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.
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, 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.
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
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.
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.
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.
If 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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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 .
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.
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
Soundtrack to Alfred & Joan
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 .
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.
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.
managing your 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.
my promise to surf bloke bff
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.
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 .
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.
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.
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.
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.
Win a Snugg made to measure wetsuit
Click HERE to enter via Jessie’s Crowdfunder
Sufabella has been neglected
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
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.
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.
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.
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
….Two surf trips , One hell of a great time
In the last week or so I have driven 783 miles for surfing. I feel like I don’t want to see the inside of the car for a little while.
My blind date in Cornwall came and went in a flash of sunshine, chatter, surf and blue sky. Before I knew it I was dropping Aussie Surf Chick off at Taunton station, back at work, and 180 miles from the nearest surf almost as if the trip had never happened.
The night I got back after an excruciating 7.5 hour drive on the hottest day of the year I got into bed, deposited sand from various parts of my body into the clean sheets and drifted off to sleep. As I sank into the mattress I felt a not unpleasant ache in my shoulders as my brain, still believing me to be on the water, gently rocked back and forth in my head like a bobbing boat. As usual the Landlocked blues kicked in the moment I woke up for work the next day. This time, it wasn’t to last too long though.
A few days after arriving back from Cornwall, with washing still hanging all over the house because of the rain, food shopping still not done and sleep still not caught up on Landlocked Surf Girl suggested a day trip to Devon.
So, on Sunday morning at 11am after a 200 mile drive (thankfully not me driving) we pulled into Braunton and into torrential rain, thunder and sheets of lightening. On the journey down I wondered if this was what life would be like now I can drive. Two surf trips in one week is normal to those who live by the coast and they would be reading this thinking so what. To someone who lives so far away from the coast and sometimes goes 4 months without a surf and who recently couldn’t get anywhere without masses of planning and mainly relying on public transport, this was a momentous week!
The tale of both of my trips is way too long for a post and shall stay instead in my head, suffice to say they consisted of waves, sun, fun, food, laughs, hanging out with friends old and new, a few bruises and many discoveries and ideas for future trips . I surfed 4 breaks I hadn’t been to before and I tried 5 boards ( including my Malcom) over both trips. This has now led to an unhealthy obsession with a particular board I’m going to have to buy! Well, Malcom does get lonely, he needs a friend. If anyone wants to buy it for me for my birthday that would be great!
Apart from a hand/head/foot tan and a car full of sand this is what I took from my trips:
When driving to Cornwall from the Midlands add 3 hours to the sat nav, the sat nav does not know about Cornish time or tractors!
Surf spots change so quickly, if it looks good now get in don’t have a little rest because in 2 hours it will be flat or a mess. Equally if it looks shit right now that doesn’t mean it will look shit in an hour
The Beached Lamb Cafe do the best breakfasts and have the loveliest staff and they even list ‘sprinkes of sunshine’ as ingredients in their menu
Devon is not too far for a day trip
A gopro is not for posers, far from it. It makes you look like a massive manatee and catches all your mad faces but, it’s great fun to look at afterwards
I feel really at home in Newquay and could totally see myself down there for 6 weeks next summer
Sunsets on a west coast beach are awesome, always watch the sunset, never turn down a chance to watch a great sunset
So, that was ‘2 trips week’ . Next up is my 3rd, so it must be annual now, Birthday trip to South Wales only two weeks today!
I have a blind date in Cornwall tomorrow! eeek! Ok, I don’t have a date as such, I haven’t been set up with a foxy silver surfer. It’s not really blind either, oh and it’s not a date. Ok, tomorrow I’m going on a surf trip with a friend I have never met in real life. This trip should have taken place 3 weeks ago but, had to be changed at the last minute. This has really worked in our favour as it was flat as a pancake and this weekend is looking decidely not flat, hoo-ra!
Aussie Surf Chick and I have been chatting online for quite a long time now, we ‘met’ because she sent me a lovely message about one of my posts here on Surfabella. I supposed we know as much about each other as two new friends if not more, perhaps you give more away tapping away on a keyboard.
At one point, because she has no pictures of herself on Facebook (total opposite to show off here) I did accuse Aussie Surf Chick of being Steph Gilmore. Steph had come off the world tour injured, Aussie Surf Chick is Aussie and blond and a surfer. Was she a champion surfer in disguise, befriending me for a project? Aaaahh or a documentary about how the world champ can turn a fat 40 year old kook into a brilliant surfer?
I now know that Aussie Surf Chick is in fact not Steph. Nevertheless, we have a lot in common, not least that we are both Landlocked and do not get to surf very often. This has all changed for both of us now that I’m finally driving. So tomorrow at 5am I’m loading up the Baked Bean and headed on a 5 hour drive first, to Taunton to collect her from the London train and then onto Newquay for 4 days of surfing, eating nice food, checking out The Wave Project’s Summer Surf Challenge on Fistral, chatting, trying not to buy everything in the surf shops, maybe watching some of the longboarding comp at Cranntock, relaxing and whatever else comes our way.
I’m really quite worried about loading the boards on the roof rack for the first time, I’ve tied boards down before but, the paranoia is still there doing it myslef for the first time! Worst case scenario is, I bottle out of loading them up for the last bit of the M5, Malcom (my board) stays in the front seat which is where he will be for the first leg of the journey and Aussie Surf Chick squeezes into the back seat behind me until we hit the A30. We are so used to conversing without seeing each other’s faces anyway that it won’t be unusual for us!
To some people it might be a bit odd, holidaying and sharing a room with a stranger but, I have never thought this way. I’m also finding that within the surf community, particularly amongst the birds it’s pretty common. People go on solo trips all the time, at surf camps you end up sharing rooms with strangers, people meet up with each other via Facebook groups and organised events. If you have a passion for something and your regular mates don’t, you have to put yourself out there, and that often means going alone until you build up some connections. Even today I’ve had messages from surf girls I have never met suggesting we meet up or go for a surf in Newquay.
There’s a warm welcome waiting for us in Cornwall even though we are strangers in town and it’s not just the amazing temperatures forecast for early next week. Now we just need to get there and I need to not scream about the boards all the way down the M5 from Taunton or Aussie Surf Chick just might run in the other direction!
See you in the water x