It’s Not Always Grim Up North

I’ve been a bit unmotivated on the surf front recently, only getting in the water once or twice since my trip to Morocco. Partly down to work, partly down to not having a wingman to surf with anymore I decided that as soon as I got the chance in the new year I would be on it. Only a few days in to January and I was loading my car up to chase a decent looking swell heading to Scarborough.

The journey is pretty much autopilot to me these days and was very uneventful, but the sun kept poking out and the wind didn’t seem too bad so all in all it was looking favorable. I pulled upto Cayton Bay first and walked to the headland, it looked to be about 3ft from the top but a bit messy and inconsistent, but still there was surf! I watched a few sets but decided to check the town beaches before committing.

South Bay was almost flat, maybe 1ft, 1.5ft max so I carried on round to North Bay where some nice shoulder high waves were breaking. The crowd was probably close to 30 people, a lot for January, but the waves were breaking in a few separate places allowing the crowd to spread. I rattled off a fair few shots before biting the bullet and getting suited up myself (whilst downing a coffee for warmth).

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North Bay 8

 

The pictures show just how good the waves were, what they can’t show is just how cold it was. Paddling out took a fair bit of effort and once I’d made it past the breakers I had a few minutes to recover and have a look for the best place to catch a wave. I was only out for around 45mins – 1hr and probably caught 2 waves, I’d seriously over-estimated how warm my fin socks were (turns out 3mm just doesn’t cut it in Jan). However the waves I got were good, with a bit of power behind them, and it was nice to be out in the water again, even if it wasn’t for long.

By the next swell I should have my new Go Pro mounted to my board to give you a spongers eye view of some chocolate brown Scarborough surf.

Three Nights In Budapest

It’s an awful dilemma to be faced with but in November of last year I had a week off work and some spare cash and no clue what to do with it.

People who are more sensible than I would probably have but it into their bank accounts for a rainy day or to put towards a house deposit, I however fancied having a few days in Europe.

A little bit of internet browsing later and I had a destination; Budapest. Skyscanners led me to flights for less than £60, and some texts to mates got me a drinking buddy for the trip.

The flights were with Ryanair so to keep the costs down we opted for carry on luggage only, wondering if 10kg would be enough I was pleasantly surprised to find out I actually had weight to spare! The only draw back is the restrictions on liquids but my travel mate James and done his research and got airport friendly sizes of essential toiletries, plenty enough for a few nights away.

After a very standard flight and a quick taxi ride we arrived in the centre of Budapest, just a little unsure of the exact location of our hostel. We had google mapped the location but were really struggling to find it. About an hour into our search we got lucky and found the tiny sign to our hostel. Check in was swift and a quick nap ensued since we’d been up from a stupid hour.

The first night exploring was a bit of an eye opener, we’d heard food and beer was cheap but we weren’t sure just how cheap. Turns out very cheap! Dinner a really nice burger joint (kind of like Red’s True BBQ in Leeds) set us back less than £5, not bad for an amazing burger, chips and a pint of the local brew. Our next stop was a pub about 10minutes from the hostel, over the next couple of the nights the atmosphere of the place and the fact it was £1.25 a pint, kept on drawing us back.

Our first full day in Budapest was action packed, we crammed in all the tourist sights doing a self guided walking (with a brief bit of cycling) tour. Stop number 1 was a St. Stephen’s Basilica, and a climb to its top giving us a good glimpse of the city.

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The View From St. Stephen’s Basilica.

 

A quick cross of the famous chain bridge took us onto the Buda side of Budapest and upto several more of the cities iconic landmarks.

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James Looking Towards Pest, And The Hungarian Parliament.

 

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Walking Up The Aptly Named Castle Hill.

 

We got a touch lost heading back for the bridge towards Pest, but after a bit of map reading we were back on track and heading for the bridge that connects to Margaret Island. As there is no traffic allowed on the island we rented a couple of push bikes to explore.

 

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Tucked Away On The Island.

 

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Awesome Musical Fountain On Margaret Island.

 

After exploring the island we crossed back onto the Pest side and took a steady walk back to the hostel, before heading out that night and treating ourselves to T-Bone steaks and plenty of beer.

