupid  new kitchen than see my amazing surfing pictures and that my boss sends me too many emails. I’m grateful that I despise the majority of the meaningless tasks I have to do at work and that I’m frustrated that I can’t be creative.

We can’t go around pretending to absolutely love everything we have to do just incase something bad happens to us tomorrow, that is not reality. Reality is the day-to-day hum drum, it’s the boring aswell as the exhilarating it’s the things that irritate and grind us down aswell as the things that make us happy. Yes, of course hug the people you love a little tighter and run towards your dreams a little quicker but, appreciate the hum drum too, the fact that I can have a good moan about the trivialities of my day means that my that my heart is still beating in my chest and that my seat is not one of the empty ones.

Do you get a bit sulky when you Surf?

cause and symptoms of surf sulk

Surf Sulk is an affliction which is usually a secret, sorry sufferers, I’m outing us. It generally affects the person in a group of friends or duo who is the least skillful surfer but, who tries really, really hard. The sufferer will usually have spent months watching their friends progress while they remain where they are.  Although called Surf Sulk , the affliction is more complexed than simple jealousy and sulking and is more about a build up of frustration with oneself coupled with the emotional exhaustion of always being the crap one who is struggling.

Surf Sulk can manifest in many ways for the sufferer, the mildest being a bit of sulking, a few faces and crying in the shower to the other end of the scale,  with a full on Hulk, smashing boards into pieces and stomping up the beach ( yes, this is a true story, though not mine and the board smasher will not be named here). Surf Sulk often causes a conflict in the sufferer who wants to be pleased for their friend but, also wants to punch them. Of course, the sufferer would never say this so smiles through gritted teeth whilst inwardly sulking.

 the curse of an expressive face

Surfing is an activity of such polarity. More often than not it can induce the most amazing  sense of well-being, calm and all round warm fuzzy glow but,  on the other hand it can turn you into a demonic two year old. I can only assume my nickname of ‘The Hulk’ at one surf camp wasn’t just because I had a green board that week. The hardest part about being a Surf Hulk is the struggle to contain it, to be a good person.  I wear my heart on my sleeve,  I always have.  Hiding the Hulk is difficult for me,  I  have a very expressive face that defies my instructions to behave and often gives away the evil thoughts in my mind.  Finally,  to top it all off  I have a  best surf mate who is doing really well. All the ingredients for a horror show right there.

Surf bloke BFF and I started out together as beginners,  it was all great fun for a while and then it seemed like suddenly I  didn’t  see Surf Bloke all session.  I started to get left on my lonesome in kiddies corner, struggling, trying to encourage myself , trying to enjoy just being in the water and not worry too much about not being very good.  But, I like surfing with people, with friends and having a laugh. I found myself not interacting with any other humans in the water as they were all what felt like two miles out to sea along with Surf Bloke,  having an amazing time surfing with dolphins through sea spray rainbows and riding sea horses.
Surf Bloke, while taking a break from surfing rainbows with dolphins, would  cruise by once in a while headed back to the beach,  effortlessly all like ‘ yeah bro I got so bored with these tiny, shit waves that I decided to teach myself to ride regular ‘ He’d then surf past me about 300 times both regular and goofy . I’d smile and wave  and go wow that’s brilliant but,  my face said ‘ they are not tiny, they are not shit,  fuck off with your stupid switchfoot, give Hulk hammer. AND SHUT UP’  and because I’m a childish idiot, I’d have an overwhelming urge to sabotage his board, turn it up towards the sun when he’s not looking or put a hole in his wetsuit so he gets cold and he really does feel the cold more than your average human .

managing your hulk

hulk

Being the Hulk and being in a Surf Sulk is not fun.  Not for me or for the person I surf with. I realised recently that ,   I could have soured an ocean full of milk with my miserable faces at times and I’ve probably ruined a few sessions on our surf trips by being so Hulk-like. I’ve also made surf bloke feel like I hate him at times which is the worst. The thing is, Surf Sulk is not about the other person or what they are doing, it’s really about me. I’m sulking with myself for not being as good as I want to be, I’m sulking because I’m frustrated with myself and in the past the limits my unfit body put upon me. I sulk because I’m missing out on all the fun with the big boys.   So, in order not to kill my friendship with Surf Bloke I had to put an end to the surf sulks once and for all and retire the Hulk.

