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.

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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.
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 I packed the car with a stupid sad face tonight but, I’ve absolutely nothing to complain about, the sun has not set on this trip as the tour continues.  Bring on Wales, tomorrow’s first Welsh stop is the Gower where I’ll be  calling in on a beautiful soul and Surf Seniorita who I haven’t seen since last summer. I think I might need a chaperone as she also has a little devil in her and I’m in possession of wine, hey ho here goes.

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!

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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!