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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8 Weeks After Moving to Wales, Relocation Crash

I have now been living in my new home of Wales for 8 weeks. January is a slow and dull month at the best of times and last week was not the best of times. I’ve just experienced what I think was a  post relocation crash, triggered by a tough week that had me dramatically weeping while walking through the park with a flat tyre on my bike on the way home from work and looking at jobs and flats back in Leicester at one point. I’m sure most people who relocate get this feeling at some point.

Settling into my new role at work has been a struggle as I’ve come into a department with a lot of shall we say, issues. My crazy landlord has made it impossible for me to stay in my flat so I’m  now looking to move again meaning my sense of home is once again disrupted. I feel more at home in the car park of my favourite beach, mind you I think a lot of folk spend more time there than in their own homes.

My social life is pretty limited,  by that I mean I have one proper friend, others are the people I see in the sea or in the car park.  The sparks of potential  friendships are there, they are just little lights in the dark right now. Apart from a few hours on a weekend I’m alone the rest of the time and I got really fed up of it this week. I’m usually pretty good in my own company but, perhaps it’s never gone on for this length of time.  Friends from home  just assume I’m living the life, surfing with dolphins through sea spray rainbows but, I’m mostly home under a blanket watching youtube videos of cats in boxes. This weekend I spent about 5 hours with Welsh Surf Bird and we had a great morning but, it’s now Sunday night and I’ve not spoken a word to anyone since. I’m sure it’s  pretty normal at this point in moving to a new town on your own but, bloody hell it’s hard going sometimes. I learnt this weekend though that it doesn’t take much to turn it around.

Yesterday I picked Welsh Surf Bird up early and we  surfed a new break for me, there were some delightful little waves perfect for my longboard. We stuffed our faces with cake and hot chocolate next to the fire afterwards and I chewed her ear off with two weeks worth of stored up chatter. Lush.

Gower Sunrise

While we were in the water, looking back at Caswell and out towards the sun peeking around the headland I looked over at Welsh Surf Bird and, alluding to my situation she confirmed exactly what I was thinking, ‘this is why you’re here, don’t let anyone spoil it’ .  My tough week, my dramatic weeping, the urge to get in the car and drive straight back to Leicester, it all washed  away and became nothing I couldn’t handle.  I drove home singing along to 21 pilots full blast with a big fat smile on my face. The sea is such a cleanser. This morning I got up early for round two, this time to surf alone, and now I feel restored to my normal optimistic self, ready take on a tough week and deal with it differently.

Anyone who has relocated will tell you that it’s not easy, there are huge highs at the beginning then crashes when you think you have a handle on your new situation and realise actually, you haven’t. Luckily for me, I have the sea and  it washes everything away as soon as you step in with your board under your arm and feel the energy of a wave under your feet. The sea is like a factory reset for people, we are restored to what we should be, what we could be and all of the unnecessary crap is removed.

The poor  sea though, everyone dumping their angst and problems in there. I like to imagine that all the negative that is washed away from us by the sea  is tossed around, recycled and thrown back at us as something marvelous, as waves. Like a ginormous recycling plant the sea is taking something we don’t need and turning it into something beautiful. So every time there’s a wobble at work I’ll be like yep that’s going to turn into a wave, landlord being a creep again yeah another wave,  feeling a bit homesick and missing the best mate, that’s another 10 waves. It’s rather a nice thought and one I’m going to use this coming week. Maybe you should try it to.

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.

Surf/Travel/Inspiring Film Recommendation: A Woman’s Guide to the World by Apolla Echino

Regular readers of surfabella.com will know that I have barely written a word since the start of summer when I went on my 6 week solo adventure living in a tent next to the beach in South Wales, UK

I wrote a lot while I was away but, for some reason those words remain as hastily scrawled ink in a note book and I haven’t felt the urge to change that.  Those six weeks were too big, too significant, too much to write about in a blog post so perhaps they will remain ink in a book. Instead I’ve been reading other people’s writing and digging about for some good films.

Surfing the South Island of New Zealand – Winter

Today I watched a short film recommended by a friend called A Woman’s Guide to The World. It’s a document of one woman’s solo surf trip around the South Island of New Zealand. Film maker and surfer Apolla Echino  by her own admission, is not an amazing surfer but, she is an adventure seeker and a girl we’d definitely like to share a wave and  vino  with.  The description of this film on her facebook says

With her great curiosity as an adventurer, Apolla is driven to inspire more women to be bold and follow their dreams.With the viewer as her close companion, she will show how by leaving the comforts of home and relationships, and by venturing off the beaten path, you can find your voice, shape your world view, and ultimately, transform your life.

