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

Advertisements

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/

Coming Out of Hibernation

Hello it’s me, Surfabella.  Someone who used to write regular blog posts about being a chubby, middle aged, landlocked beginner surfer with a penchant for being an absolute dick head in the water . (see below for photographic evidence)

I’ve had quite a long, unplanned hiatus from blogging since I relocated to the coast here in South Wales. There have been times where I have tried to force some writing out because I felt I should. I considered writing about the ups and downs of moving to a new place, about being able to surf just a few miles from my new home and the places and people I have discovered but, every time I sat down to write I’d find myself totally stuck. I’d either stare at the wall wondering when my new life was going to fall into place or watch Youtube videos of baby monkeys riding on pigs backs and toddlers being knocked over by cats, anything but writing. It’s taken six months and finally, I have the head space to want to write again. The distractions that were a constant drivel of noise in my head  have silenced and I’ve fallen into a calmer rhythm of life here at the coast .

So, my hiatus is over and I’m coming out of hibernation. Stay tuned for tales of lightening strikes, another night in a storm while camping, falling in a badgers hole, a pilgrimage to Pembs, the continuing hope for a seal sighting, the animals that have been stalking me that aren’t seals, the UK Premier of Proximity and the recent release of the book Legacy of Stoke Volume 2 and I meet the owner of a new homegrown clothing brand   x

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.

book-ipad-wallpaper-flying-letters

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

Surfabella_logo

AWOL – Gone Surfing, Stopped Writing

Sufabella has been neglected

ws021

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