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.

Advertisements

5 Camping Tips and Tricks

From the end of July I have my first summer off for around 22 years. My very own Endless Summer, it’s not really endless as it will finish after six weeks.  As much as I would love to be glamping it up in a gorgeous yurt or a beautiful abode  from my absolute favourite Canopy and Stars, six weeks means I have a tight budget so it’s regular camping for me.

 

Serentipity- Tipi in Pows bookable through Canopy and Stars here 

My past history with camping wasn’t always a happy one. From being caught in a flash flood in the middle of the night in December in the Lakes,  to once being so hungover I tried to set fire to my tent so I didn’t have to take it down and pack it away. Long Legs wouldn’t let me burn it down so he packed it for me hehe, skills!

I once described camping as a succession of forlorn walks to and from the car. Despite this, I still love it, being outside and waking up to lush, green grass,  sitting outside the tent in the pitch black, hoofing red wine out of a plastic wine glass and watching the stars,   I even love the sound of rain when I’m wrapped up and cosy inside my sleeping bag.

I’m determined to make my mammoth camping trip as comfortable as possible. I’ve done a fair bit of experimenting with camping kit and I’ve tested out the new tent .  From the many camping trips I have done in the past,  I learnt  that roughing it is ok for a few nights but,  a bit of comfort goes a long way on longer camping trips.

I’ve come up with a short list of things that should be on your list for a super  comfortable  camping trip.  With budget in mind  none of these cost more than £20.

Stove and Kettle

I am a tea addict, so for me this is a must. I bought a stove from Blacks for £10, a canister of gas is £1.50 from Halfords and I bought a kettle for £3 from Tesco. Throw in a flask for taking to the beach or out on a hike at £5 also from Tesco and at a total of £19.50 you’ll get your moneys worth after just 10- 15 cups a tea. I drag my tea making kit everywhere. I know I sound like everyone’s Nan.

9150349613_11871ec3d7_b

A Mattress Topper and Quilt

Get a cheap inflatable bed, air is air after all but,  for extra comfort that will get you through more than a few nights, a mattress topper is just the job, big supermarkets do good ones from £10. Also bring the quilt from your bed, a fitted sheet and a nice pillow and hey presto, a proper bed.

solar Powered Radio

You can spend two days putting all the music you want on your phone or to ‘use offline’ on Spotify but, your battery will die before the end of the night. With no electric hook up and not wanting to be driving around charging things, I decided to look for a solar powered radio.  After a lot of research and reading reviews I found this one and you can even plug your phone into it AND it has a torch, check me out testing it in the wardrobe. This is a Dronic Apex  as recommeded by Uk Preppers Guide . It cost me £15 including post and although it’s only been tested at home, it’s ace.

 

Rugs

I have to thank Surf Bloke for this idea as he always brings off cuts of carpet on camping trips to line the tent floor.  A rug makes a world of difference to the temperature on chilly nights, it’s lush to walk on instead of crinkly, cold groundsheets and makes a tent home. Actual tent carpets are a rip off, don’t bother with them. A cheap Argos Colour Match one will do or ask around mates if they have any old rugs they don’t use. Or do what I do and just drag your living room rug down to the car.

Non Electric Lighting

Ok before I start, do not burn your tent to the ground.  I am not suggesting you fill up a two man tent with tea lights. These options are for light outside the tent when you are sitting in your camping chair supping red wine. Again it means you don’t have to rely on charging things or batteries. Candles and a hurricane jar give of a gorgeous light and won’t blow out of it’s windy and candle light makes everything look beautiful so if you meet a Silver Surfer it”s a good idea to place your face near the jar.   There’s a decent one here at Asda for £10. Other options are paraffin lanterns or solar powered fairy lights, I have some for the outside of my tent.

 

 

 

Hot Water  Bottle

hot-water-bottlesThe humble hot water bottle has saved many a camping trip for me , especially if I’ve been surfing . Sometimes you don’t quite get fully warm, stick the kettle on your campfire or fire up the stove and have a warm night with it on your lap or throw it in your bed before you get in. Yes, Nanna strikes again.

Im certainly no wuss, I’ve done some rough camping in my time  It’s because of all the rough nights that I started adding these little comforts.