On our last trip to Wales I was honest and said,  I know you are doing really well and I’m stoked for you  but I’m not , I feel left behind and frustrated, I feel like a right miserable, old,  cow but, it makes me annoyed . Surf Bloke  said he knew I was annoyed at myself (my face told him)  but, didn’t know how to handle it so he’d piss off out back for the whole day an avoid the sulk . He didn’t realise this made it worse and I hadn’t realised my sulk was powerful enough to repell a human that far out to sea. There and then around a campfire over a  rum and ginger beer or two,  like a pair of drunk pirates but, without eye patches, parrots, a pirate ship, or treasure we talked for a few hours and gained an understanding that we hadn’t had before.  We planned to spend more time having a laugh together in the water, try not to get so pissed off if things are not working (me),  paddle out together for the first few waves (him) and hang out a bit more during the session. Easy fixes. The next few days we had some great surfs together despite not having the best waves and there were more smiles in well, maybe ever. We seemed to enjoy each other’s company more too, this all bodes well for our upcoming trip to Morocco next week.

my promise to surf bloke bff

11024755_10155221853540551_8415057799964438574_nSurf bloke, I solemly promise to be a nicer person when we surf, I’m going to cheer and woop for you like it’s the WSL final and I’ll mean it , you’ll be so sick of it. I’m going to carry you up the beach on my shoulders every time you leave the water.  Just come and play in kids corner with me now and then and lets push each other off our boards and take stupid underwater photos.
There is only one person on my passport and that’s me, the Hulk is not getting on that plane with us.  I might still have a few little,  evil thoughts from time to time to make myself chuckle but, I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t.
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Ode to Autumn

there’s nothing mellow about this season

The passage of time from one year to the next is clearly marked for me since working in a University.  The shock of the arrival of Autumn and the start of another academic year never lessens. How did we get here?  I still feel like I’m waiting for summer.  Autumn  also  brings with it a fresh crop of baby faced students who look increasingly younger as I get a little older, a little grayer and a little thicker around the waist. Although, some things have changed for the better,  this year I am a little less trapped, a little less landlocked and a little more free on account of my new 39 week a year contract at work.

I’ve always loved Autumn, it makes me wistful and want to write pretentious and melancholic  shit about the colours and long shadows . Perhaps I read too much Keats and smoked too much  as a student . When I was eight or nine , I wasn’t smoking weed but I won a poetry competition with this genius ditty about Autumn, the last two lines are inspired!
 IMG_2189
I haven’t had much time for writing this Autumn , it’s a busy time where 7 day working weeks are not unusual.  Surfabella has been on the back burner somewhat and  it’s another  3 weeks until my next day off,  I’m also trying to fit in half marathon training. Amazingly though,   my running has taken on a new, unexpected  lease of life with the onset of the darker nights and the purchase of this baby.
Tikkina - Violet1414417537
 Me and Long Legs have been training in the darkest places of Leicester wearing head torches.  We’ve run by and through  canals, parks, woods, nature reserves and river sides. Apart from (me, not he)  being freaked out by statues and rats and tree branches touching my head it’s been awesome and I’ve definately trained more since these torch lit  runs started.   Hopefully on the day of the half marathon I’ll still be able to perform in daylight and haven’t become a nocturnal runner.
My Life Right Now

My Life Right Now

Unfortunately because of all this madness  I’m missing out on the Autumn swells, sunset surfs,  quiet beaches and the stolen days of sunshine that so many of my fellow surfers are enjoying but, it’s all for the greater good, my own endless summer .

Surfabella will be back to business as usual soon.

Slowly Becoming A Little Less Landlocked

IT IS A TRUTH UNIVERSALLY ACKNOWLEDGED, THAT A LANDLOCKED WOMAN IN POSSESSION OF A SURFBOARD, MUST BE IN WANT OF THE COAST

My national express coach pulled off the M1 at J21 at 4am on a very cold November morning last year. Fresh from Morocco with my wetsuit still well, wet and my hand, foot and face tan still glowing.  I had just 4 hours sleep to look forward to after a long journey from Agadir via London.

The next morning I was on the first bus to Birmingham to meet up with Landlocked Surfgirl for the first time (read about it here) following our whirlwind internet friendship. This first real world encounter would lead to a firm friendship and many more meetings to come.

We have a mutual affliction, we are both Landlocked and obsessed with surf, sea and all things coastal. We feed each other’s enthusiasm and empathise with each other’s quite dire post surf trip blues. We chat every few days, we are always hatching some plot or scheming some scheme as we discuss our escape plans.  We meet when we can and we have finally had a surf together this summer. Most of all, we can talk for England and I mean talk, just ask Mr Landlocked.

