Tuesday, 29 June 2010

End of the Campaigning Season

Summer's here, and with it crowds and flat seas, so I'm temporarily off the road and out of the water.

Since I started in Tiree in September, I've surfed a grand total of 60 waves in Scotland and England, mostly in geographical order. (That's 60 different beaches/breaks, not 60 actual waves - I think I caught 60 waves just in Sennen.)

Wales is next, probably in September. And I'm hoping to catch a handful of well-known breaks I missed first time round because of time, ignorance or lack of waves (Sandwood Bay, Lynmouth, Croyde, Sthhhhh - the least secret secret spot in Yorkshire - among others)

Before that, I'm heading to Orkney in August, and hoping to find the odd wave there.

I'm planning to write up the trip, so if anyone knows any agents or publishers with a passing interest in surfing, I would be very grateful.

In the meantime, thanks for reading, thanks for your comments and thanks for all your support.

Eighty Waves

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Chapel Porth

One of the nicest beaches in North Cornwall is Chapel Porth, in the so-called Badlands near St Agnes. I caught it one wind-blown morning a few weeks ago, when it was heaving and heavy, with fat waves and too much froth. So I returned last week to try it in better conditions. This time there was a light off-shore blowing the tops off the fun, waist-high waves that were pouring into the narrow cove. Suddenly enthused and energised, I had a fabulous session, catching loads of waves in quick succession.
Afterwards, I was talking to another surfer in a van, John from West Sussex. He had been up on the hillside taking photos, and happened to catch these photos of me. Actually surfing.
Though I was rather dismayed to find photographic confirmation that I spend far too long on all-fours before I get to my feet.Anyway, thanks for the photos, John!

Friday, 4 June 2010

Heading North

Finally made it round the toe of Britain. Lots of it is lovely. Land's End itself is a reeking sock, with expensive parking, a bizarre display of 'artfully-placed' faux standing stones mixed in with a miniature village, and a '4D' Doctor Who experience. That's 2D on a screen, 1D in the time you waste, and 1D of the bit of your soul that you'll leave there forever. In the past, we used woad and aggression to deter invaders from the south. Nowadays, we rely on an 'Experience'. The Land's End Experience should not be experienced, and whoever is responsible should be dangled over the edge of the cliff until they see the error of their ways. In 4D.

But everything else was lovely.

Especially Cape Cornwall, which curiously looks like Scotland:
And Saint Michael's Mount, which looks like France:
And most of all Gwithian, next to Sennen Cove, which looks like - and probably is - Paradise:
I looked up a photographer friend, Tup, whom I met in Thurso waaaay back in October. We went surfing one day and shark-hunting two days later. Shark-hunting is a bit like wave-hunting, except a bit less anxious (these were Basking Sharks, which eat plankton, not Great White Sharks, which eat surfers). Tup claimed he had seen several the day before, from the safety of a small plane, a claim that gained more validity the following day, when two of his photographs appeared in The Sun. So Tup is basically a Shark Paparazzo. Or Sharkarrazzo.

I also nipped over to Falmouth for a charming drink with fellow writer James Henry and a night on Falmouth quayside. A night on Falmouth quayside is less exciting than one might imagine. Apart from the seagulls, which used the roof of my van as a landing strip. Or as a target.

Since then, I've been working my way up the coast, with some fabulous waves and some not so fabulous waves, in fabulous weather and some not so fabulous weather.
Karen, who is not a Sharkarrazzo, managed this fantastic shot of me on a wave at Duckpool.
Her career as a Surferazzo is still in its infancy. But after my camera battery died, she did see me on a wave that she described as "really impressive" (entirely without prompt or payment), and which was indeed the highlight of the past ten days - a long, peeling, overhead left that I at last managed to surf with balance and poise, if not actual grace.

Then a couple of days en famille with los Barkers and los Gibsons in Puttsborough, where the waves were again fabulous, the company was fabulous and the weather was mostly fabulous. And my surfing was far from fabulous.

Now I'm back in Saint Agnes, after fun sessions at Perranporth and Chapel Porth in small, clean, easy waves (unlike the filthy monsters at Putts), waiting for Skippy to finish repairing my board. Then off up to Newquay, where I scored a great afternoon of head-high waves a week ago, which slightly redeems Newquay from 'Somewhere to avoid like the plague' to 'Somewhere to avoid like a sore throat'.
Nice waves, but you wouldn't want to hang out there if you're over 19. And I am indeed over 19, despite repeated attempts to demonstrate otherwise, both in and out of the water.