Wednesday, 5 March 2014

The Inaugural Meeting of 'The Landlocked Surf Club'.

Cleansing hangovers in the 9°C Atlantic

McDonald's breakfast
Cross the Severn
Catch Up With Mates
Find Waves&Surf Until Numb
Make Friends
Insult a National Treasure
More Waves

The time I made it between the lines.


Floodpocolypse, tubeaggedon and galeocaust had plagued the past week. It was a week of checking and re-checking forecasts and webcams, dire warnings from loved ones and speculative emails. It was only on Friday that caution was thrown quite literally to the wind and the trip was a tentative go. Even so when I woke at 5:30am the wind pounded the windows with such ferocity that even placing the boards on the car seemed a herculean task. My heart sank. Maybe this was a bad idea. I went back to sleep. By 8 the wind had died down to a reasonable level so I loaded up, gave Zoe a kiss goodbye, hoisted the mainsail and was blown all the way to a McDonald's just outside Reading. Adam met me with a derisive laugh at my parking and a Sausage and Egg McMuffin both of which I willingly accepted and we sat chatting and laughing about the night before and the trip ahead. 

Enter the Dragon.

-Crossing the Severn-

The wind drove us on to Wales, buffeting the car around all the way. The heavens opened and the rain leaked in, following the path of the roof straps. My shoulder took the worst of the water. At least I was wearing a dark hoody. My shoulder had just turned from a stream in to a river when we hit the self perpetuated traffic jam to pay our £6.40 entrance fee for the welsh safari park. There wasn't even a solitary sheep in sight. 

We powered on through Powys, held our breath through Talbot and battled through the bay before reaching the crest of the hill. The sun had danced out from behind the clouds and the winds that had brought us here abated. The bay was sparkling. Lumps of head high swell hit the bay's exposed reefs, points and sandbars with a beautiful irregularity while one lone black figure bobbed in the brine. It wasn't a perfect but it's close enough for me. Especially as we only paid £6.40.

The only time getting naked in car parks is normal.
-Catch Up With Mates-

'You are so shit at parking'
'Fuck it. That'll do'
'Is that the curb over there on the horizon?'
'Shut it. Let's check the waves and go find Jason.'

Me: 'Alright Jase'
Jason: 'Alright buddy. How's it going?
Me: 'Good man. How's you?'
Jason: 'Good mate. Bloody Knackered though.'
Me: 'Out on the town?'
Jason: 'Nah. Valentines.'
Me: 'Ah. Got home late?'
Jason: 'Just went to the cinema.'

Adam: 'Rob, your house mate who let us in...'
Rob: 'Georgie?'
Adam: 'Yeah. Is she on Tinder?'

Adam: 'Oh he is so selfish with the ball in hand. He always dummies...'
Jason: 'I threw a dummy once.'

Time well spent.

Not the ideal time to find that your boots have holes in.

-Find Waves&Surf Until Numb-

We shovelled down bacon butties, chips and coke in a restaurant overlooking the bay. Adam cracked jokes while Jason’s laugh, a full body convulsion that takes over his whole person and never fails to make me happy, filled the room. I behaved like a small child with OCD cutting out mid-sentence to admire the potential as a set rolled through.  

When all food had been consumed and the laughter died away we succumbed to temptation and headed out on to the sun drenched promenade before strolling back to the car park where Adam and I stripped off and changed in to our neoprene armour, an act that in any other situation would invite at best a caution and at worst a lengthy prison sentence. 

Dressed head to in rubber and armed with our boards as explanation we headed in to the icy blue to join the ever-growing line-up. I headed for the point at the west of the bay which was sparsely populated by long-boarders and  SUPs which may have been a rash move considering I was riding a 6'0" Fish but I fancied I had a greater chance there than in the mêlée occurring over the Eastern reef. 

Adam’s plan was to get his feet in the white water before heading out back. Enthusiasm, however, got the better of him as he paddled straight out and proceeded to take off on a 5ft+ bomb and wiping out so badly he ‘broke his fibular’ while Jason watched on from the shore presumably doubled over and filling the bay with laughter. Thankfully the broken fibular wasn't ‘too serious’ and Adam managed another 3 hours in the water before presumably the ache in his leg and sight of bone through his skin made him realise it was time to go in.

I was having my own leg trouble realising around 5 minutes in to the session that my boots were next to useless with them both harbouring a couple of here to unseen holes.  To add injury to insult, before I’d even caught a wave, a stray long-board popped out from its duck-diving owner and smacked me squarely in the head. At least I wasn't going to miss playing Rugby this week.

I started to get the hang of the point break and the wave count started going in the right direction. The take-off's were becoming quicker and later. Though one of the curiosities of having numb feet is that controlling a surfboard becomes near impossible. The feedback loop between the wave, your feet and brain breaks down and you resort to careering along a wave like a Formula 1 car on ice. On the plus side, it's rather fun.

