travel

My gnarly surf experience

Years ago I wrote a list of 30 things I want to do before I turn 30! Seen as I have just turned 25 it hit me that I best start making my way through the 17 things left on the list. With an upcoming family holiday to Newgale approaching, with three surfers I knew I had to literally jump in the deep end and learn to surf.

Newgale beach is on the Pembrokeshire Coast and is one of the Welsh ‘Blue Flag’ beaches meaning is is extremely clean. The beach has a bank of pebbles that form a kind of sea defence, before you meet the sand then sea.  It’s a very popular place for windsurfers, canoeists and surfers (like us).  We stayed up at the top of a hill in the wonderful ‘Curlew Cottage’ that had stunning views over the bay. The highlight was definitely the hot hub that we retreated to most nights with a glass of wine… or two!

15568053-93c5-40c2-90b9-0b5c8ae09c0d
For the first weekend we were joined by the misters good friend who was very keen to learn to surf.  As the first day was ‘flat’ we were keen to get out no matter what the following day, so it wasn’t a waste for his friend. White Sands was the place to be that day so I rented a ‘foamy’ board and a 5mm thick wetsuit. I was convinced I was going to be cold but the surfer dude at ‘Ma Simes Surf Hut‘ in St David’s reassured me that this was thick and as long as my core was warm I would be fine – needless to say he was right! I was very toasty! A big concern was getting in the actual wetsuit. This has been traumatic in the past and the mister was determined to get me in it as quickly and painlessly as possible so I wouldn’t have my first tantrum before even getting in the water. By the side of the car, he forced me into it, nipping my skin and lifting me into air multiple times until I was zipped in. Tantrum averted!
23415863_10214300887546869_676161975_n
I must admit I had been torturing myself with all the possible things that could go wrong! I may nose dive, the waves might sweep me away, I might get concussion, drown or even get my hair wet! The latter definitely happened haha! Although, my fellow surfer family thought it was ‘flat’ I thought I was walking into a tsunami. Luckily, my adrenaline kicked in and I unexpectedly just went for it. However, I then realised I didn’t actually know what I was meant to do. The waves were hitting me and with a surf board in hand I had no idea how to tackle the waves. The mister began to explain how you need to tilt the board and jump over in a seamless fashion so you don’t just keep going back to square one on the beach. This required some strength but I got the hang of it.

My goal of the day was to essentially body board and ride wave that way. However, I pushed myself out of my comfort zone and managed to ride it on my knees. I would wait until the wave had crashed and turned white and foamy before jumping on and paddling (I realised my paddling is pretty weak) and wait to be lifted by the wave and ride it in. Its fascinating how something as small as having your feet off the board at the end, being too far forward, your legs not staying closed together can literally end up with you nose diving, surf board flying in the air and tumbling through the water. It happened a fair few times but it was enjoyable and a great rush! I was so pleased that the mister had the patience to talk me through every step, laugh at me when I fell off and inform me where I may have gone wrong! Two hours in unfortunately, pro surfer girl had mild concussion after pro surfer boyfriends board hit her on the head… This was a few hours in and felt like the right time to go back to the cottage and enjoy a cuppa and cake. It cures everything, apart from aching muscles!

IMG-20170908-WA0034

I was hooked and ready to give surfing another go, despite how much I ached. After a very early dog walk to check out the surf we went for it. This time just me and the mister. Day 2 actually had more fear for me. I knew what it felt like to swallow half of the sea water, tumble and fall and I knew it could happen again. This time we stayed on Newgale beach and it was very foamy which was good for me. However, there wasn’t much time in between waves so I did feel like I was getting a little bit battered. Nevertheless, I persisted with the goal of standing up. It was ambitious but I was so proud when I managed to get one leg in position and was half stood half knelt. Progress! However, no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t ‘pop up’!

My final day of ‘learning to surf’ we took to Newgale Beach where it was rather choppy and not ideal for surfing. However, we were keen to get our hair wet seen as it was the last day of my board rental. I think I had built up a bit too much confidence and wasn’t paying as much attention as I had in previous days. I genuinely have no idea what I did to send my board flying in the air and me under the water. But I soon knew about it when the finns clipped my ear! In true Chloe Style, I thought my ear had been cut off! Luckily it hadn’t and I just felt a tad dizzy. I took some time out on the sand but it definitely knocked my confidence so I just ‘played’ in the shallow end till the mister came in.

23361231_10214300887586870_1324013521_n

I realised that learning to surf doesn’t come naturally to me. However, I have had a good taster experience and I’m keen to give it another go! So although I didn’t successfully stand up, it was definitely a success for me.

We had the most relaxing week away in Newgale with the mister’s family, exploring nearby quaint towns like St Davids, Solva and Broad Haven, many games of Monopoly, retreats in the Hot Tub and beautiful meals. Well deserved break in beautiful Wales.

Go the Distance in your Country

Chloe