Wednesday 13th June saw some of the Portlebay team journey down from our modest little Poppery to the beautiful and vast beach at Bigbury-on-sea. We were excited for a hot and sunny day at the beach before being reminded that we live in Devon after being greeted by a heavy sea mist, but this simply couldn’t stop our fun!
Surfer Sarah Ashley and photographer Alex Tucker rocked up in their casually cool surf van full of all the essential bits and bobs for any beach bonanza. We met them in the car park that overlooks this stunning beach armed with heaps of delicious popcorn all eager get get some sand between our toes! After navigating ourselves down the steep rock face to the beach we couldn’t help but be awe struck by this beautiful location! Perfect for long beach strolls, paddle boarding and a quiet day when the sea is flat and a buzzing, great surf location when there’s a few waves, Bigbury beach seemed to have it all. If you haven’t visited Bigbury-on-sea yet it’s a definite must for coastal lovers in Devon!
The beach provided multiple areas to get some wonderful snaps of both Sarah and the popcorn which was tucked into happily by all of us throughout the afternoon! Both Sarah and Alex particularly enjoyed the Lemon Sherbet flavour and admired this quirky but delicious take on summery popcorn (almost as much as we do!).
Our team really enjoyed gaining tips from Alex’s photography talent and chatting to Sarah about her surfing experience, we are even tempted to try and give it a go ourselves this summer, as long as we know there’s a yummy packet of popcorn waiting for us back on dry land to tuck in to after!
Here are a few behind the scenes photos from our wonderful little afternoon:
Saturday 16th of June saw international surf day take place, a day that celebrates the surf life style and the importance of environmentally conscious movements along our coastlines. It is an especially celebrated day in key surf locations such as Hawaii, California and Cornwall which was established in 2005 and is becoming increasingly popular, especially along the beautiful South-West coast.
This years international surf day theme was ‘Protect and Enjoy’ which is an ever increasingly important message within the surf community and modern day as we see the build up of plastic pollution in our oceans.
This day of celebrating surf is inspiring to us as we admire the talent of those in the international surf league and even those local surfers catching a few waves on our favourite beaches, however, it also reminds us to reflect on the products that we use and the huge difference we can make from little acts such as picking up rubbish we find on the beach.
To celebrate International surf day here at Portlebay we caught up with surfer Sarah Ashley to chat about her surfing experience and enjoy a few packets of our popcorn on one of the most beautiful beaches around (in our opinion) Bigbury-on-sea! Here’s what she had to say:
1) How did you first get into surfing?
I have always loved being outdoors and by the sea. On it, in it. Any excuse to breathe salt air into my lungs. I grew up by the ocean and on boats, so surfing seemed to be a natural progression for me. Back home in South Africa one of my closest friends was an SA champion! But it wasn’t until I moved to the UK that I learnt how to surf. I was lucky enough to have a friend from school take the time to teach me. From the dawn surf missions to late night sessions after work – from then on I was hooked! I owe you Harry!
2) What board do you use, and why do you like it?
I have tried out a few surf boards over the years to find what I am most comfortable with. From starting off with the stereotypical beginner minimal, to progressing on to a thruster. I now surf a 6’ fish as I believe this is best suited to British waves; especially over the summer when the temperatures rise and the swell drops. I currently own 3 surfboards though, including a thruster which I love for its ease of duck diving under waves. This is just for now though, I love board shopping and my surfboards always change as my surfing improves.
3) Where are your favourite surf spots in Devon?
Bantham is where I learnt to surf so it will always be a special place to me. It is also one of the most consistent surf spots in Devon (close to Plymouth, anyway) so it’s my go-to surf spot. I also love the Gastrobus at Bantham (food is always priority) and the views of Burgh Island are beautiful!
4) What’s the biggest wave you’ve ever ridden?
6 foot and I can honestly say I was in over my head (literally.)
5) Where is the coolest place you’ve ever surfed?
I went on a surf trip to Sagres, Portugal, this year and it has to be one of my favourite experiences to date. With southern, western and eastern coastlines to choose from, you can literally go wave hunting and there is always going to be surf somewhere. Surfers paradise! All within 30 minutes of each other too!
6) What advice would you give to anyone wanting to take up surfing or anyone who is just starting out?
At first, go with a friend. You want to feel comfortable and enjoy your first experience, I know for a lot of people their first try can be a make or break for them. Make a fun day of it and rent some foam boards. Don’t feel pressured to have to stand up on the board on your first day! As with everything surfing takes time and practice. When you get the hang of it and want to go on to purchasing the gear and really getting in to it – do your research! Beginners often make the mistake of wanting to jump to intermediate boards too soon and then stunt their ability to learn and progress. Ask the guys at your local surf shops for advice. More often than not they’re surfers themselves with loads of experience and industry knowledge to share! It sounds so cliche’ but surfing truly is a lifestyle. So above all, surf for the love of the sport and the tranquillity of being out on the water.
Check out Friday’s blog to see the ‘behind the scenes’ of our shoot and catch up with Sarah!
Tina Beresford is a surfer living in Cornwall, who is part of the Gul Surfing Team, that compete in three different surfing disciplines in the UK and abroad. She has very kindly given us an insight into her very cool surfing life and we wish we were as cool and talented as her!
How did you get into surfing?
