This is how you think your surfing weekend will go, and this is how it will actually go…


Sigh.  When I was learning to surf I had this dvd called ‘Roxy, Learn to Surf Now!’  It was full of gorgeous babes frolicking on pristine beaches and riding longboards in turquoise warm waters.  Then there were shots of them riding in open topped jeeps, blonde hair billowing everywhere; after that they were jumping off yachts and snorkeling with turtles.  I loved that dvd, even though their take on surfing was so wildly different to mine.  My experience of surfing was that it was cold and grey and often embarrassing.  I remember my car door had scratches all around the key lock because my freezing hands would lose the dexterity to insert and turn the key.

Years later, I still feel there there’s a disconnect between my lifestyle, and how surfing is portrayed in the media.  Here’s how I think a surfing weekend is going to go, and here is how it will actually go….


EXPECTATION:  At last!  A weekend of no work where I can do lots of surfing.  Maybe I’ll be the featured rider on the malpaisurfcam, possibly getting barreled.  I also want to try out that new Pilates place and afterwards I could get a dragonfruit breakfast bowl.  I want to start a daily yoga practice and I must try to make one of those overnight breakfast pots with oats, chia, fresh fruit and homemade almond butter.  On the internet it says they are really easy to make, you just pop all the ingredients together in a mason jar, put it in the fridge overnight, and hey presto you have a delicious healthy pre-surf breakfast.   Also I’m going to clean my house from top to toe, and I might learn the Subjunctive Tense in Spanish.   Hopefully I’ll see that guy at the beach, the one that makes the fresh pasta, and has biceps like meaty tortellini and abs like rippled fettuccine, and a bum like two perfectly spherical choux buns.  He’s going back to Chile soon, but I’ve already decided that I will keep our soon-to-be-passion alive by email and I will send him links to interesting articles etc.  Also I’ve researched Chile and it sounds like a very nice place and I’m sure I could live there and fit in very easily.

It’s Annie’s birthday tonight, but I’m just going to show my face and then leave so I can get an early night and feel fresh and invigorated for early surfing tomorrow.  Only one cocktail from Drift Bar, two cocktails absolute max.  I don’t go out much so my alcohol tolerance is very low, so I’m just going to keep it really chill, very quie ….



Tara is puking in the loos … Dani is talking to someone inappropriate in the road … Shazza is dancing on a table … I am stuck talking to an ayahuasca bore who says this: “yeah it’s so deep … it just like opens you up … and you become a better person … and the moon”.  Then he starts telling me he’s run out of money and he’s meant to leave the country the next day and can’t afford the bus ticket to the airport.  Not for the first time, I wonder why I am such a magnet for nutters.


Regret.  Shame.  Self-loathing.

My head hurts and my mouth is furry.  There are no ready-made breakfast pots in my fridge.  I was going to do some yoga but I think it’s a bad idea to do it in the morning when the body is stiff, much better to do it in the afternoon / early evening when my body is more open, and more receptive to absorbing the benefits of the practice.

I go to the beach, but feel a bit iffy and I only manage to catch 5 waves, everyone tells me that it was good earlier.   I see the fresh pasta guy … yay …. but … what … hang on … WHO IS THAT WITH HIM?!?   Why is he frolicking in the whitewater and holding hands with a hot Asian babe?  I feel like I’ve been punched in the heart and a feeling of horror descends over me because she’s petite with long, dark, glossy hair and beautiful skin and taut abs.  In contrast I am a tall, slightly rotund, blonde.  I am Big Bird from Sesame Street.  She wears a triangle bikini and has pert boobs and a gravity defying butt like two succulent peaches.  I wear a tit sling with a cantilevered support system and I have the typical British, flat, lifeless arse.  If a stranger were to judge us purely on looks, then the only good thing they would say about me would be “that one can eat more burritos”.  I go to the Bakery afterwards for breakfast and I stare at the laminated menu for a full 10 minutes before mumbling “burrito” to the waitress, like I always do.  Back at home I decide to shut my eyes for just 5 minutes, but end up taking a 3 hour nap.  I check the, I’m not on it.

I was going to do yoga but it’s probably better to do yoga first thing in the morning because then it will wake me up and I will experience the benefits of the practice all day long.

