Gower Gold April 2019

Confessions of an English Opium Eater nee Surf Addict

For me, there’s definitely a link between being unable to surf and writing. I started this blog five years ago when I was a frustrated, landlocked wannabe surfer. Unable to surf or travel to the sea, I had a major shoulder injury and was off my face on pain killers. There’s a theme here because although I live by the sea now, I find myself in dry dock again, off it on pain killers and sick and I’m tapping away on my keyboard for the first time in months. I’ve also written three bits this morning for another project I’m working on. I reckon I must be channelling Shelly or Keats, only able to write on opiates. For authenticity I should really be writing a masterpiece in Italy but, a little blog post in Swansea will do for today.

This year has felt like a bit of a disaster on the surf front, I can count the number of decent surfs I’ve had on one hand. January 3rd was a good one, 31st January too. More often than not I’ve been injured, ill, in shite waves, broken my board or lost my fin. I’m not sure if it’s age related, I’m nearly 45 and my body might just be rebelling against me or if the surf gods are trying to keep me out of the sea for now. I know I should be grateful, people I know have it much worse, I am after all just having a rough patch with my health, temporarily in dry dock. It’s just the only reason I moved was to surf more, it’s my opiate and I’m not getting my fix. I also have an acute awareness of time passing and that every day I don’t surf is one day closer to the day that I hang up my wetsuit for the last time. This will happen; it’s going to happen to us all. Yes, I know that’s bloody dramatic and ridiculous but, look how quick the last five years have gone.

It’s certainly not all misery and lament, I’m just having withdrawals from surfing. There has been some good happenings too. We’ve had a few golden evening here on Gower and had our first evening beach fire, summer is definitely in the air.

Back in January after a few years in white water as an occasional surfer my buddy Long Legs (read how I brainwashed him into surfing here) got his first proper belter from out the back and he went right for the first time coming face to face with the wave. On top of that it was a magical day in Newquay when the whole town got snowed in, we had to abandon our car in town after sliding down the hill so we walked back to our apartemt and decided to go surfing. There was a kind of unearthly silence that comes with snow, the absence of traffic and people and we walked down to Fistral making the first footprints in fresh snow. It was an unforgettable session.

I also had the pleasure of meeting the lovely Ellie Wainwright at the February Surf Senioritas meet up. Photographer Ellie was taking some shots for an article she had written for Surfgirl. Ellie is a lush lady and her work speaks for itself, she’s definitely one to watch. Take a look at her website here. Anyway, the magazine was published and they used some of the pictures with me in. Now as we know, I’m not exactly Surf Girl’s desired demographic . I’m too old, fat and cynical but, it will be lovely when I’m an old lady to look at that magazine to remind myself who I was.

Finally, after 5 years , loads of ‘ it will do for now’ boards and frankly annoying poor Lee in the Custard Point shop to death, I got my first new board. A unique, hand shaped 8ft magic log fresh from the workshop and into my hands in April. I’ve not really been able to test ride her with my recent setbacks but, the little I’ve been on her, ‘The Kumquat’ ( see the colour) has all the promise of being the best board I’v ever had, I can feel it. I’ve now got 3 weeks to recover fully for the Surfsistas longboard weekend and I’m resting and taking care of myself as much as possible before then. I’m hoping I’ll be able to really put The Kumquat to the test and report back on the board and the Surfsistas longboard course in the same post. Right then, I’m off for a back treatment with my Chiro, I’m seeing my Dr again about my rattling chest in the moring and very much hoping I can get my next salt water fix soon. Otherwise I may, in the mad persuit of my blue opium be driven to do something daft like move to Cornwall.

NB: refering to myself as a surfer is in no way claiming to be any good . I happily confess to having basic skills and being a dick in the water

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A Very British Surf Life – Dream v Reality

After all of these months of not writing , something unexpected has inspired me. Not the wild, vastness of a sweeping Rhossili Bay on a stormy day , nor the majesty of towering cliffs of Pembrokeshire. Nah, it was some daft meme on facebook.

