Sunday, January 20, 2013

Tide Clock Acquired

This has been on the cards for a while and now, at last, the deed has been done.

As you may imagine, we have been waiting for better times fiscally, and they now seem at long last to be turning back in the right directions. Hence this purchase, after various exhaustive searches to find just the right item.

Happily the source we eventually plumped for, was a local one in Bodmin; namely Handmade in Cornwall. And so tactile too.

With both of us out on Friday at the crucial time that delivery was attempted, it was down to me to wander into Camborne to pick it up from the Post Office yesterday morning.

Setting it to the local tides had to wait till later in the day when low tide was reached around 4.45pm. And from that point the gentle and un-obtrusive 'tick-tick' in the kitchen now adds further mellow vibes to our abode.

Throw in a bit of swell over the weekend and things surfing-wise appear to be setting up nicely for the year ahead. Time and a personal need to wait for the size to drop a bit, to lessen the chance of getting yet another pounding when I have opted for the log meant; that a session this morning was the wiser choice.

Tweets around breakfast suggested a chest to head high set up and so, having everything ready overnight, there was little to hold us back from making the trip, en masse (self, Suz & hound), down to Godrevy. We weren't to be disappointed. The weather was crisp, clear and dry, and the waves were enticing; despite the first real bite of winter this far west.

I still took longer than normal to find a way out through the whitewater, but it was certainly a lot easier than the last couple of stand up trips. There was also a lot more determination after the poundings I'd suffered too. But to be honest the lack of timing and paddling strength did take the edge off the satisfaction of taking up my normal position out back.

The final result was the distinct lack of rides, barring some half hearted and short lived efforts, before the lack of a winter wetsuit finally persuaded me to ride in after about an hour and a half. It mattered little to be truthful as, in my defence, I've never really been a 'morning surf person'; preferring as I do to get in later in the day. Opportunity and conditions had dictated otherwise in this case.

I'm left with a satisfying feeling as ever though, of feeling very much alive if a tad ready for a siesta. Throw in the warmth of being indoors again and that could happen even before I finish thi............

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Last 'Supper'

In the aftermath of the Christmas Day swim at Sennen, Ben and self promised ourselves that; regardless of conditions; we'd get in with the bellies at least once more before the Woll Jnr's returned oop north.

And so we did later on yesterday afternoon a couple of hours before dark.

It was as it has been for most of the festive period so far; blown out mush and too heavy for the logs. But that mattered little to us.

There was also the important matter of getting that all important photo opportunity for the latest Grom from the Woollatt tribe, to be pictured with her first ever board; courtesy of those generous folks at Traditional Surfing Co.

Time will tell of course as to whether she 'gets into it' of course. But it won't be without plenty of encouragement and example, so there's a fair to middling chance. Daddy of course, took his time before realising that actually, this is just one of those things in life that gives the perfect 'buzz'. And, even though he waited until around the 10-11yo mark before taking the plunge, he has the (not indefinite) luxury of knowing that he had (has) a 20 year 'start' on his Old Man.

As for this session, what more needs saying than plenty of fun was had in the hour or so we braved the hail, rain, blinding low sunshine and wind?


Tuesday, December 25, 2012

No point in denying it. There was a bit of apprehension in the lead up to my (our-Ben & I) first ever Christmas morning swim.

We had our 'sticks' to cuddle up to I suppose. But with heavy showers falling intermittently from the moment we woke, right up to the short journey itself to Sennen; it was easy to dread the worst.

Thus, 3 generations of Wolls cast a varied picture in the car park as the many hardy souls; both participants and spectators; began to arrive in their droves down the hill after us.

A beady eye was kept out for Gav and his family entourage, although any thought of remonstrating with the chap who'd 'trapped' me into coming in the first place; never even remotely threatened to surface. Just as well really, as their arrival heralded an unexpected gift for the youngest of our party; Claire Tamsyn. At 14 months she is the now the proud owner of her first Traditional Surfing Co belly board - Grandma's next board painting project for sure!