Whenever I am depressed and I want to feel even more depressed I go on Instagram.  And that’s when I see it – it’s a photo of fresh pasta guy and the hot babe doing partner yoga together.  In this town it has become de rigueur when you are revealing a new relationship to post a partner yoga photo on Instagram.  If you don’t do this then people may doubt the authenticity of your love.  Also you must include a Rumi quote, or you must write a caption referring to yourselves as, for example “Santa Teresa’s new power couple”.  Fresh pasta guy has chosen the caption “Live.  Love.  Laugh.”   I take a snapshot and forward it to some friends and they all agree it’s a lame caption.

I’m craving Skittles, so I drive to the 3rd furthest away supermarket because I know that the 2 closest supermarkets currently don’t have them on the shelves.   There is a cheaper, knock-off version of Skittles more widely available here, but I don’t like them because they just taste like sugar and chemicals and you definitely can’t taste the rainbow.  In the UK there are lots of different varieties of Skittles, but in Costa Rica they only have Original, Wild Berries and Sours.  I don’t mind this lack of choice because I have always considered those flavours to be the Holy Trinity of the Skittles canon.  I buy Skittles everyday because I can’t keep spare packets in the house.  Like all good addicts, I have become a liar.  I go to different shops and I tell the shop assistants that they are for my neighbour’s children.  Sometimes there are no Skittles anywhere on the supermarket shelves, but at the supermarket closest to me there is one shop assistant who will go and get them from the back.  She is my enabler.  She knows I’m an addict, but she turns a blind eye.  In the off season I count her as being among by ten top best friends, even though I don’t think she knows my name.  Also Barry that used to work in the fruit and veg section of that supermarket is one of the very few men in this town that I actually trust.  The only other men I trust are Brett Callahan, taxi drivers Marco, Ronald and Wilber,  Davide from Nalu, and Martin the gardener at Hotel Tropico Latino.  Also the guy from Product C fish shop because when my old cat was sick he gave me lots of offcuts for free and I thought that was very kind.  And that’s it, I can’t think of anyone else right now.

I like to have a Diet Coke with my Skittles.  It’s not possible to drink Diet Coke on the streets here because someone will always yell at you “that stuff stays in your body forever you know” or “that causes cancer”.  Curiously, the people who yell these things are the same people I see shoving substances of dubious origin up their noses in the loos at the Banana Beach Bar.  If I am feeling in a healthy mood I have a Diet Snapple (Lemon Tea) with my Skittles.  I call this approach “clean eating under difficult circumstances”.


EXPECTATION:  I’m feeling great after my 3 hour nap and Skittles consumption so tonight I’m going Playa Carmen’s fashionable Blu Bar where the young, hip and trendy hang out.  So naturally I am there too.  It’s a very international spot and I can just see myself flitting between the different groups of locals, Argentinians, Italians etc.  I will easily slip between different languages, and I will tell anecdotes (with punch lines) and deliver bon mots and everyone will think I’m interesting and bohemian.   I’m going to mention those New Yorker articles I read last week, and possibly the poetry of T.S. Elliot.

REALITY:  I go to Blu Bar but talk to no one except my immediate circle of female friends.  But at least I leave early (before midnight) so I can get a good night’s sleep.  I find a message on my phone from my mum saying that she has seen a photo of me on Facebook and she wants to recommend a special bra which is worn at nighttime in bed to help prevent sagging boobs.  I realise that my life as a hot young babe is now officially over.  Also she has sent me a photo of her new toaster, except she only communicates in capital letters so it’s THE NEW TOASTER!!

I have a quick clickedy click around the internet researching overnight breakfast oats.  I find an article about what Victoria’s Secret models eat for breakfast.  I’m like a moth to a flame with this kind of stuff, and surprise surprise they all eat overnight oats.  Interestingly I don’t find any recipes for my dad’s version of breakfast oats, which is to douse them in whiskey.  “It’s a Scottish tradition” he always claims, “but shush, don’t tell yer mother”.

It’s 1am and I can’t get to sleep because I’m anxious because in the morning me and some friends are going to surf at my favourite spot and we are going to video each other.  I get up and check the label on a bottle of melatonin tablets.  It says to take 1 or 2, so naturally I take 3.  It’s 1.30am and I’m still not asleep so I take an Ambien and that knocks me out.