This my dears, is the reality that faces the average British surfer who has a job and sometimes has to use precious potential surf time to do other things. This is not what I anticipated when relocating to the coast to surf. With winter reducing potential time in the water even further, this meme is my life!

I nicked this from The Surf Box

To all of the landlocked surfers, please stop torturing yourselves thinking you are missing out and that the whole UK surfing population are always surfing while you slowly suffocate in inland cities, they are not I promise you. Please stop torturing yourselves imagining all the waves you will never surf that you believe others are. Those waves were last week while we we working, maybe in a few days time if the wind swings around, maybe next week if magic seaweed is wrong or maybe in summer if the cow jumps over the moon .

In reality we have lives and jobs and especially in winter the opportunity for surf often comes down to just 2 days reducing the probability of catching it on a decent day. Ahh a decent day, now there’s another thing.

Last spring, just after Easter we had a 5 week flat spell . This Autumn and winter we have had storm after storm after storm and while some spots might light up in certain stormy conditions, the ones that do are for the kamikaze, crazy good, surfers not for your average joe like me .

The wind and tides are often right but, only in the evenings after dark. On weekday mornings the webcam often reveals a glassy 3 footer shimmering in the sun as I sit here trapped at work having my soul sucked out of me. I’ve often had 4 weekends of no waves or terrible conditions and on the 5th I go away for a weekend in an attempt to have a life other than sitting around waiting for waves and the conditions clean up and the wind goes offshore just as I’m driving across the border into England.

The truth is living by the coast is not the guarantee of regular, decent surf that as a frustrated Landlocked surfer I had imagined it would be. Don’t get me wrong, being here is fabulous especially on those magical days when it all comes together, being in the right location then really comes in to it’s own. But, now that I know the reality, looking back to when I was Landlocked, it was never as bad as I made it out to be and perhaps I sulked a bit too much back then over what I imagined I was missing out on.

Landlocked, weekend warrior, living by the coast, beginner, world champion, summer only surfers or the twice a year surf tripper. We are all the same. We are all missing out on waves, the waves that live in our imaginations . That’s what the lure of surfing is, it underpins our addiction and fuels our desire to get to the coast . The unwavering belief that the best wave of your life is still out there and it is, it really is.

Links:

The Surfbox. http://thesurfbox.net/

8 Weeks After Moving to Wales, Relocation Crash

I have now been living in my new home of Wales for 8 weeks. January is a slow and dull month at the best of times and last week was not the best of times. I’ve just experienced what I think was a  post relocation crash, triggered by a tough week that had me dramatically weeping while walking through the park with a flat tyre on my bike on the way home from work and looking at jobs and flats back in Leicester at one point. I’m sure most people who relocate get this feeling at some point.

Settling into my new role at work has been a struggle as I’ve come into a department with a lot of shall we say, issues. My crazy landlord has made it impossible for me to stay in my flat so I’m  now looking to move again meaning my sense of home is once again disrupted. I feel more at home in the car park of my favourite beach, mind you I think a lot of folk spend more time there than in their own homes.

My social life is pretty limited,  by that I mean I have one proper friend, others are the people I see in the sea or in the car park.  The sparks of potential  friendships are there, they are just little lights in the dark right now. Apart from a few hours on a weekend I’m alone the rest of the time and I got really fed up of it this week. I’m usually pretty good in my own company but, perhaps it’s never gone on for this length of time.  Friends from home  just assume I’m living the life, surfing with dolphins through sea spray rainbows but, I’m mostly home under a blanket watching youtube videos of cats in boxes. This weekend I spent about 5 hours with Welsh Surf Bird and we had a great morning but, it’s now Sunday night and I’ve not spoken a word to anyone since. I’m sure it’s  pretty normal at this point in moving to a new town on your own but, bloody hell it’s hard going sometimes. I learnt this weekend though that it doesn’t take much to turn it around.

