The End of Surfabella?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Muchos Amore

Surfabella x

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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.

5 Camping Tips and Tricks

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

 

Serentipity- Tipi in Pows bookable through Canopy and Stars here 

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

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

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

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

Stove and Kettle

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

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A Mattress Topper and Quilt

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

solar Powered Radio

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

 

Rugs

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

Non Electric Lighting

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

 

 

 

Hot Water  Bottle

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

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

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

Aberavon Yoga and Surf Session Saturday 6th August

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

 

 

 

 

 

Coasteering in Pembrokeshire with Jump Bros

The sense of danger must not disappear: The way is certainly both short and steep, However gradual it looks from here; Look if you like, but you will have to leap.

(you don’t really have to but, I like this verse)

 

Anything to do with getting in the sea and I’m there so I jumped (pun intended) at the opportunity to go Coasteering with Jump Bros in Pembrokeshire during my latest trip to Wales where  I discovered that Coasteering is so much more than just climbing up stuff then jumping off into the sea.

We booked to go with Jump Bros who are based near Tenby on a perfect, hot, sunny day with not a cloud in the sky. With a little trepidation regarding the heights, some nerves and excitement we set off to meet Andy and Ollie, our guides.

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These two local chaps have a plethora of experience and qualifications between them and an easy going camaraderie that you can sense could switch in a split second should a situation arise. You can tell these guys love their jobs and seeing guests have a great time.

After possibly the sweatiest walk of my life, ( I was wearing a 5 mm wetsuit, buoyancy aid and helmet) one by one like baby ducks we plopped into the cool water and followed Ollie, with Andy coming in  behind us.

Adrenalin kicks in for the first few minutes as you adjust to the enormity of your surroundings. It’s somewhat intimidating floating in the sea surrounded by these colossal, ancient rock faces, unsure of the hidden depths below and taken up and down by the  rise and fall of the sea as it breaths.

Maybe it was just me but, I felt a bit shaky and nervous, perhaps it’s the old demon,  ‘I Can’t’. I’m not great with heights, I think I’m crap at climbing and scrambling and often think I’m the weakest link in most activities so I tend to decide I can’t do things before really trying. Ollie and Andy are masters at spotting this in people and Ollie’s next move was genius and evil in equal measure.

Continuing to follow Ollie’s encouraging voice like a good little duckling, I scrambled out for my first climb up to Pirates Plank. I was first, how did that happen, how did he do that?

I looked down, the jump from here wasn’t high but, it was in to a small cave. I’d already made my mind up, no, just no. Ollie looked me in the eye and said (with a serious face, a hint of a smile and a very calming voice) do you trust me, well, of course I did so, I jumped.

 

 

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A split second of fear followed by  a leap and a moment of nothingness  and I was rewarded with a refreshing shock as I hit the cold water then pinged up to the surface like a cork with a massive grin on my face and my heart absolutely pounding. I’d done it and so I’d found my confidence for the rest of our salty escapade.

The Glamour

The Glamour

One by one each of us made the first jump, got our confidence then continued to have an absolute blast with Ollie and Andy. It was as if we needed that first exit, climb and jump out of the way to loosen things up and start having the real fun.

We made our way around the coast climbing, traversing and scrambling out of the water and jumping back in off various ledges and sea stacks, admiring the view from the water as the gentle current took us around. To see the incredible Pembrokeshire coastline with its sea cliffs and strange looking Dali-esque caves from sea level is quite an experience.

coast

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The beauty of this activity is that really anyone can do it, it’s not the reserve of super fit dare devil’s or groups of young lads. Anyone over 8 can do it. Our guides made sure there were always a few options so nobody felt pressured to climb up or jump off anything that was out of their comfort zone and we all felt safe and supported all of the time.

I I absolutely loved Coasteering and it did a lot for my confidence, I think doing something you’re a bit scared of actually makes you feel safer because you did it and none of the crazy bad things you imagined happened . I’ll definitely look up Jump Bros again over summer when they are also planning on running snorkeling trips.

Useful Links

Jump Bros website 

Jump Bros facebook 

Visit Pembrokeshire  website

Visit Wales website

 

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.