I had wondered whether Satdee may produce a good enough wave on the south coast, and a lunchtime text from Gav confirmed this suspicion.
A quick decision was made and after bundling Suz into the van to offset a potential afternoon nap on her part; off we set.
En route I'd resigned myself to the possibility that my phone; and hence further comms with Gav; had been left at home. But, having found a suitable parking spot, Suz queried the strange, music like row coming from somewhere within all the kit in the back. The source, turned out to be said phone and, to cut a long story short, I discovered that I was now required to do some match write ups for the Cornish Pirates
The waves meanwhile were looking quite tasty with the breeze now firmly in the NE, and I was pretty sure GR was out there as his lately discovered more recent text suggested.
My entry into the sea was delayed further however by the passing of a steam train headed towards PZ which was a pleasant interlude. After which the relatively straightforward paddle out was made without incident.
Still stunned by the Piratical news, it took me a while to find my ideal place in the pecking order. An hour or so later as I rode another one in; any frustrations surfing wise had been sated by some sweet rights; one in particular that I simply have to rate as the best wave I've nailed since making the move west.
Throw in a nailbiting Pirates win yesterday and it's fair to say that all feels well with the world right now.
Quite a fortnight when you think about it.
The Assessment at the NSS went OK but I knew deep down that one or two others there were more suited to the nature of the role(s) on offer. That I haven't heard anymore hasn't come as a surprise.
Two days later I went for another interview at West Country Fruit nr to Falmouth. This meant having to turn down some 6 weeks worth of work for a builder in Camborne, on a project over at Coverack. It was a gamble and, at the time also a bit of a disappointment, as there had seemed a bit of potential with this had it gone ahead on schedule the previous Friday. The interview went well; or so it seemed. Though again, nothing has been heard to date.
Then the day before the Wards were due to arrive for the Pirates-Welsh game, I rang up about a job at a net manufacturer and was offered an interview the following morning (Friday 12th). This meeting too went well and, with the weekend approaching, thought nothing more about it.
Driving down to the station to pick Jen up around 4.30pm came a call that Suz fielded. At the end of it I was informed that I was to start work on Monday morning for Henry Cowls nr Helston
So it's back to the world of 'proper job' and my first week has been completed with no problem.
To 'celebrate' I even managed to get in quite by chance at Gwithian yesterday, before the wind swung NW. I hadn't planned to go in, but having used the van to pick up some carpet for the stairs and then headed to G with the intention of giving the hound his bound; it all proved a bit too tempting.
The ebbing tide and light wind was still conducive to a clean 2-3' and with the gear in the back; it would have been rude not to have suited up and gone in for the first time since Parky was down.
I began well but lost my way somewhat as it started to chop up some. In truth I'm still not finding any consistency and I'm reluctant to just blame the inadequate equipment. It is fundamentally down to me, both in the head and fitness wise. Although the latter isn't too bad all told, barring a bit of fumbling on the pop up. Something that could be pointed at the restrictions of my gear.
But the session ended better as the breeze dropped right off and the waves tidied up right at low tide. I grabbed a couple of confidence boosters before deciding to quit while ahead.
Now tell me that if this is a 'Life is Good' period, couldn't it also not get better as well? I think it will.
A double century of posts is reached and the news is mixed.
Parky came, saw, liked but went away on Sunday morning without a surf to remember. It had promised much from the forecasts all week, and looked as if it would deliver as we suited up overlooking Gwithian around 4pm on Saturday.
The tide had turned an hour or so before and there looked to be some waves to be had judging by the clean lines fanned by an offshore breeze. If we knew anything by now, it must surely get only better as time passed.
Parky grabbed a couple of subdued rides before I broke my duck and from thereon it appeared to only back off almost completely barring one short spell. Rides were had but they lacked any real satisfying substance with only one or two relative exceptions during that spell.
Twas disappointing overall but we made up for it with a fine lasagne supper and a glass or two of red into the night back at base camp.
Today (Monday) I have to bide my time before heading over to the National Seal Sanctuary at Gweek for an assessment for a post there. Fingers x'd please.
The Parkster will be on tour this weekend and has added an extra date to the schedule on Satdee; an afternoon surf in West Cornwall & overnite stop at Troon.
Having opted not to have a look at Gwithian yesterday, I just couldn't resist this morning with a light SE and some swell still showing. Lobbed in the still wet from Monday togs into Boris and headed towards the National Trust car park at Godrevy around 10.30.
On arrival, there was a clean 2-3' wave to play with although I did wonder if it may drop off some as the tide flooded (it did). Haste was of the essence and within 15 minutes I was paddling out to the lineup.
Not for the first time it took me a long while to get dialled in; in excess of 30 mins if my time check was correct. But with the usual persistence I eventually snagged my first wave; a scruffily taken right, with the ride ending so soon after!But it was at least a ride and a few more followed before getting out after around 2 hours in.
It is clear though that my equipment isn't helping matters and the day I can leave off the gloves and hood can't come soon enough. A decent winter suit wouldn't be amiss, so doing away with the added restrictiveness of the chillcheater under my only available 3-2 wettie. Oh and to feel bare feet on the deck again and that extra 'feel'.
However, with the recent regular access (4 sessions in 8 days for a starter!); come the warmer water I should be a lot fitter surfwise than I have for a couple of years; if not ever! Roll on!
Two sessions to report since last post.
With a light WNW breeze dropping off as Saturday afternoon drew to a close, I made the snap decision to head over to Gwithian to try and work on the confidence thing from Thursday. I'd been there in the morning on the ebb to walk the hound and seen a usable 2-3' wave if a bit choppy and a similar scene greeted me.
No great shakes, but in fading light I did emerge from the sea a lot more happier after a couple of pleasing rides and some strong paddling.
Something that was to be essential last evening on that south coast spot again following Gav's raising of the 'balloon'. I must admit to being a bit hesitant when I got there to find a solid 4-5' swell that was easily bigger than I'd been in for ages. By the time Gav arrived a few mins later I'd at least decided on the best route out but I did wonder if it would all end in tears; given last Thursdays efforts.
I needn't have worried as the channel I'd seen made it a lot easier than it looked. The swell was as big as it looked and some of the sets made that look small too. But I coped well and avoided all the potential nailings that were a given only days before.