I had always wanted to try surfing and at the age of 18 I finally got the chance on a university surf trip to North Wales. I loved it and was instantly hooked! It shaped my future as I later took on the role as the captain of my university surf club, organising all the trips and working to get as many people surfing with me as possible! I then travelled for a year to surf spots around the world, to improve and experience warm water surfing. Following this amazing experience, I slowly moved south from Manchester to Cornwall in order to catch more waves and meet similar minded surfing friends.
What made you get into competitive surfing?
Apart from the few surf competitions I competed in at University, when I couldn’t really surf, I made a late entrance into competitive surfing at the age of 28 in; longboard, shortboard and stand-up paddleboard surfing disciplines. I always liked the idea of competing and after over thinking about why I should/shouldn’t do it, I just went for it entering every surfing competition going, with the simple aim of becoming a better surfer!
What have been your competition highlights so far?
Last year I was lucky to compete for England, at the ISA Worlds Standup Paddleboarding championships in Denmark, where I placed 13th in the world for Womens Sup Surfing. This was the third time I’ve represented my country, abroad in sup surfing, with the first being in France in June 2016 and then at Cloudbreak in Fiji in November 2016, with some of the best surfers from around the world! In Fiji, I came 12th in the women’s event and got a real taste of what it’s like for surfers that compete internationally, on the best reef based waves in the world!
My aim for this year was to make it to the final of a British Longboard Union event, which I reached last week, at the Fistral Beach event. I claimed 1st place in the Womens Longboard open! This was a real competition highlight and I’m hoping the rest of the year will go just as well for my longboarding.
I’m lucky to have had so many great experiences during the last 4 years competing in surf events. A few of my other highlights include; winning the National Sup Surfing womens event at Watergate twice, experiencing Boardmasters World Surf League events, competing with Britain’s best shortboards in Thurso, making the womens semi finals and coming second in the English Nationals senior womens shortboard event. I’ve surpassed what I expected to achieve!
Favourite Surf spots?
This is a hard question as there are so many great surf spots in Cornwall. Some of the most well-known are on my favourites list such as; Fistral beach, Watergate, Crantock, Godrevy and Sennen. Outside of Cornwall I’ve been lucky to surf some amazing waves such as Cloudbreak in Fiji, Jeffery’s Bay in South Africa, The Pass in Byron Bay, Thurso in Scotland, Hossegor beach breaks in France, Blacks in Southern California…..to name a few! So many more I hope to travel to and experience!
What advice would you give to those learning and wanting to progress?
If you are a new beginner surfer, it’s probably a good idea to seek out surfing lessons with a qualified Surfing England surf school, to learn quicker and in a safe environment.
Remember that “float is your friend” in most British waves and should allow you more time on your feet experiencing riding a wave. Many people seem to buy a small board too soon and have trouble getting up on waves.
It’s also essential to get a good quality wetsuit to enjoy surfing in cool to cold British waters, plus some gloves, boots and a hood for the very coldest months. Being warmer improves the experience of surfing, you can have longer surf sessions and keeping warm can help prevent injuries. The wetsuit should be well sealed keeping in a layer of water which is warmed by the body and prevents you from losing too much heat while in the water. So, it is sometimes worth paying more for a higher specification wetsuit such as the one I wear, the Gul Viper which has fluid seams.
Finally, get in the sea as often as you can to gain experience and fitness, and remember to have fun! Surfing can sometimes be frustrating but it is also a very rewarding sport!
Check out Tina’s Instagram page to follow her surfing journey! We are certainly inspired and will be in the water this summer (we’ll wait for the sunshine before jumping in though!)
The final competition of our Portlebay Advent is truly something not to be missed! Day 24, along with a box of Portlebay Popcorn, is offering two vouchers for Fistral Surf School AND a £100 voucher for the clothing company Joules! OHH LA LA! If you want to be in with a chance of winning this magnificent prize head on over to our social media pages (Facebook,Instagram or Twitter) and follow the instructions!
Here’s a Little Bit of Information About These Two Lovely Brands….
Fistral Surf School
As we are very lucky and live in Devon, we are surrounded by many beautiful beaches! Although the beach is normally a sunny destination, a winter beach is just as charming and many of us popcorn-enthusiats visit all year round! We even have some wild members of our team that have no reservations about jumping in the sea and will spend a couple hours splashing about on surf boards! (Others prefer to just spectate and keep warm in our woolly hats and gloves!)
With our love of the beach in mind, we are absolutely thrilled that The Fistral Surf School have partnered with us! Fistral Beach is the undisputed home for British surfing with its big sandy beach and famous waves. Sitting at the top of the beach is Fistral Beach Surf School, a family run business that has its doors open all year. The school offers surf, bodyboarding and stand up paddle boarding coaching to all ranges of abilities and ages. Their dedicated and friendly team have over 20 years of experience, and strive to provide professional coaching. All equipment has been carefully handpicked, providing the best quality possible to ensure that you have maximum satisfaction and all equipment is included in the lesson prices. Open all year round, the surf school and hire centre has all the equipment to keep you stoked and toasty no matter what the Atlantic Ocean throws at you, from toasty summers to frosty winters the hire centre has you covered.
Joules, the very lovely clothing company that is all about family and colour, started over 25 wonderful years ago when Tom Joule started selling clothing at country fairs and events. As our Portlebay Poppery is located in a rather rural part of the country and we looooooove the countryside life, we have to admit Joules is a big YES from us!
The brand have created bright and typically British clothing for all family members (including dogs!) and today they have even expanded to home and footwear!
Don’t forget to enter our last Christmas Competition on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter, oh and…HAPPY CHRISTMAS FOR TOMORROW!