No time to ponder however as the Event engulfed us before there was time to think. A quick dash down to the beach and an even swifter removal of Robies and other warmth providing items meant Ben & self piled on to the back of the crowd as the countdown reached it's conclusion.

The sun even deigned to pop out from behind a passing light shower as if to provide a 'Sign of Good Luck'



The sprint in to the blue sea, that further out was providing plenty of action for the kite surfers, proved to be as 'invigoarting' as expected. Catching the first wave completed the job, but without the need for Vinny Jones to stride into shot with Staying Alive blaring out on his portable Bose.

Ben got a couple before riding in, while I stayed out a bit longer as I ....errrr...warmed to the task. Half a dozen more and I decided to head in to and hook back up with Gavin & his lad, Sam - in for the first time sans wettie. The guy had got in marginally after me and was technically out of the water before me. Not often then that I can claim a surfing victory over this accomplished all-rounder - so I will savour this one.

What's more. I think this open water swimming thing, particularly during less popular times; may have just 'bitten' me. Bring on more please!

Monday, December 24, 2012

T minus 18 hours......

...until Ben and I take to the water for the Sennen Christmas morning swim.

Got in (mit wetsuits) on Sunday to give boy a refresher course as he hasn't 'got wet' since April. We enjoyed an hour and a half of belly board fun in a fair sized, messy, but empty Godrevy.

Plenty of cliched questionning pre and post surf with regards to our sanity/water temperature etc from the promenaders with their (predominantly) Jack Russsell companions. But we didn't care.

We may 'care' a little after 11am tomorrow, but I am sure that armed with our Traditional bellies we'll brave everything the Atlantic can throw at us......

Monday, November 19, 2012


Not for the first time we seem to have had an enforced 'hibernation' surfing wise.

It seems odd how this can occur as, when last immersed in the ocean, any prospect of such seemed unthinkable.

It always does!!

But happen it has. A couple of sessions on the belly in the aftermath of the Worlds at the beginning of September still left October some way off in the distance. And yet here we are mid way through November and all I can report is a feeble attempt to get in at Pete's Point on Sunday!

The remainder of September passed with little swell/opportunity, which was frustrating as the chance of post work surfs began to run out with the shortening days. Overtime kicking in only added to this dilemma.

October came and went with only similar fortunes, although this was interspersed with a week long trip up north to visit The Kids and our granddaughter who was to celebrate her 1st birthday. That was a joy as Claire is already growing into a real character - knows how to pose for the camera too! Wonder if she'll get this surfing lark?

The trip coincided with the first decent spell of waves of the autumn and promptly disappeared upon our return. And so the wait had to go on a bit longer.

Until the run up to the weekend just past it transpired. Although the best of it - or so it seemed - had passed to by the time Saturday hove into view.  It still looked do-able though. But Sunday looked better. Against better judgement then, I dipped out of an ideal re-acclimatisation session on the former, in favour of something a bit more challenging on the latter.

I wish I hadn't. I just knew by the first glimpse of the lighthouse that this could be just too heavy for a return after two moons 'off'. A look at Godrevy only confirmed this and so Suz and I headed to the Sunset car park instead.

It still looked lively and, with the tide now receding quickly was bound to only get more hollow. I wavered briefly but decided to get suited and give it a lash. Gav's arrival boosted the ego and gave the opportunity to confirm my (and Ben's) intention to take part in the Christmas Morning Swim at Sennen.

Madness or machismo-istic or what?

For the time being though, my lacklustre attempts to get through the whitewater just about summed my current surfing status up perfectly. Below par.

I don't intend this to remain so!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

10th World Bellyboards..the celebrity boards

Photo courtesy of Mike Thomas

And this is what it's all about, folks! Sheer enjoyment, exhilaration and some good old-fashioned British Eccentricity! And speaking of eccentric, that's me in the photo, as seen in the Daily Mail Online. Probably the best pic I have of me 'in action', as it were.

As has been mentioned in the previous blog, I had a commission via Gavin of Traditional Surfing Co  to design and paint the two bellyboards he had donated, that the celebrities Rory McGrath and Will Mellor rode during filming of their part in this event. The boards were to be raffled off afterwards, all proceeds to the National Trust and the Bellyboards event.