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 She is one of us, she is freezing her ass off, she is pouring hot water on her boots to keep warm, running out of gas in her van, sometimes getting scared surfing alone, she is struggling to carry her long board down big sand dunes, getting frustrated in a line up full of blokes and she is pushing herself beyond what she thought she could do. I love this girl, she is  me, you and every woman  you know who strikes out to do something outside of her comfort zone, to go despite hesitation and who paddles out despite failure because there will always be another wave.

Please, just put aside just 40 minutes today to watch this beautiful film, this one is worth your time and needs to be seen by more people. I loved it so much it inspired me to post something on Sufabella after quite a long spell of silence.  Surfer, non surfer, man, woman, creature, it matters not. Just watch it. Keep up with Apolla’s adventures through facebook here.

Thanks xx

I’m filming this trip to inspire other women to be the subject of their own adventure story’

Storm Katie in a Caravan Alone in Cornwall with a Spider

me no likeI’m currently being battered by Storm Katie on the Cornish coast. I’m  cowering inside a caravan and my friend went home today so I’m scared and alone with my wild imagination, great combination.

I’ve never experienced a storm like this, I mean heart pounding stuff, not my usual exaggerations. I’m half expecting to be a news story in the morning. The caravan is shaking as if it were about to take off like the house in the Wizard of Oz and the noise, sounds like a train coming full speed towards me.

 Adding to this a massive spider has taken up residence in the corner and keeps moving in my eyeline.  I suppose we have in common that neither of us are enjoying this storm so perhaps we are on the same team for tonight and at least it’s some company.
There’s never a phone signal here, there’s only one other caravan occupied and the 5 chalets are right down the hill, out of sight and  too far for their lights to provide a little comfort. It’s pitch black when I look out. I’ve tried getting attention on Facebook with alarming status’ so I can at least interact with a humans but, the rest of the world apart from one or two are asleep so it’s me, Storm Katie and the spider, who I’ve named Toto  for the night.
Spider 'friend' Toto
 So far and I’ve no idea how we haven’t lost the wifi or the power but, I have an emergency bag of essentials I made up including a head torch, candles, car key, waterproofs and welly boots and I’m about to go and get the half bottle of red wine left over from last night. How am I going to cope alone in a tent for 6 weeks in summer if a storm while I’m in a caravan has scared me this much? Oh heck.
Right then , hopefully morning will come soon and without incident, see you on the other side.   Come on Toto, there’s no place like home, there’s no place like home ………

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

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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.

 

New Year’s Resolutions Still Going Strong ?

resolution versus revolution

We made it through January hooorahh. Nights are getting a little lighter and even though it’s cold and windy and still clearly winter  it’s rather warming to think that  March is in touching distance, closely followed by spring.

Four weeks ago, pretty much everyone I know made a New Year’s Resolution around food, activity or booze. Most were  the result  of opulent living over Christmas.  So, four weeks in, how are people’s  resolutions going?

New Year’s resolution are usually  laced with the regret and guilt  of Christmas. Often, because we feel pretty rotten we want results fast and our expectations are really  high. A resolution by definition is a firm decision to do or not to do something. So, essentially it’s a strict rule. It’s an I will do this or I won’t do that. The problem for me is that the breaking of the rule or the resolution is a catastrophic failure, there’s little room for flexibility.

 I have not seen many people succeeding with their resolutions. All around me I’m hearing and reading, mostly from women , ‘ I’ve been good, I’ve been bad, I fell off the wagon, I’ll start again tomorrow, I ONLY lost half a pound what’s the point, I had a bad week, I need to refocus, start again on Monday’. I must admit, these are all words that have fallen out of my mouth, the type of words that do nothing apart from chip away at your motivation until there is none left.

 Don’t get me wrong I’m very goal driven and  a big advocate of having something to aim for as it helps motivation but, I like to try and set positive goals. See my post How to Recover from a Debauched Christmas. I can’t live with  rules so narrow that it’s inevitable I’ll  break them  and  beat myself up about it. I have been guilty of this in the past and learnt it does not get you anywhere apart from stuck where you are and miserable.

change of ideas

Stuff resolutions, I’m all about Revolution. By definition revolution  is a forcible overthrow in favour of a new system. A few years back when I first embarked on my own health and fitness  mission, which is still a work in progress,  I overthrew the bad habits I’d had for years, the negative thinking and guilt, the cycle of setting the goals too high and always failing .