Me and Landlocked Surf Girl - our first surf together

Me and Landlocked Surf Girl – our first surf together

Last time we met for a landlocked lunch we went to Turtle Bay in Birmingham ( a tenuous link to the coast if ever there was one) and I predicted that within 5 years we would both be living in Cornwall and surfing whenever we wanted. I strongly believed this but, had no idea how or when this would happen. I felt that we were both so far away from living by the coast, not just due to  geography,  that 5 years seemed reasonable. At the time I was working fulltime with just 4 weeks leave a year (read here about how I changed that) and Landlocked Surfgirl was tied by her house and job, amongst other things.  Maybe there was more than a little trepidation on both of our parts too. This was just 5 months ago.

As of last week the Landlockeds have sold their house and are headed to live in Cornwall, something they had deliberated over for a while but, in the end happened almost suddenly from decision to deal done. They are making the big move really soon. This is a huge step for Landlocked and her husband.

As of yesterday I began my new 39 week a year contract at work and tomorrow I’m headed down to Newquay.  I’m going with my best girlfriend  for a change and I’ll be looking at a little flat to rent on Pentire Headland for 6 weeks next summer. This is a  little step in the right direction and lucky for me my friend will be living  close by too.

The flat overlooks South Fistral , side on so I can check the swell from my terrace. It’s in my favourite, quiet part of Newquay and although I know that summer may not provide the best surf and will be super busy, I also know you can always find a quiet corner and  a small wave and that a single fin long board is just made for summer.

I could go off somewhere exotic but, I’d really like to stay in my own country and meet some new friends, hang out with the newly transported Landlockeds and who knows maybe even establish something of a life down there that could lead to a move in the future.

I want to explore more of Cornwall.   I’d like to have friends from home come and visit me over summer and share my favourite little places with them, sundowner sessions at Lusty Glaze, a night at The Minack theatre, a cheap bottle of plonk and a bbq at sunset on Fistral, a longboarding session at Perran Sands, surfing with seals at Godvrey, fish n chips at Jon Bouys, it goes on . Fingers crossed all goes well with the viewing and I’ll be signing on the dotted line for a whole summer in Cornwall.

It’s quite something how much your situation can change in such a short space of time if you know what it is that you want. By this time next year I will also know if the 6 weeks of summer at the coast are enough or if I really do want to make a big move  myself.

A Momentary Lapse in Fitness ( that lasted a year)

the beginning of the quest

I appear to have had a lapse in my quest for improved fitness and weight loss. I haven’t just missed a few classes  and eaten a cake. This lapse has been a year long, my motivation has been AWOL despite the fact that I’ve been surfing more than ever. The quest began in February 2013 and I made some significant changes up until June 2014.

  • lost 60-65 lb (fluctuated)
  • dropped 3-4 dress sizes (same)
  • quit smoking after 24 years
  • took up running and fitness classes
  • ran a half marathon 4 months after my first ever run
  • started to love my self a little more

The quest,  as I appear to be calling it, was borne out of an obsession with surfing after I had a lesson on holiday. I loved it but, knew I’d never be able to stand on that board with the body I had. At 17 stone with a bmi of 41 and an age of inactivity behind me, I waged war on my old habits and set about making some positive changes. I was strict with my regime but, had to be. My old habits had a loud voice that would try to tempt me back but,  I would not be distracted. As my body and mind improved the elusive ‘getting up’ on my board got closer and closer and I was more focussed than ever.

Every ache, stitch, pain, struggle to breath, bead of sweat and mad face pulled was for surfing and eventually the hard work paid off. After 21 x 4 hour lessons I was up. I was standing on my board. My motivation grew as I shrunk. I was  slimmer than I’d been in 15 years and fitter and stronger than I’d been in my life. Outside of the water I was happy, proud, confident, focussed and felt so sparkly on the inside it felt like it was bursting out of me.  The only thing I needed  was to be  fit, strong  and on track for surfing. It’s this very thing that may have been my downfall.

losing my way

They say pride comes before a fall and just as things couldn’t get any better,  I had an accident that put me out of all activity and in dry dock for  for 12 weeks.  I was in  a sling for 6 weeks and off work for 5. I couldn’t even dress myself or brush my hair such was the pain in my shoulder and neck. Home alone all day bored, in pain, feeling sorry for myself, not able to even stick to healthy foods as I couldn’t prepare anything, an army of white bread toast and crisps knocked at the door, I had to let them in.  I was hungry.