The number of rides was always going to be in the quality section and so it was to be; as selection was going to be crucial. Gav managed only a couple before I finally hooked in properly to one to head back in, such was the need to watch the horizon keenly. But even the reform I picked to complete the journey back to the beach made it easily the most satisfying surf for ages.
The belief is on it's way back!
Missed out on last weekends' swell..or was it the week before? Time seems to flow differently down here ;o)
Did though manage to get in at a near perfect looking Pete's yesterday around 4pm for an hour or so with Gav. Wasn't the greatest session personally as this dip in form continues which is now starting to bug. The early trashing by a larger set didn't help; setting me up as it did for a difficult spell inside where I must have mimmicked a floundering emmett.
But as ever I was damned if I was going to be beaten without a fight and I did manage to get back out into a decent spot. Didn't catch anything successfully and was forced back closer in by another larger set and then cramp. Settled and cramp free I paddled back out to a developing left which at least meant I could get in with some kind of pride intact.
Now determined to get back up to speed properly and soonest!!
Ooops. 48 hours after the event but I can at least plead mitigating circumstances.
I did ultimately head to Praa on Saturday afternoon with Suz and the hound; this time in plenty of time before dark!
On arrival we found a clean wave for sure with plenty of plumes of spray coming off the tops, although it did look a bit closey. Low tide here can often produce this effect by all accounts and from the vantage of the car park, some deeper channels closer in were no doubt contributing.
I was suited up and in by 3.30 leaving Sue to give the hound his bound on the beach. The paddle out though was tricky for me with those deep spots slowing my own progress, but I eventually popped out out back and the session began properly once I'd sussed where I needed to be.
And so for an hour or so I played around with some 'easy' take-offs and banzai but short rides before the inevitable closeout. Some of this 'ease' may have come from adding to the two outer fins, left off recently. It may have been the added confidence that has grown. Either way when I rode one in and watched the sunset to another pleasant winters afternoon; the feeling at having 'arrived' at last was as strong as ever.
Cooking jankers, some celebratory wine on Saturday evening and then Pirates rugby on the Sunday with the obvious distractions that can bring; all then conspired to this delayed update. Hopefully the judgement will be lenient? ;o)
There I was yesterday afternoon around 3.30 minding my own business when in comes a text from Gav the equivalent of a maritime maroon being launched.
I'd been keeping an eye on Magic Seaweed for the north n south coasts and the signs were promising not only for the (then) present, but for several days to come. The wind locally though had deterred me from venturing Gwith-wards and, with the time getting on, had as good as written off any chance.
All that changed and hurriedly I threw what I needed together and fired up Boris. Fuel was low but it simply had to be enough to get me there as there was no time even for a splash n dash; not if I wanted to get in with at least some daylight.
Thus it was a little after 4.30 as I paddled out into a very tempting 2-3' at the same spot as before; not quite sure which dot in the lineup siloutted against the horizon was Gav. TBH I didn't care as I just wanted to get into the first wave asap!
And that wasn't too long either making the rush and effort all worth it in an instant.
Self and Gav eventually hooked up to share notes. I hadn't had time to whip on the two outrigger fins as I'd intended after the last visit, so I'd experimented with positioning on the board a little further forward than normal. This did the trick.
It was as good as dark by the time we caught one in although there was still one other out even then. By then the lights from the nearest habitation were twinkling prettily to the west. And one smug and satisfied new local got changed and planned that needed fuelstop.
More today I wonder? Praa may have a small clean wave. Gwith may be bigger but have the edge taken off by that light NE'erly. Tell ya later!
Having missed out yesterday on meeting up with Gavin at a certain spot near to PZ that rarely works, I received another text this morning saying it was still working today; could I get?
Well it'd have been rude not to and, having sussed it out yesterday anyway, a quick light lunch was had before scraping off the layers of ice off Boris's windscreen.
We hooked up at said spot a little after 1.15 and still half an hour till low tide, but decided to have a quick peep at Perrananthoe to see if it was any better. To be truthful it wasn't and besides the original option though smaller, was a lot cleaner and doesn't get that crowded.
Shortly after 2 and we were in with only 4 or 5 others already enjoying a very longboardable wave. The weather was fine if cold and there was little if any easterly breeze fanning the waves.
In my rush I'd left the single fin setting at the front of the box, but given what actually occurred I'd have probably been wiser to move it back (and probably add the side fins) such was the difficulty in generating enough speed to catch the things. In the hour quarter-half I was in my wave count was very low, but I took heart from the fact that Gav was finding similar probs in snagging them. Though he certainly caught more than my measly 2-3.
Lessons learned though and despite this I am feeling the confidence slowly returning as I get (re)used to surfing in winter, let alone to having all these options on my doorstep for the first time ever. Wait till summer eh?? Or this Friday/Saturday when more swell is forecast for the south coast.
For those that may not be aware, Suz and me have finally cracked it and have now got ourselves moved west. In the end the deed was done in a rush over the 25th-26th November when our buyers had a fit of the vapours quite un-necessarily, threatening to pull the plug if we didn't complete on the Wednesday. As it was we managed a bug free move courtesy of Affordable Removals of Lincoln
and, having made preparations in case of a wait before we could move in at the other end; completed on the Thursday anyway. Our buyers waited outside our former home till nearly dark on the Wednesday having arrived around midday as we pulled out. Karma?
What this now means is, we now have a plethora of surfing opportunities virtually on our doorstep here in Troon; just south of Camborne. Which is where I kick in now with possibly the most satisfying sub 30 minute session I can recall, to announce my 'arrival'.
Three weeks ago I'd aborted a first dip as a 'local' at Porthtowan on the 11th. In all honesty I bottled it as it looked a bit too big for a first surf in over two months; let alone at a new break with less peaks than I am used to. Wisely I returned the following day and did get in, albeit for barely an hour and no waves to show for it. true it'd been smaller but still clean. But in all honesty I wasn't feeling up to it with what turned into a cold a couple of days later.