Most importantly, I stopped believing in the myth that there is a quick fix for everything . There isn’t.  This myth  is fed to us by shows such as the biggest loser and myriad celebrity diets and fads which  only serve to make us normal people with limited time and money,  feel like we aren’t doing enough and we need to try harder.  So, we buy the book, join the slimming club, join the gym, buy the pills and  keep the diet industry’s tills stuffed.

So, I set myself a new type of goal. For the first time ever a goal that would be fun and make me happy. To get fit and lose some timber in order to have a fighting chance at learning to surf rather than to stop being a fat munter which was the kind of language I used before, how is that even  a goal? Well, it’s not, it’s a giant shit stick  and that’s why it never worked. The key to success was going to come from a revolution in my thinking and  it would all start in my head, not necessarily  with what was on the end of my fork.

My revolution  was quiet and not extreme in any way. I adopted a  lifestyle  in which moving more and eating right most of the time have become the new normal. I made changes so small they can be sustained, a weekend or even a week of drinking and eating whatever I want is ok. I don’t have strict rules so I can’t  break them and declare a catastophic  fail. I’m determined to no longer be driven by guilt. I get my motivation from the  positive effects my efforts  have on my well being and of course my ability to surf.

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Interestingly the one place I have seen lots of  people succeeding and feeling great this month is in the running community. Particularly the runners page This Girl Can Running. The excitement, the positive language the girls are using, the celebration of even the smallest progress and the support and encouragement on that page is inspiring. Take a look here.  These ladies of all ages, shapes, sizes and abilities  are feeling good about themselves and it shows. If you want some motivation go and read some of the threads.

Playing  the long game,  a more relaxed approach and not having unrealistic expectations has worked. Taking up activities that make me feel good has worked. Having positive motivation has worked. Wanting to stay in good health as I approach my middle years has worked. As it stands it averages out that I’ve lost half a pound a week for 30 months and  that’s awesome. Sometimes I don’t make any progress for weeks on end and I have also now experienced  that health and fitness aswell as my commitment to the revolution  goes in cycles and that’s ok.

As the short lived fads and resolutions of others fade into the past I will keep moving forward, slowly but, always moving, experiencing  small changes, celebrating small victories and enjoying a nice cake and a bottle of wine when I want one.

If this is what revolution looks like, Vive La Revolution , fill my glass!

Interested in taking up running but, don’t want to do it alone? That Outdoor Girl are booking people in for the April course now here if you are lucky enough to be near one of their classes

A Momentary Lapse in Fitness ( that lasted a year)

the beginning of the quest

I appear to have had a lapse in my quest for improved fitness and weight loss. I haven’t just missed a few classes  and eaten a cake. This lapse has been a year long, my motivation has been AWOL despite the fact that I’ve been surfing more than ever. The quest began in February 2013 and I made some significant changes up until June 2014.

  • lost 60-65 lb (fluctuated)
  • dropped 3-4 dress sizes (same)
  • quit smoking after 24 years
  • took up running and fitness classes
  • ran a half marathon 4 months after my first ever run
  • started to love my self a little more

The quest,  as I appear to be calling it, was borne out of an obsession with surfing after I had a lesson on holiday. I loved it but, knew I’d never be able to stand on that board with the body I had. At 17 stone with a bmi of 41 and an age of inactivity behind me, I waged war on my old habits and set about making some positive changes. I was strict with my regime but, had to be. My old habits had a loud voice that would try to tempt me back but,  I would not be distracted. As my body and mind improved the elusive ‘getting up’ on my board got closer and closer and I was more focussed than ever.

Every ache, stitch, pain, struggle to breath, bead of sweat and mad face pulled was for surfing and eventually the hard work paid off. After 21 x 4 hour lessons I was up. I was standing on my board. My motivation grew as I shrunk. I was  slimmer than I’d been in 15 years and fitter and stronger than I’d been in my life. Outside of the water I was happy, proud, confident, focussed and felt so sparkly on the inside it felt like it was bursting out of me.  The only thing I needed  was to be  fit, strong  and on track for surfing. It’s this very thing that may have been my downfall.

losing my way

They say pride comes before a fall and just as things couldn’t get any better,  I had an accident that put me out of all activity and in dry dock for  for 12 weeks.  I was in  a sling for 6 weeks and off work for 5. I couldn’t even dress myself or brush my hair such was the pain in my shoulder and neck. Home alone all day bored, in pain, feeling sorry for myself, not able to even stick to healthy foods as I couldn’t prepare anything, an army of white bread toast and crisps knocked at the door, I had to let them in.  I was hungry.