 Eventually my injury healed enough to slowly get back into activities but, it didn’t come easy. Iv’e tried, I have. I would convinced myself I was back on track for a few days or a week here and there but, it never lasted. I did managed a half marathon although it was more about stubbornness to finish than the training I had put in because I barely trained. I’ve never got back to the level of commitment I had before. I could stand on my board so I felt working hard to get stronger wasn’t as important and I blamed my dodgy shoulder for everything.

Time was separated in to before shoulder-gate and after. Where there was newly gained  lean muscle there is pudgy,  soft,  squidgyness once again. Where there was no question about going to body pump or pilates there are excuses. ‘I’ll start next week’ has been hanging  heavy in the air every weekend along with the stale smell of the cigarettes I nick of friends after a few drinks. There’s a faint echo of I can’t or I’m not good enough in the distance.

Lubricated by a few glasses of wine on Friday, I was talking about hating myself for letting it go AGAIN with my friend Long Legs. (hate is  such a horrible word to use about oneself)  I said something along the lines of ‘why have I let this happen, I’ve put weight on, I’ve lost my exercise mojo, I worked my ass off ahhh I’m a failure ‘, I whined. ‘ Cut yourself some slack kid’, said Long Legs and then something along the lines of, ‘ look how far you have come, all these changes are not easy and you did them all in one go, stop beating yourself up, you can’t always be perfect’. I sort of half heartedly agreed, hoofed down the last of my bottle of wine and went home.

back on the right path

The next day  the simplicity and sense in what Long Legs had said dawned on me . I guess sometimes it takes another voice that’s louder than the doubtful one  in your head to tell you that you are doing ok.   I can’t be ‘on it’ all of the time, it’s not possible to do so and have a life, things get in the way, you can’t always get a run in after work, sometimes you want a pint instead of the gym, sometimes you have a break which is out of your control. My quest was so much the centre of everything I did that when I was forced to stop I couldn’t handle it and that had affected my ability to bounce back. I’d been sabotaging myself because I felt like I was failing after not getting back in the swing of things after my injury.  Before it was all and now it was nothing, either manically up and muscular  or miserably down with a muffin top.

I realise I need to find balance, a middle ground where I’m making progress on my quest but, I’m not going to throw it all away and wallow if I hit a bump in the road or have a few mad weekends. A break in fitness and a weight gain is not a failure  it’s an expected part of my life that will occur from time to time.

I have decided that I haven’t come this far to not finish the job. How I deal with this lapse is a measure of the person I have become. So, I’m going to  regroup and go back into battle with a new strategy with balance as my focus, just like on my board balance really is the key.

Cold Water Surf Tour with Jessie Tuckman

I first came into contact with competitive surfer Jessie Tuckman a year or so ago when she commented on one of my very first Surfabella posts. I was chuffed that a proper and awesome surfer that I had no personal connection to had read my blog, at the time I thought it was just my mum and my mates reading it out of loyalty.

Hailing from the non surf capital of the UK , Manchester,  Jessie took to surfing a little later than most girls on the competition scene and shot through the rankings pretty darn quickly. I do a terrible injustice to her story by cutting it short but, you can read a recent Guardian article about her journey from Manchester  to Newquay and from office to beach here.

Life on the competition  trail isn’t easy and there’s a distinct lack of  lucrative sponsorship contracts for our UK girls. The reality is , it’s bloody hard work and  surfing the cold and oft brown waters of the UK  isn’t exactly the sun soaked dream the big sponsors want to sell. Jessie does have the support of some awesome local sponsors but,  in between training, surfing, competing, coaching and working has to raise additional  funds herself.

Jessie’s latest project aside from the zillion other things she has on the go is to embark on  a Cold Water Mini Tour and she has a crowd funder set up to this end . I caught up with Jessie just after Boardmasters to find out a little more about the tour.

Hello. How was Boardmasters

Boardmasters was fantastic! I have enjoyed the surf. It started off a solid overhead and clean day 1, I competed in a mushy 3-4ft and then we had a few small days. But the sun was out and that made it great for mulling around in the shopping area and watching the skaters on the half-pipe. The final day had good surf too. Peony Knight won with some impressive surfing.

 You seem to have a crazy, busy life. With a job, training, surfing, coaching and everything else what’s a typical Jessie day when you are not on the road?