Hence my delight at the dusk session I've just enjoyed at Gwithian. We'd arrived around 3pm just to walk the hound to find a very do-able solid 3' and clean wave nearing high tide. A quick dash back to drop off hound and pick up the gear was executed and I was suited and in just after 4. Thirty minutes later and 3 very satisfying rides later and I paddled back in in the gloom with a grin that must have rivalled the lighthouse across at Godrevy. Stoked or what?
It's not often that I could come back from Cornwall having had six consectutive days of good swell, offshore breezes, lovely autumnal weather and a major dolphin experience and yet with my mind occupied by other more exciting things. This then is the exception!
We haven't afawk tempted fate yet, but it looks as if we may have cracked it on the moving west front. Having spread the net wide to begin with and armed with a trimmed down shortlist of 25 properties to go at; we ended up viewing an interesting 'looker' on the third day and knew beyond reasonable doubt that this would push all the buttons needed.
The search continued after, sensibly.... for about an hour or so! Whereupon after another drive by in St Day we decided to cancel a couple of appointments the following day in Snozzle and focus on this one just south of Camborne; in Troon.
A second viewing last Monday was enough to convince us to gfi and so we did after leaving the agent to wonder until mid afternoon. A short haggle got the price down to 3.5k below asking and the process was begun!
Still some hurdles to get over no doubt but after dealing with solititors queries and surviving interrogation by our intended lender; confidence is high.
Oh and those dolphins in the bolder pod closer in at Gwithian certainly showed everyone how it was done in the waves!
Could this be it? Could Suz and me finally be on our way to Kernow? I think we can be excused for thinking so after a quite extraordinary month.
The day after I last posted here, our property was officially launched onto the market for what for us felt like a potentially fruitless latest attempt. Within 45 minutes of the sign being erected, the estate agent had already been in contact for a first viewing that evening!
A pleasant surprise for sure, but no expectations were being raised given all the baggage in the past in this department. Well, we couldn't have been further from the truth after a highly encouraging half hour plus visit from a heavily pregnant lady who enthused from the moment she crossed the threshold. A second viewing with hubby was muted and subsequently arranged for the Sunday (30th).
Though promising and with the knowledge that there was a property to sell first, it didn't surprise us that things went quiet. That would surely be that.
For a fortnight this was the case until the second weekend in September hove into view. On the 11th a recently divorced young lady viewed along with her father and although we suspected that nothing would come of it, it had been a positive encounter.
The following morning, a young and very charming couple from the neighbouring village came who were looking to take a step up the ladder. They proved equally keen though as with the first couple had to sell first. Even so, they had all the credentials of being just the couple to take on the reins as it were ;o) News soon followed that they had dropped the price of their own house to try and spark a sale.
Two days later and there came what transpired to be a significant visit, albeit one which ultimately gave us too many unanswered questions, we were relieved not to have to ask in the first place. All very odd and after discussions with our solicitor proving to be wise to steer clear of! Either way, the interest and eventual offer did encourage further.
The day after witnessed the least positive viewing, though the curtains were nice and an offer to do the interior of wherever the punter ended up was suggested. Cheeky sod!
The best was still to come when an RAF serviceman and his wife came all the way down from Kinloss. It was clear they had fallen for the place and even made an impromptu visit less than 24 hours later for a second check before heading back north.
The rest as they is history..or should be if there are no hitches. This after a mini bidding war where the best people won, and a couple of days of worry and concern over details regarding some of our improvements; all of which have been resolved and proved that they needn't have been worried about in the first place!!
Now we must wait..oh.. and head down to Cornwall on Friday for two weeks of surf, rugby and a spot of house hunting :o) I won't tempt fate further..
The unthinkable has happened...Ems has a wettie and bodyboard! Having categorically stated in the past that she'd never ever be seen in one, let alone get into the sea; it was announced via text a couple of days back that this situation had reversed completely. Good for you girl, and well done to Ben in opening the lass's eyes to the joys of the waves!
Well, Jnr has just picked up his board and wettie in readiness for his and Ems' week in North Cornwall. Looks as if he will have some waves on offer for most of the time down there; if of varying quality. Just wish we could be there as well, only circumstance doesn't allow on this occasion.
They're due to set off in the early hours to try and miss the bottleneck at Bristol en route to the digs at Hedley Wood
near to Bridgerule. Hope they enjoy themselves and that Ems' eyes open to the possibilities down there.
Over the years it seems that Spring really does usher in new beginnings, particularly in recent times, around mid May. This weekend just passed has only added to that feeling/observation, with Ben (and of course Ems) flying from the roost and bringing to some sort of conclusion an era that began nearly 19 years ago; nearer 20 if you take it back to the womb!
It has been on the cards for some time now as you'll have deduced from archives on this blog, most notably in September
, when the 'last Family Woollatt Jaunt West' was sensed. Tis not a bad thing of course as every youngster has to spread his or her wings at some time; the sooner the better in my book. But it does bring a lump to the throat all the same as the realisation that all that has passed is now just that; the past.
Around this time last year, it was clear that both Ems and Ben were very much an item; even if their youth (even now) could play against them as time marches relentlessly on, awaiting the slightest opportunity to trample on any weakness that may surface, with or without invitation. But here we are twelve moons on, as they have grabbed just the leg up any couple starting out in the big bad world could need, moving into a rented one bed property in Sleaford that is well within their budget.
The irony then, that it's situation is barely yards from where Suz and I contemplated moving to back in May 05, when the Penzance move fell through
and we abandoned yet another attempt to relocate West. Add to this that the final decision to pull our property off the market was sealed after Ben's opinion was sought, about possibly moving to Sleaford instead as a stop gap and met with a definite No Way...
That was a sad time of course and contrasted starkly with that only twelve months prior in May 2004 when, having returned from a pleasant Easter break above Gwenvor
; a family decision was made to focus our plans of moving to Kernow towards further West.
Our growing affinity to the Cornish Pirates
and Ben's ever increasing prowess in the surf, no doubt aided his growing enthusiasm towards being 'in' with the plans and dreams at last. Something which was illustrated in his coming along with me for an extra 3 day trip to view property in the July
However Fate, as we know, changed her fickle mind didn't she?! Nipping in the bud a promising change in fortunes I believe to this day awaited us. To his credit though, it was Ben's progress in so many aspects that helped greatly to pull us through this dark, depressing time.