 

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The Danube By Night.

 

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St. Stephen’s Basilica.

Dinner that night was a bit extravagant, massive T-bone steaks and fries, for less than £12, including a beer! I was falling in love with this town. Following on from dinner we tried a couple of bars before heading back to the one from the previous night and enjoying a couple more of the well priced beers.

The next morning we got up quite early and set off for the docks hoping to get on a river boat, unfortunately very few were running and by the time the first one that we could’ve got on returned we would have missed our afternoon activity, shooting! So we just killed a bit of time around the river before grabbing a taxi for the gun club.

We were both pretty nervous when we got there having never shot before, and were expecting a safety demo or at least the instructor shooting first to give us an idea. That’s not how stuff works in Hungary, a country that refreshingly isn’t health and safety obsessed. We were asked if we had shot before, to which we replied “no”. Our instructor (for want of a better word) just replied “ok, just point the guns that way and pull the trigger”.

 

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We Started Out With A .22 Pistol.

 

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That Was Followed By A Glock And A Magnum.

 

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Yes That Is An AK47.

 

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And We Finished Up With A Riot Shotgun.

 

It was really good fun, we had several shots with each weapon, and the instructor did offer us words of wisdom before using each new gun. The price was steep by Hungarian standards, but we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to fire some actual weapons.

 

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Turns Out I’m Not A Bad Shot.

 

Our final night was spent in the Hard Rock Cafe before doing a bit of a bar crawl. We couldn’t stay out too late though as we had to be up fairly early to check out and have catch our flight, so no big night out on the trip, which means I have unfinished business in Budapest. Or maybe I’m just looking for an excuse to head back to one of the best cities Europe has to offer.

 

 

Exploring The Lake District

Ever since I was little I have always spent a lot of time at the coast. As a child I have great memories of family holidays by the seaside and day trips to Whitby. When I was a teenager several holidays to Newquay gave me my first taste of surfing, bodyboarding and beach life. At 18 I passed my driving test and whenever I could I would head off to Scarborough to get wet, and if I had a bit more time on my hands Newquay was usually a good option.

Spending all my time going to the coast meant that until recently I’d never been to the Lake District, but as Steph has moved up there with work, recently I’ve been spending a fair amount of time up there and I’ve got to say it is STUNNING. I’ve been missing out these last few years by ignoring it, that’s for sure.

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Thirlmere, Cumbria. Could quite easily be New Zealand.

 

There’s so much to explore there I’ve got a feeling it’ll take me awhile to see it all. So far I’ve managed to cross a few lakes off the list, a couple of waterfalls and a beautiful secluded beach. No fells as yet though, saving one of those for late this summer.

DSC_0375Walk On About 10mins From Aira Force And You Come To This. No Tourists In Sight.

 

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The Scenery Is Phenomenal.

 

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Not A Soul In Sight. Shame There’s No Surf Too!

 

Over the next few months I plan to see a lot more of the Lake District, do some serious hiking, a bit of wild swimming, probably some canoeing, and maybe if there is some swell snag a small wave (I’ve seen a pic or two so who knows…).

 

 

 

Cayton Point

A pretty decent groundswell hit the North East coast this week, it’d been hyped up on Facebook and Magic Seaweed for a few days prior so all those keen enough had a few days to get the excuses in to skive work or abandon spouses.

Myself and Mike headed up on Monday afternoon, but the journey took a little longer than expected and by the time we got there the Sun was starting to set. We headed over to one of the more low key spots just to have a nosey before dark and were surprised to see several vans parked up, a couple of surfers walking up and about 5 in the water surfing the seemingly playful point until the Sun disappeared.

With the point working and the swell looking good for the next day we had a quiet evening and an early night, although, sleeping in the back of a van is never exactly ideal the night before a surf!

We woke up and could see waves at Ravenscar beach, a rarity, so headed into Scarborough to check out the bays. With a tea in hand we watched nice waves at North Bay, but the tide was wrong so it would’ve been sketchy at the least with the backwash off the wall. South was mellower but still had nice sets running through, leaving a lot of hope pinned to Cayton Bay.