 Eventually my injury healed enough to slowly get back into activities but, it didn’t come easy. Iv’e tried, I have. I would convinced myself I was back on track for a few days or a week here and there but, it never lasted. I did managed a half marathon although it was more about stubbornness to finish than the training I had put in because I barely trained. I’ve never got back to the level of commitment I had before. I could stand on my board so I felt working hard to get stronger wasn’t as important and I blamed my dodgy shoulder for everything.

Time was separated in to before shoulder-gate and after. Where there was newly gained  lean muscle there is pudgy,  soft,  squidgyness once again. Where there was no question about going to body pump or pilates there are excuses. ‘I’ll start next week’ has been hanging  heavy in the air every weekend along with the stale smell of the cigarettes I nick of friends after a few drinks. There’s a faint echo of I can’t or I’m not good enough in the distance.

Lubricated by a few glasses of wine on Friday, I was talking about hating myself for letting it go AGAIN with my friend Long Legs. (hate is  such a horrible word to use about oneself)  I said something along the lines of ‘why have I let this happen, I’ve put weight on, I’ve lost my exercise mojo, I worked my ass off ahhh I’m a failure ‘, I whined. ‘ Cut yourself some slack kid’, said Long Legs and then something along the lines of, ‘ look how far you have come, all these changes are not easy and you did them all in one go, stop beating yourself up, you can’t always be perfect’. I sort of half heartedly agreed, hoofed down the last of my bottle of wine and went home.

back on the right path

The next day  the simplicity and sense in what Long Legs had said dawned on me . I guess sometimes it takes another voice that’s louder than the doubtful one  in your head to tell you that you are doing ok.   I can’t be ‘on it’ all of the time, it’s not possible to do so and have a life, things get in the way, you can’t always get a run in after work, sometimes you want a pint instead of the gym, sometimes you have a break which is out of your control. My quest was so much the centre of everything I did that when I was forced to stop I couldn’t handle it and that had affected my ability to bounce back. I’d been sabotaging myself because I felt like I was failing after not getting back in the swing of things after my injury.  Before it was all and now it was nothing, either manically up and muscular  or miserably down with a muffin top.

I realise I need to find balance, a middle ground where I’m making progress on my quest but, I’m not going to throw it all away and wallow if I hit a bump in the road or have a few mad weekends. A break in fitness and a weight gain is not a failure  it’s an expected part of my life that will occur from time to time.

I have decided that I haven’t come this far to not finish the job. How I deal with this lapse is a measure of the person I have become. So, I’m going to  regroup and go back into battle with a new strategy with balance as my focus, just like on my board balance really is the key.

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

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!

 

An Unexpected Journey

An unexpected Half Marathon

20141026_124434I did a half marathon on Sunday!  As regular readers will know, I  withdrew from this race a few weeks ago due to fitness issues and self doubt but, after a  4 day solo surf trip to Newquay getting back to what’s important, namely surfing, I had a change of heart.  On my trip I met some geniunely  inspiring and lovely Surf Senioritas who I hope to spend more time with in the future. Thankyou Mellow Waves and  The Days I for the marathon 3 hour power chat and the hot chocolate. Connecting with these girls in person was great, we have such familiar joys and trials with our surfing despite being at differing levels.  I felt I’d met them before.  I had a great surf with some new friends and  I also  booked a trip to Morocco one rainy afternoon at Matt’s Surf Lodge . This  all injected me with some much needed positivity and suddenly I had motivation again, I was in  the gym, running at lunch times, feeling good and I made a decision to attempt the race with just four days to go. This is how I found myself at the start line of the half marathon on Sunday morning!

DSC_4521On the day I really wasn’t sure I’d make it, I was running 10 miles farther than I had for months but,  I got my head down and got on with it, my goal was just to finish in one piece even if I had to run/walk most of it.  I mind surfed most of way around especially after mile 8 to distract myself from knee pain and muscles like  burning stones. I surfed waves I’ll never see with skills I’ll never have in a lovely wetsuit of my own invention, all the while trying to zone out from what I was actually doing .  I did it, I got this medal and t shirt and somehow finished just 36 seconds behind last years time despite not training. What a great boost to get me going on my training for my upcoming surf trip.

New Goals

So, on to the next goal. Morocco, in 6 weeks. I’m going to Surfstar for a week and I’m super excited. But, after a summer of excusable inactivity I really need to shed some of the weight I gained and get some strength built up again in order to get the most out of my surf trip. I’m not a weight obsessive but, I keep it in check.  Just  2 years ago I weighed about 17 stone, I worked hard and patiently to get 4 and a half stone off through lifestyle changes rather than a fad diet and I still have a way to go.  To put 10lb on really scared me.  How easily I could be  headed back to morbid obesity! My new size, health and well being still feels pretty new to me and not quite set in stone yet. I felt like I needed a bit of a kick start to get things moving again.

