Friday, 10 September 2010

Nothing much to report

Urm, yeah , well not much to report today really. Surf's pretty good - 3ft, little bit onshore and mushy with the big high tide. The boys took the trailer off the beach last night just in case a surge decided to place it elsewhere. Many years ago during a storm, a huge Portacabin that acted as a temporary home at the top of the beach to the Surf Life Saving Club was lifted by a storm surge and dropped right outside the entrance to TJ's! That was quite a sight. I remember the TJ's staff were stood in the doorway as the Portacabin floated on by, then came back and stopped. That would have been quite a surprise. And our own trailer was lifted up many, many years ago - but fortunately didn't go too far. We had the assistance of about 20 local kids sitting on top of it to hold it down. That's the sort of amateur error you only make once! Hence, we edge on the side of caution. If there's any doubt that the tide might come up for the early morning surge, then we just take it off. Much more conducive to a good nights kip!

Oh I can see Bill from Escape Surfboards taking the Polzeath morning wave photo to stick up on Magic Seaweed. He's always very disciplined at that. I do it sometimes but am easily distracted. As well as crafting custom boards Bill imports these NXT surfboards from China - which are moulded, means they're durable, but they're also performance orientated. They're not like the old pop-outs you used to get. The price point is excellent and we sold quite a few last year. As with a lot of products from China this year, I think the delivery got stuck on one of the slower boats and has only recently arrived. Worth giving him a shout though to see what's come over - there's about one million boards in the range to choose from.

Myself and Janey are busy working on new products for the shop. We've taken out the boards and are selling the last of the wetsuits to make room for a new range of Surf's Up! surf wear. So the whole shop next year will be a voyage of discovery trying out new and varied products. As we speak we're trying to get everything ready for the Christmas rush.

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Cracknell on the Mend

James Cracknell is a one off - there he is lying in hospital with a fractured skull and he's taken time out to reply to an e-mail I sent him, pre-accident. A few years back we paddled across the English Channel on surfboards (one each!), for charidee! I think we raised about £40,000 on the back of James's Olympic status (and got in the Guinness Book of World Records for the fastest crossing - 5hrs 26mins). He is the most focused man I've ever met! As someone who'd spent limited time on a surfboard, he relied pretty well entirely on his massive engine and strength of mind. I'd spent six months training really hard, going for long paddles from Polzeath Beach to Port Isaac most days; sometimes out beyond the islands, on to Trevose Lighthouse and back; sometimes up the Camel Estuary to Wadebridge and back. I put the time in and was in the shape of my life. But then I needed to be with James giving up his valuable time for the challenge.

The crossing was an amazing experience, from the Monster Mushroom Risotto the night before; launching the surfboards in the dark early the next morning to begin the pain; chomping on energy bars thrown from the support boats whilst at all times still paddling with one arm; and indeed just paddling for over 5 hours with the stench of diesel fumes in our nostrils from the very same support boats; and then the pure relief and magic of touching the rocks at Cap Griz-Nez. The realisation of a dream come true. Every part of it is etched in my memory. But funnily enough it was an event in London to publicise the crossing that was one of the best bits for me.

James comes with a PR machine - when you're raising money this is essential. And on this particular day we met at St. Catherine's Docks where the press had assembled to take photos. This in itself was all new to me and was exciting. After a couple of interviews we jumped into the Thames and proceeded to paddle under Tower Bridge, followed by a strong contingent of boats full of the 'Papps'. Sitting on our boards under the bridge was amazing, mind blowing. My only regret was the one photo that made the Telegraph, one with me and James sitting side by side under the bridge .. I never got a copy of! Damn.

Anyway, I learned a lot from James and we shared some special moments. He's gone on to do some mind blowing feats - anyone who crosses the Atlantic in a rowing boat has my full respect (especially as I get hideously sea sick!). He was training on a bike for some crazy new challenge across America when he was hit from behind by a truck. He's recovering well - as he says "I feel okay just a bit more tired than normal with a bloody sore foot and slightly sore head but yeah I’m making good progress."

It goes without saying that we wish him well.

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Kit - Happy Travels

We said goodbye to Kit yesterday as he packed his bag and headed to the other side of the world for some R and D on the waves in NZ. Kit has been with us on and off for a while - first as an instructor, and then secondly as an office boy. I guess in reality when he came back for a second stint, we probably did have him down as an office helper, rather than a key player, but within a short space of time he became just that - a key player. And when Julia fell ill last year, his role overnight changed. He adapted and held that part of our business together. Excellent on the phone and e-mail handling enquiries, always polite and attentive - and just as importantly he would make it his business that the booking was accounted for and logged in.

