Monday, 2 November 2009

the ups and downs of surfing

You just never know when you're going to stumble across perfect, overhead waves peeling in against a strong off-shore wind.
More of that in a moment. I finally and reluctantly left Scotland, after spending my last few nights camping out at St Abbs Head (which is obviously not in East Lothian). It's difficult to leave somewhere that looks like this when you wake up:My van seemed to excite a certain amount of attention from the locals:
Returning to England was something of an anti-climax. No "Welcome to England" sign - presumably because it's been torn down by the Scots. Instead there's a kebab van.

I celebrated my first morning in England by gashing my head on my van (you'd think that after two months, I'd be used to living in a confined space). I then managed to rip out one of the fins on the longer of my two boards. Not break, rip out. Which is a lot worse.

On the other hand, I did meet Felix. This is Felix.
He was warm but lifeless when I came across him, so I did the decent thing and gathered him up. If anyone has a decent recipe for pheasant stew - and a view to how long to hang him - please let me know. It's what he would have wanted.

Then I spent a couple of nights at Bamburgh, waking up to this:
Sunday, though, was vile - very strong winds, driving rain, nothing surfable in Bamburgh. I decided to take my damaged board to the surf shop in Tynemouth. Where this was happening:They were as amazed as I was by the waves, which apparently had only just materialised, after the wind swung from howling on-shore to fabulous off-shore. Difficult to resist. For a sense of scale, click on the photo. There's a surfer in the centre of the picture, just in front of the breaking wave, about to duck dive under it. I didn't get a photo of anyone on the wave, but they were well overhead, and possibly double.
There was a peeling point, just to the right of this photo, but it already had a dozen surfers on it, doing things I can only dream of. This peak had three surfers on it, and was more manageable. In the end, there were about seven of us, the locals as excited as I was. After the experience of Thurso, I managed to acquit myself with a bit more skill and nerve. I caught two absolute screamers, both on my backhand, dropping down what feels like the sheer face of the wave, to turn into a towering wall of water looming up behind you. It's utterly exhilarating, and so satisfying when you get it right. This is what it's all about!

I caught a handful of others, but was getting blown off and blinded by the strong wind, which sends a lacerating shower of spray off the top of each wave as it crumbles, making it impossible to see.

Gradually the waves dropped off until they were 'just' head high. The sun went down, but the moon rose, almost full, and I stayed out well after dark, along with four others, as fireworks exploded up on the cliff. Finally exhaustion sent me in, but even then, at half past five, I saw two surfers gettting ready to go out for a moonlit surf. Because today, with all the wind, it's virtually flat again.

1 comment:

Davis Miller said...

I like this place! I love the idea and wish there was a place like this in Astoria, Queens. I am a surfer and found a "real surfer bar" in Point Break NYC. I am kinda jealous ;0PIts filled with surfers, people who like surfers, people who like the beach and people who don't want to live close to town. I really like this place. You know what they have these real Proctor and Channel One surfboards on the wall. It's nice for coming any day of the week and eating a late brunch. The food was outstanding. The brunch and sides were prefect and tasty. It is a perfect "escape" from city living. It is probably one of the only places where you can get a nice frozen pina colada or margarita. The service was on hit. They came up and checked on us so many times and made sure everything was up to par. It gets very active and the bartenders keep everybody having a good time. The bartender was very accommodating. He was nice enough to make a drink, that wasn't on the menu, for me :0) Did I mention the bartenders are nice eye candy. It was amazing to see their “das boot” which is shaped like a boot filled with beer. Don’t get me wrong, I am not drunk…it’s an actual boot shaped beer container ready to be emptied. Try it ..You will love it!! Oh. How can I forget, they even have a wheel o' shots where you just have to spin it and have to drink whatever shot it lands on!! Now call that bar creativity at its best!!! And when I spill a tray full of shots on myself, the bartender so kindly remakes them for me? Good music, too, and the decor helped us weather an otherwise overcast and rainy day. You know that old song "Brandy"? It goes, "Brandy, you're a fine girl, what a good wife you would be. But my life, my lover, my lady is the sea." I believe Brandy works here. No reason, I just do. And that song happens to be a guilty pleasure of mine, so that's a plus in my book. You can simply waltz over to this colorful and warm establishment, enjoy some drinks with friends, and walk home. The bar is right at the center, so you can walk to either side for drinks, and the bartenders are friendly and at your service. There is a variety of seating, good music, and friendly neighborhood people to make your time more enjoyable. Not pretentious, very cozy, I think Point Break is a fabulous place to spend some time with friends.