His life now refreshingly free of the distractions of the computer games and PS and all the baggage they created, allowed him to flourish like never before. This all quantifiable in our two trips west in the summer
of 2005; the latter in particular still fondly remembered as one of the Stand Outs.
Life as a consequence seemed to get better and anything seemed possible once more. By May 2006 both Ben and I had enjoyed trophy success on the rugby pitch, his most significantly as he found himself elevated an age group at his local rugby club, and being part of it's first ever Youth success in the NLDRFU Under 17 Plate competition. Something even more commendable given that he was still the best part of two years younger than team-mates and opposition alike!
The Tour to Mold in North Wales that month was also a highlight for all the right reasons! And so was Ben and I's weekend surfari
to christen Boris in that July
Encouragingly too the renovations to our property had begun in earnest and hopes were high that come 2007, we would crack it on the Dream front.
That winter also saw Ben & I's increasing involvement covering Pirates' matches on the road. While Ben's playing commitments continued on an upwards spiral, mine were curtailed by injury in the January. As a consequence, a lot of Saturdays (and one cold Friday night in February at Leeds!) we'd jump into the car and head in various directions around the country to take photos and do the match report for the Unofficial Fans website
This culminated in April 2007 when we all went to rugby's HQ at Twickenham and had a ball as the Pirates claimed a 19-16 win over Devon rivals Exeter to cap a fine season. The sense that this signalled that our time had come was overwhelming and we couldn't wait for all works at home to be finished off and to get it on to the market post haste.
Four weeks later and on the corresponding weekend to that just gone, we saw those hopes collapse and signal torment ever since, as Dad's admission into hospital began a sequence of events that will forever haunt us. To add to the mix, Ben's confidence and/or self esteem simultaneously plummeted and lead to one or two moments of real concern for us as the Ben we'd come to admire temporarily disappeared. Despite being strong for us when Dad passed away in June, there were uncharacteristic flashes of temper and even contemplation of quitting playing rugby!
The surfing briefly suffered too but was sufficiently back up to speed by the end of the summer
to put that particular concern to bed before it had real chance to fester further. Happily too, once he began senior training late in August after his self imposed layoff, he was soon back in the swing of things and enjoying his rugby again even if he'd have to wait a season before being able to put the 2 shirt on again in anger!
By the time Mum passed away in the October he was back to his normal self and it showed. Just as well given his A levels loomed the following May and June; and then the Big Wide World and the decisions he'd have to face then.
And so we are here and what above may look like an obituary for the lad. Well the truth of it is, in effect his mother and I are 'grieving'. The biggest part of our lives has now 'gone'. From having nurtured this person and seen him grow into fundamentally a good person has demanded an almost unimaginable amount of time and commitment that we just couldn't have contemplated; can anyone?!. And with all too often too few resources when compared with our own peers! Suddenly that, in effect, is not there anymore. Our services are no longer required.
In reality of course this isn't the case as was proven within minutes yesterday as we ended up bunging a few things in the van and heading over to theirs (doesn't that sound weird!?), after they'd left behind some toiletries and other bits and bobs. I ended up taking the mower too to recapture their small lawn which their mower couldn't cope with; and slapping a bit of polyfilla around as well!
But despite all this gamut of emotions, this is a good thing. An eyeopener for them for sure, no doubt even more likely once the novelty of it all wears off. And it will! Plus a chance for ourselves to rediscover ourselves in this new light. We can also look forward with interest to see how the pair of them mature and mould together; how they too will form their own 'set ways', and how this will drive any offspring to distraction ;o) Note* any such development should NOT be something for the near future* ;o)
Personally, I hope they do crack it. They're up against it statistically of course and no-one can predict how things will change in due course. And they will. But, they have things in their favour which many don't and if that is built on with the patience neither says they have (!) they're in with a shout.
I do feel as if there is some 'unfinished business' even so. The plan was for Suz, me and Ben to move west and that will always be difficult (but not impossible) to modify in my own mind. That 'loss' is of course still raw even if I fully understand; no believe; it was always to be balanced out with his own choice of path to follow, which ever way that headed.
A year ago last May, Suz and me did ponder the possibility that maybe we could proceed with both in tow if the chance arose. On reflection pretty soon after we'd realised that this was unlikely to ever work for a whole range of reasons, and so dismissed the idea. The chances of it ending in tears would have been too great.
We do however hope that maybe they will follow us down there of their own accord, and not just as holidaymakers. A lot would be dependant on Ems in particular being able to fall in love with Cornwall and on her own volition. And that is even before any logistical or emotional considerations are made by both of them.
But it would be nice, so nice in the future, to be able to paddle out back with himself once more, this time in the knowledge that we are both then at home and for longer than just one or two weeks! That more than anything was...is...something Suz and me wanted for all of us to savour.
Have added a link above to the Stadium for Cornwall website to promote a cause that is dear to my heart. The Duchy is one region in the British Isles that lacks a top notch sporting venue that can host national or even international events. For an area that is rich in sporting history and produces many fine athletes this simply has to change.
The Stadium for Cornwall website provides the hub for an initial guage into public support in principle at least for such a project, with a view towards gaining the necessary political willpower to bring about it's belated fruition.
The dream is for a facility that not only can provide a home for it's leading sports teams and individuals to perform and train; but to lend itself to the local community in a range of ways, and to other cultural spheres that require a safe and suitable environment for large gatherings.
Sign the online petition at http://www.petition.co.uk/stadium_for_cornwall
Have installed a revamped swellchaser with one or two minor revisions to follow shortly. Hope you like...
This blog is rapidly (or not!) just becoming a Quarterly feature isn't it?! Can't be helped of course and certainly isn't aided by opportunity to surf here in the east..for me personally at least I did actually venture back over to Sandilands early in March iirc, but the session and conditions were so poor for a variety of reasons, that I just didn't bother posting details.
The rot though did look set to be rectified when Suz and me got ourselves sorted for a week at Gwithian after Easter. And so; on the whole it ultimately transpired.
