Archive posts from 1st November to 6th March.
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Tuesday 6th March 2007
Praiainha - 12ft 12sec period side shore


There is a concept of infinity that states if you give an infinite number of monkeys an infinite number of typewriters and wait for an infinite amount of time eventually, not only will one of them write something coherent but one will write the complete works of Shakespeare.
Somebody gave my Dad a typewriter and he wrote The Power of Art.
Shakespeare it ain't, as for the coherence - I'll let you decide.
Somebody give him a banana...

I didn't surf today. technorati tags    |
Monday 5th March 2007
Tiger stripes - 3.5ft 15sec period offshore

Turf war

misty morning

I took this on the school run today. Beats sitting in a traffic jam on the A205.

I'm sitting here watching two geckos have a turf war on my living room wall. They've been brewing up to it for weeks, small excursions into the others territories. One has domain from the Escher print to the spotlight next to the woodstove whilst the other dominates the pine cupboard, the coat rack and the electricity metre zone.
But tonight it is on - running in spirals across the rough rendered walls oblivious to gravity and onlooking blog-reporters they swoop in trying to deliver their tiny wrath. There is a small lull, as the larger male slowly retreats to a refuge behind a print of Buddha. For now youth seems to have prevailed - but maybe the elder is just biding his time...

I didn't surf today. Again. Nuts. technorati tags    |
Sunday 4th March 2007
Lagide - 8.5ft 10sec period side shore


My insomnia has reached critical mass. My eyeballs feel like they've been sand-blasted and there is a small army of brain weevils munching their way through my cerebellum.
It's not like I have anything much on my mind - just the emotional turmoil of selling my house, the why and how of buying another ruin to try and turn it into a home, the minefield of starting a renovation contract for a new client and the worry of whether I have enough mini-banana yoghurts left in the fridge for Dylans packed lunch in the morning. These are the things that keep me awake at night.
People have suggested all sorts of remedies - various flower essences that sedately quieten the mind, tiny homeopathic pills that gently balance the body, a small tot of whisky.
A great big hit of heroin.
I've tried tai-chi inner circuits and yogic breathing - becoming one with the universe in a moment of pure stillness. Piffle and bunkum.Nothing works - I am a useless zombie.
The cure is obvious. I need to create some sort of distraction then bunk off work, go buy a crate of yoghurts and then head to the beach.
It's the only sensible option...

I didn't surf today. technorati tags    |
Saturday 3rd March 2007
Macaroni's - 4.5ft 13sec period side shore

Union rules

After much deliberation I've decided to instigate a star chart at work. It works in primary schools and I think that the stage of mental development of most of us is fairly similar. There will be both positive and negative columns - points can be lost in the following manners -

  • Punctuality (anything over a week late may result in a quizical eyebrow) 
  • Language (inappropriate politeness to passing females whilst loitering on roof is forbidden)
  • Crack exposure (company belts must be worn - at all times)
  • Decision making (this MUST NOT BE DONE in my absence under any circumstances)
  • Unsupervised hammer use (particularly destruction of large parts of house that were supposed to remain standing - ahem Tony!)
  • Bodily odour (I manage to find the time to shower and deoderise in the morning why can't you?)
  • Whinging like a big girl's blouse 

  • Points can be gained by working harder and faster for less money.

    Please note that none of these rules apply to Olly - he is immune from all rules and regulations due to his drum beating to a different rhythm.

    The Management.

    I didn't surf today. technorati tags   |
    Thursday  21st March 2007
    Tarhazoute(Morocco) - 7.5ft 14sec period side shore

    Blogging is a strange business, the hardest thing I think is knowing what level to take things to. Like what happened between the beginning of December and the middle of January - keen students of the Papersurfer experience will know that there is a noticable absence of information for that time.
    I'm not sure if I want to get into it all online, it was a bad time for me and my family. But I also have a strange urge to open my heart to the world and tell everybody how I feel. I expect things will drift out in bits and pieces over the next few months. We shall see....

    So, anyway to the matter at hand. It seems that I have sold my house (thank you to Sophie at Pure Portugal) to a very nice man called Steve who said "I love it exactly as it is and won't change a brick", which is good as I didn't  use a single brick in the whole place.
    As he will be my neighbour (I'm moving 2 minutes away) I am way chuffed that he is a sound man and I think will become a good friend.  Also the fact that he loves the house for what it is and hasn't expressed a desire to cover the whole thing in concrete scores points too...
    I recently dug out some 'before' photos so I shall be doing a photo story page at some point... I was amazed (I haven't looked for ages) at how much has changed...

    courtyard before

    and the same view 9 years later...
    courtyard after

    I must be mad.

    I didn't surf today. But I did talk to a girl I like. technorati tags   |
    Thursday 28th February 2007
    Lagide - 6.5ft 14sec period side shore

    Due to an excessive amount of hammering, drilling, smashing and general use of big manly tool-type things todays post is brought to you by my Dad. Click here.
    (God help us all).