Yesterday I picked Welsh Surf Bird up early and we  surfed a new break for me, there were some delightful little waves perfect for my longboard. We stuffed our faces with cake and hot chocolate next to the fire afterwards and I chewed her ear off with two weeks worth of stored up chatter. Lush.

Gower Sunrise

While we were in the water, looking back at Caswell and out towards the sun peeking around the headland I looked over at Welsh Surf Bird and, alluding to my situation she confirmed exactly what I was thinking, ‘this is why you’re here, don’t let anyone spoil it’ .  My tough week, my dramatic weeping, the urge to get in the car and drive straight back to Leicester, it all washed  away and became nothing I couldn’t handle.  I drove home singing along to 21 pilots full blast with a big fat smile on my face. The sea is such a cleanser. This morning I got up early for round two, this time to surf alone, and now I feel restored to my normal optimistic self, ready take on a tough week and deal with it differently.

Anyone who has relocated will tell you that it’s not easy, there are huge highs at the beginning then crashes when you think you have a handle on your new situation and realise actually, you haven’t. Luckily for me, I have the sea and  it washes everything away as soon as you step in with your board under your arm and feel the energy of a wave under your feet. The sea is like a factory reset for people, we are restored to what we should be, what we could be and all of the unnecessary crap is removed.

The poor  sea though, everyone dumping their angst and problems in there. I like to imagine that all the negative that is washed away from us by the sea  is tossed around, recycled and thrown back at us as something marvelous, as waves. Like a ginormous recycling plant the sea is taking something we don’t need and turning it into something beautiful. So every time there’s a wobble at work I’ll be like yep that’s going to turn into a wave, landlord being a creep again yeah another wave,  feeling a bit homesick and missing the best mate, that’s another 10 waves. It’s rather a nice thought and one I’m going to use this coming week. Maybe you should try it to.

The End of Surfabella?

This time last year I was knocking out mildly amusing, vaguely interesting blog posts regularly. I’m not sure what’s happened in the last six months. It looks like as I surfed more and spent a lot of time at the coast the urge to write has dwindled. Finally  moving here two months ago, rather than fuelling a creative fire has done quite the opposite . There’s nothing. You’d imagine I’d have stories about the build up to moving, funny tales about my new city, new friends and adventures but, there’s nothing. Nada, niente, niks, nic, nichts.  I’ve even resorted to repeating words in different languages to make up my word count.

Longing for the sea was my muse and now I’m here my writing mojo has just got up and walked out of the door, flipping the bird at me on the way out. I shouldn’t do it, but I do compare myself to the other blogs I follow and wonder am I doing this all wrong?  Other bloggers are pumping out these lists posts, 20 ways to improve your surfing, 5 surf camps you must visit, 6 tips for buying a wetsuit. This list writing seems to be popular, everyone is liking and sharing them and I have wondered if it could help me to do some list posts to get things rolling again but, it’s just not me, I have tried but, it just doesn’t fit with my subject matter.

Is it even important that I write blog posts? Why do I even have a blog? I think it’s just important to me that I write regularly because I love it, because I like sharing it with other people and well, not writing is like a musician not playing their instrument. Saying that a musician would still get enjoyment from playing a guitar alone, where nobody can hear so there’s definitely some element of showing off in my motivation to write on Surfabella.

book-ipad-wallpaper-flying-letters

For some help and inspiration, I typed ‘writers block’ into google and guess what? Writers Block: 27 ways to crush it forever, 41 tips to overcome writers block, 7 ways to beat writers block, 10 types of writers block. More lists. Is this even writing? Maybe I’m just not moving with the times.

Looking back at all of the posts I have written, I realise I’m telling a story, my story. I’m not trying to be a cool kid, writing lists for likes, I just want to write in my own voice.

Perhaps a blog isn’t the right arena for the type of writing I want to do.  I already have a story being included in the next edition of the book, Legacy of Stoke which is a real honour. Is this where I should be concentrating my efforts?

