Sunday, 31 August 2014

Can I ever call myself a surfer?

Here's my story of moving to Cornwall in a pursuit to learn to surf, the ups, the downs, the injuries and when will I ever be confident enough to say I am a surfer!

Just over eight years ago I was a 21 year old living in Essex, I had grown up in Essex but always holidayed in North Devon and then eventually Holidayed in Cornwall too. I loved the beach and the lifestyle down here and with my braided hair, tattoo's and piercings I felt slightly more accepted in Cornwall then on the streets of Essex, where board shorts and flip flops were not the attire for the high street.
Mandi Brooks

When I was just 18 I took my first ever surf lessons on a camping weekend with my boyfriend and some school friends from Essex in Croyde at the Surf South West school on Croyde beach. I loved it, I was terrible, I could barely stand up on the board but I was hooked, After this I bought myself an indestructible NSP surfboard and came to Cornwall whenever I could to get in the water. I then bought myself a classic Volkswagen Beetle and continued to live in Essex taking my board and my Beetle down to Cornwall to surf whenever I could afford to.
White Beetle
After a weeks holiday near Perranporth with some friends from Essex I decided not to go back with my friends and spend the rest of my summer camping in a tent by myself on the North Cornish coast. I had to return to Essex as I was starting college to study photography in Southend but things were not what I wanted. All I could think about was Cornwall, the beaches, the lifestyle and of course the sea. As soon as college finished for the summer I was back in Cornwall for the summer. I managed to get a job in a holiday park working behind a bar with a flat on site and that was it. I was living in Cornwall, I would get in the water as much as possible and when the end of the summer came and it was time to go back to Southend College I just couldn't face going back to Essex. I was so happy in Cornwall but I didn't want to give up on my photography course either. Luckily things worked out and I was able to transfer my course and complete my HND in Digital photography at Truro college. 
Everything was now falling into place, I lived all over Cornwall from Falmouth, Penryn, Truro and then Newquay. 
Learning to surf in Newquay

My surfing was starting to frustrate me, If the waves were small and safe then it was the best thing in the world, I could stand on my board and ride the waves straight into the beach but I had the fear installed in me and paddling out back and taking bigger waves was something I never even wanted to achieve. I was happy with what level I was at and simply enjoyed the sunshine, the lifestyle and the water.

But then riding white water was getting to easy and I was getting bored and wanting to push myself further. Then began the next step of learning to surf. I decided that if I wanted to get better at surfing then treating myself to my own 'real' surf board was the next step. I bought a custard point surfboard  a 7ft 8 board and I've called him Lord. Lord of the Boards, he is beautiful and gave me a new wave of confidence. The board was lighter to paddle and instantly I was loving the board and riding waves but again I was only riding white water and needing to progress.
Custard Point Surf Board
In my quest to learn to surf I joined a local surf club at Watergate Bay run by Sophie Skinner. (Ben Skinners Sister.) It was great, it was for just for ladies and it was just what I needed. This wasn't surf lessons that are mostly offered in town where your taught simply to stand on your board this was a club for girls to progress. Getting tips on what I was doing right and wrong and giving me further confidence to believe I could do more was great. As the summer again came to an end so did the evening surf club. 

Next on my mission to learn to surf I was fortunate enough to visit friends in Fuerteventura. My friend just happened to be a surf instructor out their so managed to get some great tips and one on one tuition in warm water. This removed a lot of fear for me, falling off in warm water was fun compared to getting ice cream headaches in Cornwall and I felt full of confidence and really keen to progress. 
Surfing in Fuerteventura
However during the winter of 2012 I had planned surgery to resolve temporomandibular pain disorder in my jaw. This involved having my jaw broken in three places, a series of metal plates and screws and a lot of months recovery and pain to follow. 
Temporomandibular x-rays
I did get back in the water during that summer but I was still wearing braces and elastics to hold my jaw back in place. Any pressure put on my face under water wasn't good and I lost all my confidence and fitness. I was careful and only went in the water on very small days just to feel the salt water in my hair and the sand between my toes. 

The following year I was keen to get back into my learning to surf adventure and joined another surf club. This was an offshoot of the original ladies club that I attended at Watergate Bay but this time was held at Fistral Beach in Newquay. The club had more instructors and split the girls into more groups aimed at their abilities. Joining this club was the best thing I have ever done, getting the tuition and guidance to steer my surfing was one thing but the encouragement and confidence that bounces off the other girls is amazing. If you want to join the women's surf club you can find all the details here.