OK, here it is. My before and after from my original weight loss. This was when I hit my lightest, strongest and fittest a few weeks before my injury

 Here are  before and after photos from my original weight loss. This was when I hit my strongest and fittest a few weeks before my injury in May, to get to this same point for Morocco is a realistic goal.

So, what’s this got to do with this picture of Guniea Pigs? Throughout my weight loss journey I used a funny weight comparison list to put my losses into perspective. Healthy, life long weight loss is not about big loss numbers but, the small numbers consistently adding up. This list made me laugh and helped me see how far I had come.  My current goal is to drop  12lb, an average Guinea pig weighs 1lb therefore…………………..meet my next goal!

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London Surf Film Festival and Meeting Steph Gilmore

A post work rush on Thursday evening to get to London via feet, bike, bus, train and tube took me to the  opening night of the London Surf Film Festival and the UK premier of Stephanie in the Water.  Here is a little,  (voice of Del Boy Trotter) reportage of my evening.

I arrive at Genesis Cinema in Stepney Green just in time to join a long queue of something rather unusual, surfers in clothes, yes, surfers in clothes! Surfers in lots of clothes and coats, big dark coats and gloves and shoes and socks! It’s a cold, dark, wet night in London and we are a long way from the sea! I clutch my ticket in my fat, cold, little hand and queue with these heavily clothed people who are both strangers and so familiar.

 I head upstairs towards the theater and bar and I casually walk past Steph Gilmore, as you do.  People are just walking by, they haven’t even seen her so I decide to say hello as it’s only a matter of time before she’s going to be swamped. She offers me her hand and a massive, genuine, dazzling smile in greeting. She’s taller than I imagined and she’s got a very happy vibe about her, she seems to almost sparkle and she’s so, so pretty and natural in real life!  I babble some crap about almost being late. I’m surprised to find I’m a little star struck and tongue tied, stupidly I don’t even congratulate her on her performance on the tour so far. I babble some crap about being recovering from injury and I’m looking forward to the film as I’m in need of a kick up the arse and some inspiration to get back into training. She says she hopes it does the trick. We have a quick photo and it’s goodbye, the film is about to start. I’m a bit shaken in a good way, I can’t believe I just talked to the woman I have watched all year, in awe on the ASP tour, she’s a legend!  I can already feel a massive boost from meeting Steph and go into the theater and take my seat.

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Me and my mate Steph Gilmore

 There’s an Intro from the festival directors and a few laughs and then it’s show time. As the lights dim for the first short film by Luke Pilbeam I look around at the faces in the crowd lit up by the light from the screen and I feel like I’m part of something. I might be the only surfer ( is it ok to call myself that?)  in my everyday, local sphere but,  here everyone loves surfing.  I feel like part of a tribe, these are my people haha!

The short film Out of the Black and into the Blue is fantastic, beautiful photography, stirring music and insightful words that sum up a feeling most of us can’t articulate but, understand and constantly crave. It’s rousing and passionate and this is the first time I’ve seen any surf footage on the big screen, it was made for it. If you go to the LS/FF website all of the shorts are there.

 Next up is Stephanie in the Water but, I won’t go into too much detail and spoil it.   There’s some memorable moments and it’s inspiring, thought provoking , amusing and triumphant all in one.  It really shows Steph’s passion, determination and commitment and in some very funny moments her competitiveness provokes a lot of giggling from the audience! I think different people would get different things from this film but, as someone who is struggling to get back into fitness and feels a bit shitty it was the perfect tonic.  I took from it exactly what I needed and astonishingly I find that I can identify with Steph. I know, who’d have thought it? Me, identifying with 5 x ASP world champ but, I do simply as someone that loves surfing who is finding it difficult and is determined to work hard and get back into it. It does not matter that she’s a world champion and I’m still learning.

 The Q & A that follows proves again what a lovely, warm, witty, intelligent, down to earth girl Steph is.  This beautiful, strong, determined young woman should be the role model that young girls look to,  she’s now this old bird’s role model.  So,  it’s out with the croissants and in with a renewed focus on getting fit again. In my last post  I said I needed to get back to what motivated me in the first place and I’m almost there.  With the positivity and determination to get back on it that I took from the film and a 3 day surf trip to Newquay starting tomorrow,  things are getting back on track .  Stephanie in the Water is a reminder of how happy surfing makes me, those final scenes where Steph is free surfing, the smile on her face says it all,  it’s the very same  thing  that first motivated me. I think the kids call it stoke!

