The sun was still asleep, but fifteen eager surfers were wide awake. Assembling at 6am, there were excited faces in anticipation of the fun to come. The group ranged from complete beginners to veterans, and even included Australian Alex Dewar, who put us all to shame with his cut-backs and kick-outs. I was personally dreading the Atlantic winter temperatures, but knew many of these hard-core surfers had braved the sea the weekend of the snow four weeks previous.
This time, the decision to venture out and avoid the clichéd Newquay took us to idyllic surfing village Croyde, in North Devon. It catered for all our needs with its good swell, beautiful beach, cosy pub and unprecedented pasty shop. On arrival though, getting in the water was the only thing on our minds. The waves looked mellow but they soon picked up to three foot and it wasn’t long before people were on their feet. By the end of the day, beginners Ellie De Sausmarez and Nikki Merrifield were catching their first waves and loving every minute of it.
We all emerged cold but excited and ready for what the following day would bring; three foot clean waves – perhaps brought on by Alex’s sea-dance calling for some good swell. We grimaced our way back into our soggy wetsuits and headed straight for the water, ready to build on yesterday’s progress. After the morning’s successes we started back to the pub to get out of the cold and had the added joy of bumping into ex-New Zealand flanker Jerry Collins. Once everyone was warm and fed we were back in the water, timing it so as to get back to the pub to watch England vs Ireland in the six nations. Suffice to say the afternoon session provided more success than the rugby! We rounded the day off with a visit to local club Whispers, which can only be described as a breeding ground for fifty year olds, complete with pole on the dance-floor; home to some of Jack Gaughan’s most excellent dance moves (available for display on request).
Next morning we were up early, ready to make the most of the day and attempt to alleviate our hangovers with some ice-cold Atlantic spray. For the first time this weekend the sun was shining and it felt like Summer was on its way. Unfortunately the waves were messy and the rip was strong, leaving many tired bodies. But we carried on having fun with wheelbarrow races and gymnastics on the beach, led by Izzy Wood and ex-Sussex surf girl and now Croyde local Jo Brunsdon, before heading home in eager anticipation of Easter’s trip to sunny Spain.