    I didn't surf today. technorati tags   |
    Tuesday 27th February 2007
    Lagide - 7.5ft 10sec period side shore

    penfoldI'd run away and join the circus - but why take a path once trodden?
    No more shoving flaming torches down my brightly striped trousers, no more staggering around on rickety old wooden stilts. Juggling my little heart out for unresponsive kids who have "seen it all before - yawn". Bending minds with mesmeric feats of digital dexterity. Spinning diablos, cascading luminous balls and roaring fire chains. No more thank you.
    Now I'd like to run away to Hawaii or Costa Rica. The Philipines maybe...
    I want to lounge in a hammock with butterflies flitting around the fragrant lillies that line the path to the golden sands that lead to the perfect beach that has a small but playful peak breaking like clockwork on every tide...... the song of birds in the trees, the distant crash of waves upon reef and  a loud obnoxious beeping rattling through my head again and again and again......
    Nuts! 7.30 again - time to drag my aching body from the haven of my duvet to steer my tired and dusty rabble through  another day on the building site. Surely it's time to run away...

    It seems that my dear Pa was the 1000th visitor to this site. He may well have been all thousand the amount of time he seems to spend online. Of course now he has sent an email requesting a fabulous prize and who am I to refuse such a request so tomorrow I shall be publishing "My family and Mac" a short rant by a grumpy old man (actually he's not that old and not that grumpy).
    I didn't surf today. I hit things with hammers. technorati tags   |

    Monday 26th February 2007
    Cabadelo - 9ft 10sec period sideshore

    diceIf it ain't broke - don't fix it!

    My website seems to work okay on the surface - you can read a bit, you click buttons and you can read a bit more but apparently Firefox is very forgiving as far as html faux pas goes so anyone with the slightest ounce of webmasterology will probably spew at the code I've been lashing together behind the scenes!
    However, I've been trying to get some seemingly simple things to function such as 'tags' and 'pinging' with no joy whatsoever rendering me impotent in the blogosphere and feeling all empty and hollow inside. The possibility of my links turning up on Technorati seem to be left to random chance. So - I am building a new page template from the floor up using style sheets - following excellent tutorials for idiots from here. It is hurting my tiny mind, squeezing areas of cerebellum that have been untouched since I was devoid of pubescence. But I have achieved success of sorts.
    The ongoing process will be visible as my new 'guest bloggers' page, starting (no surprise here) with my omnipresent father having a minor rant about something or other....
    Eventually the page will resemble this one - but I hope there will be less code swept under the carpet so the prefects don't see it  and give me detention - again.
    Obviously don't expect miracles overnight my intellectual athleticism ain't what t it oughta - but I shall get there in the end.

    Olly is going to Figueira de Foz tomorrow at the crack of doom to get a thorough beating by the Atlantic - I have decided to take the mature line and do some work. I hate being a grown up...

    I didn't surf today. technorati tags   |

    Sunday 25th February 2007
    Brighton - 5.5ft 7sec period onshore

    loaf of breadThis is a very sad photo of my old bus. Affectionately known as 'Hovis' (due to it's uncanny resemblance to the aforementioned brand of sliced comestible) it served me well as house and home for many a year. A pig to drive since day one and continuously breaking down - I probably spent more time under it with oil dripping into my face than driving it. But I managed to get it across Spain and to virtually every beach in the north of Portugal before it finally coughed it's way to the side of my house where it has gradually become part of nature's plan to take over humanity.
    The scrapyard was calling it's name, the big mashing machine was fired up and ready to mash - nobody seemed to want to take it on and the outcome seemed inevitable then the clouds parted and a ray of sun struck the earth and an angel drifted down from above and said "f**k me mate - I'll 'ave it!"
    That angel was Olly - who will be extracting it's still and lifeless heart with spanners and hammers and turning it into giant caravan. I will then tow it with my truck to a field above the cliffs of Almagreira where it will become a new home for the angelic mechanic.
    I'm sure it will soon be filled with surfboards, record decks, ashtrays and empty beer bottles. Just like it used to be....

    I didn't surf today. technorati tags   |

    Saturday 24th February 2007
    Dunedin - 5.5ft 5sec period 25mph onshore

    boy in a bagThis time 4 years ago I was just leaving New Zealand after a few months travelling with my girlfriend. We had endeavoured to leave our son behind but he was just too cunning for that...

    It was an amazing journey, three of us crammed into a tiny camper, spilling out onto various beaches down the east coast of both islands. Mountains plunging into the sea, molten earth boiling and spitting, glaciers, esparpments, spectacular geological occurences caused by millions of years of planetary forces fighting against each other. There were some sheep too.
    We made new friends and met up with old ones. We argued about nothing and made up over something. We bathed in sunsets, sat on mountain tops and huddled in campsites in the rain. We went as south as you can go and came all the way back again. I can't wait to return.
    Next time I won't be buying an unsurfable plank made in the 80's (it was the neon pink and yellow design that first caught my eye) and spend weeks floundering around like a drowning rat. I shall head straight for Kaikoura to pick up my perfect hand crafted board from Surge and throw myself into the pristine surf surrounded by my friends the dolphins....
    Next time I shall be more prepared to take on breaks like Indicators at Raglan and the peaks at Gisbourne and I suspect I shall be travelling alone. It's been said that you should never return to a place you've travelled before but I think it would be a very different place next time I go. I'm definitely a different person...

    I've just realised that my client reads this blog so I shall have to be very careful not to mention the skiving off work to go surfing next week!!