I've made loads of new friends to go surfing with and even been on end of season surf camps with the girls and not forgetting the end of summer fancy dress surf competition. Surfing was no longer getting frustrating I was slowly progressing, learning to trim waves in both directions, rather than straight into the beach and speeding up my pop up on those cleaner small waves, my confidence was growing and so I was ready to push myself further again.

Fancy Dress Surfing Newquay

Fancy Dress Surfing Newquay

Womens surf school newquay
With my certificates for surfing and getting more and more confident I was joining the 'out back group' at surf club. I couldn't believe I was actually going to get out of my comfort zone that I have been in for so long. I was taught tips on paddling out, when to wait for the set to pass, how to use rips to our advantage and even how to turtle roll on my big board. I was doing it, I was getting out back! 

But then came the next challenge, actually taking those waves from out back. Taking larger green waves was completely different to riding flat white water that pushes you along and you barely need to paddle to catch the wave. But this is where it has all gone a bit sour, I have the fear! I would get out back and just sit there, paralysed with fear of the waves rolling in.

With encouragement from the surf instructors to just go for it, enjoy the adrenaline rush, enjoy the fear I would at least start attempting to take the drops but every time I paddled for the wave I would see the height and look down the face and freak out. I would slack off my paddle and pull back off the wave every time, I thought my fear was getting out back but in fact that was the easier part, yes I would get caught in sets, and yes I would get pushed back to the beach but once out back a rest sitting on my board was all worth it but I can't get over the fear to concur those drops on waves. 

I won't give up, and I'll keep trying but I also know that my body isn't indestructible and getting hurt in a dangerous sport is all very real. I haven't had any serious injuries but I've had my fair share of bumps and bruises from surfing. If I could learn what I did wrong each time I wouldn't do it again but half the time I get back from a session bruised and beaten and I don't even know how they happened. 

An eye injury from an outback lesson, I was lucky that my eye wasn't damaged but I didn't even feel it, I got straight back on my board and started to paddle back out and it was only that another of the girls on the lesson told me I was bleeding that I knew I was injured. The black eye and swelling that popped up later in the day told me otherwise that actually it did hurt, quite a lot! But my instructor on the lesson was great aiding me with ice held in a pair of sweaty board shorts! Lol thank you Rosa Thompson, your a legend.
Surfing eye injury
Another injury, or rather an inconvenience is weaver fish stings. These little guys sit just below the sand at low tide and if trodden on give you a nasty sting. Here you can see my right foot puffed right up after a weaver sting that stopped my session.
Weaver fish sting
Bruises are a regular occurrence, usually on my knees from my cack handed pop ups but this 2inch wide bruise on my leg was impressive especially as I have no idea how it happened!
Surfing injuries
This was probably the most painful injury I have received whilst learning to surf and looks relatively minor. I stacked it off my board and my board somehow flipped sideways as I was falling, I landed with my shin hitting the rail of my board at full force. This was during the winter and in my thick 5.3 suit but the pain was intense, I hobbled up the beach and pulled off my suit, I couldn't believe that the impact of hitting my shin had split my leg. I still have a nice scar now from this one as a reminder!
Surfing injuries 
I know I've got a long way still to go to be able to call myself a surfer and a lot more injuries and fearful moments to come. But one day I'm hoping to concur that fear and take the drop and when I do will have reached the next stage of my surfing. I know other people progress quicker or slower even and although i've been trying for eight years I know the only thing stopping me is myself and that's the biggest challenge.

But until then I will continue with the surf clubs, continue meeting new friends and continue little step by little step becoming a surfer and not just a learner!
Joe Way Paddle for Life

Surfing Crantock

Beetle with Surfboards

Surfing Cornwall


Surfing Cornwall

Surfing Cornwall

Sunset surf Cornwall

Sunset surf Cornwall

Mandi Brooks Learner Surfer
If your struggling with your surfing don't give up, keep going, it's all the in between times that make it worthwhile and one day I'm hoping I will confidently be able to say I'm a real surfer.