I moved to the reef and caught a couple of neglected lumps amongst the crowd. The sun disappeared behind the point and after a few more last waves than is mathematically possible I headed for the shore where my numb feet finally came in useful when traversing the stony beach up to the front. I met Adam on the front and we walked back up to the car where my feet found sensation and also Jason.

Popping Up.


Scream pubs are brilliant. A much under-rated pillar of Uni life. Any pub that can provide you a beer, meal and change for £7 is always a welcome end to a day. Fatigue was kicking in. Conversation slowed. Burgers arrived. Glasses drained. All was well. Waves reminiscedwipe-outs were told, sessions compared. All were revived. Onwards! and down in to town.

Left: Stavros uses snakebite as his inspiration & practices his pop-up in Walkabout. Right: Diego is squatted by a friendly squaddy.

-Make Friends-

Having had a sniff of student living there was no going back. We hit the nearest Spoons where Adam asserted that basically all drinks were basically half price. The workers got a round in followed closely by another and then another. We had students to entertain after all. The Welsh circled. Rob was separated from the pack and picked off by a vicious pack of valley's girls. Adam thought quick and decided to give us all pseudonyms though to what use I'm still not sure. Rob was dead and Diego was born who within 5 minutes was promptly drug searched by security before being squatted by a provoked squaddy. The barmaid soon put a stop to the shenanigans: "Oi! Boys! Not near the bar all right?!". Fair enough. 

Stavros and Diego embrace.


Always make things interesting. A walkabout was called for. Snakebite drained. Steve (Jason) became increasingly Welsh until congratulations were offered from the DJ to English Steve, up from London, celebrating his 30th. 

Stavros (Adam) had won £31 on a fruity and ordered copious Jager before hitting the snakebite hard and practising his pop-up on the floor of walkabout. Diego went missing for great stints presumably detained by security again for taking too long to poo, while Vlad stoically held the fort throughout. Stavros then decided he'd had enough, wiped the glasses of snakebite on to the floor and announced we were moving on. I decided it was time for bed and took a recently re-appeared Diego home while one side of his body fought an increasingly losing battle to get his coat off while the other tried desperately to put it on. Progress was slow. 


From left to right: The gang; Jason (Steve), Owen (Vlad), Rob (Diego) and Adam (Stavros). On the right: Steve's 30th was too much for him evidently.

-Insult a National Treasure-

A group of random boys swarm around Charlotte Church outside a club.

Stavros: 'She's not fit.'
Steve: ' Where's Gavin?'

I blame Jager.


We woke to the smell of Bacon, coffee and croissant followed by the sight of Jason cocooned in a sleeping bag on the landing. We went downstairs to find students awake, in a clean kitchen at 9am. Things have changed. I'm not complaining though. Bacon is tidy.

A left rolls through. I take chase.
-More waves-

Due to an inevitable combination of laziness and faffing we only arrived back at the bay at 1pm though by a stroke of luck the sun shone, the waves were cleaner and almost empty. An old boy emerged from the water and told us to make the most of the quiet because everyone was watching Swansea play. "Enjoy boys!". We certainly did. 

I took off to have fun on the left hand point and without numb feet I had a ball. The tide was low and reef was shallow; knowing when to kick out was key. I attacked every wave I could. My confidence was sky high in the slightly smaller, underpopulated and cleaner swell. Spray even went flying on a couple of carves. Things were moving forward. Until an ill advised floater left me standing on shallow reef and taking a battering from the breakers. I styled it out though (I reckon) and thankfully I left the blue unscathed and stoked.Tiredness got the best of me despite the fun, sun and swell. South Wales certainly was a stereotype. Maybe it's all a clever ruse to put off the English

I rejoined Adam and Robs on the beach. Adam was pumped after a couple of nice waves at the end. Robs was understandably green from a mixture of envy, after being sidelined by knee surgery in December, and hangover but seemed chilled out by a day out of the big smoke. All smiles and surfboards we left the sand and changed in the car park, waving goodbye to the bay of opportunity.  

Adam styles it out.

The Ox had just put Arsenal ahead as we pulled in to McDonald's, famished from a mixture of paddling and hangover hunger. Despite the mood we needed more than happy meals. Big Mac's were eaten, waves analysed, stories told, wipe-outs mocked and laughter filled the air mixed in with the smell of neoprene and chips. Food finished and trays cleared away we piled back in to the car and headed east to the sound of Adam's snores and an Arsenal win.

-Trip members-

Surfing: Ant (Pablo), Adam (Stavros)
Social: Rob (Diego), Owen (Vladamir), Jason (Steve)

The bay of opportunity.

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