Saturday, July 29, 2006

National Nippers Championship: Day 1

Otherwise known as "Attack of The Killer Bees". Was it Pete or Spike that coined the term? Well, it seems to have stuck. The Perranporth Nippers were out in force today competing against close to 500 other kids from all over the country. Resplendent in their spanking new yellow rash vests, specially made for us by Jaberwocky Surfwear, with their black & yellow hats and speedos, they looked every inch the swarm of hornets, buzzing around the marshalls and our team managers.

Portreath Surf Life Saving Club are the hosts over the two day event and are doing a fine job, the early morning provisioning of bacon butties being much appreciated. Given the number of kids, the different events & heats, the organisation has been admirable. The tents, pennants and gazebos pitched on the beach conpsire with the club colours to lend the whole event a slight air of a medieval joust.

For once the forecasters got it right. The weather was crap. No other way to describe the downpours interspersed by relentless drizzle. Cruel indeed as the early morning sun had threatened to break out in force at one point. Did it take a fiz out of the kids ? Not a jot. And standing in the sea, neck deep in a swell that lifts you several feet above the sand, or duck diving under pumping breakers, you see these scrawny 8 year olds swim out around the marker buoys, faces etched with exertion, and marvel.

Pity the poor sea-nymph though, squeezed into a sodden excuse for a tent, feeding soggy rolls to the 3 year old. NB : replace existing decrepit beach tent asap.

Tacky Surferabilia

There must be many, many factories in China churning out all manner of toys, gizmos, jewellery, widgets & stickers with a "connection" to surfing, body-boarding or associated beach sports.

How tacky is this surfer air freshener here? It smells of coconut, or a rather sickly sweet synthetic approximation of one. I mean, come on, who would buy one of these?

Yeah - that's exactly what I was thinking, as I drove home from the beach today, surfer dude jiggling from the rear view mirror like a hippy on speed.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Missing Waves

Click here to view video

I forgot to mention, in case it isn't obvious, that this was the first time I figured out how to insert some video footage into a blog. It was relatively straightforward but thanks are due to the folks at Freevlog who have a nifty little "how to" tutorial.

Fancy A Celtic Blonde?

Yes, the beer, not the babe. Tried this one the other day. Very nice. Beer is to Beach Bums as bears to the honey. We have some great Cornish ales here. The first one I tried many years ago was, and is, called Doom Bar. Had it in the bar of the Port Gaverne hotel. And then again, and again. Many of Skinner's Brewery's drinks have gone down the red lane as well. Mind you, good old Guinness still gets a mention. You can take the boy out of the country but ... etc

Brokebeach Mountie

I'm finding it difficult to resist going "off topic" but the hard-core readership of this blog - all three of them - need a special mention once in a while. No names, and it will take you some effort to trace them but suffice to say, this mug-shot of one of them says it all.

Apparently, he had to have this hat imported from South Africa, specially made to fit on what can only be described as a gargantuan head. Back on topic, this hat has been spotted on many Cornish beaches recently. It's up there with basking sharks for newsworthy items.

He insisted it was doing a good job keeping rays off his thinning thatch. Always take sensible headgear to the beach. Keep a cool head and always carry a light bulb too.

The only cowboy on the beach. Don't buy a used car from this man.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Perfect At Porthgwidden

Every once in a while you get back from the beach, sand still between your toes, and realise you've had a "perfect day". Something has clicked and, like one of those exotic planetary alignments, a combination of factors have conspired to take just another day by the ocean and turn it into something memorable.

These "perfect days" are unique and fused into your memory for reasons often only vaguely understood and rarely articulated. Maybe it was the wind and the walk and the sandblasting you get on a wild western shore. Perhaps it was the waves and the sky and the salt and the seagull's squawk. Whatever the reason, we were fortunate enough to chalk up another such day at Porthgwidden Beach in St.Ives.