Friday, 22 August 2014

Top things to do this bank holiday weekend in Cornwall

The summer bank holiday in Cornwall is a time to be grateful that you are in Cornwall and enjoy the long weekend as much as possible and squeeze in as much fun as you can into one weekend. We all hope that there will be an Indian summer and we will get a hot and sunny September but the reality is that this might not happen, so for the last bank holiday until Christmas it’s truly time to leave the day job behind, put away the paperwork and get ready to enjoy the weekend. Whether you live in Cornwall or are simply visiting for the bank holiday weekend there’s loads going on and below is my pick of some of my favourites.

Friday
Cornwall VW Jamboree.
VW Cornwall Jamboree
Image Source - http://cvwoc-jamboree.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/09/jambo-2014.jpg 

For those with a love of classic Volkswagens then this is a three day fun packed festival for you not to miss. With car enthusiasts from all across the country the county show ground at Stithians becomes home to fields crammed pull of people camping with their pride and joy vehicles. With live music each night, a licenced bar, trade stalls open all day, entertainment for the kids and a show and shine on the Sunday were owners put their pride and joy into the show hoping to win a trophy for being the best car their.
If you want to go to the show for a day then tickets are only £5 per person with under 5’s getting in for free. To camp for the whole weekend tickets start at £25.00.
For more information visit their website here 

Waynestock Free Festival.
If classic cars aren’t your thing but camping at a festival and live music is up your street then the FREE music festival at Gwinear at the Royal Standard could be for you. With three days of live music, beer and Food then this is a great line up. There’s some of the west countries most popular artists playing and if you want to camp over then pitches are available for just £10 a night. With bands like Moriaty and The Sum Of this is a festival not to miss. You can find out more about the festival by visiting their facebook page here.

Waynestock Festival
Image Source - http://dkf70b6ip254w.cloudfront.net/events/event_images/9300/large/waynestock.jpg?1406930248 
Seth Lakeman at Princess Pavillions Falmouth
Another favourite of mine is the wonderfully talented Seth lakeman who is a demon with his stringed instruments. With folky yet rocky numbers Seth Lakeman is an artist that I highly recommend that you go and see live and tonight in Falmouth could be your lucky night, listening to his music on CD is one thing but his live shows add a whole heap more energy to his music and is really worth going to if you can. 
You follow Seth Lakeman on Facebook here for more information about his upcoming gigs and music.

Saturday
Car Boot Sales
If you've been hard at work all week or partying hard at one of the weekend festivals there's nothing better than having a lay on on a Saturday morning but don't lay in bed too long and get yourself over to one of Cornwalls car boot sales and grab a summer Holiday bargain. Whether you fancy a lunch time bargain hunt in Mitchell at 1.30pm or an afternoon browse at the Wadebridge county show ground at 3pm. Whether you are selling or buying the bank holiday weekend is a great time for both at one of Cornwalls car boot sales. For more information on times and locations and further details for sellers visit the car boots sales in Cornwall website for all the information you need. 

Roller Skating
If you didn't know that Newquay has it's very own roller disco's then you really are missing out. Based at the bubble dome at Newquays Treviglas College between 3pm and 5pm every Saturday you can get your skates on and have some fun. Whether you’re an adult reminiscing when you used to own your own quad skates or a family with children then this is an ideal activity to burn off some energy. With the bubble dome being indoors you can be sure to keep entertained even if the weather turns slightly sour this bank holiday. Join the Skooters Roller Disco Facebook page to keep up to date with all the roller skating activities and times, costs and skate hire. 
Skooters Roller Disco Newquay
Image Source - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Skooters-roller-discos/148674715195571
Reef at the Wateringhole
If all the festivals over the bank holiday weekend are a bit to much then maybe just going to a single gig will be enough for you and what better gig than seeing old skool rock band REEF play at the Wateringhole in Perranporth. What could be better than seeing a great band at a bar on the beach. Tickets are £26.00 each and can be bought here
Reef at the wateringhole
Image Source - http://www.thewateringhole.co.uk/wp/wp-content/uploads/2014/03/reef_pic2.jpg
Sunday
SkyBar Sunday Session
If you haven’t heard of the SkyBar then that’s probably because it’s a pop up venue and is only around for eight days. With a whole host of events from Music to Comedy it’s one definitely not to miss this weekend. If you wanting a cliff top gig with beautiful Cornish views with cocktails and sunsets then this is the place to be on Sunday. Dubbed the Sunday Session the night see’s musicians Alphabeatsoup performing at the Skybar think of an eclectic mix of live jazz and rock music mixed by some very talented DJ’s and your set for a great party on the rugged cliffs of Cornwall. 
If you want to learn more about the Skybar then you’ll need to be quick before it’s gone so check out their website here 
Sky Bar St Agnes
Image Source - http://www.the-skybar.co.uk/events/2014/8/1/sunday-sundowner-br-4pm-12pm
Bowgie Ale & Music Festival
This is probably where you'll find me this weekend supporting the amazingly talented Josh Curnow. Who is playing this beer festival at mid day. I recently wrote about the young but hugely talented Josh Curnow on my blog  and when i found out that he was playing at the Bowgie Ale Festival it felt quite possibly rude not to go and she him my support. 
Bowgie Ale Festival
Image Source - http://www.wozzoncornwall.co.uk/events/bowgie-ale-music-festival-bowgie-inn-crantock-f283f9
For anyone that doesn't know the giant pink pub perched on the Cornish coast line it over looks the stunning Crantock beach and is definitely worth a visit and with live music and ale thrown into the mix it's one that can not be missed. 