Rather than go all prosy on you, here are some photos showing the creation of the boards with a few explanatory notes....


The brief was that the board should show a neck-down version of the old fashioned knitted costume that Rory was going to wear. The idea was that Will would have the board in front of him and a wig on, and would look like Rory. The brief specified the rotund form and skinny, hairy legs! (Rory's legs aren't at all skinny I think, but all part of the fun!

 I used artists acrylic paints direct onto the bare board. (Traditional Surfing boards are made of lightweight marine ply.) My own board was decorated over a year ago using these paints; no varnish protection at all. I've used it in all sorts of surfing conditions and the painted image shows no sign of wear.

 Waiting for the paint to dry a bit more, the board's propped up near my own board; you can see a bit of it in the photo. Time for a cuppa then!

 The finished board!

 I'd just done Will's board, when the call came to do Rory's board as well. The brief was that it needed to contain his favourite elements of Cornwall, he being a good Illogan boy, so I set to and arranged a series of images from pints to pasties.

Unfortunately I was running short of white paint and had no time to run into Camborne for more so I experimented with some acrylic lino printing ink I had on a scrap piece of wood. This was no good, it turned out not to be waterproof, so I decided to wing it with the acrylic I had left and work round it. As it happened the tube lasted right to the last brushstroke! Lucky or what....

 Late hours were worked.....

 Until finally.......

 Playing to the camera.... Will should have just stood and held the board beneath his chin, would have worked better, but never mind...............

Yeah, well, why not? Me n Rory...

 and with Will.....

 Looks cold out there.........

A bit of advice from an old hand

Rory to the left

Will's turn...he's looking nervous!

 A soak in the hot tub. I was grateful for them, after my event, too!

Monday, September 3, 2012

You Know You're Knocking on a Bit When...

..... recovery after some strenuous activity takes way longer than it used too!

And that's just what I am noticing over 24 hours after the 10th World Bellyboarding Championships...although it has eased as the day has progressed. Yoga beckons as soon as this blog is updated!

If you haven't been told; then you'll have probably guessed by the pic accompanying this article; the reason for the 'secrecy' Suz n self had to adopt in the run up.

Via the National Trust and Traditional Surfing, Suz found herself being honoured to get to customise Rory McGrath & Will Mellor's boards they were to use during filming at the event.

The chaps were clearly pleased with their 'rides' which drew plenty of interest & comment and were later raffled at the Prize-giving.

The bravado waned slightly, as the realisation that their 'moment of glory' drew nearer; particularly Will. But both entered the water with gusto and exited seemingly pleasantly surprised that it wasn't as cold as they'd anticipated. Not that the obligatory post surf hot tub plunge was foregone!

All bets too, had been off long before Rory's heat, as to how long his woolen swim suit would stay on in the gnarly conditions. How shocked we were to see it still in situ at the hooter!

Now we just wait to find out the airing date!

The event personally was better than our first experience 12 moons ago for a variety of reasons. Not least, was meeting up with several Facebook friends 'acquired' at the time; most notably Rosie, Paul & Alison. But also there were a lot more 'faces' we recongnised too; too numerous to mention.

Surfing wise we both had a lot of fun in the 15 minute morning 'Expression Session, and our 10 minute heat(s) before the Kernowcopia interlude.

The conditions, as alluded to, were bigger and messier than last year and did seem a bit borderline on occasion. But we 'dug in' as it were and made as good a fist of it as possible. Digging in ,being the operative word, as keeping feet was hard going at times with a strong rip threatening to up-end plenty enough!

Finesse had little opportunity to shine with just nailing the ride being the only option all too often. I did manage one 'trick'; a board reverse on one wave that wasn't engulfing me totally; but it was never going to be enough. Consequently I suspect Suz, who appeared to have the better heat, will beat me in the rankings again. Third time lucky it'll have to be!

Either way; as we ascended into the fog that had enveloped the Wheal Coates car park post event; the grins still overshadowed any grimaces of aches and pains. That waited until this morning and the return to the grind!