When a re-arranged Pirates
fixture with Doncaster created a chance to see the last two home games of the season on consecutive weekends, we set in motion arrangements to make a week and bit of it. The emphasis would primarily be the surfing in unison with the rugby and so we decided to head back to Gwithian/Godrevy for the first time as a base since 2000. We found ourselves a one bed chalet
on the Towans and then waited the few weeks after booking to contemplate our first holiday alone; without Boy or Dog, for over 18 years! Weird or what!?
We also sorted some B&B accommodation at either end of the week to extend our stay to firstly break up the journey down at Cullumpton; and also allow a post rugby night out in PZ with 'Welsh' mates Dave and his sis, Jen, before returning to Lincs yesterday; Sun 26th.
After what seemed an age that dragged we finally bid farewell to the 'children' and Charlie and eased Boris into the first 250 miles or so of the journey late on the morning of Friday 17th. Without a blip as such; if you discount an overfill of fuel at Leadenham whilst distracted in conversation with a fellow 'Brick' owner, we eased into the driveway of our first digs at Wishay Farm
to spend as relaxed a night as you could wish for on a errmmmm Second Honeymoon ;o)
After more than adequate refuelling breakfast wise we were back on the road the following morning and stroked the last 100 or so miles to be parked up outside the Annexe a little after midday on Sat 18th. The weather too had cheered up as forecast, seemingly doing so on cue as parked up Boris ready to unload all our stuff. Was this a sign?
Could have been of course for all I knew as I'd taken little note of what the surf prospects had been, other than a cursory glance at Souls forecast prior to leaving 24 hours earlier. Not that it mattered of course as our location made eyeball checks as easy as you need, overlooking Gwithian beach as we did across towards Godrevy. First look showed a clean if small wave beckoning to shake off any cobwebs asap; something which would follow after settling in and some light refreshment.
By 3pm I'd whacked on the old and rapidly dying Snugg 4-3 and was paddling out to try my luck. Despite the easy conditions I did take longer than I'd like to get up to speed and felt well off the pace for 20-30 minutes. Things gradually fell into place of sorts and for the next hour I managed to hook into more and more waves, a dozen or so of which would 'tick the box' in cringingly management like speak.
Keen not to spoil the moment and end on a high, I rode the last of these in with every intent on getting in again early the following morning prior to heading into Camborne for the Donny game. Suz and me also had dinner to sort as well as sussing the bus stop arrangements-so allowing for 'pop' and not having to drive.
Amazingly I was up and 'at-em' before 7 and heading out for a surfcheck into the fog that gave promise of the forecast fine day ahead. It was eery it has to be said as visibility was down to less than a 100m with only the sound of the sea to remind me that it was only yards from where I set off. It was lifting quickly though and when the waves became visual it was clear that although still small there was at least at little more substance to them.
And so it proved as I returned to the chalet to find Suz also up and ready to come and watch my efforts. Encouragingly these bore a little more fruit so to speak if still not exactly setting the world alight. Consequently the hour and a half or so produced more in the way of good technique even if the wave count was still below par. Hardly surprising given the continuing inconsistency in time available for my surfing, but still something to work on compared to September last which was just as afflicted. Could this be my missing a certain young surfing companion to rub off with perhaps?
Ignoring the final result, the rugby was a blast and having stayed on till the last Suz and me eventually headed to the Red River Inn to round off a perfect day; and contemplate a week predominantly focused on water time. Trips to PZ on Tuesday and St Ives on Thursday excepted even though both wouldn't put a stop to eventual surf sess's on the same days.
Monday produced for me the most satisfying times as a good morning surf was followed by an even better one in the evening as the swell continued to build nicely to head high plus. The wave count could have still been better but then by the time I 'bodyboarded' in a little before 8pm, the emphasis was definitely on quality rather than quantity. It would be easy to be too self critical, as the lineup particularly at the Godrevy end of the beach continued to be really busy (as it was on each evening that followed), but my wave selection and take-off do need attention as too many potential rides were missed. That said, any disappointment I may have felt (or was to feel later on in the week) was more than adequately covered by the stoke I felt with the overall experience I'd just had and the pleasure the waves I'd bagged had given.
In particular I couldn't help but feel good with the general mellow ambiance in what was by it's very nature a competitive lineup. A point personified when pulling into another right and finding myself riding in tandem with another longboarder whose thumbs up and grin signalled the OK to continue on my way. Note too the other young logrider whose ability to knee paddle into any given wave with the minimum of effort compared with some of mine.....reminds me of a certain upstart between 05-07!
By the time we returned from Zance on Tuesday afternoon, Suz and me were both now in a routine that could have been sustained ad infinitum given the chance! I was tending to get in twice a day whilst Suz made it an every other day thing. The swell too according to overheard word in the lineup, looked set to continue with another larger pulse for Friday which if it matched that of the previous day would be an ideal opportunity to finish on a high surf wise.
As it turned out, the swell had if anything picked up a little by the time I headed down the dunes on Tuesday evening; if not in actual size, then certainly in intensity. It certainly explained a more challenging paddle out, but I did at least get things wired once out back and enjoyed some exhilarating stuff before getting caught inside once too often and deciding to quit while ahead once again after another 90 mins or thereabouts.
Wednesday produced a day of complete opposites as the swell continued to grow. My attempts in the morning were a complete shambles as I failed to break through and register anything of note. Consequently I followed soon after Suz's departure back to the chalet completely whooped and in barely half an hour.
Most unlike me but at least the walk over Godrevy Point and the chance to admire the small colony of seals more than restored any loss in spirit. The hot choc at the Sunset Cafe
also did it's bit and I decided to try and restore confidence by going back in in the evening.
The paddle out did it's utmost to put me off but 15-20 minutes of dogged persistence eventually paid off. Barely an hour later and with half a dozen roller coaster rides had been enough in another busy lineup to put the smile back on my face. Which was just as well as things were only going to get even harder.
An early surf Thursday morning before catching the bus to St Ives for a bit of culture and a pasty, signalled a similar sequence of achievement to the day before. Little joy with only an evening restorer in faith to rescue matters. Mindset is everything in these cases and in hindsight I accept my mind was just not on it a.m. As with 24 hours previous the encouragement from a strong paddle out with one or two testing knock backs did the trick. The wave tally was smaller for sure and the crowds did little to offer any respite. But I did see an old familiar face from a distance - Gav Randall - who unfortunately I couldn't get to speak to as he continually distanced himself from the crowds - most Gav-like! :o)
That was put right the next evening after another day of relative struggle as the swell had grown to very heavy proportions. The morning had only produced one notable ride but I psyched myself up sufficiently for one final bash as the breeze that had been forecast to increase actually dropped off as the afternoon wore on.
