Monday, 22 October 2012


Here is the surf forecast (screenshot ripped from Magic Seaweed) for here over the next week or so, 1 foot to flat until the end of the month.

This matches the depressingly foggy view from the dining room window. And, while I'm in the mood for a whinge, why do we get offshore winds only when there is no surf?!
On the bright side, I suppose it gives my hip another week to recover from the inflammation.

Thursday, 18 October 2012

Surfing at the edge of the Sahara

I'd been putting it off, as I don't know what my work situation will be like then, but I caved in yesterday and contacted Errant Surf to book two weeks at a surf camp in Morocco at the end of January. I have some modest savings which came from selling a camera lens and receiving a tax rebate recently, so I decided to spend them on a trip instead and they'll more than cover this one.
I have travelled a lot over the years but never, for some reason, during winter (I have no idea why as I hate winter!) and, as my birthday is at the end of January and I usually spend it either sat in an office or factory or at home I thought that, for once, I'd spend it elsewhere, somewhere nice, warm and hopefully sunny. I have also never been on a foreign surf trip either!

I am going to the surf camp at Tamraght, which is near Agadir. There are direct flights from Gatwick with Thomson Air with arrival during the late morning. Of course that means a stupid o'clock (0700) departure from Gatwick but that's probably better than a stupid o'clock (midnight) arrival in Agadir, which the alternative is.
The trip includes 14 nights includes transfers from and to the airport, surf coaching sessions on each of the 14 days, equipment hire, meals and accommodation. Looking at the other info, the air temperatures should be an average 24° C during the day (which will be at least 20° warmer than here!) and the water temperature should be around 17°C, rather than the 7° it will be here, with the wave heights around 3 metres. So, with 14 days of surf coaching and plenty of waves in nice conditions - I hope! - I should progress sufficiently to at least be able to think of graduating to a smaller board.
I have never been to Africa before so this trip will mean that, by the time I return home, I will have visited all continents except Antarctica.

In the meantime, my back is on the mend. It's stiff but not that painful any more. Hopefully, I can take my board out next week.

Finally, in the new issue of Wavelength mag, there's an interview with a bloke who took up surfing at 55. He's now 59 and not doing too badly at all. He also seems to be the only Beach Boys fan who surfs! I'm 42, so it's always good to hear about older people surfing!

Friday, 12 October 2012

No surfing

...for at least a week, thanks to my lower back/hip injury sustained when I wiped out last Thursday and landed on my back. It wasn't too bad yesterday evening but by this morning it had got worse, so I went to the doctor who said it is definitely a sacroiliac joint injury which has caused an inflammation as well as irritation of the sciatic nerve.

It's annoying as I'd made good progress last week and, while the surf has been flat this week (and my back too painful), I was hoping to go out next Tuesday as the surf forecast looks promising but the doctor said no surfing for a week at least, take painkillers, put heat on the affected area and, if it hasn't cleared up by next Friday, I have to go back for physiotherapy. I hope that when I get back out there, I haven't gone back to 'square one' after all the great progress last week.

It's frustrating, to say the least. There's nothing worse than wanting to do something yet not being able to do it and surfing is an activity which requires a LOT of time putting into it in order to get anywhere.
I'm also feeling generally pissed off which is, I think, a combination of the onset of autumn after a really dismal summer (I know winter is the best time for surf but I can't bear the dark and cold days), being made redundant with not much prospect of anything new on the horizon, wanting - badly - to get out of the UK and not having the means to do so, plus the back pain.
I am seriously thinking of selling all my possessions and clearing off but, realistically, that isn't going to happen, certainly not for a while yet and probably not with the drastic measure of offloading all my worldly goods and chattels!

Thursday, 11 October 2012

Neat trick

I took a bit of video while I was in Cornwall, most of it is pretty rubbish (and made me feel a bit seasick to watch, lol, not to mention that buying a video camera a few months ago sometimes makes me ask 'what on Earth did I buy that for?') but this guy caught my eye when filming; he paddled for the wave then took off with his board - a surf school or rental foam board, by the look of it - the wrong way round before spinning it round 180°. A very neat trick. I wish I was that good!

Wednesday, 10 October 2012


A few more surfing photos from Cornwall last week, all taken from Towan Beach. None feature me, which is probably just as well.

Someone 'tombstoning':

A stand-up paddleboarder. If this is the same guy one of the instructors said it was, he is a former European SUP Champion. It *looks* easier than straight surfing but I don't for one minute think it is, it must be hell on the knees.

Among the surfers and the lone SUP-er, there were a few bodyboarders in the line up. I like bodyboarding, although I prefer stand-up surfing and, despite what a few surfers may say, it is no less a valid form of wave-riding.

And an older guy on a longboard

That's it for the pics, the rest are rubbish! I did take some video of surfing, too, which I may post at some point.


My injured back/hip is on the mend although it is still very stiff it is not as painful as it was.

The surf here is flat this week, although next week's forecasts look promising. I haven't been able to put into practice the stuff I did last week but I wouldn't have been able to in any case with flat surf! I'm itching to get back out again, although I have been swimming regularly and can easily swim 1 kilometre (40 lengths of a 25 metre pool).

