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/

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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.

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

 

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.

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

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.

Cold Water Surf Tour with Jessie Tuckman

I first came into contact with competitive surfer Jessie Tuckman a year or so ago when she commented on one of my very first Surfabella posts. I was chuffed that a proper and awesome surfer that I had no personal connection to had read my blog, at the time I thought it was just my mum and my mates reading it out of loyalty.

Hailing from the non surf capital of the UK , Manchester,  Jessie took to surfing a little later than most girls on the competition scene and shot through the rankings pretty darn quickly. I do a terrible injustice to her story by cutting it short but, you can read a recent Guardian article about her journey from Manchester  to Newquay and from office to beach here.

Life on the competition  trail isn’t easy and there’s a distinct lack of  lucrative sponsorship contracts for our UK girls. The reality is , it’s bloody hard work and  surfing the cold and oft brown waters of the UK  isn’t exactly the sun soaked dream the big sponsors want to sell. Jessie does have the support of some awesome local sponsors but,  in between training, surfing, competing, coaching and working has to raise additional  funds herself.

Jessie’s latest project aside from the zillion other things she has on the go is to embark on  a Cold Water Mini Tour and she has a crowd funder set up to this end . I caught up with Jessie just after Boardmasters to find out a little more about the tour.

Hello. How was Boardmasters

Boardmasters was fantastic! I have enjoyed the surf. It started off a solid overhead and clean day 1, I competed in a mushy 3-4ft and then we had a few small days. But the sun was out and that made it great for mulling around in the shopping area and watching the skaters on the half-pipe. The final day had good surf too. Peony Knight won with some impressive surfing.

 You seem to have a crazy, busy life. With a job, training, surfing, coaching and everything else what’s a typical Jessie day when you are not on the road?

I’m up at 5am, normally have breakfast and do some stretching then off to work. I clean the Stable, which is a pizza and cider specialist on Fistral Beach. (convenient location) They are one of my main sponsors too. Once I finish I’m normally straight in the sea for a morning of surf. I feel the most awake and energised in the morning. Then time to eat lunch and answer emails, contact companies that might want to hire me for work or discuss sponsorship and interviews. Surf number 2 after than and then the gym for a surf specific workout.

So, what can you tell us about  the Jessie Tuckman Cold Water Mini tour?
 It’s still secret right now but it is going to be exploration of a coastline in the British Isles that is not covered as much as Cornwall and Devon by the surf mags. It is a beautiful, cold location. I will be meeting up with some female surfers on the way who will share their local knowledge with me. That’s all I can say at the moment but if readers would like to follow me at www.facebook.com/jessietuckmansurfer there will be updates closer to the time and I will also post a daily photo from the trip…so maybe they will be able to guess where I am? who knows! anyway It will definitely be exciting.
Get Involved
 
Tell us more about the Crowdfunder?
My  sponsors help with some of the contest costs and coaching but,  when I add it all up it still isn’t all covered. I use my personal wages to cover most of the rest. Although for this trip I just can’t afford it without a fund raiser. I’ve set up a Crowdfunder to help  fund this  Exploration of Cold water British Surf , specifically funds are needed for fuel and photography fees.
Win a Snugg made to measure wetsuit

Click HERE to enter via Jessie’s Crowdfunder

Pledges of £10+ will be entered into a raffle,  the main prize is a Snugg Wetsuit voucher of £300. (it  covers a summer suit but can be used towards a winter one if preferred) It’s super cool as its made to measure and there are so many cool colours to make it really radical. I’ve also got runner up prizes so far of a hoodie, some sunglasses and a sticker pack.
I really appreciate all the help that surf supporters can give. Even if they don’t win they are really helping me on my quest for wave exploration, exposure of british women in sport and keeping it all close to home.
Thanks Jessie and good luck with the tour. I hope I can catch up with you somewhere along the way. x

AWOL – Gone Surfing, Stopped Writing

Sufabella has been neglected

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There I’ve admitted it. Apart from finally becoming surfabella.com and some design gubbins going on behind the scenes, I have not put pen to paper for 3 weeks. For the last year my writing has been centred around the strive to surf more as a landlocked, non-driver with a full time job. However, I’ve addressed some of these obstacles and a new life where I can surf more is starting to take over. The bottom line is , I have less time for writing .

Some awesome things have been happening , a recent trip to Llangennith was superb even if the waves were not brilliant every day. I had a really good reconnect with my surf bloke bff who I rarely see, we had big laughs in the sea which we recently haven’t as  he’s out back being all good and I’m sobbing with frustration  in the white water like a giant baby.

We met the awesome and amazing Carys and Sarah from Surf Señoritas. We had a fun little surf with them and I paddled out back for the first time since my injury last year, we had a mojito party in the sand dunes,  I bought a new board and I’ve been invited as a guest to Salt Rock’s Croyde View Festival this weekend. These are all things I’d normally write about. I’ve been scribbling words in a book when I can but, this has been reduced to bullet points and now I’m here writing about not having enough time to write rather than writing about surfing.

The end of invention or just a lull?

My worry is this , is it really lack of time that has stopped me posting or have I killed my inspiration? Do I need something to lament in order to be inspired to write? Am I like a rock band who write an amazing first album they can never quite match because the struggles and heartbreak they wrote so passionately about before success are over?

I know that I won’t document every surf trip I ever go on or detail every little surf related incident as these events are becoming more of the norm for me. I’ve even stopped taking 600 photos of me with my board, my board on the sand, me on my board, my board next to another board etc. come on, we have all done it.

I sound like I’m complaining don’t I? Starts blog to moan about not surfing, uses blog as a sounding board to help direct life to surf more, surfs more, moans about not writing. I wouldn’t swap it all for the world though. I guess this is just a lull in writing, I’m a bit busy and  tired and my focus has now shifted from trying to make things happen to being on the cusp of actually doing it, of having a surfing life.

It’s not all standing still at surfabella.com either. The new look site will be live soon, the artwork is almost done (thanks to The man with long legs who from now on I’ll just call JT)  and there’s other exciting things bubbling under the surface.

As September looms with the promise of warm Autumn swells, so does the possibility of massive adventures during my 13 weeks of freedom in the coming year. For now, I have to keep putting in the seven day weeks in my two jobs,  see friends and family in between, surf when I can and be grateful that I’m busy and exhausted for such a great reason . I’ve been busy living the life I was writing about trying to get.

Perhaps writing is much like surfing, you spend most of the time waiting for waves and when the swell comes you had better be ready! Maybe I should just learn to enjoy the lulls x

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