Friday, 19 November 2010

Just having a play

Now that story about the half crop circle is, as Janey quite rightly pointed out, not quite the whole truth! No. The real truth was worse - there were in fact two lawns. The second, and previously unmentioned, was the big one, right in front of the terracing, the terracing with views right across the South Downs - an impressive piece of green grass if ever there was, and an impressive view. Probably one of the best views in Surrey which was reflected most likely in the value of the property. Encountering the aforementioned mower problems on lawn number one, let's call that 'the bowling green', we had a second decision to make on lawn number two, let's call that 'the showpiece'. Well out of reach of the flymo and far too big a piece of land in any case, what were we to do? There was only one reasonable course of action. Roll it! We found in their garden shed a whopper of a roller and we discovered quite by chance that if we flattened the grass, first in one direction and then the other, from a distance you could create the illusion of a perfectly mown lawn, like Wembley. So roll it we did. It was a big old thing and needed both hands on deck. We shed a few pounds, but on completion could look out upon our handy work with some satisfaction. To the untrained eye, this was a finely manicured turf. To the owner, however, I forget his exact words, but the gist was words expressing deep, deep erm, anger. Yes that was it, anger. He was purple with rage. I'm not sure what colour comes after purple but we weren't about to find out. When we got home we told my parents that we'd done this job at this posh house and they hadn't paid us. My Dad went immediately on his way to right this wrong and have a chat. Any inheritance went out the window that day! We went back to terrorising clients with Paint Pals after that!
Just had a play on the Imac with some postcard ideas - quite pleased with them. Might get a few done.

One small step for man

Jobs a goodun! Sky's back on - not only that, but it's amazing the deals you get when you speak to the cancellations department! Turns out the engineers were good lads. One of them plays golf - we had a good half hour chat about his course Trethorne, I've played there only once but we managed to discuss pretty well every hole, pond and out of bounds! It wasn't until he'd left and I googled Trethorne that I realised my mistake - I was talking about Tehidy! You just have to laugh!

I have a lot of ladder experience. Me and my mate Guy, set up a painting company when we left school - Paint Pals we were called. We got a load of leaflets printed up and dropped them through letterboxes far and wide. This was when I lived back in Surrey. To be honest, we weren't that good and there are many tales to be told. Anyway the ladder we had back then was a wooden one - if you used the full extension you could just about reach the top of a three story building. It was quite hairy at times. The higher you got, the more bowed it became and the more vertical the climb. Get up the last few rungs and you were dealing with an overhang. And it was so bouncy, I think it's how I developed motion sickness. You had to load the brush as the bounce took you away from the building, and then apply on the return! Hilarious. We quoted jobs on the anticipated bounces per hour! My Dad always said that our unique selling point was that we always left a ladder after every job - his!

Our first ever job, well to be honest it was a poor start. We had to gloss the window frames of an entire house. We did a good professional job, good clean cutting in, no splashes on the panes. However, when it came to leave the homeowners were no where to be seen, so being security conscious we made sure that all the windows were shut tight before we left. Didn't want anyone breaking in. If my memory serves me right, it took them a week to get the air circulating again! We didn't get paid for that one... or any referrals.

We became were very good at fitting windows. Not necessarily as part of the original spec - more as in haste to 'put things right' before the owners returned. Accidents will happen. One owner only found out that we'd had a small accident when the entire first floor of windows fell inwards during a breezy night. We should have used quick drying putty! I forget what the cause of the initial accident was.

We hauled (I could go on all day) Guy's brother in for one job. A prestigious restaurant in the centre of Dorking. We got the contract for inside and out. It fronted the main pedestrian walkway so neat and tidy was the word. I was on the flat roof, three storeys up, leaning over to paint the top bits when I heard this quiet voice. "Erm, boys. I've had a bit of an accident!" I left my position and went to look over the other side of the building to see where the voice was coming from. He wasn't there. He'd carried on around to the back! It was easy to find him. He'd spilt a whole pot of paint on his feet, on the main street, outside the front door of the restaurant! In trying to find us, he'd walked the entire way around the property, leaving bright white footprints in his trail. From my heady position, let's just say he was easy to find! The owner was particularly uncharitable on that occasion.

Our attempts at grass cutting were less successful! We were called out to a very posh house near Guildford to cut the lawn in preparation for their daughter's wedding the next day. Bit last minute, but we liked a challenge. The lawn was large and flat - the grass was long, a cut would make it fit for a Queen and perfect for guests to enjoy their champagne and canopes. We would of course come with our own equipment. To cut a long story short, both of our mowers broke down. So in their absence we borrowed theirs - a flymo! A flymo at the lower spectrum of Flymos - with a short extension lead. Hm, what to do! In the end we felt that it was better to do as much as we could rather than none at all. The resulting trim was met with very poor cheer! We argued, on deaf ears to be honest, that the garden party could go ahead without too much stress. The half circle with it's axis point being exactly at the point of where the kitchen window was open, gave the impression of an early crop circle. The short grass contrasting well with the long. We should be paid for our efforts under the difficult circumstances, we argued. He was a bad listener. Happy days, very happy days.