It didn't take much to convince me that Godrevy was just too heavy for me to find a way out and so I relocated south of the Lifeguards hut at Gwithian, where the next stepway makes it's way down south of Peters Point. The swell was still there but it was a lot cleaner and promised an easier paddle out. With two or three other longboarders out I took my chance for three quarters of an hour as the sets kept rolling in. I managed to paddle out without any major hurdles but just couldn't get into anything that came my way. This thing about the take off now glaring me in the face. Whether its a confidence thing to put in that extra stroke or two when it seems the wave has overtaken I don't know. I'll just have to work that out once again.
Either way, as I tried desperately to rectify things I gradually moved my self towards a potential impact zone for the larger sets and left myself little option but to go for one that started to break over me. Surfing the initial turmoil in the white stuff I did actually get to feet and rode it in less than pleased with my efforts. Enter GR and a chance for a brief chat before he went out on his stand up paddle board.
Not the ideal signing off then and perhaps summed up the subsequent foul and violent weather that followed. A real reminder of Boscastle back in 04 for sure. Then came the Pirates last match of the season defeat to London Welsh; the drenching I got after that and a missed opportunity for a night out at the Benbow. At least the company was good anyhow and our final nights stay at Torwood House
a pleasant one. Just as well because the journey back the following day was as long and slow and subdued as ever.
Not for the first time in recent years a lack of surfing opportunity leads to the neglect of this blog and gives the impression that I have given up on my surfing and my dreams. Well I'm here to tell you the reader, here and now, that both couldn't be further from the truth!
OK, so yesterday was the first time that I'd donned a wetsuit since mid September and enjoyed an hour and a half of 2-3' clean Sandilands juice. True it was also the first time since I can't remember when that the ancient Snugg 4-3 has seen action in some winter waves. And yes you will have heard it all before about New Years Resolution about getting wet more often once more. But....
This will be the case as 2009 develops because otherwise surfing could become just a distant (pleasant) memory and that mustn't happen. I know I have other interests mainly of the rugby variety; namely the Pirates and watching Ben's progress at senior level now that I have officially 'retired' from playing; and yet it is the riding of that board that spurs on our greater dreams of moving west. Remove the former and the latter will crumble to nothing too, and we've had enough diappointment and frustration on that score!
Credit Crunch or property market collapse or no, we simply have to take a gamble if necessary and finish off what we started all those years ago. Those niggly little bits to finish off the renovation have to have the pennies found and done! Mum and Dad's bungalow has to be sold after 8 months without as much as a viewing! And then we have to get shot of our own house for what will seem a steal if necessary. Otherwise I dread to contemplate what could transpire...
...makes sense to go for a surf every now and them to calm those nerves and re-assure. Yesterday went a long way to doing that as well as clearing out the cobwebs and shaking off 3 bouts of illness in the last two months once and for all. I wonder if there is/was a connection??
continued from posting 16-9-08 below...........Maybe Widdy (Friday 5th) would be worth a peep on our way back. You bet yer granny on it...it was brewing nicely.....
Upon pulling into the car park around 4.15 it was clear there was something very interesting brewing. What little breeze there was, was offshore, and looked to be dropping completely; and as for the swell well. It was as clean as you'd like and building nicely as the tide began to turn.
We watched for a while, in between intermittent wiping of the windscreen to clear the rain off and waited. I cracked first nearly seconds later, but my plans were put on hold as it was realised there were no towels in the van. Luckily our digs are not far away and we dashed back for a couple...just as the car park attendant locked up his shed and set off in his van. Thoughts of being able to skip the parking fee did occur but it was the juice that was focusing attention.
Tens minutes later and my suiting up is resumed and quickly completed. At the waters edge I have already plotted my paddle out which goes to plan requiring only a concerted effort late on to clear the next set rumbling in. I position myself mid beach with an eye to move more towards the Black Rock end as soon as I ethically can.
The first action was only moments away, and set the tone for my session perfectly as I stroked into a lovely head high plus left with so much ease it was frightening. Why do I sometimes struggle even now? Paddling back into the lineup it was great to feel part of an excellent vibe which I hoped Ben wouldn't be long joining in with. It was simple really; just let her know the surf is insane and there'll be time to chat later...surely?
As it was I clocked him paddling out less than half an hour later than I had and one good right almost immediately soon put us in a similar spot together. By this time I'd had a good half dozen waves notched up but then this evening it was about quality over quantity.
In between my own successes there was the fantastic sight of one surfer hooking one of the bigger lefts further over and out, and then proceeding to pull off a headstand! Moments later and I saw him from the other side of the wave now in a more normal stance before bailing to great cheers.
Perhaps I was spurred on as shortly after I took off and into a lively wave during which I ducked into a cover up proper possibly for the first time ever. Was I stoked? You betcha! The penalty thus was allowing myself to stay on too long and get caught inside for way longer than advised. It took me a good 10-15 mins to reposition and certainly required a rest in the saddle upon completion.
I'd noted Ben's own successes which explained the obvious delight on his face which was still visible as the light now began to fade. He opted to ride his next one in while I reckoned on a couple more first before actually deciding to do just as he when I popped up on my last wave.
Feeling very smug upon being altogether again we felt grateful for this gem as prospects didn't look good. The weather was set to deteriorate overnight and even when it did settle some come Sunday, there'd be no swell to speak of. There was also the question of an injury to a toe on my right foot, picked up on take off to one my early waves on Friday evening. Adrenaline had obviously dulled any pain but by the time I'd got into the shower back at base, the toe had swollen and was still bleeding.
It had happened quite freakishly as it'd caught on some wax as I popped up, and tucked underneath the foot as I put weight down on it. At the time I'd thought nothing much of it other than hoping it didn't trip me up and lose the wave, and besides I'd corrected it during the ride when weight was shifted to my back foot.