SUNDAY 7AM:  Aarrghhh Alarm!   No milk for coffee.  No overnight breakfast pots.  My body feels like the Tin man in ‘The Wizard of Oz’.  I count my ailments: RSI in right wrist from computer mouse, stiff neck from laptop use, left knee makes a funny clicking noise, and bruised left calf from leash wrapping.   In the taxi on the way to the surf break there is a lot of post Blu Bar analysis which causes a lot of shrieking and merriment.  The surf is fun, but we can’t be bothered to film because it seems like too much hassle.   We go to the Bakery afterwards and order Frappuccinos and French toast and carrot cake.

2pm  I need to do lots of ‘life admin’ like check bank statements and send out work invoices.  I hate doing this stuff, but I find it a lot of easier to do if I have a nice cup of tea and some biscuits so I head out to the supermarket to buy some biscuits.

2.30pm  Get back from store.  I eat all the biscuits, but don’t do any of the life admin.

Later that afternoon I have an epiphany that makes me feel very calm and relaxed.  Serenity washes over me when in a moment of self-awareness I realise that I will never ever make overnight breakfast pots.  And that doesn’t make me a bad person.    Also I will never ever make healthy energy balls from cacao and dried fruit even though I have an entire Pinterest board dedicated to them.  I didn’t fulfill one of my main life goals this weekend which is to be on the malpaisurfcam, but there was one moment this morning when I did a cutback and it felt good.  No one saw it and there were no beach photographers to capture it because I never surf at the glamour spots.  It was a fleeting moment, but I felt it.  Fresh pasta guy is not into me, and if I’m honest the signs were all there.  For instance last week when I whatsapped him my pasta order I said I wanted the same as the previous month, and he asked me to send the details again.  It occurred to me that he just deletes my messages, and I would never have deleted his messages, especially not the voice ones.  Also I saw him recently in the Bakery and when he left he didn’t push his chair in under the table, and that bothered me.

He’s just not into me, but I have family and friends who love me.  When my friends pulled up at my house to take me surfing they were blasting out Wham!’s ‘Wake me up before you go go’ because they know I love that song.  Also I thought the symphonies we created during ‘She’s like the wind’ were superb.  And when I saw my crush with another woman one of my friends yelled out “TEAM HELEN” and that really meant a lot to me because she knew it was difficult for me, and in that moment I really needed to hear that someone was on my side.

8pm:  I brush my teeth whilst listening to Cyndi Lauper’s ‘Time after Time’ on a loop on YouTube.  I put my pyjamas on that say ‘if you need a hug, snug a pug’ and I tuck the bottoms into my bed socks, and then I put my mouth guard in because I am a nighttime teeth grinder.  I always wear my Iberia Airlines eye mask because I am a tad neurotic about light not waking me up.  Then I fall asleep listening to the BBC audio tapes of Sherlock Holmes.  Absolute bliss!

All in all, an excellent weekend!


Next month’s blog post – ‘Do you want to come back to my house and listen to The Smiths? – and other great pick up lines’

Eagle eyed readers may have noticed that I missed a month.  I started the year in a spirit of ruthless efficiency and was determined to blog once a month, but by February I’d already fallen of the wagon.  Lots of things were going on – I was obsessed with The Crown, the wind has been offshore, a pesky thing called ‘work’ often interferes, and the xbox won’t play by itself you know.  Anyway, I’m back on track now.


Well Done These People:

This is an ‘occasional’ series which I add to some of my blogs, where I highlight some of the things which have caught my eye or ear.

1) I thought this episode by the Surf Mastery Podcast was interesting, especially around the 39 minute mark where they dissect a bottom turn and top turn performed by Kelly Slater.  It’s very geeky and pretty dry, but if you’re a surf nerd you may like it…

This is the YouTube clip that they analyse

2) One of my favourite fitness instagrammers is the littlebantamsurftrainer.  She posts lots of interesting tips and the exercises she does are fun and creative and not the usual bog standard stuff.  I first started following her when I saw this ‘NO TOES’ pop up.  It’s really bloomin’ hard.

3) I am obsessed by anything that The Guardian columnist Eva Wiseman writes, and I thought that in this article she really nailed it.  Actions not words!

4) If you’re a cat lover you will appreciate this about the joy and occasional heartache of sharing your home with a cat.  I found it very heartwarming…

5) Thanks to the reader who read about my hair woes in a previous blog and gave me some of this Bumble and bumble invisible oil primer.  Thanks Katia, it works!


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