So, is this the end of Surfabella Blog? I’m not sure. Unless inspiration suddenly makes an appearance and I’m genuinely excited about posting then yes, maybe. Don’t give up on me just yet though, this could simply  be a momentary lapse of reason, a slight change of direction as in what I want to a write, maybe a book, maybe short stories.  Or it could be a giant sulk at having come back to work after a marvellous 10 days off.

Muchos Amore

Surfabella x

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I Moved to Wales

Four weeks ago today I was waiting in a ridiculously long queue at passport control at East Midlands airport,  fresh off the plane with a glowing tan. I  had  been to Surfstar Morocco then met two of my oldest mates for a week in Fuerteventura.  I had a ball until the last few days when the shadow of what I was about to do descended.

Coming home from holiday this time was to be like no previous  home coming  as I was returning to a place I had never lived before. While I was on holiday, when I thought of home the picture was blank but, home was Wales now and it was confusing.  I had one last night in Leicester at my best mate’s house then I’d be off. New job, new town, new house. That night fear and doubt punched me in the gut, I was winded and I cried myself to sleep, quietly of course so he didn’t think I was bonkers.

I got up on Sunday morning and cried my leg off before I’d even got out of bed, I slipped out of the house to visit my girl BFF then came back to face the inevitable.  We had a last, silent cup of tea and it was time. I loaded the car silently. What was I doing, why was I upsetting the balance, why was I risking so much? I was terrified and devastated. I mumbled a weird goodbye of  very few words to my best mate, I couldn’t articulate anything resembling a proper sentence or even look at him,   I closed the door behind me.

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Heart in my mouth and  tears streaming down my face I got into the car whereupon I forgot how to breath ,  my lungs were crushed. After 15 minutes I managed to calm myself and started the car. This was supposed to be my big adventure, my dream was  to live by the sea and I was doing it  so,  why was I finding it so hard to drive away? It felt like mourning and that’s exactly what it was, mourning the life I was leaving, fear of leaving the security of my normal and fear that things would never be the same again , that friendships might drift and I’d end up dying alone in Wales  but, at least I’d be by the sea right?

I’ve now been here for four weeks, I stopped crying a few miles into my journey, unpacked, explored, spent time with Welsh pals and started my new job.   This is what I’ve discovered since I arrived.

I cannot walk, run or cycle up hills. On my first week an old man with a walking stick almost overtook me just walking up my street from the shop.

Swansea rubbish collection is so complicated that nobody understands it. I thought I’d got a handle on it until the binmen refused to take my bags because I’d done some unfathomable wrong. I’m now hoarding rubbish and don’t know what to do with it. I might drive it to Liverpool with me at Christmas! Sorry mum

Complicated Rubbish

Gower animals are hardcore. Driving across the common in the darkest of dark on Gower  I had to stop for sheep, cows and horses. These little furry bad asses are not like English ones who go to a little shed at night, oh no.  Gower animals wait in the dark and cold  until your are driving along a lonely road, a lonely road a bit like a horror film lonely road.  They then jump into your path and laugh at you while you sit nervously  in the dark waiting for them to move.  I love them.

Welsh people are the friendliest folk I’ve ever encountered from shop workers to strangers in the park, everyone is up for a chin wag. Other drivers smile at you and let you out and people don’t seem to be as impatient and in a rush as I’m used to. I like it. Although I’m spending a lot of time alone which is to be expected at this point in my move,  the friends I made here over the last few years are amazing and the new folk I’ve met couldn’t be more welcoming.

The reality of living by the sea it seems,  is that you don’t surf as much as you think you will. We wait, patiently through flat spells and despair at work when swell hits on a weekday and it’s dark outside before you have even finished. Then, when swell comes on a weekend it’s too big. I am however, finally getting in tomorrow with my new board.

