Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Is the sea in or out?

I use this little book a lot these days. It's not because I can balance tide position on a beach with wave form like some kind of Zen surf master - no, it's because I can figure out how far I'm going to have to walk to reach the water. As you can see, this is a 2005 edition which having served its purpose is now a wedge for my DVD collection - you know, like a beer mat under a wobbly table. I'm pointing this out as I'm sure this year's edition, which I leave in the Land Rover, is going to cost you more - OK maybe 10p more. Go on - splash out!

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Mussel beds Holywell Bay

I do love my seafood. I have a bit of a problem with oysters though. In the Smuggler's Den up in Rossnowlagh Co.Donegal I had a whean of them for starters. And then, rather than go for the sweet I tucked into another plate for good measure. There must have been a dodgy mollusc in there somewhere becasue I was calling for Ralph & Huey for a while after. Sort of lost the taste for them since then.

Anyway, I've always admired those people that go out there and collect their mussels and shellfish from the beach. There's great clusters of them at Holywell Bay at low tide and with all the advice on cooking mussels out there, perhaps I'll have a go this year myself.

The Invasion Cometh

My sister, brother-in-law and their three kids are coming over from Northern Ireland for a visit soon. They were looking at the Nipper pictures of their cousin last night when I was chatting to their Dad on the webcam - the sound quality is much better than our normal BT line! There will be much packing of wetsuits and fiddling with roof boxes. Any chance of another Trogg's T Shirt Merv? This time, you won't need your wellies on the beach ...

Monday, June 26, 2006

Can You Identify The Cove? View A

Those of us into beaches usually have our secret hideaway - that little cove or beach that only locals know about. Getting to them usually involves some climbing, abseiling or radical tactic. The more inaccessible, the more we love 'em! I'm betting nobody can put this Cornish cove on the map.

Can You Identify The Cove? View B

It's in Cornwall- that's all your getting from me. Any ideas?

Nippers Fun Day Event - Schpeil 3

In between events and our picnic (thanks sea-nymph, appreciated the Cornish Fairings) I checked out the local surf shops. I'm going to get into reviewing some of these shops here in more detail because my own experience of the shopping extravaganza that has erupted around "surfdom" - I mean in terms of service, value and attitude - has been both very, very good and very, very bad.

So, when it comes to surf shops that want to rip off or treat the customers on whom they depend like so much dross,I'll be very happy to "name and shame".

I'm happy to say that my limited experience with TJ's surf shop at Polzeath today was A1.

I was thinking to myself that having blogged on about Weever fish, I should probably practice what I preached & invest in a pair of booties myself. I do have an old pair of gaudy looking Tiki boots but my feet have broadened over the years into two sasquatch like pads and they squeeze too tightly for comfort.

Anyway, helpful & cheerful dudes working there and also 10% discount for members of a Surf Lifesaving Club. I liked it when I asked for discount they were "OK, no probs", as opposed to looking like someone had shat in their handbags

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Nippers Fun Day Event - Schpeil 2

I reckon there were well over 150 kids on the beach today and the organisation was first class. The Nippers ran "flags" - a kind of knockout event where they start from a prone position on the beach, then spring up and sprint along the sand to collect "flags" (usually some kind of plastic piping) stuck in the sand. The catch is that there are 10 kids and only 9 "flags", and each cycle, a kid gets eliminated and there's one less flag.

Then they get into the surf and run relays with their "Nipper Boards" and paddle in. From such stuff are future lifeguards made.

The thing that struck me that was that for a "fun" event, most of the kids were so competitive. I found this rather encouraging. For a while, the mantra "it's the taking part that counts" has been rather over-used in schools when it comes to sporting prowess to the extent that a kid could be expected to feel guilty for winning.

Nippers Fun Day Event - Schpeil 1

I took my 8 year old lad along to his first "Nippers" fun day event today. The term "Nipper" has a specific meaning in this part of the world - namely, the youngest member of a Surf Lifesaving Club. This year, the gig was held at Polzeath - a compact little gem of a beach on the North Coast close to Wadebridge.

We were up early for a Sunday morning and hit the beach around 9.00am. Our club (Perranporth Surf Lifesaving Club) were already firmly pitched with their gazebo-like tent resplendent and the rest of the motely crew assembling with their wetsuits, tents and portable BBQ's.

