Surfing holidays and camping - the seven ages of surfing
It’s been – yikes – 20 years since I first discovered the joys of surfing. Anyone who’s caught the bug knows that, unless you’re one of the very lucky few born and living within reach of the beaches, surfing in the UK is a not an easy pastime to pursue. Transport, kit and accommodation all need sorting out in advance, and the sheer amount of time involved means weekends need to be well-planned in advance to give you the best chance of finding that one perfect wave you can bore your colleagues about for days afterwards.
Times, of course, change and my all-too-infrequent surf trips now bear little resemblance to those of the halcyon days of the – wince – mid 80s. Over the years my buddies and I have gone through seven distinct ages of surfing - here they are (in order of ascending comfort):
1. Winging it
You blag a lift, hire your gear and spend your evenings trawling pubs for...ahem, local "hospitality". Success brings a roof over your head for the night, sometimes followed by a swift morning exit (occasionally hastened by the appearance of an angry parent). Failure condemns you to a night shivering in the dunes under a scavenged bin bag.
Pros: An authentic surf experience. It’s all about living free, man.
Cons: Too many to list.
2. Sleep in the car
One of your mates has somehow convinced his mum to trust him with her Fiesta for the weekend. Woop woop. Cue five lads bombing down for the weekend, cruising the local streets and feeling like Gods. Advanced imbibement is required before you can sleep five in a Fiesta (trust me): both front seats will recline to a degree, jamming the back seat down will allow just enough space for three in the boot. Cosy. Expect to wake up critically dehydrated and medically crippled.
Pros: At least you’ll be dry. Bin bags are history.
Cons: Not exactly ideal preparation for the following day’s surf adventures.
3. The surf wagon.
Somehow you’ve convinced your boss to lend you the company van for the weekend. You cram in as many chums as possible and christen it as a “surf wagon”. Normally a Transit can accommodate 7-8 in relative comfort... leave the wetsuits to dry outside, stick the boards on the roof overnight and it’s practically a hotel on wheels. Well, maybe a Travelodge.
Pros: Compared to the Fiesta, relative luxury.
Cons: Having to clean it out before returning to work on Monday morning.
The roof having been lowered about three feet one over-exuberant Saturday night, the company van is no longer an option. It’s back to the car. Cramming the Fiesta no longer holds the same appeal...time to invest in a tent. Magically, girls start to appear and will occasionally choose to spend time hanging around your campsite. Happy days.
Pros: Girls. And blow-up mattresses, warm sleeping bags and home-cooked fry-ups. But mainly girls.
Cons: Campsite security, always SO unreasonable when you’re just about to seal your legendary DJ status by dropping the bomb you’ve been saving all night just for this moment...grrr.
Girls are now a regular occurrence. Girls don't really like tents. They also need plug sockets for their hair straighteners. So you graduate to static caravans and discover the benefits of static living...there's no going back now.
Pros: Hot showers. Refrigerated beers.
Cons: A weird feeling that this is actually cheating...the surf Gods may not look kindly on you.
Girls have become girlfriends and have started to use strange language: they refer to surf trips as "romantic weekends". Thin caravan walls won't accommodate this linguistic upgrade...
Pros: You don’t have to cook your own breakfast any more.
Cons: This surfing malarky’s starting to hurt the wallet.
Girlfriends have become partners, fiancees or wives and tiny surf dudes and dudettes have started to make an appearance. Romantic weekends are out the window, it's strictly "family friendly" weekend cottages from now on.
Pros: You get to pretend you actually live there.
Cons: You don’t actually live there.