In June 1985 I was 15 years old and surfing came into my life at Sutton on Sea, Lincolnshire courtesy of my brother taking me down the coast one Saturday afternoon, plonking me on a board and telling me to ‘start paddling’.
By this stage he had been surfing a year and for some reason he had took it upon himself to share this little gift with his annoying kid brother. Looking back I’m forever in his debt for this act of kindness because since that fateful afternoon having surfing in my life has taken me to places and put me in situations that have shaped every last part of me.
Those early days of surfing on the East coast of England are amongst some of the most pure I can remember. Dealing with cold wetsuits, surfing (relatively) empty breaks, meeting and partying with eccentric individuals and the resulting lifelong friendships I made were all part of that era’s formula. And whilst admittedly there were already fledging surfing communities up and down the coast we were all still considered a serious sub-culture and to be honest we were more than happy with that label.
80’s fluro stylee and then empty but now packed east coast gem.
4 years later I left the East Coast to study at Swansea Polytechnic (a decision based more than anything by me wanting the convenience of surf on my doorstep!) and whilst the course only lasted 2 years I ended up spending the following 16 years there as well! I loved everything about my time spent in this beautiful part of the world and on its day the Welsh coastline provided a smorgasbord of quality surfing options.
Wales might not contain many grinding barrels but theres a glut of fun stuff to be found
Fast forward to 2007 and after a strange twist of events I ended up making the huge decision to emigrate to the surfing mecca that is the Gold Coast of Australia. This is a place many surfers dream about living but personally I could never decide on whether I loved or hated the place. The positives came from the consistent surf, warm water and the fact that the city literally lives and breathes surfing. The darker side came in the unbelievable crowds at the better breaks, the dog eat dog mentality in the water and an underlying feeling that somewhere along the line maybe the Gold Coast had just lost its surfing soul? At the end of 2015 the realisation slowly washed over me that it was time to leave Australia’s shores.
Gold Coast perfection but be prepared for a battle..
In August 2016 I returned to my surfing roots after spending 27 years away. As you can imagine there has been a lot of changes but one thing I was still glad to see remaining was the sense of community. The surfers here are pretty much still willing to talk to you in the lineup, hoot you into waves and make the overall shared surfing experience fun. Something that is slowly disappearing from so many of the world’s now crowded surfing lineups.
After been away for quite sometime I realise Lincolnshire is a special little corner of the world. It has an amazing natural beauty, fantastic places to visit, lifestyle choices-a-plenty & many special characters residing within it. As a surfer here you may face many challenges but I’m happy to be back and writing another chapter in my surfing life journey.