This being an event where the emphasis is on fun rather than competition, kids from various clubs in Cornwall were mixed into coloured teams. Sad to say, some overly competitive Dads could be heard cheering rather more enthusiastically when they spotted the coloured hats of our own club members than the collective "team" colours. Shame!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Surf Watch

If, like me, you have young kids on the beach and you have to divvy up time out in the waves with policing junior's attempts at trashing everyone else's sandcastles, then you need to know when to head in-shore and lend a helping hand. Or in my case, let my lovely sea-nymph of a wife get out there with her body-board.

I once lost a supposedly wave-proof watch in a wipeout on a beach in Donegal. So many hundred pounds of Swiss craftmanship turned into crab bait in an instant. Lesson learnt though,so these days, I buy these cheap and cheerful "Surf Watches", strap it on over the old wetsuit and go get wet.

The US company that markets them is pointed in your direction here...

One tip, smear a bit of wax over the timepiece for some extra shelf-life.

Flags, Flags, & Flags

With the world cup reaching the final stages, there's a lot of flag waving going on at the moment. Flags on cars, buildings, people and on the beach. But these latter flags might mean the difference between life & death. Slightly histrionic,eh?

There are around 200 deaths and 700 serious accidents every year on beaches in the UK and Republic of Ireland and many of these could be avoided. So say the folks at RNLI and they should know.

All you need to know about Weever Fish

A fairly regular event at the Surf Lifesaving Club is finding someone in the first aid room with their foot stuck in a tub of really hot water. It's not because they have cold feet - no, it's because they have gone and stood on the Weever fish. They stick their nasty poisonous spines in your foot. Understandable really, since you have gone and tried to squash them with your sprog but very painful nonetheless.

So, buy some booties for your tootsies.

Sniffing Sex Wax

When I lived in Germany back in the early 90's, I was completely landlocked and felt like a fish out of water (in many senses). Back in my flat and fresh out of the bierkeller I'd track down a couple of coconut flavoured blocks of Sex Wax I had lying about and give them a sniff. Imagine a gourmand with a ripe cheese, if you will. Is this how you develop a fetish? I don't know ... but the smell took me back to days on Portstewart strand, paddling out like an eejit on a pop-out board I'd split 50/50 with my old mate "The Gruhn". There's lots of wax out there but for me, Zog's is still the best for your stick.

Check out some dandy wallpapers and a little video of how best to wax your board at

Friday, June 23, 2006

Check out this poet

On the seashore of endless worlds children meet.
The infinite sky is motionless overhead
And the restless water is boisterous.
On the seashore of endless worlds
The children meet with shouts and dances.

They build their houses with sand,
And they play with empty shells.
With withered leaves they weave
Their boats and smilingly float them
On the vast deep. Children have their play on the
Seashore of worlds.

They know not how to swim,
They know not how to cast nets.
Pearl-fishers dive for pearls,
Merchants sail in their ships,
While children gather pebbles
And scatter them again.
They seek not for hidden treasures,
They know not how to cast nets.

The sea surges up with laughter,
And pale gleams the smile of the sea-beach.
Death-dealing waves sing
Meaningless ballads to the children,
Even like a mother while rocking her baby's cradle.
The sea plays with children,
And pale gleams the smile of the sea-beach.

On the seashore of endless worlds children meet.
Tempest roams in the pathless sky,
Ships are wrecked in the trackless water,
Death is abroad and children play.
On the seashore of endless worlds is the
Great meeting of children.

Rabindranath Tagore

Listen To The Lifeguards

The summer season has started to kick off in Cornwall big time. When the sun is out, the beaches fill and unfortunately, there are always people getting into difficulty in the water. The ocean isn't a swimming pool and demands respect. The Lifeguards here do a great job despite regular abuse from some of the idiots that you can find on any busy beach. Check out some common sense stuff here.

Excellent Custom Wetsuits

If you spend a lot of time in the sea surfing, body-boarding or just mucking around you need a wetsuit -well, if you live anywhere near a beach in the UK that is! I chose this Sabotage winter wetsuit from Snugg based in Newquay, Cornwall. These guys make great suits! See for more info.

Beach Trash

The kids took this bit of rubbish home and made some use of it for a while. Harder to do this with a tampax applicator though ...

Check out the link to Surfers Against Sewage at if you want to do something constructive ...

Keep Our Beaches Clean!

There's stuff on every beach that shouldn't be there. I can't deny that sometimes it looks good. But for every curiosity, there's a condom or a nappy. Wherever you are, lift it, bin it - keep it clean dude.

Flotsam & Jetsam

When you start thinking that beachcombing is more important than your career then you have finally found some perspective. Come back and see what else I can trawl up for you on this beach we call life ...