I've said this before, no apology for repeating it - the best people to employ are those who you know when you step back, will fill your shoes. When you're not on site, will run their part of the business as if it were there own. This is the ideal - in reality this is much more difficult to achieve. In Kit we found someone who we could trust to just get on with it and get the job done - play his part in the team to the best of his ability. Brilliant - and even to end when his job was done and he was on the home run, he didn't switch off and head off. He made sure that we knew exactly what was what, he listed it all down.

So wish him well. He's away for a year and then who knows what he'll end up doing. They'll be a place for him here if he wants it. All the best Kit, a big thanks for your support and efforts - you will be missed.

Lovely Weather

The sun continues to shine and the surf continues to please. What have we got today.... um, 3ftish on the sets, light winds. Fun for all.

Now I was in Asda yesterday and Tony Blair's book caught my eye. So I bought it. And I'm loving it. It's a really good read. Hard to put down in fact. Highly recommended!

Stand-Up Paddle Boarding - we've started to see this hit our beach but we have to hope that it's appeal is limited. I can see the attraction, I remember watching from Daymer Bay as a few locals on their SUP's paddled across the glassy estuary to surf the wave over at Stepper and Tregirls - looked fantastic. Must have been a memorable experience for all concerned. And there are a few people at Polzeath that are really good at it, Alex for example, rips it up and is fantastic to watch. Trouble is when you get novice surfers taking it up, people who have no prior knowledge of waves, that's where I have a concern. It's definitely not something we can get involved in - can you imagine one of the behemoths hitting one of our Boardriders or my own kids on the head! People would ask serious questions about our judgement. We had the opportunity to get involved a few years back and turned it down on that basis.

The bottom line - everyone, has an equal right to be in the water so maybe it's something that we'll just have to get used to and who knows maybe like the skateparks that have been taken over with scooters, perhaps everyone will be doing it soon and the pop will be a thing of the past. It's a fast track way to catch unbroken waves - great fun. But let's have some dialogue as to what level of surfer we think should be allowed to hire out the boards. Food for thought, nothing else.

Monday, 6 September 2010


When Janey took the boys off for a week to spend some time away from 'work' I rolled my sleeves up, decorated the house (which still looks good!) and sorted through all my clothes. I really went to town. If I hadn't worn it within six months it got the Salvation Army treatment. Ripped jeans, brightly coloured shirts - you name it, in the bag they went. Like the baa baas - three bags full. There's very little left in the cupboards - all I ever wear is a pair of jeans and a Surf's Up! top. Ironic therefore that last week the staff party theme was 'Punk' - damn! Tonight the occasion is 'Jazzy shirts' - damn again! Next week we have an invite to 'fishnets and stockings' - phew, thank goodness for the six month cut off!

A Stretch too far

Hm, there I was in bed dreaming of a surf this morning. The forecast 3ft, offshore winds, kids back to school, empty waves! Perfect. As I awoke, I stretched and twinged a nerve in my neck! Damn! Walking around like Dale Winton after a big night in! Copious amounts of Nurofen and Anadin Extra are being taken in an attempt to relieve the current pain. But alas I feel tomorrow is a more likely rendezvous with the sea!

Now my youngest Finley (7) is a very able sportsman and he's tough! He can turn his hand to most things sporty. But yesterday we found something that perhaps might need a bit of work. We went Quad biking down at a track near Truro. On his first practice lap he hit a fence. On his second he ploughed into one of the marshalls. Once on the main track, he hit a tree and then on his last lap missed the flag to call him into the pits, merrily heading onwards for another lap! Hilarious. We laughed a lot.

I went on the big boys track. All I can say is thank God we didn't choose this for an end of season staff party. I honestly believe that someone would have died! Go-Kart racing? - we've done that in the past and even with the most competitive spirits running wild you're pretty safe. I cannot imagine for one second how that would work on the Quads? It would be carnage!!

Sunday, 5 September 2010

Sore Shoulders

Everyone seems to be in the same boat - sore shoulders! After a very poor August, the Friday / Saturday combo tested most of the surfers who discovered they'd lost a bit of their surfing fitness! Today, the surf is good again. Dropped off a bit and it's raining pretty hard, but that's no bad thing. Still some sets rolling in.

For photos of Saturday night check out the photo section on our homepage.

Now then - on a completely different subject. Tesco - reward cards. Get stuck into those. Janey was sent a £20 voucher which she could then exchange for a £90 voucher to spend at Pizza Express! We found ourselves down at Falmouth yesterday afternoon tucking into some very tasty 9 inchers! All you have to pay for are the drinks!

Tomorrow will be kind of sad. The boys go back to school! What an amazing summer it's been with them - loved every minute. It also signals the time when myself and Janey will come back into the office full-time. Lots to do and be getting on with. There's lots of new products that we want to work on for Christmas and that has to be sorted asap. So it'll be nose to the grindstone - we've had our holiday, time to get back to work! And on that bombshell......