    I didn't surf today (honest!). technorati tags     |

    Friday 23rd February 2007
    Lagide - 21.5ft 16sec period cross shore

    My father has very kindly taken a few precious moments away from his busy schedule to pass on some of his photographic prowess for public digestion. This is number one in a series I shall be calling 'dangerous groynes' (see warning here).  He has also suggested that due to my imminently heavy work load and ensuing slackness in posting frequency I should accept guest postings from other people.
    Obviously this would be a great idea, assuming that the 'guest' was someone witty and urbane (obviously for guest read 'Dad') and didn't dribble on about a load of old rubbish and make me want to run into a broom cupboard and hide from humanity until Beelzebub was buffing up his skate blades...
    So, in response, if anyone (Dad) wants to send me a posting to be thoroughly edited, they would be most welcome.

    Also, if anyone notices that he or she is the 1000th guest to this blog (due in the next couple of days unless I've managed to bore everybody to death by then) let me know and I shall proclaim them as being very lucky indeed. If papersurfer merchandise was available obviously  a baseball cap or snow storm would be winging it's way to you....

    I didn't surf today, but I did talk about it. A lot. | technorati tags 


    Thursday 22nd February 2007
    Almagreira - 17.5ft 16sec period onshore

    I am blatantly stealing one of Lucy Pepper's excellent illustrations for today as I just don't have time to whip out my rubbish photoshop skills today. I'm not sure how she has managed to capture the perfect likeness of my neighbours (maybe they're cousins of her neighbours...).
    I noticed today that if you go to the supermarket here at 1:02 pm the only thing moving in there will be tumbleweed bouncing down the dried foods aisle. I worry I'll turn the corner at frozen poultry and be gunned down by Clint Eastwood wearing a poncho.
    The reason for this is very simple - the Portuguese take their lunchtime very seriously, they need at least two hours to sit, eat, expound and digest and they're aren't going to waste any valuable minutes by shopping. Very sensible I reckon and very handy for me...

    ....has anyone else noticed the strange practice of putting zebra crossings right next to roundabouts here....?

    I didn't surf today. | technorati tags 


    Wednesday 21st February 2007
    Baleal - 14ft 12sec period cross shore

    dunesSometimes several days will pass when I don't speak to a soul. Even the goat has moved on to pastures thornier and Bobby seems to be sulking in his little hut. This is quite a strange experience for me. I've always been surrounded by people, my family or friends - but over the last few years that's all drifted away. Long gone are the days when I used to be in the centre of a social whirl lining up shots and shouting something vaguely Mexican or jumping onto bass bins and throwing my arms to heaven to give thanks to the great god of House-music. My occasional glimpse into that world always leaves me feeling like I've been eaten by something large and slobbery with dental hygiene issues and then spat into my duvet.
    Inevitably on days like these, when there is no work and no company my mind drifts to the sea.
    I check magic seaweed and dream of waves of purest blue. I'm wondering if it's okay for the boss to bunk off in the first week of a contract. After all - it is all about priorities.
    Sitting by the river helps clear my mind, the recent rain giving the water new strength to throw boulders around like marbles and carve new paths through the banks. Then I take a short drive up to a viewpoint above arriving just as the sun sets across the valley - lighting up the Serra de Lousa like a fire. This amazing view and thoughts of my seven year old son growing up with this around him give me all the reminder I need as to why I'm still here...

    I didn't surf today. Again.

    Tuesday 20th February 2007
    Siargao (Philipines) - 4ft 8sec period onshore

    Well, back home in the big mountainy things. It hardly feels like I left except  the house always seems a little emptier when I've been to England. Maybe it's the stark contrast between the two worlds. Saturday night I was in the Rocket at Putney Bridge drinking Moscow Mules and shouting drunken rubbish through music and smoke to scintillating thirty somethings. Now it's just me, the goat next door and Bobby the tiny dog.
    I've decided there are several fantastic advantages to being single - one obviously is that you don't have to participate in that annoying sex stuff (all that does is make you feel all tired and euphoric and who needs that?) also you can save valuable minutes in the morning by only having to make one cup of tea. No argument really I'm glad that's sorted out.
    Today is my son's birthday. Seven years of life for him, seven years of being a father for me. There was an impromptu party at his Mum's house, a small cottage lost in the maze of a tiny local village. I arrived early to grasp a few moments alone with him before the scramble of wrapping paper, mini-pizzas, balloon tennis and novelty jellies. After a while the increasing crowds won and I faded into the background.  I watched for a while fascinated with the ease that he slips from Portuguese to English with his mix of friends before a foray to the play park signalled a gathering of debris and stray children and the party came to an end...

    I just noticed that the 7 metre swell that is due this weekend on the west coast should be easing off to something a bit more managable for a big girl like me by the beginning of next week. Coinciding very nicely with the start of a new job. Nuts. I really must remember to move to the beach...

    I didn't surf today. But I did eat cake.

