Cornwall, 2009. My husband and I spent a few wet and windy days camping on Bodmin Moor (why?!). The one day it didn’t chuck it down, we headed to Polzeath – the sun shone and it was a beautiful day. Whilst on the beach, I sat watching all the surfers and bodyboarders and it was then that the seed of an idea that maybe, just maybe I might try surfing someday started to grow. I was suddenly struck by how amazing it was – being at one with the sea, popping up onto that board and riding the magic carpet. It was like a thrill ride and I wanted to get on it!
There was something about the whole lifestyle too. I had always loved the care free, laid back vibe of coastal surfing towns. Nobody cares what anyone looks like – you can walk through the high street in your wetsuit and flip flops and no-one bats an eyelid. It’s the norm. I loved the surf shops too, with the clothes that you can’t get back home, the smell of the board wax, the chilled out tunes peeling out from the speakers and the stunning arial cutback shots on the DVD playing behind the counter.
So in 2010, my husband and I stuck to what we love and headed to Cornwall for another summer holiday. Destination this time (no tents involved!) was Newquay – surf capital of the UK and what better place to take the drop?
With nervous trepidation, I booked in for a surf lesson. I had some idea of what to expect – a couple of hours body boarding the previous day had served as a useful and fun icebreaker. I was amazed by the speed at which I had managed to catch some waves and ride them all the way into the shore. I was exhilarated, but I wanted to try the real deal!
The surf lesson began with a safety talk – a bit about the beach, areas in the water to stay away from, what the flags meant. And then the bit that nearly sent me running back to safety – there has been some sightings of basking sharks the previous day! Harmless I know but I’m not sure how I would have reacted if I had been faced with a fish the size of a double decker bus!
After running through the ‘pop-up’ technique, it was time to hit the water and attempt to catch some waves. I was spurred on by the fact that Pete, the energetic and super enthusiastic instructor, had guaranteed that he would have all of us standing up by the end of the lesson.
It took a while, and the thing I struggled with most was turning the 8ft foam board around in the water and hauling myself onto it, limbs aching from the previous day’s bodyboarding. But the thought of that stand-up guarantee was at the forefront of my mind and finally, I did it! Not once, but three times in total and rode a wave all the way to the beach (and I have proof!). It was like nothing I had ever felt before. The fact that I had overcome my nervousness of the sea, had the lesson without the accompaniment of my husband, stood up on that board and ridden the magic carpet.
I had done it, and I was totally hooked!