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I was just wrapping up this post and was writing  about how I desperately miss my best friend, I had a little tear rereading the top of this post remembering the day I left Leicester and the absolute weirdest thing happened. I was interrupted writing by a whatsapp from a number I half recognised.  It was a very dear, old friend I’ve not spoken to for ten years, he lives abroad, our numbers changed over time and he doesn’t do social media.  We have searched for each other over the years to get in touch but with no luck. Today he found an old sim in a box and found my number . I’ve had a lovely hour catching up and plan to visit soon.  So, on a last note  of things I’ve discovered since moving,  I guess the most important thing is that time and distance don’t mean a thing when it comes to people we love. It’s going to be ok here.

The End of the Endless Summer Part 1

2016-08-03-14-38-40Since I returned from my Endless Summer , or rather  six week surf adventure in Wales, I have found it difficult to write anything. How do I put into words the seemingly endless weeks of unplugging from normal life and living in a tent, in a field, next to the gorgeous Rhossili Bay, surfing up to three times a day and watching countless sunest?

How do I explain the simple pleasures and slower pace of life I experienced which when written down seem completely trivial and insignificant to other people?  How do I write about the feeling of walking on grass in bare feet every day, about not looking in a mirror and how that made me feel a sense of freedom I’d never had, about sitting quietly outside my tent starring at the night sky with no noise in my head, about the smell of bbq’s and                                                    haze from the smoky fires in the sunset?

How do I write about how I felt at home in a place I’ve never lived, about surfing at sunset alone, with the red sky on fire (see cover photo), about the quiet letting go of nonsense and noise from my normal life, about becoming less wasteful and more resourceful, about how days felt like weeks as I got up with the sun, slept with the darkness and made the most of the in between?  How do I write about the strong,  amazing, women I spent time with , who lit the path for me like the stars that they are, about the revolving door of rather handsome neighbours I had who each taught me something about myself?

I drove away from Gower at the end of summer with tears streaming down my face .  I could barely mumble a goodbye to Welsh Surf Bird for the lump in my throat. It felt like my heart was trying to escape out of my throat and stay there in Llangennith,  like a dog who doesn’t want to leave the park.  I was scared of losing how I felt that summer but, with four hours drive home I had plenty of time to think about how I was going to deal with this.

I stopped off an hour into my journey in Abergavenny to say goodbye to Ozzi, another of the Welsh birds and when I pulled away from her house I knew a decision had been made without me realising.  It wouldn’t be easy and could take a while to orchestrate properly. Although the thought of leaving my friends and the familiarity of 23 years in my adopted home city scared me, looking back at the number of visitors I had over my six weeks away, I knew that distance would be no obstacle to those very long and strong friendships. Surf Bloke had been up and down like  a yo-yo from Lancashire all summer and my surf brainwashing had finally taken a hold of Long Legs who had visited twice and bought himself a wetsuit .

There was nothing I could do but, move there as soon as I could, somehow.

Surf/Travel/Inspiring Film Recommendation: A Woman’s Guide to the World by Apolla Echino

Regular readers of surfabella.com will know that I have barely written a word since the start of summer when I went on my 6 week solo adventure living in a tent next to the beach in South Wales, UK

I wrote a lot while I was away but, for some reason those words remain as hastily scrawled ink in a note book and I haven’t felt the urge to change that.  Those six weeks were too big, too significant, too much to write about in a blog post so perhaps they will remain ink in a book. Instead I’ve been reading other people’s writing and digging about for some good films.

Surfing the South Island of New Zealand – Winter

Today I watched a short film recommended by a friend called A Woman’s Guide to The World. It’s a document of one woman’s solo surf trip around the South Island of New Zealand. Film maker and surfer Apolla Echino  by her own admission, is not an amazing surfer but, she is an adventure seeker and a girl we’d definitely like to share a wave and  vino  with.  The description of this film on her facebook says

With her great curiosity as an adventurer, Apolla is driven to inspire more women to be bold and follow their dreams.With the viewer as her close companion, she will show how by leaving the comforts of home and relationships, and by venturing off the beaten path, you can find your voice, shape your world view, and ultimately, transform your life.