    Monday 19th February 2007
    Lagide - 8ft 12sec period cross shore

    My friend has a theory...
    All across the globe, in every mountain valley, in every deserted cove or clearing in the forest there will one day be a small German campervan. You may have noticed the beginning of this. You've been driving for hours - down hot and dusty tracks - looking for that deserted break, the one that no-one will be at. A private peak for you and your friends to surf at or a tranquil place of solitude for a romantic interlude or to become one with nature. Your arse is sore, your eyes are tired and dry - the final corner approaches and behold! Not Nirvana but a small posse of campervans parked like it's Custer's last stand. Each one containing a sleeper agent. They may be hippies.They may be surfers. They may be something in between but they will be there. One day a subliminal message will be sent across the globe cunningly disguised within the dulcet tones of a Jack Johnson song. No one else will know - they all sound the same to us..... but the machine will awaken, the monster will stir....
    The fourth Reich will be upon us. He wasn't sure what would happen at this point - we may all be forced to wear socks under our sandals, play the bongo very badly and drop in on everyone shouting 'zis is a party wave - ja?' Who knows.....
    My friend is from Hamburg and loves 'goose-stepping' behind his German compatriates. He lives in a small campervan at the beach and refuses to listen to Jack Johnson just in case...

    I didn't surf today.

    Friday 16th February 2007
    Pett level - 0.5ft 2sec period onshore

    I attempted a kitesurfing course on camber sands a couple of years ago with a tutor from Kites on board in Rye (East Sussex). I've been into kiting for a while, so it seemed like a good option for those blown-out days to combine that with the surfing. It's an expensive game to get into so a trial run seemed like a good idea. How wrong can you be?
    Day 1 was good, it was winter so I had the teacher to myself and the kiting lessons were going well. We climbed into wetsuits and made our way to the beach. Camber is a vast expanse of sand with little feature to the coast and a tiny gradient so the tide goes out for what seems like miles.There was definitely some wind and it was getting stronger which meant a drop in kite size but made the beach sliding and jumps a bit more exciting.
    We finished the day with some 'supermanning' - being dragged belly down across the sea by the kite. Fantastic - when you get some speed you start to bounce across the surface like a skimming stone. A great way to end the day.
    Day 2 started with indescision. The wind had increased overnight and was peaking at force 7-8. My tutor seemed to think I could deal with it so we struggled across the dunes to be greeted by a sandblasting from the miles of empty beach. Kites were inflated and laid out then I climbed into a harness for the first time to practice a few slides and drags. I then inched backwards into the sea with the board.
    Obviously the first few attempts were abysmal - dragged face first into the water - whipped up and slammed down. Wind, rain, spray, cold. Humiliation and limbs like jelly. Lunch was called and a moment of respite was found in the car park.
    After lunch things came together a little better, starting to let the kite take my weight and concentrate more on what the board was doing. I had a few rides - skimming across the waves. I even raked a turn with the kite swinging low across the sea. Then disaster - one of the four lines broke and instead of opening like a flag the kite puffed into a ball, swung to the middle of the power 'window' and whipped me straight out of the water. It was probably just a few feet - not even time to scream "I can see my house from here..." before being dumped arse first into the rock hard sand a foot below the sea. Pain shot through my spine and I knew the day was over.
    I limped home with a bruised coccyx and the words 'never again' rattling through my head.
    Later that day at the same spot an experienced kitesurfer was dragged from the sea, up the beach - then whipped into the air and hung up over some power lines above a bungalow like a wet sock. Miraculously he survived...

    I won't kitesurf today. Or tomorrow. Or the next day....

    Thursday 15th February 2007
    Hastings - 0.5ft 2sec period onshore

    Once in a blue moon...
    Amazingly it is sunny. And it is Hastings. It's a very surreal thing being here. One moment you're tucked up in bed in the mountains then you're having breakfast in the dark and driving through the dawn. You join the brief jostling with the commuter ants across the bridge at Oporto before succumbing to the muffled starkness of the departure lounge. An ipod shields you before being wedged into Ryan Air's bucket of hospitality. Then suddenly it's queues and trains, faces and bodies. Tubes, escaltors and then more trains. Next thing you know you're sitting on your parents sofa drinking a nice cup of tea and dunking a ginger nut.
    My mother has had no more coronary episodes, my father has microwaved me a potato - the balance of the universe is in tact.

    There really are surfers in hastings - I've seen them!
    The ground swell from the Atlantic never gets past Brighton and by then its almost died. But every now in Hastings when a storm is raging up the Channel and waves are crashing over the railings on the seafront, spitting gravel on the road and washing the windows of Debenhams a small wedge wraps round the old harbour wall.
    It is then that you'll find 2 or 3 nutters in the sea a foot from the concrete wall, dressed from head to toe in 6mm neoprene sitting on battered minimals. The wave crawls along the quay for 50 metres before dumping onto the shingle giving you the chance for a drop, a bottom turn and half a manoeuvre before kicking out.
    I stood there a year ago watching this spectacle as the sideways rain lashed my face thinking - what is the point? Then as one of the foolish riders staggered from the sea, his rubber hand fumbling for his car door I realised that he had the same look on his face we all have. He had this break wired, he'd been out with his mates. He was stoked.
    For whatever reason, these guys are living here but they're making the most of it and every chance they get they throw themseles in the sea at the mercy of the elements. Proper surfers

    I didn't surf today - but I did think about it.

