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.