I’m up at 5am, normally have breakfast and do some stretching then off to work. I clean the Stable, which is a pizza and cider specialist on Fistral Beach. (convenient location) They are one of my main sponsors too. Once I finish I’m normally straight in the sea for a morning of surf. I feel the most awake and energised in the morning. Then time to eat lunch and answer emails, contact companies that might want to hire me for work or discuss sponsorship and interviews. Surf number 2 after than and then the gym for a surf specific workout.

So, what can you tell us about  the Jessie Tuckman Cold Water Mini tour?
 It’s still secret right now but it is going to be exploration of a coastline in the British Isles that is not covered as much as Cornwall and Devon by the surf mags. It is a beautiful, cold location. I will be meeting up with some female surfers on the way who will share their local knowledge with me. That’s all I can say at the moment but if readers would like to follow me at www.facebook.com/jessietuckmansurfer there will be updates closer to the time and I will also post a daily photo from the trip…so maybe they will be able to guess where I am? who knows! anyway It will definitely be exciting.
Get Involved
 
Tell us more about the Crowdfunder?
My  sponsors help with some of the contest costs and coaching but,  when I add it all up it still isn’t all covered. I use my personal wages to cover most of the rest. Although for this trip I just can’t afford it without a fund raiser. I’ve set up a Crowdfunder to help  fund this  Exploration of Cold water British Surf , specifically funds are needed for fuel and photography fees.
Win a Snugg made to measure wetsuit

Click HERE to enter via Jessie’s Crowdfunder

Pledges of £10+ will be entered into a raffle,  the main prize is a Snugg Wetsuit voucher of £300. (it  covers a summer suit but can be used towards a winter one if preferred) It’s super cool as its made to measure and there are so many cool colours to make it really radical. I’ve also got runner up prizes so far of a hoodie, some sunglasses and a sticker pack.
I really appreciate all the help that surf supporters can give. Even if they don’t win they are really helping me on my quest for wave exploration, exposure of british women in sport and keeping it all close to home.
Thanks Jessie and good luck with the tour. I hope I can catch up with you somewhere along the way. x

AWOL – Gone Surfing, Stopped Writing

Sufabella has been neglected

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There I’ve admitted it. Apart from finally becoming surfabella.com and some design gubbins going on behind the scenes, I have not put pen to paper for 3 weeks. For the last year my writing has been centred around the strive to surf more as a landlocked, non-driver with a full time job. However, I’ve addressed some of these obstacles and a new life where I can surf more is starting to take over. The bottom line is , I have less time for writing .

Some awesome things have been happening , a recent trip to Llangennith was superb even if the waves were not brilliant every day. I had a really good reconnect with my surf bloke bff who I rarely see, we had big laughs in the sea which we recently haven’t as  he’s out back being all good and I’m sobbing with frustration  in the white water like a giant baby.

We met the awesome and amazing Carys and Sarah from Surf Señoritas. We had a fun little surf with them and I paddled out back for the first time since my injury last year, we had a mojito party in the sand dunes,  I bought a new board and I’ve been invited as a guest to Salt Rock’s Croyde View Festival this weekend. These are all things I’d normally write about. I’ve been scribbling words in a book when I can but, this has been reduced to bullet points and now I’m here writing about not having enough time to write rather than writing about surfing.

The end of invention or just a lull?

My worry is this , is it really lack of time that has stopped me posting or have I killed my inspiration? Do I need something to lament in order to be inspired to write? Am I like a rock band who write an amazing first album they can never quite match because the struggles and heartbreak they wrote so passionately about before success are over?

I know that I won’t document every surf trip I ever go on or detail every little surf related incident as these events are becoming more of the norm for me. I’ve even stopped taking 600 photos of me with my board, my board on the sand, me on my board, my board next to another board etc. come on, we have all done it.

I sound like I’m complaining don’t I? Starts blog to moan about not surfing, uses blog as a sounding board to help direct life to surf more, surfs more, moans about not writing. I wouldn’t swap it all for the world though. I guess this is just a lull in writing, I’m a bit busy and  tired and my focus has now shifted from trying to make things happen to being on the cusp of actually doing it, of having a surfing life.

It’s not all standing still at surfabella.com either. The new look site will be live soon, the artwork is almost done (thanks to The man with long legs who from now on I’ll just call JT)  and there’s other exciting things bubbling under the surface.