    Tuesday 13th February 2007

    I was just about to start wading through the whole wordpress thing (blogging software - just in case there is a non-blogger reading this - doubtful, but you never know) purely so that I could upload posts remotely as they have a very nice email/posting set up. I even considered paying for a pre-formatted blog from a hosting service. Surely that would be too easy...  imagine all that extra sleep I would get without the headache of learning all this nonsense.
    Then suddenly a stroke of genius - probably obvious to a real geek but not some wannabe like me - I've installed my html editor and my ftp client onto a flash drive and hey presto.
    I got the idea from a post I'd read somewhere about booting up Skype from a flash drive in  internet cafés. It seems to work fine - I will tell you tomorrow when I get to sunny Hastings!

    I didn't surf today.
    Monday 12th February 2007
    Cabadelo - 17ft 14 sec period sideshore

    Cup of tea luv?
    I'm thinking that my Dad may have blown his cover. 40 years has been and gone, a blissful marriage of minds and souls. It goes like this -
    Man go hunting - bring food and build house. Woman tut at man for muddy boots then cook food and clean house. Wife feed children with big bosom and husband beat kids and teach them man things.
    Many moon come and go then one day wife incapacitated by annoying heart attack and husband take over doing girl things. Cooking, cleaning - ironing pants. Man do good job, he not stupid, been watching for 40  years. Listening, learning. Retaining the subtle nuances of microwave technology.
    The food was good, the house was buffed, the pants were flat and starchy.
    My Dad can cook...    this is a very traumatic time for me right now.

    So - the moral of this story? There is none really. Every now and then at work some bright spark asks me how come I (the big bad boss man) never makes the tea. I answer by generously brewing the next round. Long time employees politely refuse a cup, leaving the newcomer to tackle the vile concoction alone. I don't get asked again.
    I'm fairly sure that this would have been an ill advised path for my dear Father to have followed regarding cooking for my mum - but then she would have told the hapless labourer to shut up and make the bleedin' tea himself!

    One day I'll be able to look at magic seaweed when it's promising a clean 20ft swell and my eyes will light up rather than glaze over...  then again maybe not. There is a size of wave where fun is superceded by fright and thrill turns into terror. I guess for me that comes when the wave is a properly overhead and you look up from a bottom turn and it seems like a mountain rather than a play park. 

    I didn't surf today. No way.
    Sunday 11th February 2007

    Blog Of The Day Awards Winner
    Today I awoke to find this in my inbox.
    'Blog of the day award - Saturday 10 th February 2007'
     Thank you to all my fans - namely my mum, my dad, my brother and my son. To the goat in the field outside the kitchen window and 'Bobby' the tiny dog that my neighbour keeps on a chain 23/7 - I am his only friend. I am in reality quite flattered and will be spamming my entire address book with the news. Cheers!!

    Surfing schmurfing! - Blogging is where it's at...


    Friday 9th February 2007

    Lagide - 15ft 12 sec period - cross shore

    Somedays I'd really like there to be a Tesco metro and a B&Q in my local village. Oh - and a Thai curry to take out would be nice (I'm so rubbish at tempura, it always goes soggy - apparently the trick is to use ice cold fizzy water to make the batter - I'm not sure about that, I didn't see many Thai chefs whipping a bottle of Perrier out of the fridge before cooking a meal the last time I was in Chang Mai!).  

    Anyway, I digress.

    It is a country of paradox. I can sit in my house using a broadband 3G internet connection but I have to drive half an hour to get a pint of milk.

    I ordered some timber today - normal everyday timber. Regular shapes, no special sizes, normal woody type wood. The end of the month seemed to be the most optimistic ETA. So lets face it I'll be waiting until Easter.
    After 15 years you learn to calculate the lead time into a building job and to be fair it does fit in very nicely with my surf habit - but I'm sure I saw a stack of wood in their shed...
    These moments of cynicism are sort lived - I can breathe up here. I can run and scream if the moment takes me (nakedness has been known!) and I can find beauty and solitude.

    I can also find fresh milk and 10metres of 4x2. As for the Thai curry - that might be a while.

    I didn't surf today. But I did have a nice cup of tea  

    Thursday 8th February 2007

    Maldives(Tiger stripes) - 4ft 17 sec period - offshore

    I noticed on the news this morning that England has been 'closed' due to 5 centimetres of snow. Schools, roads, train stations and airports. Good news for children armed with mittens, snowballs and a sibling to aim at. Not so good if you're sitting in an overcrowded departure lounge hoping to get to the Caribean for some sunburn and a rum cocktail.
    In sympathy I have decided to give myself the day off, a decision fuelled by a head full of mucus and a sky full of rain. The fire is lit, the TV is on and the days events seem inevitable.
    To be fair, work on the house is complete save a quick buff of the sanitary ware and a bulb in the porch. I just have to find a new owner for this beautiful house.

