First of all, apologies to Joaquin, Kukurusta and an anonymous poster going by the name of My Conscience (a.k.a. Mark), who have all left comments in the last month, but which I failed to spot. Thanks for reading and commenting. Sorry not to have been around.
I'm back on the road, in Cornwall. But first, to conclude my last post:
Surfing. Goa: April. 19 days, 17 surf days, 21 sessions.... it's never going to be a surf destination, or even a proper surfing holiday, but if you're going there, and you have a board you can take, then take it. You won't regret it! I had a fab time, surfing almost every morning before breakfast. It's a great way to start the day.
Most mornings started off still and glassy, with waves between thigh high and head high. Some days were weaker than others, and they were never particularly powerful, although a few days were fabulous - long, peeling waves which held up well for decent long rides on nicely shaped faces. I'm afraid the photos don't do the waves justice. Karen very kindly came along one morning to take photos. Not only were the waves distinctly average, it also turns out I don't surf well under pressure. After all, I don't surf particularly well when there's no pressure...
The beaches I saw around South Goa were only really surfable from low to mid-tide. After that, it starts to close out or shore dump too much. And around mid-morning, the on-shore wind picks up, making it rough surfing - though I had a couple of fun sessions in the last few days in spite of the wind. So basically you need to be up early, and to catch the tide when it's good and low. Either that, or take your chances with the wind.
For the first week I was alone, but then I met Lee, an English musician who divides his time between Hong Kong and Goa. We had three or four excellent sessions together - he was on a 9' Bic, and taught me the value of patience. Often, he would be way out to sea, where I thought there was no chance of a wave. Then eventually something would appear on the horizon, he would announce "Here we go, old chap" and elegantly stroke into a decent wave.
Then I met Trevor and Deborah, from Bournemouth, who also spend 5 months a year in Goa. We surfed together for the last three days, Trevor on an 8' barge, Deborah mostly on a body board, but flirting with a 7´6´´ Bic. Trevor, if you're reading this: paddle harder! Deborah, if you're reading this: Don't listen to Trevor!
Top comedy moment was when a fish, alarmed by Trevor on his barge, leaped out of the face of the unbroken wave, heading directly to shore. It dived back into the water, then skipped out again, still heading to the shore in a straight line. Then did it again. And a fourth time. Just like a cartoon fish.
Surfing the same wave day in, day out has definite advantages - you really get to know how it works. And how your board works. And surfing in glassy conditions every day is fantastic - it really flatters your surfing, so you gain lots of confidence, which in turn helps your surfing. I really think surfing is 50% technique, 50% confidence. Maybe more. Though sometimes too much confidence isn't a good thing. Like when you're trying a floater when the wave is trying to dump on the shore. I'm not entirely clear where the water went, or which bit of the board tried to perforate me, but I suspect it was the tip. Not so much Kelly Slater, more Vlad the Impaler.
Apart from that (and landing on my head in knee deep water the day before) the only downside with taking a board is transporting it, especially on the overnight train. In the end, I had no choice. We had to share a bunk. It was either that or leave it behind.
And I wasn't going to leave it behind after all the fun we'd had.