It's nearly mid-October and, while winter is the best time for surf in this country, the thought of another UK winter is depressing. I don't do dark, damp and cold and we have nearly five months of dark, damp and cold to 'look forward' to. The thought of a UK winter with no work is even more depressing, but I have the outside chance of some temporary work for a few weeks, from early November, although this depends on whether the company involved actually decide to hire people or not. Unfortunately, despite having enough saved, I can't book a foreign trip without knowing if I am going to have a job or not; simply because there's no point being away for two or three weeks during a contract that will last, at best, a few weeks. Not only that, if I say I'll be away for a while during the contract, I won't get hired. Should nothing come of it, and nothing else turns up, I will book the trip instead. I am thinking of Tamraght in Morocco, which looks very tempting.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Back home

I am now back home after an excellent few days at Newquay, I got home yesterday afternoon after a 4.5 hour drive, which included traffic queues at the M5/A30 junction at Exeter and at Ferndown and an argument with Red Funnel ferries at Southampton after the gits wanted to fleece me over and above what I'd already paid for the return crossing for going on a slightly earlier sailing than booked.

I had a further 1 to 1 session on Thursday, again at Towan, and made further progress. I am getting up faster and more consistently. One of my problems was my stance not being wide enough, i.e. my feet too close together. With that sorted I was making great progress. My balance is also improving. Now all I need is time in the water, surf permitting.
The tide was going down (mid tide and low tide are the best times for surfing there, high tide is no good) and, when the tide is low, you can practically walk to the line out. That way, I got longer rides without resorting to paddling. The downside was that the shallow water made for often painful wipeouts. One such wipeout resulted in my left lower back/hip area hitting the sea bed so hard that, two days later, I have severe pain in my sacroiliac joint on the left side and can barely sit for long or move! I don't think the 4.5 hour drive helped, either, but it should improve over the next few days, with plenty of ice and pain killers.
My favourite wipeout, though, came at the end of a good ride with a perfect stance. Unfortunately, I slipped and fell across my board, banging my nose and twisting my ankle. No harm done and it was pretty funny; I wish I had a photo of it. I also got tumbled, along with my board, several times. Funnily enough, I quite enjoy being tumbled...but, that said, I doubt I'd enjoy it much in huge surf!

My aims are now to get consistent, and better, on the big NSP board and then graduate to something smaller. As I've said before I don't see myself charging on a very short board but I'd like to eventually get something in the 7 ft to 7' 6" range.

I'm not one to advertise, usually, but if any UK-based beginners or improvers are reading and want instruction, then you can do no better than the Rip Curl ESF Surf School at Newquay Activity Centre. There were friendly, helpful and brilliant instructors (Shaun and Dale - I had Shaun on Tuesday and Thursday and Dale on Wednesday) and they were also kind enough to look after my board for me until I picked it up yesterday morning, which saved me keeping it in my car or wrestling it in and out of the B&B's board store. Thanks to Rob Barber and his colleagues there. :-) I am now planning to go to one of their surf 'boot camp' weekends, maybe in spring. I also still have plans to go to a surf camp somewhere warm in the winter (never did catch up with Errant Surf as I never got round to it, although I still plan to book something with them).

Looking north-east along Great Western and Tolcarne Beaches.
Fistral Beach in the evening. It was largely blown out when I was there, so I went to Towan instead
Towan Beach at high tide.
While I was there, I also spent an hour taking photos of other surfers at Towan on Thursday afternoon. Photography is another interest of mine and I'd taken my Canon 7D and 100-400 mm lens with me for that reason. I am a better photographer than surfer!

I got a couple of nice sequences. This bloke gets up and wipes out almost straight away, which is what I did a lot of!

And a guy on a nice green board, which I like very much.

And then he's gone.

I have some more photos of other surfers and I'll put those in a post sometime over the next few days.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012


Another session down at Towan (Fistral was closed out and big, thanks to the strong winds that had been blowing all night). Towan is a nice spot and probably my favourite, except for the flights of steps to get down to the beach and get back up again!

I made a lot of progress today. My big epoxy board has finer lines than a foamie and is made to be manoeuvrable and, due to this, it is less stable, mainly because the tail is narrower. I had also been too far back on the board and not on the widest, most stable point. Common sense of course when you think about it, but it hadn't occurred to me as I'd been concentrating on not nosediving! Once that was sorted, I could stand up easier and faster and I was neither stalling, going off-balance or nose-diving although my feet are still a little too close together, which is something to work on. My final few waves of the day weren't hugely successful but that was due to tiredness setting in, and I had succumbed to the 'one more wave' syndrome. I am pretty pleased with today and feel more like a surfer than I had in a long time.
The waves got more powerful and dumpy, just like the ones at home (only those lack power, with the English Channel draining them of energy) and more closed out, due to a large swell arriving, which was predicted to get to over 10 feet later.

I have another session with ESF booked tomorrow, that was a last-minute decision, and I hope that I can pick up where I left off today. Conditions permitting, I will try and get out to Compton next week. I'm now in the ranks of the unemployed (temporarily I hope), so I'll have some time, if not money, on my hands.
By the way, thanks to Rob Barber and the others at ESF/Newquay Activity Centre for looking after my board for me. I can also leave it there tomorrow night, before taking my car along there to pick it up Friday morning.

I still intend to book a foreign surf trip for late January/early February. Two weeks somewhere warm, where I don't have to wear a wetsuit, and with consistent waves will do wonders for my surfing, with the added bonus I escape a couple of weeks of one of our epically dismal winters. Maybe then, I can have another few  days down here in the spring.

I've taken a few pictures with my DSLR, I'll upload them when I get home because I didn't bring my CF card reader with me.