    When I first looked at it I was living in my bus in the shade of a large cork oak halfway up the track to the village of Cha. Even with the relief from the shade the heat in the summer stillness would be relentless and much time was spent on the shores of the nearby river drifting in and out of the water to remain cool.
    Charlie - an old friend and fellow 'New Age Settler' had been rebuilding his ruin in Cha for a while and had achieved some semblance of civility. With a passion for all things concrete and a mixer the size of a small family car the ruin had been revived. His rusting truck was no longer his home and lay abandoned next to a tumbling pile of tiny houses held aloft by the spiney grip of a thousand brambles. A challenge that many had considered but none had taken on. The whole 'setting myself on fire in nightclubs' thing seemed to be drawing to an end. I'd had had a few paid outings to town squares to stagger around on some stilts - but it's just not the same is it?
    In a moment of sheer boredom I thought - 'time to move on, get a house, get a job - get involved with real life!'
    So - a few phonecalls and a hearty handshake later and the task was mine. With a promise to find the funds I packed my little bag and headed to London in search of a job...
    So, this has been the pattern of my life since then. Building kitchens in London, refurbishing nightclubs in the Isle of Man and  fitting out restaurants in Paris all to pay for cement and timber in Portugal. For a while the house became a family home - with the arrival of a beautiful woman and in turn our amazing son. Unfortunately fate had different ideas and things eventually went wrong. But lives change and people move on - I can forget the blisters, the aching limbs and the uncomfortable chaffing and look forward to the future. Which will no doubt bring more of the same when I start on my next project on Monday....

    I didn't surf today. Nuts.
    If you place a blogger in a large steel box...

    For the purposes of this experiment he is fully equipped with laptop (wi-fi enabled), the appropriate software, a comfortable swivel chair for inspirational 'swivels' and a small but delicious cheese and pickle sandwich. For snacking.
    In a mesh box is a Geiger counter containing a tiny amount radioactive isotope, so small that it is just as likely to decay as it is not. The counter is wired to a relay, which in turn is wired to the connection of the laptop power supply.
    If the isotope decays the laptop will switch on making the blogger 'active'.
    If the isotope stays stable then the blogger will be just a man making typing noises in the dark.
    Outside the box is a wireless router - out of range until the lid of the box is opened therefore connecting to the internet and putting any possible content produced online.
    According to the 'Copenhagen interpretation' the blogger has only 'blogged' if he is read, ie 'observed' to have been blogging.  If you are to side with Einstein and of course Schrodinger himself then, the blogger is equally a blogger and a key-tapping nutter in equal proportions until the box is opened.

    I blogged today. Can someone open this box now...?


    Monday 5th February 2007
    Raglan - 3.5ft 13 second period - cross shore

    I started writing a book once. A novel. A love story with a happy ending. It was about a young man living in a broken bus on the side of a mountain. He woke one morning to find a butler in his bus making tea and putting a shine on some crockery. The butler turned out to be a mystical creature who introduced him to love and life and things beyond. The story unfolded beautifully for a while, like a spring flower pushing through a late frost, unassuming and unaware of the dangers around.
    A family grew from nowhere, a home was fashioned from rocks and trees. Lives were built around each other.
    One day the butler vanished but the story continued while the book lay forgotten in a drawer.
    Life evolved and the fairytale dissolved. The book was lost, maybe forever.

    I started reading a book recently. It wasn't finished so I closed it and put it safely in a drawer. One day I'll find another happy ending to fill it's empty pages.
    The butler? Well he buttles no more. He's growing a family of his own and a godson for me.

    I didn't surf today.
    Friday 2nd February 2007
    Cantinho - 5ft 13 second period - offshore

    Very nice. Blue sky , blue sea. Clean, regular sets of a managable size. It feels like forever since I went surfing with any control over the situation. It wasn't peeling beautifully but enough to get a few turns in before closing out.
    I was joined by 'Swansea Dave' - an ex bricklayer and long haul trucker determined to cruise through his 60's on the front of a 9'6" log. He's become a local hero, bringing welsh laughter and a peculiar brand of Portuguese to the line up.
    Also present was Ze. A recently retired Microsoft programmer based in Germany, a gentleman surfer whose recent discovery of beach life has changed the centre of his universe. He's now traded in the company car and corporate suit for a campervan and a wetsuit. Nice.
    Most obvious today was Nuno, one of the most accomplished longboarders on the Iberian coast. His determination and focus when paddling can sometimes blinker his social skills but his grace on the water is undeniable.
    Then of course Olly was there, all smiles and wipeouts. Always good to have out back. 

    I now sit with my gonads wedged firmly on the fence of the board length issue.
    During my longboarding days I would readily sneer at the idiotic toothpick riders that littered my path to noseriding heaven. Today as I took the lip off a head-high wall with my first shortboard I was having my doubts...
    It's a good thing to have straddled the divide and be riding boards of all shapes and sizes. One improves the other and vice versa. It also gives you the view from both sides of the peak...
    Don't worry, I won't be launching into a life lesson metaphor about empathy and how the world should give itself a big fat hug. Sod that. This is all about surfing.

    I surfed today.  On a shortboard.

    Monday 29th January 2007

    Pavones, Costa Rica 3.5 ft - 13 sec period - offshore

    I started work again today, a possible shock to the system but after I'd dropped my son and heir at school, picked up my wood-fettling friend and employee Tony, drank a small but delicious cup of coffee and got my array of builder type tools out of my builder type tool boxes it was virtually time to drop Tony off and pick Dylan up from school. No stress there then.
    Apart from worrying about the setting time of the plaster on the studio ceiling not much filled my mind today apart from a brief mental query as to the contants of the freezer  and a constant daydream involving Pavones point, a large glass of something cold with a pink flamingo in it and a gorgeous longboarding beauty who found me strangely intriguing...