After parking up I grabbed my camera and we decided to head down to the beach to get a proper look at the waves, it wasn’t perfect but a quick glance at the point revealed a few surfers out and some fairly clean lines heading in. We headed over straight away for a better look but the tide prevented a straight path there, meaning an exhausting run upto the cliff tops, through the woods and back down a pretty treacherous path.

The waves looked about shoulder height and totally makeable, stark contrast to the usual waves of consequence associated with the point. However as we got there it started to die off, making a run back to the car (which would’ve taken around an hour to get changed and back down with boards) seem pointless, so we just watched and I snapped off a few pics.

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Cayton Point, From The Cliffs.

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An Empty One Rolls Through.

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Dropping Into A Mellow One.

 

After watching such nice waves at the Point we were frothing for a surf, unfortunately North Bay was like a zoo and South wasn’t much better, but I fancied my chances of grabbing a few clean set waves at South more so we suited up and went in.

The session wasn’t anything special, a few good waves came through, but next time I see a hint of swell on the Point I might just head there instead!

 

Is It Winter?

After working pretty solidly since the start of November and every day off coinciding with a lack of swell it’s been a long time since I’ve paddled out for a few waves. However checking the charts for this week and seeing that there was a small swell with good period heading for Scarborough on my day off got me excited.

I kept checking it for days beforehand, it barely changed, things were looking good, so the call was made and I had a partner in crime for my first surf mission of 2013. The best tide was around lunchtime so that even meant a little lie-in (which is a bonus on a surf mission day) before going to pick Mike up.

It was an uneventful journey there, the shock came when I parked up at North Bay. Check out the line up:

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Bare in mind that it’s January, in England, on the North East which has very cold water temps.

 

I couldn’t believe how many people were out, I’d not seen it that busy in ages, and the swell wasn’t even good. So as it was so crowded at North Bay we headed up to Cayton Bay. To my surprise the water wasn’t actually that cold, I think I’d built it up in my head how freezing it was going to be (especially after spending last winter surfing in warm water) that when it came down to it, it actually wasn’t bad at all, even get tumble dried in a wipeout wasn’t anywhere near as hellish cold as I remember.

Cayton was pulling it’s favourite trick, 95% of the waves were closeouts, still much more fun pulling into those on a boog than a stand-up board. No barrels, but it was still a fun session and nice to be back in the water after so long, although next time the forecast is like that I think a stand-up board would be the better choice for a mellow North Bay session.

Picture Perfect Pipe

Recently I’ve been working a lot, it’s kept me away from blogging, but worse it’s kept me out of the sea. I’ve missed some epic North East swells, with rumours of secret points working and the potential to find a nice slab was high. Unfortunately I missed all this, and now have my fingers crossed that on my next day off there will be some swell.

Until then I’ve been going through some of my pictures from my travels and came across a gem of a sequence from Hawaii which I’d somehow overlooked previously. It’s an unknown surfer, dropping into a perfect Pipeline pit, there’s literally not a drop of water out of place and the position of the wave and where I was sat gives the illusion that there was no-one else out.

The shots speak for themselves really, this guy will have been stoked with his ride.

So That Was Summer…

So, summer is officially over, not that it ever really got into full swing. That said, it’s still been a pretty action packed summer with lots of road trips, some surf exploration, bbq’s and beer; which are all the vital ingredients to any good summer.

Sure the waves never arrived, but they never do until Autumn, so hopefully there’ll be a good run of swell through October so I can get used to the cold sea again and the brain freeze inducing duck dives.

A fair amount of time has been spent scouring the coast looking for new setups to surf.

Or hills to skate.

There was the odd formal(ish) party.

And a fair few BBQ’s (when the weather was on our side).

I found some scenic places in the country side…

No really, I actually did find some scenic places.

I even got chance to meet a relative from Canada.

So while the weather wasn’t great and the surf never really pumped I still had a great summer. Hopefully some of the spots we’ve been checking over the past few months will start coming to life giving me some nice, heavy North East gems to shoot.