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 She is one of us, she is freezing her ass off, she is pouring hot water on her boots to keep warm, running out of gas in her van, sometimes getting scared surfing alone, she is struggling to carry her long board down big sand dunes, getting frustrated in a line up full of blokes and she is pushing herself beyond what she thought she could do. I love this girl, she is  me, you and every woman  you know who strikes out to do something outside of her comfort zone, to go despite hesitation and who paddles out despite failure because there will always be another wave.

Please, just put aside just 40 minutes today to watch this beautiful film, this one is worth your time and needs to be seen by more people. I loved it so much it inspired me to post something on Sufabella after quite a long spell of silence.  Surfer, non surfer, man, woman, creature, it matters not. Just watch it. Keep up with Apolla’s adventures through facebook here.

Thanks xx

I’m filming this trip to inspire other women to be the subject of their own adventure story’

Lessons From Nature

 

A mountain or fell, like the sea, reveals all. It demands  your strengths and magnifies your weaknesses both physical and of the mind. Nature does not care how much your gortex, hyper thin jacket which transforms into a tent cost or how much you paid for that Nineplus long board or all singing all dancing wetsuit.  Nature does not care if you talk the talk, she is only interested in if you can walk the walk. Believe me, during my weekend in the Lake District, I certainly walked.

On day one I was tricked into going up Fairfield Horseshoe by a whiley wayed mountain goat . As a local fell runner,  these peaks are mere hills to him, to me they might aswell have been Everest.

The Coffin Route? Was I about to die?When I first saw what we were about to do doubt kicked in immediately. Walk Lakes website declares,

Do not underestimate 
the seriousness of 
this walk

In total it was a four hour ascent.  I struggled in parts, especially the steep start.  I threw a hissy fit and hurled abuse at The Goat and Long Legs . ( read about my surf strops here) I also laughed a lot, made it to the top with a huge sense of achievement, enjoyed spectacular views, saw some cool ninja sheep and slid down some of the two hour decent on my arse which was fantastic fun.

A Collection of Photos of my friends backs as i try to keep up

Afterwards,  when we were in the pub sinking a few pints I felt exhausted and exhilarated. The Guinness tasted like the finest liquid to ever pass my lips. I had worked for  it, I’d got up the highest peak I have ever been up under my own steam. After meeting up with the Friday night arrivals, a belly full of food and beer and neat rum back at the hostel somehow I managed to get up and walk another 14 miles the next day. I had no idea I enjoyed walking so much.

Climbing the peaks of The Lake District showed me a few things about myself in exactly the same way that surfing does, mother nature and her incessant lessons eh? Firstly,  it showed me that my weakness is not in my body but, in my head. My weakness is self-doubt. It also showed me that I am stronger and fitter than I think but, I still have a way to go.

I spent most of the day looking at two backs in the distance and I found it really disheartening at times but, I have to remember that three  years ago I wouldn’t have been able to do a quarter of this height.

Perhaps most importantly this trip showed me that I need to start seeing myself as I am now. I’ve been what I’d consider an active person for just a few years.  I was everyone’s  fat, daft, drinking buddy who couldn’t really do much in the way of activities for most of my late 20’s and 30’s. It’s time to stop saying I can’t do things and realise I am actually walking the walk, albeit not as steadily, quickly or skillfully as the others but, I’m bloody doing it.

I  came home from this trip with a similar feeling I get after a surf trip. I felt the best kind of tired, a bit grubby, slightly hung over and very satisfied.  I also felt a comforting amity with the group of old and new friends that I’d shared the weekend with.

I highly recommend that you get yourself up a mountain this spring and walk the walk. Get a blister, throw a strop, sit down and refuse to move if you must. But, also breath in the fresh air, take in a spectacular view, enjoy overcoming something you thought you couldn’t do and come down  just a little different to when you went up.