    I surfed today. In my mind.


    Did I mention that I got barrelled?.....
    This was my mantra for several weeks at the end of last summer. I've not been surfing that long, but long enough to know that something had been missing from my experience. I'd had a few lips thrown over my head and I'd pulled into countless close outs to get that 'barrelled' feeling.
    I've even had the 'nice barrel mate' from others in the line up without having the slightest clue that it had happened. Not deep enough or long enough or just plain not enough!
    Then, at the end of the summer I paddled out at Molho Leste (the north end of the infamous Supertubos beach).  We'd been surfing there the day before and I'd been trying to get one of the fast hollow waves without much joy. Lars had given me tips on body position and holding the rail on my take off as these rights were on my backhand.
    So armed with new knowledge, my lovely Tunnel Vision board and a blatant disregard for my own health and well being I dropped into the perfect wave. Everything went right, with a smooth pop-up I kept low and held onto the outside rail and pulled in hard. The wave opened up beautifully with an immaculate razor edge lined up in front of me. The sun was low and directly out to sea so as the lip started to curl over my head it lit up with an amazing rainbow of cyan and orange......
    Everything I'd heard is true, the universe stops and time stands still....
    and I get to do it  again one day.

    I surfed today. Hmmm.

    Thursday 18th January 2007
    Lagide - 13ft 16 sec period - offshore

    Olly is a big man. He's tall with character and at the moment is sporting a miniature afro.
    Just recently he's been growing his winter food store - either that or there's something he's been hiding from me and he's six months pregnant.  We went to the 58 surf shop today to indulge in the perennial joy of wetsuit purchasing. Vastly inferior to the joy of buying boards but just as necessary we rifled through the racks like a couple of girls in the Next sales...
    Andre is a quiet Portuguese surfer who works at 58. He's very polite and friendly, the same as he is in the line up. But today as Olly was looking at a 'medium tall' winter suit, he thrust an XL into his arms and said :
     " think maybe you have grown a than last year!!"
    Needless to say I nearly wet myself on the spot and luckily, so did Olly....

    Every now and then Lagide breaks perfectly, yesterday was such a day. It was double overhead and peeling. Quite often it gets close but often it 'sections' 20 metres down the line.
    Obviously way too big for the likes of me (one day maybe... but not yet) the peak was littered with a dozen of the local best while the car park was populated with WAG's and longboarders all paying respect to the few that would and could make something of the days incoming swell.
    Olly and myself, having spent a while over Christmas in Blighty, over indulging and avoiding any form of exercise, foolishly decided we should try out the nasty looking close outs at Praiainha. There is no need to dwell on what happened, in fact let's change the subject completely.....

    I nearly surfed today, but not quite.

    Whoever says that surfing is better than sex hasn't slept with my girlfriend.
    Which in many ways I'm hoping is everybody else on the planet, but I think you get the idea.
    If you have any doubts about which is on the top of your to do list then you need to spend more time practicing one and less the other. Change the rubber that you're wearing for a more sensitive brand and have a conversation with your partner about what they want from you and give it a go. This may be advice a little too late for some but for me is a timely lesson that is well learned.
    I like to practice whenever I can.

    I had sex today. Twice.


    Saturday 2nd December 2006
    North shore Oahu - 9ft 7 sec period - sideshore

    I'm sitting in a small apartment overlooking the marina at Portimao. All is quiet apart from a flock of small dinghies circling the lagoon and the occassional fishing trawler chugging through the channel with an entourage of paparazzi seagulls. There is no swell hitting the local beach this afternoon apart from half a foot of wind slop from across the bay. Yesterdays surf at Praia da Rocha was nearly as uninspiring. Small, onshore and no power but as always it was good to get wet. I've been in Blighty for a week and the surf in Sagres before I left was a humbling experience.
    Trying to tame overhead waves on a retro fat fish is not a good idea. I paddled out steadily at Tonel taking the rip between the rocks; following Lars and Robert with a quiet bravado. I knew it was going to be a challenge, but pressed on regardless. The sets started to build as the tide drove in and within half an hour things were quite daunting. I made a few half hearted attempts to take some of the smaller waves. The thing is of course, if you sit further out to miss getting pounded by a large set then those are the only ones you'll catch. Eventually I calmed enough to paddle with more conviction and took a fat looking right. A beautiful drop that opened up nicely before sectioning just ahead of me, I kicked out, my heart pumping. I lined up for one of the bigger set lefts and started to drive towards the shore. Just before popping up a sharp shout to my right signalled a local Sponger who appeared from nowhere already racing down the face. He shot underneath me. I pulled out, cursing his obvious snake and 'local' attitude. I was in exactly the right position and he had made a considerable effort to cross the peak to burn me.
    Such is life, but this had put me right on edge and I soon made a bad call on wave choice and dropped into a gaping left that for a second I thought would be the wave of my life. As my feet hit the deck I raced downward for a split second before the oversteep wave span the back of my fish toward the shore. The rest any surfer knows all too well. Darkness and noise. Flailing limbs. The water goes cold and the lungs start to feel tight. You try to relax, go with it, you know it's the best thing to do but it is hard. Time dissolves and the tightness starts to burn, then suddenly dark and cold is oxygen, light and life and you're sitting on the beach feeling very small and grateful that the ocean relinquished its grip once more. I love surfing.