Hannibal's on the Jazz

This gets better and better! B. A. Barracus and John 'Hannibal' Smith have arrived - and I kid you not, kitted up in helmets, harnesses, ropes, the lot! They are now drilling, yes drilling holes into the side of our house as fixing points for the ladder! I'm going to try and get a photo - the money shot. This is pure gold, I can hardly contain myself. I can see them now, yep they're scaling the wall some, let me see, they must be some 3ft up. Maybe three and a half! It's hard to pick them out through the low cloud! We're going to be at full stretch, right on the max when I pass them their coffees! Hannibal is definitely on the Jazz!

'Hold the ladder, fool!"

It's been one hell of a week that's all I can say. For different reasons. A lot came together for us over the past few days - one area in particular that will have a huge impact on Surf's Up! from here on in. Basically we've completely restructured the business. We perhaps should have done it a while ago, but we didn't so we're not going to dwell. It's put a spring in our step and we're really looking forward to the coming year. Feels like a huge weight has been lifted off our shoulders.

What will it mean for Surf's Up? - the surf school is the core, participation is what we're about. Teaching beginners and improvers on the beach is where it all began for me and Janey, so that part of the business is the most important. We had a crazy idea earlier in the year to move the surf school operation off the car park in 2011 and up to the Beach House (to save on licence fees), you'll be pleased to hear that we're staying put. But we are going to shake it up quite a lot. Despite being the leading surf school in the UK for many years now, it's in our blood to keep improving.

Hang on, the Sky engineer is here. This should be a classic. Wait for it... and yes, same old story, scratch of head. Everytime there's a problem and we call for someone to come out, I ask the operator to check the notes of the last visit and make sure that the engineer knows he'll need someone to hold his ladder. Can't be me - needs to be someone with a ladder holding badge! And every time the engineer arrives, scratches head "Hm I'm going to have to call my boss......." Yes I know, I know - you need someone to hold your.... coffee, your shoes, your pencil behind your ear ... argh! Anything to make it more difficult.

The last time, "I'm going to need a different ladder." No mate, all you need is a ladder. It's just a bit higher than a jump, any type of ladder. A box perhaps, get on my shoulders, mate, give me the part and I'll get up there myself. I'm six foot two, few more inches and I'd be able to run my nose along the rusty dish.

Okay, he's gone. "I've spoken to my boss..." he said. (Wait for it this is classic)".. and we're going to have to bring in the special heights team". How can I be angry, they've just made my life so much better. Hilarious, you couldn't make it up! "Special heights team"! Oh dear, I'm going to have to calm down before my spleen bursts.

The issue is this. Our house is built into a hill (which sounds incredibly grand). The side that faces the road is single storey. The other side is two storey. The sky dish is on the chimney right on the apex of the roof. On every previous occasion the engineers have gone up the single storey side - yeah obviously. But now, due to Elf and Safety ('tis the season to be merry), he's assessed that the only way to make the repair is to go up the two storey side. Speechless. I really don't know what to say anymore. As I said, it's been one hell of a week.

Right back to business. Yep, surf school, few changes to make, few upgrades for next year. There's no doubt that we've got the key players in position, just need to do a bit of tweaking.

As for changes in other areas, well it's a bit hard to say on here. You never know who's reading the old blog and word gets out pretty quick around these parts. It's all good though, it's all good.

All good except for my Sky dish! The 'A' team should be here this afternoon. I can't wait. What, are they going to abseil out of a helicopter all dressed in black? Should be quite a show. My bet is that it'll be the same engineer, same van, same ladders, but he'll come back with a mate who has his 'competent ladder holder' badge! Guess I'll just have to sit here now and wait for Mr. T. to arrive at his earliest convenience. He better not give me no jibber jabber! "Hold the ladder, fool!"

Thursday, 18 November 2010

All that glitters...

These are exciting times. We've got loads of new stuff coming into the shop next year - here's a sneaky peak at some wristbands that may even make it into the shop by Christmas (fingers crossed). Caroline works with contemporary aluminium - we got to know her when she stayed at the Beach House last year! She's incredibly talented and it's only her love of the ocean that has helped us to persuade her to take some time out from her busy schedule to do a special series of wristbands! Really cool.

Take me to Pleasure Town... oh, we're going!

Calendars yesterday, vouchers today - "Surf's Up!, with all these Christmas goodies you're really spoiling us!" And I haven't even mentioned yet the lovely Surf's Up! beanies and scarves that have been handmade for us in a small French hamlet.

Surfing vouchers are brilliant as Chrissie pressies because the recipient thinks you're the bees knees (did I tell you about the lack of bees?). What they'll think you're saying about them, is "I recognise you as a person with an adventurous spirit; brave and strong in the face of
adversity; who laughs in the face of crisis; loves the outdoor life; a maverick; a leader; a giant among men (or women); embraces life and loves to laugh." Oh yes, and as you've recognised these qualities in them, they will surely thank you, as to them this is the ultimate compliment.