I’ll be at Hill End,  Gower most of the summer, I’ll be arriving in Wales fresh from a week in Cornwall from the start of August ish,  come and find me and say hello if you are down there . I’ll post a picture of my tent and pitch location when I’m all set up, or just look for the tiny orange car with a Surfabella and Surfsenioritas sticker on the back.

Aberavon Yoga and Surf Session Saturday 6th August

4620505018_220x341Would you like to join me on a girls Yoga and Surf session at Aberavon on 6th August? Goto events on the facebook page HERE for more info

 

 

 

 

 

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 ………

Surfing into The Wild (sort of)

 To Deepest Darkest Wales,  Alone

All these months I have been focussed on raising some funds,  passing my driving test and buying a car so I could surf whenever I want and  my imagination has been creating images akin to an advert for Roxy or Magners cider. As soon as I was able to get to the surf everything would be perfect. The picture in my head was of bronzed, beautiful people (oh yes, I’m one of them) basking in the post surf, golden glow of sunset. There are campfires at the beach in the evening  and bbq’s , laughter, chatter and a guitar, of course there is always a guitar. Oh what joy it was going to be and what a massive, beautiful, cliché!

1009821_10153037711500551_639710184_n

Then as soon as I got the car last week the reality suddenly hit. I’m surfing on the Gower in Wales on the next bank holiday at the end of May and there is no supporting cast, there are no people to meet at the campsite or fairly lights around the bell tent, it’s highly likely to be raining, I’m white and pasty, I’ll more than likely be cold all weekend and I’m going to be doing this completely on my own.

A Million Ways to Die in the West

I’m scared of surfing on my own at places I don’t know, and I’m so shit at it anyway I doubt I’ll get chatting to anyone in the water as they will all be out the back, far from this idiot. On top of that,  I’ve got my  new board that I won’t even be able to stand up on. What if I get hit on the head by my board? I’ll be fish food!

I have never lit a BBQ myself, there’s always someone to do that when I go away with my inland, mountain goat friends. What if I starve? What if I’m driven by hunger to eat raw sausages and I get sick and die in my tent ?

More importantly, I’m not sure I can put my tent up on my own. What if I can’t do it and it leaks or blows away while I’m surfing, I’ll die of cold and exposure!

What about the nights? I’ve been on surf trips ‘on my own’ before but, I wasn’t really alone. This isn’t surf camp where you are in a happy surf gang all day and meet a never ending rotation people or even a friendly hostel. This is properly on your own. The worst bit is not having someone to laugh with about the wipe outs and to talk shit and drink red wine with until bed time. What do you do, go to bed when you’ve had your tea? It’s a long day from 8am until sleep time for 3 days. What if I get to day 2 and I’m bored or lonely? What if I get scared at night camping. There are wild beasts in Wales you know. What the hell am I doing?

Well, I guess I have to start somewhere and this is where it all begins, I’m the new kid on the block. Finding surf friends does not happen overnight. There are Surf Senioritas in the area so hopefully I’ll meet some of them and that will stop me being eaten by a pack of wild dogs and nobody knowing until they find my gnawed bones and a pile of hair in my tent! I’m going to get a BBQ/pit fire lesson from one of the chaps at home, what better excuse for a meat fest. I’ll forget the roof rack and stick Malcom in passenger seat, ( maybe I’ll print out Ryan Goslings face and glue it to Malcom, he can be my friend) and I’ll be putting my tent up in the living room to check I can do it without help.

 

Maybe I’ll hate every minute of the first trip, maybe I’ll love it. Who knows? It’s an adventure, sometimes it’s going to work out, sometimes it isn’t. If I channel Cheryl from the book Wild I’m sure I’ll get through it. She didn’t know what she was doing at first either.

IMG_1399What’s this? It’s not really in the wilds of Wales? There’s a café selling bacon butties on the campsite? Pubs in the village close by? It’s a really popular campsite with surfers and it’s always busy? ST the surf chick lives in a cottage just up the road in case I’m really in the shit? I could join an organised lesson if I really wanted to? Oh and it’s a no dog campsite so I won’t get eaten by a pack of dogs? So, this drama could be for no reason? Fab, maybe it’s going to be great after all.

If anyone is at Hill End during the next bank holiday, look out for me. Orange car, looks like a baked bean and a red and black tent, I’m small and round and will be crying while eating a raw sausage with my arm round a surfboard with Ryan Gosling’s face on it!