As September looms with the promise of warm Autumn swells, so does the possibility of massive adventures during my 13 weeks of freedom in the coming year. For now, I have to keep putting in the seven day weeks in my two jobs,  see friends and family in between, surf when I can and be grateful that I’m busy and exhausted for such a great reason . I’ve been busy living the life I was writing about trying to get.

Perhaps writing is much like surfing, you spend most of the time waiting for waves and when the swell comes you had better be ready! Maybe I should just learn to enjoy the lulls x

Surfabella The First Year

Happy Birthday to Me

It’s the first birthday of Surfabella today. A year ago today I hit publish on my first post then ran away and hid in a cupboard because I was a bit shy about sharing my words.

 Surfabella started as a way for me to channel my longing  (stropping and sulking)  for the sea and to surf into something constructive rather than just continuing to alienate every human and some animals around me by boring them to death with surf talk. It has become so much more.

We write to taste life twice, in the moment and in retrospect  – Anais Nin 

So, I find myself looking back at the year I turned 40 and a year of Surfabella. Sharing my writing for the first time was pretty daunting but, I have learnt a lot about myself from the jumble of letters that fell onto the page and by being so honest with my pen. The act of writing it all down seems to have carved the path ahead for me so I can see which direction I’m headed in.

Looking Back

The year was not without its ups and downs and some major upheaval but, who wants to know about those? My shoulder healed, I ran a half marathon I didn’t think I’d be able to do so shortly after my injury. I met fellow blogger LLSG who has become a true friend and great surf buddy. Along my travels I have met and built up a little network of friends and  lady surfers  all over the place, specials thanks to Surf Senioritas for this. A year of firsts, I visited Morocco, Cornwall and Devon for the first time and surfed Scarborough and North Wales.   I had my first winter surf at Christmas and saw the snow on mount Snowdon from my board in the sea which was  magical!

I finally learnt to drive and bought a car. I just made my first long trip to Cornwall on my own and the grownups or police didn’t stop me. I met my surf idol Steph Gilmore and my music idol Mike Patton of Faith No More. I interviewed Surf Mama,  Wilma Johnson and was invited for a surf with Jessie Tuckman ( thanks Jessie, and no thanks to the stupid A30 traffic that made me miss it)

I lost a bit of fitness, gained some back, lost a bit of confidence, gained some back and my surfing deteriorated then improved. I almost moved to Bournemouth, then didn’t.   I continued to try and change my landlocked situation so I could get to the coast more and I finally found a way.  As of September I will only work 39 weeks a year, for ever. I have an Endless Summer for ever!

 Putting all the me, me, me aside for a change though, the absolute best thing to come from  Surfabella has been the messages I have received from people who said they have been inspired to do something after reading one of my posts.  People have said they can identify with the honest and not so glamorous truth of learning to surf or just trying something new a little later in life and of not being perfect or gorgeous or brilliant at everything.

If one person reads something I write and nods or smiles as they recognise a piece of themselves in my words, if just one person says I can do this where normally they’d say I can’t , that’s more than I ever imagined when I tentatively wrote my first words here last year. For that and for the 4828 readers in 61 countries I am truly grateful.

Looking Forward

 So, while celebrating this great year Surfabella is looking to the future and some exciting changes are on the horizon. Regular readers will know my friend,   ‘the man with long legs’,  who also happens to be the talented artist behind my logo. From here on in I’ll call him JT.

He’s currently in a darkened studio in deepest, darkest Leicestershire ( no, it isn’t locked from the outside)  working away on the new look for a revamped Surfabella which is coming soon.  We are also working together developing some products which we will be launching later in the year. You might say we are now officially working in a tiny team, we celebrated this last Friday by drinking way too much beer, red wine and bourbon.  I’m stoked to officially welcome my biggest supporter, encouragement, friend and pointer out of typos to Surfabella. Here he is being myserious, he’s a bit on the shy side as opposed to moi who is an incurable show off.

Introducing  JT the newest member of Team Surfabella

Introducing JT the newest member of Team Surfabella

On the surfing front I’ll be embarking on my first year of having the time and means to get to the coast more often. So, keep reading to find out where this adventure will go next, I’ll be blogging about what I get up to and hopefully meeting some of you along the way . Me and Surf Bloke BFF are off to Morocco again in November and I’m hoping to see a lot more of the UK coast.  Will I ever get out of the white water? Will I meet a handsome silver surfer? Will the Baked Bean stall on more hills in Cornwall causing traffic jams? I’m really excited to find out, stick with me .

                                                                   Thanks again for reading xx