Sunday, 15 June 2014

15/06/14 | Like father like daughter

Catching a wave with my dad on father's day last year

Somewhere in my parents' loft there is a photo of me and my dad on Putsborough, either side of his brand new longboard. I'm maybe 14 or 15 years old, and I can remember exactly what I was thinking as the photo was taken. Despite growing up in landlocked Oxford before the advent of the internet, with very little exposure to mainstream surf culture, I was thinking 'wahine' as I draped myself down the side of the board. When we got the photos back from the lab and my dad saw my uncharacteristic and awkward pose, he told me off, saying 'why do you want to look like that, [springing into a semi-crouch] you should be like this, ready for action!'.

My dad never wanted a son (in fact he wanted four daughters, but fortunately for me, the eldest, he stopped after two), he brought me up to be a surfer, not a surf chick. He always encouraged me to push myself and keep up with him; when the waves were too big for me to join him out back on my surfboard he sent me out on my bodyboard instead so I could get out and get used to bigger surf. Not liking the cold was never really an option, I was under the impression that we didn't get surf in the summer for years because all our trips were in the colder months when the surf was better.

That photo taught me a valuable lesson about what I should aspire to as a surfer, that being a female surfer didn't mean I had to look or act a certain way, I just had to love surfing. So today I'm saying thank you to my dad for making me the surfer I am today - I didn't need female surfer role models when I was growing up, because with him everyone was equal in the surf.

Me, Croyde Bay - 1981
Getting me started early, Croyde Bay 1981

Sunday, 25 May 2014

25/05/14 | Together we can make a difference

After the winter storms brought a tidal wave of rubish to my local beach, I was left feeling pretty helpless. A few of us started spending an hour or so each weekend collecting rubbish and hauling it back up the dunes, but the task seemed so huge it was hard to keep going. Despite telling ourselves 'every little helps' it felt like we weren't having any impact.

Not long afterwards Martin Dorey started his #2minutebeachclean campaign - it's a simple idea: when you're at the beach spare two minutes of your time to pick up what rubbish you can. Post photos of what you've picked up to social media and help spread the word. The idea quickly spread and soon images from across the globe were appearing on Instagram. Other groups sprung up on Facebook charting unusual finds and comparing beachcombing notes (I thought I was imagining that I kept seeing Lego flowers until I came across Lego Lost At Sea). Suddenly it wasn't just a few of us, we could see our combined efforts - together we can make a difference, even if individually it doesn't feel like much.

Still we waded knee deep in plastic bottles on some parts of the beach. TCV Cornwall organised a few beach cleans to tackle the mass of bottles at Penhale Corner, then on the 29th of March over 250 people turned up to help for the SAS Big Spring Beach Clean. Together we removed over 3 tonnes of plastic from along the beach. It doesn't end there though. Despite the truckloads of litter collected a huge amount of small plastic fragments remains, and more litter continues to wash ashore daily. Removing all the small plastics seems like an impossible task, but removing all the large plastic seemed impossible to start off with, I think I'm up for the challenge.

Picking up all this rubbish and seeing what ends up in our seas has really made me focus on what a difference I personally can make. Single use plastics are everywhere, and yet barely 50 years ago they didn't exist. We've completely succumbed to their convenience without really considering what happens to them afterwards. Now when I shop I look at the packaging of what I'm buying, and try to decide if I really need it, or if there is a better-packaged alternative. I've stopped using single use plastic bags and single serving drinks. That one is hard - no more smoothies or juices with a sandwich when I'm out and about, I have to remember to take something with me from home. If we as consumers use our buying power to tell companies that we care about how their products are packaged and how much waste they cause, together we can really make a difference.

I could write about this indefinitely, so for now I'm going to let some of my pictures do the talking:

If you've made it this far you can check out more information on marine litter on SAS's website and take their plastic bag pledge, or learn more about 2 minute beach cleans at

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

22/04/14 | Approaching Lines Festival

The guys over at Approaching Lines have got a three day feast of surf films coming to Newquay & Falmouth this weekend. Looking forward to seeing some surf films on the big screen!

See the full line-up & book tickets on Approaching Lines.

GROOVE MOVE - (surf film trailer) from Jack Coleman on Vimeo.

RUSSIA: The Outpost V1 TRAILER from Chris Burkard on Vimeo.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

06/04/14 | Bye Bye Stripey


When a surfboard's right it feels like a piece of you. I knew as soon as I first surfed this board that it was right. But then in California I tried Chris's Quiver Q-Pro, and that really felt right. So I ordered one, and reluctantly polished poor Stripey up ready to sell. Testament to Fluid Juice's bomb-proof glassing (and my preference for avoiding busy breaks) it looked as good as it did the day I picked it up over 7 years ago, and without a single ding. The very next day it was despatched to its new owner Nina in Polzeath.

I'm still torn. That board feels like a big part of my surfing identity, I've had people come up and say hi because they've recognised me by it, it's strange to think of someone else riding it. Maybe I should have retired it to rest out its days on the wall - sitting typing in my spare room I can't help but think it would look good in here. In the end though it's just a board, and it's time for me to move on to a new board that will challenge my progressive surfing. Nina let me know the other day that she's enjoying it, I'm glad it's gone to a great home and hope she loves it as much as I did.

Untitled Untitled
My original spray design, and the finished board on its maiden voyage in Morocco, January 2007.

One of my first surfs on it, Morocco 2007. Photo Mike Stevens.

nina with board
Nina's first surf with it, Polzeath 2014. Photo @ninazietman

Monday, 16 December 2013

16/12/13 | Winter blues


If I had just one tip for winter surf trips it would be this: wait until after Christmas. Give yourself the prospect of a nice hot trip in February to get you through the winter.

We went to California in October. Despite the warm water and balmy Californian climate I was actually looking forward to coming home to some nice cold-but-empty waves. I had a new board to ride and was feeling super paddle fit. Oh the surf, such a cruel mistress, it had other ideas. Howling winds and solid rain for nearly six weeks, all the while the days getting shorter and shorter and the water temperature plummetting. The trip quickly became a distant memory.

I always struggle in the winter, but with our winter trip already behind me I'm finding this winter particularly difficult. Nothing's really firing me up, I'm demotivated, and if procrastinating were an Olympic sport I'd get the gold. I started writing a post about the trip on the 4th of November, somehow it's taken me two months to sort out my film photos and get something together. But it's done, and if it's not too depressing to even look at some warm waves and blue skies you can see the full set here.

Tuesday, 1 October 2013

01/10/13 | Nordfor Sola / North of the Sun

Nordfor Sola (North of the Sun) was the standout film for me from last year's London Surf Film Festival, and it's finally available to watch / download on Vimeo. It's not free, but trust me this will be the best surf film you've seen in a long time.

Friday, 27 September 2013

27/09/13 | Cruel & Curious Sea - Today!

The Cruel & Curious Sea art exhibition is today! Can't believe how quickly it's come around. Here's a few teasers of what other people are showing:

Artists (top to bottom) Daniel Scott, Lee Robertson, Rob Weare, Danni Bradford