Other sports are available
Can I recommend Wales for surfing? Well, obviously I can, but to be more specific, Abereiddy in Pembrokeshire. Even for those of us who live near Bristol, Pembroke is long way and on an August Bank Holiday Friday at 5pm, approaching a traffic jam at Newport, it seemed an awfully long way!
The SATNAV is good in many respects, but as it updates its ETA, a note of depression can affect the driver. That said, "Helga" (as my SATNAV is called) is pretty good at estimating when you will get to your destination and eventually 8pm came up and stayed on screen, as the traffic cleared. This allowed a quick dump of kit and a rush to the pub for sustenance and "a plan" for the morning.
Saturday started bright but windy, so we trundled off to Abereiddy beach to read the papers and stare at the sea. Surfing requires quite a lot of staring at the sea. The tide was wrong (high) and had killed off the waves, so even though the car park was filling (more of that later) we popped off to St David's for a bit of tourism.
St Davids is the smallest City in the UK and has a lovely cathedral, any number of coffee shops and pubs and an excellent visitor centre where we had a snack and waited for the rain to stop. A wander round town revealed that surf fashion is still mainly "Californian/Hippy" style, the cathedral was looking a little worse for wear inside, and the side of a hill is still a hard walk, even if you are supposed to be fit enough for surfing.
We made a detour on the way back, via Whitesands beach. All I can say is if you don't like your fellow man, this is not the place to go. Lovely beach, crowded as hell.
Back at Abereiddy, the tide was out and surf's up. It's my first surf this year and the waves are powerful and slightly confused with several swells making getting out difficult, and dumps regular. I'd give that session 5 out of 10 for surfing and 9 out of 10 for creating an appetite. The family had turned up by now, so it was off to the pub and a well earned cider.
|Not a happy bunny after a Saturday bashing!|
Sunday dawned sunny. The wind had dropped, Nice!. A pre breakfast surf had been scoped out the previous evening, so post fry up, we were squeezing ourselves into our wetsuits (damp) hoping our guts would fit! The swell had dropped off, so patience was needed. A pleasant couple of hours was spent in the water until a nice cuppa beckoned.
|Posing and back lit - nice!|
We all waited around to see if the swell would pick up later and we were rewarded with a great early evening session. Only the 5 of us in the sea, and lovely sets of nice clean waves were coming in. This gave me the best session in a long time. Two hours in the water left me needing the BBQ laid on by my Bro in law.
|Almost look pro here - mainly an accident!|
|Surf art - nice one Leona (camera holder)|
Monday dawned wet - well wet is probably not sufficient, but shall we say that it rained like it did when I was last in Bali - and I didn't actually see any tarmac for 60 miles.
So what's so good about surfing?
Well, I think it's rather like mountain biking. You are reliant upon the natural elements and your skill (or lack of) Surfing is harder, but like MTBing is free once you get to the ocean. It's addictive too. Once you've got up and stood there, "walking" on water, you just want to get a longer and faster ride. As they say, a bad day surfing is better than a good day at the office, and even what looks like a hopeless surf can be transformed by just one good wave. I've met really nice people surfing, the guys at the North Devon surf School have been very encouraging and I would recommend learning to surf there. Westward Ho! (their base) is a super mellow beach with loads of room. It's better than Croyde to learn, more room and better ice cream. Give it a go, the worst that can happen is that you can end up having a guilt free slap up dinner and few refreshments whilst improving your fitness!
Foot note - competitive parking
I know it was August Bank Holiday Sunday, but blimey, us Brits are not at our best when it comes to car parking. There is a tendency to try and claim as much space a possible and sod anyone else. We got there on Sunday at 10, and parked out of the way and about 10 yards behind a camper van, parked across the beach, in a space that three cars would call roomy. We got an evil look from a seated "beige clad" senior as if we were encroaching. Little did they know what the rest of the day would be like as they were virtually surrounded by cars, squeezing into the smallest gap. One van was later asked to move across a little and "couldn't possibly" as "he had set his chairs up....."
Later, there were always three cars circling the car park, waiting to pounce, should a space come free. Still, the nice thing was, that by the time we surfed Sunday night, most people had left, missing the nicest part of the day (well except for the "sharp shower")