So the sun has started peeping out on occasion and the evenings are getting lighter, it must be Spring! Probably my favourite time of year actually, full of anticipation of all those balmy summer evenings (hopefully!), warm sunset surf sessions in lazy waves, long days out on the bike, barbecues and beers. Here’s hoping this year gives us as much sun as last time round, if the evidence of early spring is anything to go by I reckon it could be a belter.
As for the pedaling, well I’ve not been getting out as much as I would like, largely due to playing football again regularly but when I have got the bike out it’s been in good weather, and it’s been a lot of fun! The guards are off too which has made the bike feel a little more zippy, plus it looks pretty again now. A sample of spring time snaps thus far:
Had a few fun ones yesterday in lazy 2ft surf at the good old Ho! I’ve been hoping to get my new Doofer from Fourth wet but the conditions called for something with a bit more foam (the Doofer’s intended for good waves) to maximise the fun so out came the 5’7 Pepperjelly from Cre8tion – I swear you can catch a ripple on this thing. The sun came out for a while too which made the hoodless duck-dives just about bearable although ice cream headaches are still in full force! Here’s to some more fun summer stuff.
Weekend before last was a cracker for weather and waves, a small reasonably groomed swell, very light winds and some spring time sunshine made it feel like a mini summer. I hope everyone got in and had some fun. I managed a few hours in the water on my simmonsy thing in little thigh to waist high walls and was grinning from ear to ear when I got out – sun and surf will do that to you, oh and I wasn’t wearing a hood either….!
Now we’re back to cold and wet westerlies and the jackets are back on when out and about, let’s hope the next spell of pleasant stuff comes along shortly.
I had a real comedy session early last week, largely revolving around my indecision and the reason for my indecision (bad choices drive more indecision)… Knowing when to de-hood has normally been a fairly easy one for me, last few years it’s generally been the last surf in March or certainly the first in April. We’ve normally had a spell of warmer stuff by late March and the sea temp creeps up to a level where it’s a little ice creamy on the noggin as you duck dive but quite bearable. Then usually it’s a steady path to de-rubbering right up to June when you’re back in a nice thin 3/2 with no boots or gloves to weigh you down until the cold comes calling all too soon sometime in autumn.
However this year has been a bit of a different beast, the winter has been long(er than usual!) and really drawn out – prolonged by months of prevailing easterly wind which gave with one hand and took with the other. It gave us offshores making the most of the North Atlantic’s winter juice but took away any warmth the normally prevalent south westerlies provide keeping our shores just the right side of arctic for most of the winter, instead we were experiencing fun temperatures such as 1 and 4 degrees celcius in the middle of April.
So the hood has stayed on, continuing to encase my face in neoprene a little longer which brings me back to last week’s go out. I hit one of the Bude town beaches at first, it was sunny, the temperature had crept into double figures and I was thinking this could be the start of spring…. that hood can come off soon maybe? I hit the water in full gear (yeah the hood was on), it didn’t feel too cold but the waves were poor, shapeless sucky 2-3ft low tide closeouts crashing in 1ft of water. This is not fun. After 20 minutes or so of looking for an open face I retreated, still in full gear and drove to Widemouth in the hope of finding a bank that was working there.
This looks more promising, not great but there were definitely some walls on offer if you were in the right spot. I’d taken the hood off for the drive and the air was welcomingly mild. This is it. No hood. Ear plugs in, jogging to the shoreline, first no hood surf of the year – lovely stuff! It’s not too big so I shouldn’t have to worry about duck diving. Oh a set’s coming, duck, Ahhhhhhhhhwwwwwgghhhhhh!! The first one was quite bad, grabbing my head in a cold vice like grip but I thought I could shake it off. Two more duck dives followed before I was in the sanctuary of the outside although my head felt like an ice cube. I’d already messed about this session by switching spots but I knew if I didn’t get a wave in and get my hood my cold head would distract me for the rest of the sesh. So I caught the next wave in and feeling like a right bell-end retreated to the van for some head warming rubber. I ended up getting a few fun waves during the remainder of the then hooded session but nothing to crow about…. Certainly one of those outings where you’re thinking “This is a lot of bloody effort for a couple of cold ones (waves not beers)!”
Having said all this it’s been sunny and even hot at times for much of this week and there’s some swell on the way for the bank holiday weekend. I think it’s time to try no hood again…..
Scanning through some old photos I found this one of a sunny south coast spring time surf check in an old Beemer I used to run. At the time a friend and I had just started our business and money was very hard to come by so I ran a succession of German £400 bangers to get me about as reliably and as cheaply as possible. This was one of the best ones I had to drive, very wobbly with tonnes of body-roll round corners but wonderfully direct steering and poise – loads of fun for £400 notes! After getting me about admirably for nigh on a year and serving me well on a couple of trips to the South West it finally gave up the ghost in a traffic jam on the way to West Quay in Southampton when the radiator and a hose split. My bangernomics policy was no maintenance and when she dies sell her on, so this little E30 went on for parts and the next banger was in, an unceremonious end for a noble steed. I do like cars from that period a lot, they were more purposeful, more lithe and tactile than today’s overweight cumbersome examples.
Last weekend the Atlantic delivered a healthy dose of swell and offshore winds to South West England – only downside being that due to the strength of the easterlies most of Northern Europe was plunged into full on mid-winter mode just when we thought we might be escaping the iron grip of the cold months. In fact the wind has not yet let up and as I type its 3c outside and the fire is roaring away, this was not how I had envisaged my first April living in the West Country but the weekend’s waves made me forget about the cold for a while.
I surfed the Bude area for the most part, the best waves being half an hour of dredging little right handers on a new 5’7 Cre8tion Pepper Jelly shortboard that I’ll post up some info on later (she’s fast and fun!). These rights were out of the wind a little and although smaller than a lot of the open beaches they had great shape and allowed a couple of flowing turns maximising the grin factor. The worst session involved a more humbling experience at a head high reef break where I did little more than paddle around and get rag dolled by the jacking peaks of the set waves…. it’s all part of surfing I guess!
Photography & Thoughts on Surfing, Cycling, Football and Some Other Crap