Surf, stretch and stay with Freewave Surf

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

After the dance floor, being on the water is my favorite place to be.  It is hard living in London, though, to find bodies of water that are not crowded, polluted and/or freezing cold.  A few weekends ago, we headed to a wedding in Cornwall during which time we spent a lot of time on coastal trails (and dancing on the dance floor).  Even though it was slightly overcast, and stormy seas meant we couldn't SUP or go on a boat tour, we still manged to get sand in our shoes and take in amazing views.

Photo by Amanda White
Two weeks later, I found myself back in Cornwall.  Freewave Surf Academy invited me to their site in Bude for their three day surf and yoga retreat (#gifted).  The weekend was jam packed but I will try to fill you in on the key bits of info.  If you have any questions though, leave a comment below and I will do my best to answer. The weekend kicked off at 4pm on a Friday night with welcome drinks, a yoga lesson and an introduction to surfing lesson on the beach. To finish the evening, a two course vegetarian dinner was served at the house.   Unfortunately, I was unable to arrive until 10pm as I was on a course in London until 5pm.  I had to take a train to Exeter and was collected my another attendee (who had a car) from Exeter Central Station for the two hour drive to Bude.  They did put some food aside for us to enjoy when we arrived.  Everyone waited up but quickly went to bed as they already had a yoga class and surf lesson that evening.

The accommodation was a beautiful five bedroom house with large garden, decks, outdoor BBQ, air hockey table, games, and two sitting rooms.  We spent most of our time around the kitchen table for breakfast and snacks for lunch.  There were two double bedrooms (one with en suite), three bedrooms with two single beds (one with en suite) and then another full bathroom and a half under the stairs.  Elle from Keep it Simpelle and I shared a twin room.  Loads of windows and sliding glass doors meant the sunlight (when available) illuminated the rooms.  There was parking for about five cars and an outdoor shower to rinse out wet suits and feet of sand.  We had to move some furniture for yoga when it was raining outside which made all of the spaces very versatile.  Plus the beach was close enough to walk to.

Saturday and Sunday are structured differently, depending on the tides.  A typical schedule may look like this (although we had 6:00am start on Saturday).  The key points are one surf lesson each morning and two yoga classes per day.

7am yoga
8:30am surf lesson
10:30am brunch and video feedback
free time until...
1pm cake and tea
3pm yoga
5pm surf film and chill time on Saturday
7pm dinner on your own on Saturday (we went to a great restaurant, The Beach House, down the road) / BBQ at the house on Sunday

Photo by Amanda White
The surf lessons started with basics of how to line up on your board, how to keep it stable as you push up and several options on how to stand up.  I was fairly confident that I would not be able to stand up as I cannot do a squat thrust or burpee well.  Although I didn't manager to stand up at my first lesson, I did on my second and third.  Robin (Freewave Surf Academy owner) and Charlie (instructor) were there to keep an eye on the six of us, offering tips, providing real-time feedback and keeping our boards stable when a big wave was approaching.  In addition to watching us in the water,  Robin and Charlie took turns videotaping us from the beach and with a GoPro in the water.  After our lessons (which lasted about an hour), we had time to shower and get dressed before Robin put together the clips and reviewed points each of us needed to work on.  The primary observation for me was that I needed to keep my head up (looking at where I wanted to go rather than the board) when I tried to stand up.

Photo by Tommy Hatwell
As I mentioned earlier, we had yoga indoors on the first two days.  On Sunday, there was enough sunshine to have one practice in the garden and the second on a clifftop overlooking the sea.  There are too many amazing photos (taken by Tommy Hatwell, Plymouth-based commercial and portrait photographer) of both sessions to share here but I have included a few of my favorites.  Yoga was taught by the talented Anna Young who is also one of the Freewave Surf Academy instructors.  She has a real calming presence and fantastic choice of music.  She also helped with breakfast in the mornings and tidied up after us (thank you Anna!).

Photo by Tommy Hatwell
A fun surprise was taking part in a beach clean up with Ado, who works for the local task force.  He explained how much plastic washed up on the beach but also how much the local community works to keep the beach tidy.  There were litter pickers and bags at the beach entrance for a #2minutebeachclean movement.  We were out there for an hour and filled up one bucket worth of items.  Another group had been through earlier, and they collected a lot more than we did. Her told me about how Legos from an old sunken container are washing up on the shore (ironically a sea-themed design) and how his Jack Russel can sniff out stranded seals in the dark.

Most of the guests left Sunday afternoon and evening to get home before work on Monday.   With only three people left on Monday, we had an early yoga class and a quick surf session before brunch at 10:00am. There weren't many waves but I did catch a few small ones before heading back to the house.  Robin was kind enough to cook up eggs and bacon at our request.  It was a family meal as Charlie and Anna joined us before Elle gave me a lift back to London and Amanda headed back to Staffordshire.

Similar to my ski weekend in Italy with No Boundaries, it was a jam-packed weekend with little time for sleep.  My goal for the weekend was to be outside as much as possible.  I packed my snorkel, running shoes and trail shoes for hiking.  I also had my iPad for reading e-books, and my laptop for doing work (which I only used on the train).  The stormy seas were too cloudy for snorkeling and I was too exhausted to run (aside from a few shots with Tommy in the dunes on Sunday night). The weather wasn't great either so I was happy to stay inside and chat to the other ladies staying that weekend.

Photo by Tommy Hatwell
The biggest challenge of the weekend was transportation to Bude.  It isn't easy to get to if you don't have a driving licence or car.  The house we stayed at is about 15 minute drive from town, but a short walk from the beach where there is a small snack hut.  The fridge and cupboards were stocked with a variety of foods (including dietary requests such as vegan and dairy-free) and drinks (including wine, beer, and gin) but you might want to bring your favorite snacks. For example, I should have packed Diet Coke. The seven of us went to town on Saturday afternoon for grocery shopping (as a few people choose to cook their own meal on Saturday night) and the chemist. We also discovered Temple, a very Instagramable coffee shop and bar that Charlie also works at.

Photo by Amanda White
Would I do it again?  Heck, yes!  I suggested before we left that we schedule a reunion retreat and I hope we do in the autumn before it gets too cold.  Robin was open to feedback from us as it was the very first time he held the retreat and he had another group coming in right after us. He was a fantastic host with lots of laughter from everyone over the weekend.  I think it would be an active alternative to a birthday party or hen do.  You could also make it a couples weekend or travel on your own to meet new people who are interested in the same sports as you.  Freewave Surf Academy is happy to arrange any extras that you need (within reason, of course).

Is surfing something you have been meaning to try but haven't yet?  Don't be shy but instead book in to this intensive weekend and let me know how you get on.

Photo by Amanda White
Thanks to Freewave Surf Academy for this complimentary weekend experience.  All views and opinions are honest and my own.

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