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Struggling to Get Back in the Game After Injury

As  motivation to return to running and activity after an injury,  I booked a place on a half marathon with around 10 weeks to get ready. Pre injury I was smashing it, I’d recently quit smoking and was probably the strongest I had ever been physically and mentally. I thought coming back after an enforced break would be a doddle and just a matter of building myself up again and that my race entry would help.

 Haha! How wrong I was. What nobody tells you is that returning after injury is harder than being a beginner. As a beginner it’s all about firsts, the first time you can manage 10 minutes non-stop, the first mile, the first 30 minutes, the first time you go out in the dark and rain in winter when you really don’t want to. It’s all new. Everything is an achievement compared to before. Motivation is high, achievements and milestones are reached regularly and so we have the upward spiral, the pinnacle of which is Wooooo yeah! I can do anything!!

Then Boom! you have a skateboarding  accident and you have to sit still and recouperate. What happens when you return to exercise after a break? Well, for me it was self-doubt, lack of motivation, feeling like giving up, thinking it’s pointless, it goes on!  What used to be easy became difficult and that is quite a shock, you are constantly comparing yourself now with the stronger, fitter more successful you of pre injury. Despite your inner voice saying that its ok, you’ll get back to normal you still feel like a failure and like you will never be as good again.  These feelings are not just limited to your active life, they spill into all areas.

 Having friends really progressing with their running is also difficult and something people probably wouldn’t want to admit to or talk about but, I admit it. It’s made me feel pissed off and it’s hard to reconcile being pleased for them like any normal friend would be with feeling left behind and rubbish. I’d just like a bit of TLC,  tea and a hug maybe. I’d just really like to  go for a leisurely run for fun on a Sunday, chat all the way around and then have a bacon butty. I know that’s selfish but, that’s what I’d do if someone was struggling. Being envious of other’s success then makes me feel like a bad person which then adds to my negative feelings which then demotivates me more and so we have the vicious circle. The epicentre of this vicious circle is this internal dialogue, ” I’ve lost my mojo, I don’t care about the half marathon, I hate running and I’m just going to become morbidly obese again because that’s easier and at least I get to eat white bread and cheese! Oh and I’m going to die alone and get eaten by Alsatians”.

I know I can run, I know I can commit, I know I can do a half marathon, I know I can stick to a plan so why am I just not getting anywhere? Why am I sinking? Why am I ready to throw it all away? Why am I letting this happen? 18 months of hard work and determination and overcoming huge hurdles. And then it hit me. I had set myself the wrong goal. A stupid, unrealistic  goal of running 13.2 miles non-stop after weeks and weeks of inactivity and gluttony was like setting myself up for failure before I had even put my running shoes on. I have tried for well over a month and I’ve struggled, it’s as much mental as it is physical and is not directly the injury that’s the problem it’s just the weakness in the rest of my body.  I haven’t even lifted a weight or built up the strength in my injured shoulder yet, I haven’t been to a Pilates class and rebuilt some core strength or to a circuits class for some stamina.  The more I thought about this the more I realised that running was only part of a well-balanced mixture of activities I had been doing to improve my fitness for surfing.

So, yesterday I officially declared to my public,  ( well to my friends on Facebook) that I would be withdrawing from the Half Marathon and over the last 24 hours I have felt a lift in the dark mood I have been engulfed by. I had a lovely chat with fellow blogger  http://landlockedsurfgirl.com/ who has the same injury as me and I felt less alone. It’s not just me who is finding a return to fitness difficult, I’m not a massive failure! I have booked a few gym classes and I’m looking forward to catching up with the girls I used to exercise with every week. I will not stop running but, I will run for the love of it. I want to run over fields in the rain and get covered in mud then go for a cuppa in a country pub afterwards, I want to nip out for a quick half hour in the evenings and smell wet leaves and breath in the crisp Autumn air. I’m going to go to the half marathon on my bike and cheer my friends on all along the route, I’ll supply them with cheering, tangfastics and hugs. I’m really proud of them for all the improvements they made this year and maybe my time will come again some other time. Right now in order to pull myself out of the doldrums I  have to go back to the beginning and remember what motivated me in the first place, there is only one answer. Surfing of course.

 So, as a little treat to myself to celebrate not doing the half marathon I booked a ticket for the London Surf Film Festival http://www.londonsurffilmfestival.com/ to see Stephanie in the Water and Steph Gilmore will be there, the actual real Steph! I’m hoping for some inspiration and a little reminder of what motivates me, I think Steph might be the woman for the job and I always enjoy visiting London! I’m then jumping a plane to Newquay on Sunday for a 3 day surf trip. I’m going alone, I think this will be good for me. It will be the first time I have ever surfed alone and I don’t think it couldn’t have come at a better time. What better way is there to get my equilibrium back than sitting on my board, just me and the sea and the autumn sunset.

