A taster for things to come
I grew up in a small town 20 miles outside of Bristol in the UK, which was approximately 34 miles from Weston Super Mare beach or 114 miles from a clean ocean we could all enjoy swimming in. In the case of my family, this was a 2hr car journey to North Devon and Westword Ho!.
Some of my earliest and favourite memories are of watching my Dad swim (seemingly) far out to sea and then power back to shore, sometimes he did this with me on his back, my Mum and younger siblings would be camped out in the pebble dens above the shore. We would stride on up the beach, ready to eat the packed lunch prepared earlier, we also had a Border Collie who would break away to chase the farmers sheep at any given opportunity, striking us all with dread in case the farmer got a hold of her or worse still she got hold of a poor sheep!
Those carefree days seemed to be every weekend in my young mind, and at some point, my parents bought a large static caravan in Westwood Ho! Finally, we had a real base, somewhere to stay whenever we wanted to! This meant more time to explore and we became locally familiar with the town, my siblings and I particularly looked forward to the Nickerbocker Glories in Wimpy, playing the ‘slot’ machines or dodging the waves at high tide as they crashed against the wall! We also loved exploring Bideford and Clovelly. It was a very fortunate home away from home but…for whatever reason we never made that move permanent and as we all got a little older, the caravan was sold and life started to take on a very different shape.
Fast forward to my late teens and freedom. I was driving from 17 years old and the first thing I did was take off at any opportunity I could with a car full of friends to surf, we discovered the North Devon (now hot spots) like Saunton, Croyde and Putsbough. Braunton was a revelation, a perfect little surf town, we would always drop in at ‘Chaplin’s’ for a coffee after a surf — without fail! The bonus of Bristol is it’s closeness to the surf beaches of Devon, and in the summer months it was completely possible to drive down in the evening for a surf, either sleep in the car and surf again come morning, or head home that night! It was basically accessible at last.
My first board was a ‘Lazer’ and proudly stood in my bedroom alongside the girly posters of the time and my collection of Anne Rice vampire books.
This would be the board I rode at Llangennith beach in Wales for the first time, an early morning phone call to Pete Jones ‘Your roving surf reporter’ would tell us the conditions for the visit and that was doable quicker than Devon, from what I remember its a beautiful surf there!