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/

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.

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.

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

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.

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.

Surfabella The First Year

Happy Birthday to Me

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

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

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

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

Looking Back

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

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

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

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

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

Looking Forward

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

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

Introducing  JT the newest member of Team Surfabella

Introducing JT the newest member of Team Surfabella

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

                                                                   Thanks again for reading xx

One Week, 783 Miles of Motorway for Waves

….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.

Road tripping

Road tripping

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.

An unused leash has many uses

Alternative use for a leash

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!

Learning to Drive

Learning to Drive

furte surf trip may 2013

So after approximately 600 years of saying I’ll do it, I finally passed my driving test a few days ago. Hoo-rah!

7 years ago I was offered a job with the caveat that I get my licence. It was a fabulous job and a permanent escape from hospitality management which had eaten up my soul for the previous 10 years. In pursuit of this escape I’d been temping in uninspiring  office jobs while applying for things I actually wanted to do.

This job was pefect for me and they thought I was the bee’s knees too.  They held the job offer open for me for 3 months. Typically it all went belly up. In short, I learnt to drive but, I had 3 driving tests cancelled on the days I was due to take them. I know what you are thinking, I have never heard anything like it either. The dream job was slipping through my fingers, by the third non test they thought I was bonkers and withdrew the offer. After this I ran out of money, a reason and the motivation to continue with the driving and carried on in my mundane, minimum wage temping jobs. I continued plotting my escape.

Fast forward 5 years with my work life and finances somewhat more settled I went to Fuerteventura on holiday. I took a surf lesson and became addicted. To say it turned my life upside down is an understatement. It’s influenced every decision I have made since that day.  However, with  just one mate to surf with who lives 150 miles away, surfing in the UK without a car has proved extremely difficult.  Thank goodness for  Flybe and their flights from Birmingham to Newquay.

I spent the next 2 years taking surf trips abroad and putting serious time into mind controlling driving, non surfing friends into taking trips to the coast here in the UK. I’ve spent weekends sulking about the surf report and watching webcams and waves I couldn’t get to. I obsessed over surf films, books, you tube videos, engaging in online surf chat, planning trips, pricing up flights, looking at boards and buying stupid wetsuits from e bay and even started Surfabella as an outlet for my lament.

If surfing was a man he would have taken out an injunction against me for stalking. I was sea sick, like a love sick teenager but, pining for the sea. Ahh the joys of being landlocked!

The only answer was driving! This time motivation was even higher than it was 7 years ago. I was sick of Malcom, the mini mal I bought a year ago sitting in the corner of the room looking at me like I betrayed him because I’ve never taken him to the sea. I was sick of reading all the plans being made on Surf Senioritas for meeting up with the girls and even worse seeing the photos afterwards and not being able to join in!

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So, I started driving  lessons in Leicester  with my awesome instructor Dave on 16 March and passed my test 27th April. The lessons were brilliant and Dave’s teaching methods worked for me, even if we did bicker a little haha! If you are looking for a driving instructor in Leicester find Dave here . I picked him out of  a few  recommendations  because he was called Dave, I mean who doesn’t love a Dave? Now though, I’d recommend him not just for being called Dave but, he’s a really good instructor and he will help you get that pass.

Introducing The Baked Bean

I collected my car, The Baked Bean,  from my aunt up North yesterday.  In typical fashion,  I’m not doing things by halves and I drove it back from Liverpool to Leicester on my own and in torrential rain this morning. Some people were rubbing their chins and sucking in air saying, ‘oohhh I think that’s a bit much for your first time in a new car, ooooohhh  first time driving alone after you test, first time on the motorway and first time on a long journey’ . Isn’t this the reason I learnt to drive?

Aside from the sat nav, a good prior knowledge of my route and my phone fully charged the most important preparation was the surf/summer/beach related playlist I made, it’s  here if anyone is interested. There’s some cheese but, it’s cheese that reminds me of surf trips, camping at the coast and holidays with friends ergo, it’s good cheese. Who knew the best thing about driving is being able to sing as loud as you can and nobody hearing! It’s brilliant.

Having driven the 120 miles with no problems and loving every minute of it the next task was the, ‘fitting the surfboard in a tiny car challenge’.  The Baked Bean is very small, smaller than most small cars. In fact I’d say it’s just a fat smart car! Low and behold with just 2 inches to spare Malcom (7’6 mal) fitted comfortably in and will be accompanying me in the passenger seat on many surf trips in the future.

This little orange car is about to open up a whole new world of adventures for me. It is the key to the sea, the antidote to my surf sickness, its freedom. It’s an end to sulking at surf reports and a start to checking them on a Friday and leaving at 5am Saturday morning, being in the water before lunch!

Life is about to change dramatically. There’s just one final thing I’m now waiting on and if that goes to plan,  very soon I’ll have a lot more time for surfing. Fingers crossed.

Watch out, Surfabella and ‘The Baked Bean’ are coming to a break near you.

 

Surfabella