Family & friends

40th birthday surfing

I’ve known Nat since September 1996 when I started at City of Bath College and stayed in touch ever since. He’s a been a great friend to me all that time. Nat turned 40 this September so I wanted to do something to mark the occasion rather than stick a card in the post, I actually forgot to give him a card. I decided that a weekend surfing would be just the ticket, neither of us would be any good and the location in Devon would be great for walks etc.

I’d already been to the same spot with Emma at the invite of Vaughan and Shannon, who are proper surfers, back in 2009. I booked the same campsite as well as some lessons with Surf South West. I went down to Bath to stay with mum on the Thursday night and then headed over to meet Nat on the Friday morning. It was great to hang out with Nat and Cath as well as Elsa and Joe. Caitlin was at school unfortunately. We then headed down to Devon, found our campsite and had a wander around. We stopped at Saunton Sands first for a coffee and wander around after the drive. It felt really good to breath that fresh Devon air in.

Saunton sands

Our cabin was a shed really. Two beds, a door, a Stella fridge and a kettle… and not to forget the campsite rules and menu laminated and then stapled to the wall. Classy stuff. Still it was better than pitching a tent and the site had a great view of the sea.

Home sweet home

We peaked a little early on the first day, having cycled down into Woolacombe for a ‘quick pint’ which turned into three and a burger. The cycle back up the hill was pretty grim on my Brompton. I’m amazed neither of us saw the beer or food again. Having felt a little woozy after that a nap was in order. Then some crap TV courtesy of Kevin Bacon and The Happening and then over to the capsite bar to join ‘happy hour’. Oh my, what a sight that was. Stag do’s, lads on tour, a man with stars tattooed all over and wearing a muscle vest as well as women in little or no clothing. Still they had an outside bit and we managed to drink through it. Nat also brought a bottle of bourbon which went down a little too well after.

So next morning it was up to fill ourselves with a greasy breakfast and get down to Croyde to learn how to surf. Not before a good coffee was had though to ease the hangover.

Dry run

We had a great day splashing around in the water, taking little steps on how to surf, mainly on the foamy waves coming in. Both of us managed little balances then falls. Both also got donked on the head by the big foamy boards – not great for a hangover.

Surf dude
And we're on...

After two hours in the water they let us have lunch. We were both shagged. Fortunately we had time for a nap in the sunshine.

Mid surf nap time - Nat

Mid surf nap time - Andy

The afternoon session was a bit rough. The tide was out and throwing some fairly aggressive waves about and beating us to a pulp in the process. Still great fun though. After we headed out for coffee in Croyde and both looked weary from it all.

So damn tired

Then it was over to Woolacombe for a massive fish and chips followed by yet another nap back at our shed. Neither of us had the energy for another big night and both struggled with our pints and conversation. Back in bed for a reasonable time and then back out the next morning for another few hours in the water.

Amazingly the second day wasn’t as hard as we were expecting. We both managed to stand up properly on the board and we were taught how to get onto unbroken waves without nosediving. It felt great and completely exhilarating to be forced through the water that fast on the front of a wave. Brilliant fun and far more enjoyable than the day before.

Picture taker
Surfer, gull, surfer, rocks, sand etc

We had meant to stay the Sunday night and then do a walk or something on the Monday. Both of us were completely shattered and the kids were missing Nat. So we headed back to Bristol to have a bit of food, I had another nap, before driving back to London.

Superb weekend. Can’t wait to go again.