Of course none of the above may be relevant, might just be that you've run out of ideas and are looking for a simple solution - your secret is safe with us! Vouchers are available as one off surfing lessons (£26), Weekenders (£69) or Developer Courses (£105). This can be at any ability level. Jobs a good un!

ps don't forget the beanies!

Here it is! And here's Jamie modelling the blue number. Jamie (15) is one of the lads up from St. Austell. A really great young lad - we've got a lot of time for him. If he can keep himself out of trouble, he'll go a long way. Back to the beanies... we've got a pink girls one as well! (he wasn't keen on modelling that one). ps. those are cartoon surfers riding the waves on the main hat bit, not monkeys!

Figure this out

It was 5,800 days ago that we started Surf's Up! That's quite incredible - I never thought I'd hold a job down for more than twenty! When I was born there were approx. 2.6 billion people on this earth and now there's more than 6.9! In forty years time there will be twice as many people over the age of 85 alive on the planet than there are today ..... and did you know that with the drastic reduction of bees, farmers are getting quite used to the fact that crops don't grow in the middle of their fields, - lazy bees! These are my facts of the day!

We've got our boys up from St. Austell today! Kinta (14) has been along to take some photos for me - here's one! Surf today - magic seaweed calling it 15ft. Not so sure - hard to tell when the winds onshore.

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Cornwall - Wet!

News of flooding this morning around Cornwall. We're not exactly dry as a bone, but apart from the beach stream running quite fast by our trailer, there's nothing much to report. Pentewan however, where all the drama is unfolding, is where we were on the weekend walking our black lab. She got into a massive brawl with this oversized dog, the size of a small pony. Billy quoted Ron Burgundy "that really got out of hand, fast!"

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Limited Edition Surf's Up! Calendar 2011 - just in!

Here's a few screen shots of our new Calendar - which we're loving. It's desktop size - so you just have it there on the side as a reminder of the beach. Very handy indeed. We've assembled some of our favourite photos from over 16 years here at Polzeath - some wild ones, and some hot ones. You can get the calendars on-line for £8 each - great Christmas gift for anyone who's been down here on hols!

We hope that every time you look at it, it reminds you of great times. This one was taken only a few weeks back. High tide, sun just rising, a few empty waves for someone to enjoy.

Here's the horses of the King's Troop being exercised by the stable hands. They came down last year for a couple of days and put on quite a show. The horses were loving every minute.

Not all the photos are black and white - but I think this one works well. As a surf coach I've stood in the water on so many days when it's like this. Students get such a buzz when the Surf's Up! (too easy!).

No apologies for sneaking in a few sunset photos! Captures the best of the spectacular scenery.

Winter wonderland - it's pretty rare for snow to fall and then settles on the beach. We've had a couple of days like this over past few winters. It's definitely warmer in the water than out - takes a bit to convince yourself that that'll be the case though! Try getting out of a nice warm motor!

Update - these are flying off the shelves!!

On today's Menu in the Surf's Up! office - Alana cooked us two varieties of Flan - Crab and Asparagus and Bacon and Cheddar ... oh and chips! And it was all very, very tasty!

Monday, 15 November 2010

Bali is go!

Yep, we can confirm that the Surf's Up! Bali trip is definitely on. Just a two week hit - Wailin will be there guiding from February 12th to the 26th if you fancy joining him. All you have to do is get yourself to Denpasar airport and we'll do the rest. Bali is one of the best places on the planet - not just for the perfect surf. The culture, the people, the smells, the heat - your senses just go into overdrive. And when you come home, you just look forward to going back again!

Sky's the limit

Our Sky dish moved a fraction last week during the stormy weather - so no telly. It's been a revelation - what we've discovered is the telly progs that we really like to watch are all available online - free as you like. Even the Grand Prix! So we're in two minds on whether to ditch sky and get the freeview. Any thoughts anyone? The other thing we've discovered is that without the tv the boys find other activities to wind away the long evenings. They like to re-enact WWE wrestling when they get bored! Friday night though - all was quiet. Not a peep from the boys. This normally means they're up to no good. So we went on a search. Not in Fin's room. Not in our bedroom. Neither on the computer, nor the Playstation. No sound coming from Billy's room - they can't be in there, but best check. Open the door and there they were, sat on the floor, playing .... chess! As I say, it's been a revelation!

What a fantastic day! Surf 3ft clean, the sun's shining. We've got Wailin in he office with Chris, Alana, and Aleisha. Chris, Alana, and Aleisha are looking for work, and come to us for two days a week just to gain a bit of experience in the work place. Actually they're very competent. Chris is excellent on the computers and in the shop - so he cracks on with that. Alana is hoping to get in the Navy as a chef - so we've got her honing her skills by cooking up the Surf's Up! team lunch everyday. Broccoli and Cheddar cheese soup is on the menu today. Great for her cv. And then we have Aleisha who's strengths lie in the creative department.