11 October 2015


A few years ago, I stumbled across the tweets of @kfornia. Her photos of a lovely beach in Cornwall prompted me to reply that I'd had no idea England was so beautiful. Now I stood beside her taking in that view with my own eyes.
I'd driven five taxing hours on the wrong side of the road from London, past modern windmills, rolling green hills dotted with sheep, and signs for castles. As soon as I pulled up in front of their faux old stone farmhouse, Rebecca and Chris hurried me into their van with two large well-mannered dogs. Trying to beat the sunset, we rushed down narrow and windy lanes to park on a coastal clifftop.

The air was cool as I pulled on my 4/3 wetsuit, hood and booties. With a borrowed 5'8" surfboard under my arm, I followed my friends down a steep trail that finished with a skidding walk down the side of a dune to Penhale (Perran Sands) beach.

There were about a dozen surfers in the water along a beach that stretched for a few miles beneath high cliffs and dunes. English surfers make do mostly with windswell, and have to deal with extreme tide swings of 8 meters or more. (Rebecca told me she's surfed a tidal bore not far north.) This evening, the waves were up to shoulder high and a bit of fun. My first ride was the best, surprisingly on a new board.
The light faded and most of the other surfers left. It was hard to see the waves by the time I caught one in, last out of the water. Going back up the cliff was a real thigh burner but got me a little warmed up from the cool water and colder air. That didn't last long as we changed in near darkness beside the van. The stars came out and were bright and beautiful in the sky over Cornwall.

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