Sunset Surf El Cotillo

Sunset Surf El Cotillo

Plus Size Surf Model for a Day

This year there’s been a lot of heated discussion within the online surf community about the representation of female surfers by their  sponsors and in the media. Coco and her naked surf, Anastasia’s twerking and as always Alana who is always guaranteed to divide opinion.

The girls have been criticised for doing steamy photo shoots and the negative influence this could have on young surf girls and  many see this objectification of female surfers as undermining their talent as actual surfers. Why aren’t they shown ripping in the water?  Others say leave them to it and stop judging as it allows them to continue surfing.

All  I know is that I cannot relate to the image that is constantly presented to me of what a woman who surfs looks like . I’m older, rounder and struggling to progress as I can’t surf as often as I’d like. I’m excluded by most brands due to their sizing which to me is madness, I’m not even that big, I’m a UK size 16 and there must be 1000’s of women like me who have money to spend.Luckily I’m older now and with the confidence that comes with maturity(41)  this exclusion does not affect me so much as it  makes me grumpy when I’m shopping for board shorts.

What I do dislike is some girl’s surf magazines publishing articles about bigger girls and women  being ‘brave’ and embarcing their size when the women they are celebrating are a size 12. Telling a young girl that wearing a bikini as a size 12 is brave or that it’s breaking the mould is just bloody wrong.  I’m not daft, I understand how it all works and  I don’t blame the pro surf girls themselves, they have to conform to the surf girl template if they want sponsorship that allows them to surf professionally.  I wondered though, how they felt about doing it and then I started thinking imagine if I did.  The thought of it made me really laugh to myself and well, that’s where it started.

BALANCING ACT 1The suprise shot of the 4 my happy face is all I see

 I employed my mate as chief (and only) photographer, and we headed down to Fistral on a sunny morning last week during our holiday there.  Of course we had no hair and makeup or styling but, for a laugh we set about mirroring some of the shots of the beautiful, famous surf girls. I thought this was purely a comedy project with maybe a little message to women about body confidence and that it would produce some Benny Hill type giggles . I was surprised to find that it was a little more meaningful than I imagined it to be.

ALANA CLASSICIt was so cold I forgot to do my hand on the back of my head and refused to go back in without a wetsuit! Clearly I’m a chunky monkey next to our girl!

 I’m clearly a bigger girl, I have lost a fair bit of timber since I started surfing 18 months ago in an effort to get fit and strong and to improve my performance and I still have some way to go. I’m about as far away from the gorgeous blond surf girl image you can get. I thought I’d feel insecure about sharing these pictures but, to my suprise it’s been quite the opposite and this is a huge breakthrough for me and my confidence.

I look at the first one, and all I see is a snapshot of happiness. There’s a memory of an amazingly,  fun,  surf session we had right after this picture was taken and how much laughing we did in the water that day. It’s a reminder  how utterly content I was being by the sea, spending time with my best girl friend.  I don’t look at my chunky little legs or folds on my wobbly tummy or think about how I wouldn’t be able to buy any cute shorts in the surf shops because I’m too big for them or about how every wetsuit I have has to be shortened because the makers think a size uk 18 woman is also 5’8 ft tall.  I look at my face and the light in my eyes, I’m so happy here and I feel beautiful. I’m at the beach and about to do the thing I love the most in the world and it’s written all over my face. I have never in my life seen that in myself until I saw this photograph.

I realised that I absolutely love these pictures. I’m not embarrassed about my body even though I’m far from perfect. I’m too consumed by  surfing to care. I’m strong, I’m healthy and I’m fit. I can lift heavy weights, run 13.2 miles nonstop and surf a long session without having spaghetti arms for the next 48 hours. I’m proud of me.  This is the body that lets me surf  and run and do the things that make me happy  so I blooming well should look after it and love it.

SNOG THE BOARDThis one was quite embarassing to do, I felt a right plonker

 If surf brands aiming at female consumers want a blurb to attract  female customers it should be something like this;  no matter your size or shape get out there and live your life, move more, strive to improve your health and wellbeing, do stuff, scream with excitement, swallow seawater and eat sand and laugh until it hurts. Be kind, encouraging and supportive to other girls and women and help each other , watch the sun go down, watch the sun come up, be outside as much as possible, stop wasting time trying to be perfect and start spending time creating perfect moments.  Maybe a  little cheesy but, so true!