Some Useful Links for Getting Out and About

Join the National Trust for free entry and parking to heaps of cool places around the Uk

2016 is Wales’ year of Adventure explore the vast mountains and coastline and find #yourepic

Join YHA for budget friendly accommodation in spectacular locations around the Uk

Visit trekking Great Britain for inspiration  on walks, hikes and climbs

If it all seems a bit much read Wild by Chery Strayed from the comfort of your sofa

A Weekend 3000ft Above Sea Level

this is not a surf trip

I’m going on a road trip this weekend which requires a day off work, a drive of 370 miles and 3 nights away.  IT IS NOT A SURF TRIP. This is highly unusual and it’s strange not to be packing my board or hunting for tent pegs, not to be digging out misshapen chunks of board wax from the sandy bowels of the car or wondering if my wetsuit will fasten.

Ironically, I am going to a place which holds a huge body of water, it’s even named after water but, I can’t surf there. I’m off to the heady heights of the Lake District, Cumbria to meet up with 9 friends and a few dogs. I’ll be sampling my second YHA Hostel this month in Langdale which lies in the Lake District National Park .

Lakes Xmas 2012

Perhaps this whole surfing malarkey is settling down  a bit now. In the first flourish of obsession, (the last 3 years)  I wouldn’t even contemplate a 3 day trip that didn’t involve surfing, time off was too precious to spend inland and it would have been torturous. Not now though.

My trusty  old mate, Long Legs and I are car sharing and will be travelling in the super high performance 799cc  Baked Bean after we have ripped out the front seat and made a hole for his head in the roof. Believe me, it is this small.

In return for me chauffeuring us, Long Legs vehemently denies this but, he did agreed to carry me uphill in a tartan papoose like a giant baby when I get tired. Recently though he has seemed quite anti-papoose, I’ve no idea why.  I can rest my legs and be fed cakes and tea on the move, what’s not to love? I’m seriously going to get a punch for sharing this. He says the papoose  is not going to happen, I  however, live in hope.

I won’t think about how I could be surfing this weekend, it’s not all about the coast. There are adventures to be had elsewhere, doing different things and exploring these wondrous Islands I call home.  There’s hanging out with old friends, sitting in pubs with open fires and wet dogs, drinking tea from a flask at the top of a mountain after a tough climb, seeing beams of sunlight break through black clouds and lighting up the valleys,  putting a brave face and waterproofs on in the face of driving rain, walking up things and then back down them. Then there is the icing on the cake, carrying your best mate up a mountain in an adult papoose because you are a good egg.

funny jumper

 

A Warm Welcome in Wales

20160401_144149-1[1]Eight hours after leaving Mawgan Porth in Cornwall I finally pulled into Gower and the warm welcome of my friend and her fella with offerings of red wine, comfort and doritos.  The journey there had been arduous but, once the hills of Wales loomed up in the distance  I felt an immediate sense of relief and a sort of homecoming.

 At last I saw the final  sign to Llangennith which  led me to my friend’s house and  into  a tight hug  that said, ‘we’ve got you,’ . A night of wine, eating, catching up  and possibly the most comfy bed I’ve ever slept in passed all too quickly and I woke to a typical wet Welsh  morning and the final drive over to Pembrokeshire.

I’ve now been in Pembrokeshire for 5 days and quite frankly I do not want to leave Wales.  There has been surfing, coasteering, spectacular coastline, campfires and coastal running. We have seen porpoise playing in the bay, rainbows, ancient rocks, smugglers caves and  beautiful sunsets giving way to clear, clear night skies.
I spent last night sitting  around the campfire with friends old and new,  under a blanket of stars. We could have been ancient people, we are doing what people have done for thousands of years, seeking out a tribe and finding a sense of home and Wales is certainly providing both.

For an exhilirating but, very doable experience  Coasteering in Pembrokshire check out http://jumpbroscoasteering.co.uk/

 

 

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.
20160330_190211[1]
 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.

 

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.

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

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.