Nothing exotic really. The weather was fine. The kids caught some crabs and shrimps and stuck them in a bucket. Wavelets lapped against the shore, small and gentle enough to encourage even the babies into the surf. Sea nymph rubbed cream on my shoulders and held her hair up so I could reciprocate. Fine food at the Porthgwidden cafe. Time passed and nobody noticed. Like I said, perfect.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Hot, Hot, Hot

Yes, the sun has been burning down relentlessly through cloudless skies the last few days. The tarmac is lifting from the lanes and the local ice cream factories are on triple time. The weather bulletins on the Beeb show maps covered with sun logos - so much so that every time one comes on I shout out "scorchio" - its the Fast Show sketch morphing into real life here in Blighty. Each report is prefaced with a stern warning about what to do in such "excessive" heat and a reference to go to the NHS direct web-site for advice so you don't die from it all. "Stay cool", "Keep Out Of The Heat" and "Drink Regularly". Anyone thick enough to have to have that spelt out to them won't have much chance of getting to a web-site and are probably already splayed out on their lawns, all lobster red and hallucinating. I wonder if sea-nymph. who actually works for the NHS should call the help line and ask for advice on what to when your stuck in a clinic from 8.30am to 7.30pm where the office temperature is such that, if we lived in Germany, they'd all down tools and be "obliged" to go home for "health & safety" reasons.

Anyway, as this is turning into a rant, much better to head back to the beach and one such fine example recently sampled at Trebah. Picture says it all ...

Monday, July 17, 2006

Organic Farm Shops Cornwall

I wanted to mention Lobbs, the organic farm shop that provided our chicken and sausages for the BBQ during our camping trip recently. Tasty, tasty, very, very tasty. Set right beside the famous Lost Gardens of Heligan (or, as we call it ever since my Dad spoonerised them - The Last Gardens of Halogen) there's a veritable cornucopia for foodies to delight in.

Cornwall and good food go hand in hand these days. I was listening on the radio today about just how good the grass is here - which makes some great milk and thus, some world class cheeses. Farm shops are springing up all over the place - some organic, some not. Now many people have easy access to food of a quality and flavour that makes you want to stand outside of Morrisons and Tescos like a prophet warning of impending doom to all who enter these temples of pre-cooked, preposterously packaged and pulped produce. There is a better way! (Try the organic farm shop in Goonhavern, close to Newquay, if you're in the area).

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Camping Cornwall

Well, sea-nymph was finally persuaded to get back under canvas and we headed off last weekend with some friends to pitch our new Kyham Ultimate Classic at Seaview International, a pristine, preened and altogether up-market kind of family friendly campsite. This is the second time I've been here with the kids and I'm impressed again. You could eat off the floor in the shower & toilet blocks, it's that spic and span. The pitches are spacious and best of all, there are some lovely little beaches just a few minutes away.

We suited up and splashed about in some choppy surf at Caerhays beach (Porthluney Cove). There was a right old on-shore breeze and any kind of rideable waves were few and far between. There were four adults and seven kids and I think all of us were in and out of wetsuits. "Ring-A-Rose" was looking rather pretty in pink in her new Rip-Curl - it was worth all that dosh - honest!

We had our share of sunshine and rain. The good old Weber BBQ did the necessary cooking business on the Saturday evening as I stood there in the rain, raindrops spattering and sizzling on its domed cover. Some rather tasty red peppers stuffed with feta cheese went down well with the vino and there's a great farm shop nearby which I'll come back to in a later post. Suffice to say, a good time was had by all.

Friday, July 07, 2006

Cornish Nippers Championships

It's been a busy week - not least since I've been trying to get a load of camping gear together for our first total family tenting experience. It also took me about a week to recover after running around Harlyn Bay at the Cornish Nippers Championships last Sunday. This time, sea nymph and the other two boys came along for what turned out to be a bit of a "beachathon". Thundering skies threatened for a bit but the weather held, the sun block was liberally applied and the ice cream vans regularly visited between events. Another beautiful beach, another whole lot of mighty beach craic.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

Loads Of Fish Food

I was pleased to say that two of my lads passed their swimming test at Newquay's Waterworld today. The team they have there that run the swimming lessons are so professional. They are dedicated and really encourage the kids. It was like a sauna in there today, and I had to resist jumping in myself.

I was sitting beside this woman whose husband is a fisherman. We got talking about seafood and where to eat out and Jamie Oliver's new restaurant "15 Cornwall" at Watergate Bay. Her Mum had been and said it was good but the portions were too small. My sea-nymph came back tonight from a girl's night out in Truro and had heard the same thing from one of her mateys. Won't put me off checking it out myself - when we can find a babysitter.

The fisherman husband of this lady had worked out of Padstow for a while so there was plenty of gossip about Rick Stein which I won't repeat here. She's landed though - I mean, she gets all the finest, freshest trawl she needs. And lobster .. well, to her it's like such a commodity. She tells me her husband has lobster sandwiches every day - now that's what I call a sarnie!