    I didn't surf today.

    Thursday 9th November 2006
    Cantinho - 3ft - 11 second period - cross/offshore

    A second day of small but perfect swell at Baleal. My life is blessed. The sun actually has some heat behind it, my 4:3 wetsuit was too warm yesterday so things could definitely be worse.
    Right now I'm sitting on the back step of a Leyland 45, a 7.5 ton truck with the back converted into a living space with a bed, a small kitchen, an ipod and a surf board rack. My back garden is the horseshoe bay of Baleal with the evening glass of burnt orange and indigo washing onto its sand.
    Todays surfing was amazing, perfect waves for my fat fish. It was shaped for me by Gero at Fatum, he surely must be a genius. The board flies on small fat waves with so much speed and stabilty. It gives me enough time to get really wide on the shoulder and cut back for an attempted roundhouse - which actually happens more frequently these days. If only I could attack my backside surfing with the same energy. I'll have to spend some more time sufing Molho Leste or Cabadelo and get some good rights.
    I met a surfer from Cornwall in the line up today that was very loudly disparaging the wannabe surfing element that arrive from London at the weekends and treat the Cornish locals with little or no respect. He seemed really witty and nice. He dropped in on me. Twice.
    Anyway, I am absolutely shafted, I still have to drive home tonight so I'd better fuel up on some chocolate muffins and get the truck sorted for driving.

    I surfed today. A lot.


    Monday 6th November 2006
    Lagide - 1ft  12 second period - medium offshore 

    I didn't think it was possible to surf smaller waves than we did yesterday, but we did. It is called the ancient art of Bonsai surfing. A truly noble activity used to develop the inner you and create a feeling of extreme peace. Still, the water was warm, the swell was clean and it's always good to get wet. Bonsai surfing is exceedingly hard and to actually make anything of a 1ft wave is a virtual impossibility. You have to be very quick to your feet and just staying on the wave is tricky (let alone making a decent turn or manouveure). Good fun trying though and good fun watching your friends making tits of themselves too...
    Olly and I braved the 'locals only' break of Almagreira and joined some Norwegians for a couple of hours on the heaving peaks. Eventually it was so small and breaking so close to the beach I called it a day. There is nothing more deflating than snapping a board in 6 inches of swell...
    After much tutting at their immobile hire car we admitted a complete lack of mechanical expertise and transported the Norwegians boards, bags and ladies back to the surf camp at Baleal. Presented with bananas and wine as tokens of heartfelt thanks we headed for home somewhat bemused but not without smiles on our faces... 
    I surfed today. Slightly.


    Why learn to surf  in your 30's?
    Surfing should come with a governmental warning; nothing to do with health or safety, the possible loss of life or limb but something like -
    'Warning - surfing will strip you of all dignity, any feeling of self-worth you may have had. In fact it will ruin your life completely.'
    This may sound like a huge exageration but I've seen relationships torn apart and careers crumble. Seemingly sane and pleasantly boring people jack in the whole normal life thing just to go and get some waves.
    My decision to throw myself at the mercy of the Atlantic was a measured one. Inspired by a summer of suicidal boogie boarding in the shorebreaks of northern Portugal without dying and lengthy discussions with a trusted comrade with several hours experience on the matter I went to 'Pote de Mel' ('the Honey pot'), a locally renowned purveyor of inappropriate surf equipment. I was shoehorned into an ill-fitting wetsuit with virtually no insulative properties and sent on my way proudly sporting a ridiculously designed mini-mal (soon to be christened 'Mr. Blobby').
    I marched boldly from the shop and stopping briefly to hand my spectacles to a passer-by stumbled blindly into the sea. . .

    Thursday 2nd November 2006
    Cabadelo - 5ft 12 second period - medium offshore 

    I need to go to the beach. The Atlantic is calling me, beckoning my balding head to be enveloped in it's cold, salty embrace. I've been out of the water for a few weeks so no doubt I shall get a thorough pounding. I've slipped on a few pounds since going to England, a few too many 'Ginster' moments I think. Obviously the Strongbow doesn't help either - back on the macrobiotic health wagon for me. My arse.
    I had coffee with Olly today, we discussed global warming, terrorism and death. Pretty much covered all bases. I think the world is a safer place to be right now.

    I didn't surf  today. Boo.

    Wednesday 1st November 2006
    Peniche - 3.5ft 10 second period - light offshore wind

    fathersonI have a beautiful son, he is 6 and is as sharp as a rack of Sabatier. At the moment he is standing 2 feet from the TV dulling that edge with the help of Rayman and the developers from Nintendo. Huge, ridiculously blue eyes and a blonde mop that would make Keith Chegwin proud - if only Dylan could understand the iconic derision that amuses me so.
    I didn't surf today.

    Previously. . .
    Keith Chegwin
    why surf?
    Union rules
    Turf war

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