Over the weekend I'd been hobbling around and was beginning to wonder whether I'd done something to warrant a visit to Strattons A&E to go 2-1 up over Ben on this circumstance. As it turned out by Monday (8th
) I did at least manage to paddle out into perhaps the crappiest, smallest waves possible at Widemouth. Ben and I didn't hang around too long out there as it was that bad, but at least the toe; protected by a boot, had at least stood up OK. The question now though was would it be fit enough to take on any of the promised big swell later in the week.
The next chance of a test came on the Weds (10th
) when I correctly followed my instinct to find enough shelter from the S-SW breeze at Crackington. This proved a good call as the valley above the Haven was acting as a funnel to the breeze inland and creating in effect offshore conditions; at least within the shelter of the cliffs. Ben and I certainly caught the best of it earlier on and although there weren't many good rides to be had, there was enough to play with before getting in just before HT at 3pm-ish as the quality and size both backed off. Suz too got in for the only time this week as it turned out, although rock dodging was the order of the day for her.
On Thursday (11th
) we made a last minute decision to meet up with Jen in St Ives. The swell had picked up as Hannah did her bit out in the Atlantic and a persistent SW would undoubtedly make Harlyn the only local prospect. Maybe Porthmeor would do the biz?
We eventually parked up above the town and wandered down the steep descent to the meeting point in front of the Tate without any gear. Suz had gone on ahead and so Ben and me didn't get our first view of the open sea until just after midday and what a sight it was! Porthmeor was pumping and easily double overhead on the bigger sets which seemed relentless in their own right, and it was offshore! Waiting for Suz to return I started to get twitchy. This was bigger than anything I'd been into before; even Praa Sands of a few years back. Should I trek all the way back up to the van and get changed? Or should I bottle it?
Ben wasn't making keen noises though, claiming his concerns over keeping his board in one piece. A valid point given my own misfortune 13 months previously, but I suspect it was more to do with going back up that hill and back down again all geared up twice! The green light went on for me after greeting Jen when Suz and her returned.
By half one I was stood before the heavy shore dump and admittedly a little nervous of what lay ahead. Half an hour later and having been unceremoniously spat out onto the beach yet again I was beginning to wonder if this wasn't going to go down as nothing more than a brave but embarrassing failure.
I repositioned to a central spot on the beach and took a deep breath for one more valiant attempt. This time I found a gap and was able to break through the whitewater only a mere ten minutes later. Now came the real deal as I sat just beyond the peaks and surveyed the scene. A further half hour passed as I watched and took mental notes and continually paddled around to find a comfortable spot. I knew I would get one or two real chances and was keen not get in anyones way or screw up.
Then came the first shadow with my name on and there was no time to think. I swivelled round, looked over both shoulders and went for it. The board began to slide and I popped up and waited for the drop only to feel the wave begin to overtake, leaving me stranded atop the crumbling whitestuff and no option but to pull off before getting sucked into oblivion.
My next chance came quickly though and this time an extra stroke before jumping up did the trick and I was away. Surprisingly time stood still and everything felt mellow as I went along this monster with time to look around and plot my route. Seconds later and I had kicked out humming with excitement and keen for more. As it was I managed only one more wave twenty minutes later which I ended up riding in, having decided to quit while ahead. Joining the others who were by now all on the beach watching you better believe I was buzzing.
The only pity following on from this was that I couldn't finish on a similar high surfing wise on the remaining 40 hours or so we had left at 'home'. Our last full day had only the prospect of a late afternoon bash at Summerleaze which of course was better than nothing; whilst my final attempts on Saturday morning at Widdy were nothing short of frustrating as I failed miserably to even get out back in less than challenging if messy onshore stuff. Fatigue was obviously playing it's part but the fact remains that I wouldn't have normally struggled in such conditions and probably only added to the foul mood I drove back up north with.
The previous evening/late afternoon (12th) had at least meant some minor successes but the crowded lineup and the tricky lumpy swell that had developed in the shelter of Barrel Rock weren't what I would have preferred. Ben, when he finally got in had opted for the smaller peaks closer in and perhaps he made the wiser choice as he at least caught more in the way of notable rides. I on the other hand spent too much time moving about seeking a clear run but all too often finding myself out of position at the wrong time, and seemingly conscious when Suz and the camera were doing their bit. It wasn't surprising therefore that I only really grabbed anything notable when she wasn't about. All in all then, a less than satisfying session and the complete antithesis of the unbridled pleasure in Porthia 24 hours earlier.
Thoughts now turn to what plans we can unfold and/or whether a trip down in October is possible. Between now and then lays the prospect of taking advantage of any wavey stuff over at Sandilands et al. I'm not holding my breath.
It's fair to say that the journey back from Cornwall on Saturday was a tad morose as ever it is, though perhaps with extra reason(s).
Dependant on holiday allocation for (now) Ben and his laydee of course. And notwithstanding the slim possibility that maybe; just maybe, Suz and me can at last get the Show on the Road and take advantage (if there is any!) of the 12 month window on Stamp Duty and get moved. Then this trip may have ushered in the end of an era and be recorded as the last Woollatt family 'holiday' as we know them. Mixed emotions then on realising this which is understandable, but on the whole it will at least give extra impetus to our ultimate goal.
There is though the chance of one last hurrah should we all be in a position to head back down as a unit in the Spring, and 'blood' Emms in the delights of Kernow lifestyle and all it offers; well at least the surfing aspect, the game at Camborne to avenge last seasons defeat by London Welsh there and all the equine opportunities we can find for her. What happens between now and then will have the final say, but it would be nice...wouldn't it?
As for this trek well there were waves; some absolute stonkers at times, but there was a seemingly constant battle to find shelter from a troublesome breeze. There was also the unusual sight of the Old Man generally out-performing Jnr, at least in terms of stamina and enthusiasm to get stuck in while we could.
Don't get me wrong, Ben enjoyed his time both in and out of the water, and surfed well and with a smile on his face. But gone for now is the usual 'first-in/last-out' aspect and general out-performing that has been so noticeable over the last 2-3 years.
Obviously missing his loved one which is fair enough....but there is a limit to just how much 'keeping in touch' there should be, whether parted for two minutes/two weeks or two years. Sure I'm knocking on and attitudes have altered but per-lease.....
