The summer holidays are once again upon us. Without dwelling on how quick time is flying and making ourselves depressed, this year the prince and I decided to hit the waves. Feeling guilty that I didn’t take him to a beach last year I wanted to do more than just lay around on some sand getting cooked.
A friend asked if I ever tried surfing. I looked at her and asked her in turn to look at me. Brownies like me don’t do shit like that. After her almost too hard a laugh she implored me to try it and experience the closeness of the sea. I was sceptical. I even raised my eyebrow and pouted my lip to show my scepticism. Nonetheless when looking for a place to stay for the holidays near a beach, I found a cool lodge in Woolacombe. It was aptly named Surf Pod. With complimentary wetsuit and surf board hire I made the decision to surf, swim and eventually sink. Woolacombe is known to have the cleanest beaches in the UK, 3 miles long and apparently one of the best places to surf. The holiday park we were in also had many other activities, including an indoor pool just in case the weather let us down. So at least the boy could do some swimming.
After the painfully long drive down to North Devon, checked into the park, got the keys and headed towards our place. Approaching the one of a kind lodge in the entire park was really cool as they left the mood lighting on looking like some psychedelic party was going on. Already impressed and yes we had a little late night disco.
In the morning I went to pick up the suits and boards. Two key points suddenly dawned on me; surf board was not going to fit in the car and I have no idea how to surf let alone the boy! So I decided to get body boards instead and be even closer with the sea. Excited, I went back to the lodge to try our wetsuits on. Never having worn one it was very interesting putting it on and walking around. Looking in the mirror one word came into my head immediately. Sexy. Then two words. Damn sexy. After posing around for far too long, I looked at the boards and realised I’d better find out how to actually do this shit. The same friend taught me something special. LMGTFY. Which if you’re old like me, means Let Me Google That For You. Yes, I left it till this very moment to research how to surf, board whatever. Reading a few wiki guides, couple of YouTube videos, I became an expert. I showed my son and his exact response was “What is that?”. Brilliant.
Finally at the beach we found a spot and had to do the obligatory photo shoot. Trying to look cool and wetsuit model like. I taught my son how to hold the board on the sand. Pretending the sand was water I emulated what we need to do in the water. This time he had no verbal response but his face said all that I needed to know. Alright let’s do this. It was time. We headed towards the sea and the waves were coming in. They were about my neck height and was awesome seeing other surfers and body boarders riding the waves. The boy had fun in shallow water with the waves hitting him. I didn’t force him to go any further, just let him be comfortable. Seeing his face light up with the waves crashing over him and floating around was such a delight. At that point I realised this is what’s it all about seeing his smile, screams, laughs, enjoying himself. What a brave kid.
Now it was my turn. Not sure I would be that brave. I slowly walked into the sea, further and further. I looked to my around me and it was surreal watching others do the same slow motion walk into the sea, holding and paddling on their boards. Almost cultish. Then at the precise moment of the wave curling over quickly flip over and ride. I was so impressed. Me on the other hand, I continued to float on top of the board going over the waves waiting for a big one. A minute later, I could see the wave approaching. May not be big to most, but to me the feelings gushing over me were so contradicting. Fear, joy, adrenaline, helplessness. I recalled my google research, flipped over, held onto the board and kicked my legs frantically. Woo Hoo! The forcefulness of the wave pushed me forward faster than I could imagined, as I had the biggest wide opened mouth smile for a long time. Which was a mistake as I got mouth full of sea water. Delicious. Eventually I floated to a stop. Immediately got back up and wanted to do this again. And again, and again. I wiped out as many times as successful rides, but it didn’t matter. I could not believe the pure joy I had doing this, and even further could not believe I never did this before. Actually I do know why.
The sea had always scared me a little. I am not a particularly good swimmer, smoking has almost made my stamina and lung power obsolete. The water itself is cold. I’m one of those guys who even in the summer still needs a hot shower. So walking into the sea toe by toe, gently, apprehensively splashing water over me was the most I would ever be comfortable with. As a result, heading full body first into the might of a wave seemed preposterous. The power of that sea, the wave is just so immense, you are utterly helpless in front of it. It’s not like you can punch it to the side or run away from it. It is going to get you and wrap itself around you whether you like it or not. However what this trip did was first give me a tool. The wetsuit. Apart from looking damn sexy in it, I was surprised how warm it kept me. I taught my son how it worked after. Learning together is awesome. In any case, the wetsuit overcame my fear of the cold. The board overcame my fear of having something to hold onto while I writhed in the sea flapping around. The major realisation though was the wave itself. You cannot harness it. You cannot control it. And that’s just it. Another friend of mine said some words to me which will always stay close to my heart; “Ali, just let it be”. Using this mindset here, I let it be and I let the sea do what it’s meant to do, while I simply joined it for the ride. I realised why all these surfer dudes and dudettes were so happy. They live their lives with the mindset of going with the flow. Sure you result in subsequent addiction. But when the addiction is an addiction to a passion, it’s a blessing.
Talking to my son about it, I asked him to describe his feelings in three words. His response was fun, cold and angry. The cold I understand his wetsuit wasn’t as tight so too much flow of water. Angry because the wave made his board smack him in the face. I saw it happen and I just died of laughing, I then collapsed on the floor when he started to punch the sea screaming “Stupid wave!!”. Yet he wanted to do it again because he had fun. So we decided to do this again next year on the provision that we both learn to be better swimmers and take some actual surf lessons. As I had too many incidents of the board and water smashing into my dick for my liking. Peace and Love.