Monday
Cornwall Folk Festival
If you haven't guessed by my weekend suggestions, I love live music and rounding up the end of the bank holiday festival can be done in Wadebridge at the Cornwall Folk Festival. With pockets of entertainment set up all over the town from the town hall to local pubs everywhere will have a folk vibe to the weekend. 
To find out where to get tickets and who is playing where then pop over to their website here for more information. 
Cornwall Folk Festival
Image Source - http://www.cornwallfolkfestival.com/tickets.php
Bude LifeBoat Day
Lastly to round up the bank Holiday finish the long weekend at the Bude Lifeboat day where not only can you get entertainment for the whole family but your support and donations help keep a vital charity going not just in Cornwall but across the UK. From rowing races to cream teas, live music to food stalls there is something for the whole family and what better way to end the bank holiday weekend then with a fireworks display at 9.30pm.

What ever your doing in Cornwall this weekend have a great time, enjoy the weather, the music and time with friends and family. 

Wille and the bandits play the Sea Level Sessions at Great Western Beach Newquay

If like me you love a last minute plan then Wednesday nights gig on great western beach in Newquay was exactly that. Just a few days previously there was chatter on Facebook of these ‘Sea Level Sessions’ Similar to lusty glaze and the sundowner sessions but on a smaller and cheaper scale, i.e free entry. 
Sea Level Sessions Newquay
It was a gig too good to refuse as not only was the sun shining and setting into the sea behind me but I had sand between my toes whilst dancing on the beach with a cider in hand to the one and only Wille and the Bandits.
Sun Setting over Newquay

Regular readers to my blog will know that I’m slightly obsessed with this band, and it’s not just me but my partner and my friends as well. If you haven’t seen this band live then you need to get them into your lives. From their early days of a mix of their own music and covered songs they now firmly know who ‘Wille and the Bandits’ are and when playing their own music the audience knows and loves them well enough to sing along to all their lyrics.
Wille and the Bandits


If you’re still not sure about this band then knowing they were playing Glastonbury this year and were tipped as one of the top bands to see by Radio one should help encourage you to give them a listen. They are about to start touring in October across the country so make sure you check them out as they are truly amazing and I promise you that you will get lost in their music. If you can't wait to see them at one of their gigs then here's a sandy sneak peek of their beach gig from Wednesday night covering Santana's Black Magic Women. 

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach - Lots of Pictures

There was loads of action at Fistral Beach yesterday for the men's heats of the Boardmasters surfing competition. The finals are today but to see some of yesterdays action check out the photos below, or head over to the Photobrook Facebook page for loads more images. 
Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach

Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach

Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach


Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach

Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach


Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach

Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach

Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach

Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach

Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach

Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach

Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach

Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach

Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach

Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach

Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach

Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach

Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach

Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach

Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach

Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach

Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach


Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach

Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach

Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach

Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach

Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach

Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach

Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach

Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach

Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach

Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach

Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach

Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach


Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach

Boardmasters Mens Surfing competition at Fistral Beach