MERMAIDhaha! More over  friendly seal than mermaid!!

My First Trip to Newquay Cornwall

Utopia or Dystopia

Newquay Fistral

 

I’m off to Newquay in a few days. A pilgrimage to the surfing capital of the UK and a chance to check out if flying from the midlands and avoiding the 5 hour drive makes it a viable option for future short surf trips. However, I have a small worry. I have created 2 Newquays in my head. I’m excited by the idyllic picture I have and somewhat worried about the other, darker picture. With no idea which one I’m going to encounter I just hope I can find a tiny piece of the ideal.

In Dystopian Newquay there are  A level results parties, Magaluf reunions and stag and hen do’s all in our surf house. There’s loud, screaming,  drunk girls and lads with an inflatable sheep in the beer  garden with knickers on their heads and shitty dance music being played in the bar. With visions like this in mind and to minimise the threat of being chucked up on and kept awake by people who could very easily be my children even if I had birthed them in my mid twenties, we have booked to go after the schools and colleges go back. This should also help us avoid feeling approximately 653 years old. We have a private room with a private bathroom and we will lock ourselves in from da youth and barricade the door if we have to!

Utopian Newquay is chilled out and laid back. Glassy, mellow, late summer waves with friendly locals and gentle sunshine are the backdrop to a revival of the soul which only the sea can bring. There’s hot surf blokes over the age of 30 everywhere to perv at ….ahemm I mean admire respectfully through sunglasses while pretending to read or something. There are hammocks in the beer garden of the surf lodge and Morcheba’s The Sea is playing. There’s cute little shops selling handmade wares, surf shops full of lovely things I don’t need and there’s fish and chips and watching the sunset on the cliff after a glorious surf session. There is no ‘you should have been here yesterday’ because it’s perfect!

*Neither of these Newquays are based on reality, fact or experience

Whatever Newquay brings I can’t wait to get surfing again and to give my best girl friend her first surf experience. I’m hoping to catch up with the guys from The Wave Project who I ran a half marathon for last year and see my name on their van. We also have a fun little photography project which I’ll be posting here when I get back and of course a very sensible travel report on whether I found my Utopia or whether I ended up drunk and upside down in a flower bed with my knickers on my head!!

It’s My 40th Birthday

Age is only important if you are a cheese or a wine

For dramatic effect play the music video below whilst reading

I woke up 40 years old a week ago today. 40? Yes, that’s 40. I can’t get my head around this. It’s half of 80 and twice 20. No, it doesn’t matter how I put it I don’t believe it. I looked in the mirror that morning and I still saw a young girl. My morning creaks and groans and my hangover told a different story which I chose to ignore.

After my run and watching the sunrise at Corralejo I came back to change and as I pulled on my pink vans, some board shorts and faith no more T shirt I did wonder, am I one of those old people trying to cling onto youth and looking really, really sad? Should I really have more hoodies in my wardrobe than actual tops and more trainers than real shoes? Should I be skating around in band t shirts and having girl crushes on rock singers? Should I be rocking up at surf school, old enough to be most of the other student’s mother? Well the answer is obvious isn’t it? Of course blimping well I should!

There is a silent, stealthy, subconscious fear of 40 that creeps up when you are not looking, I didn’t even realise I had it until about a week before and it disappeared the minute I became 40 when I woke up and everything was the same.  It wasn’t a fear of the aging itself, I have never had a banging body to lose and I have really enjoyed the growth in my self confidence as each year passes. It was more a melancholic reflection of my first 40 years, a half way review of everything negative I could possibly think of. What I didn’t do, why didn’t I, what ifs, time I wasted, opportunities I didn’t take, loves lost, stupid mistakes I made, allowing things that had passed to hold me back and whatever other dramatic laments you can think of.

On the day of my birthday I managed a short surf despite my shoulder injury and what it did was remind me of my why and renew my energy and determination to get fit again following this injury. I’m sure 20 year old me would have been shocked but proud of 40 year old me surfing on my birthday! I wish I had found this passion for surfing and running earlier in life but, it wasn’t meant to be. It feels that this is my time and I’m excited about entering my 40’s. I’m going to make the most of every opportunity I can because I know in the blink of an eye I’ll be celebrating 50, then 60. I want to look back over those decades and be counting the positives. If there’s one thing I have learnt in the past 18 months it’s to be an enthusiast for something that makes you delirious with happiness. If you find that you will always have a focus, a source of joy and a reason why. You will always find good company and you will always be young at heart.