They'll learn and grow in confidence with themselves and each other on that front...they have to!
Meanwhile back at the beach.
We arrived at Widemouth around 7.45am on Sat 30th
to find the expected small clean swell which was a relief otherwise we'd be unlikely be able to venture in till Tuesday at the earliest, given other commitments and the forecast. A light breakfast was taken first to allow the waves to get back onto the banks by mid ebb. I alone then ventured in to make the most of it for an hour or so and get dialled in before it backed off around low tide.
It didn't take long to suss and a handful of pleasurable moments gave me enough ammo to rub it with Jnr about what he'd missed as lunch and short kip beckoned. A grumpy response was all that was forthcoming as apparently Suz had been sticking her oar in too for a laugh. I know we shouldn't and we do try not to go too far but sometimes you just have to don't yer? ;o)
Whether by design or no, he was not long following me back in come mid flood and some of the old banter wasn't far away once he nicked his first wave off me for good measure. To add to the magic I always feel when we surf together, conditions improved with the push and although I lasted half an hour longer than he, it was clear why he'd opted to come with us despite anything. Oh and throw in a top drawer fish and chip supper from the Beach House to round things off and a good day came to its close perfectly.
Conditions held well the next day so we found out later but our focus was already taken at Camborne where the Pirates blew away Newbury to open their league campaign with a flourish.
Predictably the weather and drop in swell did it's worst as feared and it was Weds 3rd
before we got wet again. A relatively early start saw Ben and me head to Summerleaze first thing but even then it took less than an hour to convince us this was a lost cause and make us rue passing up on going in while it was good at Crackington the day before. Suz had at least broke her duck and enjoyed a hectic hour before it was time to head home (=Poundstock).
A little down therefore we popped into Zuma's to see if there was any respite in the offing. Gustav promised a little something at the end of the week, but the real eye opener was what Hannah could send this way 6 or 7 days later. Something to look forward to no doubt but what about now?
"Harlyn" says Nigel, "enough swell about to wrap around into the bay and the breeze would be o/s".
We knew of this little gem in such times but aware of the crowds it can attract and conscious of the petrol consumption it'd entail we headed back to Suz to ponder.... It didn't take long. Lunch was woofed down and Suz and Charlie were thrown in to the van before any guilt was allowed to kick in.
The 'g' word didn't get a look-in as we found a pretty much perfect 2-3' clean wave lit by intermittent sunshine to boot. Ben and me bravely donned our cold and wet already used gear and trotted down to the east end of the beach to christen a new beach for us. Jnr nabbed the first wave of the session and set the early pace while I oddly couldn't get the predominant right wired as quickly.
Maybe it was the combi the rip and breeze was having that meant having to watch the drift towards, but it troubled me enough to get out and wander down to the opposite end of the beach where I'd noticed a solitary longboarder and a nice little left. Ben hung around where he was and although enjoying some successes, decided to call it a day after barely an hour and headed in without tasting the delights I'd found. Pity as it turned out to be quite a treat although it did allow Suz to don her wettie and get in to the frisky shore dump which kept her amused instead.
Either way a good call and enough to convince us to head back the next day (4th
) after a wasted journey into town. The wave wasn't as big this time but it was enough to tempt Ben and me back in, the latter following after I'd 'softened them up' for a while first. It had taken 5-6 days maybe, but it was heartening to see him back to his more competitive self as we traded wave for wave to start with before his tally started to pull away from mine as was always the case since he'd 'gone long'.
The following morning (5th
) the swell had dropped as forecast and a welcome rest was planned. In Zuma we'd heard that it should pick up later on that day but we didn't really think it would be by much. Enough perhaps to go in but nothing special. As we three wandered onto the breakwater to exercise Charlie we began to wonder.
Nearing low tide and having chuckled at Charlies cowardly attempts to look fierce in the face of small mouse in the shelters under the cliff, Ben and me braved the easing rain and headed to the Barrel to check out the effect the flooded Neet was having as it flowed heavily into it's saline cousin. It didn't take long for us to note the size of the wave showing all the way beyond Crooklets and in front of us and comment. Maybe Widdy would be worth a peep on our way back. You bet yer granny on it...it was brewing nicely.....to be continued.....
I'll post a full report on our trip tomorrow sometime with any luck. Suffice to say we got back on Saturday night already 'down' from having to return (let alone a day before we could have!) only to be greeted with a problem with the car which put a spanner in the works; particularly as it was needed by Ben to start his apprenticeship on Monday. That and one or two other niggles which did little to improve the mood.
Barring the mowing of the grass (extra crop to allow for 2 week absence) the chores and loose ends seem to be completed which means....I can now load up a cleaned out Boris and get in a more desirable mood.
A late call on Wednesday night scuppered any plans to do it yesterday, but then work can never be turned away..can it??
Either way, the prospect of a mellow if small longboard wave to greet our arrival tomorrow morning raises spirits. The only question remaining is if it picks up later in the day will the energy levels be deep enough? I reckon so though pangs of hunger and a wish for fish and chips from the Beach House will play its part no doubt.
As will how Jnr will be coping with the absence of his Significant Other. Hopefully he'll be driven on with the chance to surf himself out over the next fortnight to compensate, and consider everything before him in the coming weeks. Whether he realises this is down to him of course and maybe a Pirates win at Camborne on Sunday will add to the incentives.
May post later before departure though I reckon the post trip report may be the next offering.
The countdown begins around now for our latest Cornish adventure. Just as well considering there haven't been any surfing opportunities this way since last I posted.
The boards are already in the van (well they live there as a rule anyway) but the main packing will be done during the day on Friday. Also considering whether to take Ben's minimal as a third board for a bit of fun.
Whatever happens, this is likely to be a notable trip insofar as it will no doubt be the last trip down in family mode now Jnr has reached the 18 milestone! There were plans for his squeeze, Emma, to come with us on this one, but she was unable to get time off work. Pity in many ways because it would have been a good chance to intro her to the lifestyle possibilities in Kernow, and who knows what from thereon. Hey ho that'll have to wait now for the time being; perhaps come half term in October? Whatever transpires however it will be Jnr's decision come the time we at last head west ourselves as to what he will do long and short term. Watch this space