Parenting, profundities and humour

In Search of Waves… — July 31, 2019

In Search of Waves…

imageSome of my more loyal readers (and let’s face it with my posts getting scarcer and scarcer you would have to be pretty loyal right now; and that scarcity is a whole other story I may write one day) may remember that I enjoy a bit of body boarding…

If you don’t remember why not go back and revisit Surfing or Surfing….or not…. or even If the Suit Fits they all bear some testament to my love of riding the waves. On my belly…. I decided after Portugal to just give up on proper surfing for good, The relief is palpable. Body boarding…all the thrill…much less effort..

In search of waves last summer we went to Polzeath in Cornwall for our annual two week summer holiday. The house we rented was literally a short trot to the beach (admittedly across a car park) and then it was only a small hike up the beach to the waves. We had decided to buy full length wet suits of a decent quality and exorbitantly expensive Dry Robes (TM) which as it happened were unnecessary as Cornwall basked in unusually high temperatures for our entire staycation.

Once we realised you needed to get your boarding fix either very early or very late to avoid the hoards of surf schools and sightseers we had a high old time. The waves were mostly good.

Probably beacuse we didn’t get the Cornwall weather we expected and felt cheated by all that sun we decided to head back in October half term for another go. This time the weather was distinctly Cornwall. We used those Dry Robes (TM) in anger as well as neoprene hats, shoes and gloves. You may scoff but we body boarded in November. In the rain. And howling wind. The waves were ‘frisky’. It was quiet.  But nothing was open. All the cafes and tea shops and chippies had closed up for the year.

In a bid to combine sun & open amenities with not hitting your head on a surf board or taking out a toddler or two on every wave we decided to head back to the west coast of France this year.

We last did this in around 2011. We remembered excellent waves. Long empty beaches. But we have moved on a bit from static caravans. So husband found a house again a stroll from the beach. With a pool and jacuzzi. And a washing machine. We bought a roof box for all the wet suits, neoprene accoutrements and Dry Robes (TM) (the weather in West France can still be a bit hit and miss if memory served) and off we drove across the tunnel and seemingly all of France.

The house is spectacular. The beach beautiful. But not body boardable. We tried, looking a bit ridiculous in our wet suits amongst all the bikini clad French bathing in fairly calm waters, but really, no.

Luckily Rob, who had shown us around the house when we arrived, had mentioned a surfer beach, La Conches, just up the bay. He claimed it was a bit busy with surf schools (sigh) but worth the trip especially as it had life guards.

Yesterday with a surf report of 5-7 foot waves we tried our local beach one more time, gave up after having to walk over the rocks to the waves which were breaking at weird angles, got straight in the car sitting on towels and said Dry Robes (TM) and drove in sandy flip flops and wet wetsuits to La Conches which took all of 15 minutes. We banged the roof box on the car park barrier, got out and walked to the beach.

We were greeted by awesome waves of indeed epic proportions breaking in huge straight lines. The beach was deserted. As it was raining.

So off we went striding into the sea catching wave after wave and skimming the shore with our boards. Looking like we at least needed the wet suits.

We went back today in slightly tamer 3-4 foot waves. Which allowed Eldest to catch them just before they broke much to his delight, and Middlest to try his barrel rolls.

2 hours later we again sat on those towels and Dry Robes (TM) in the increasingly sandy car and drove back to our house and the outside shower. All exhilarated, tired and ready for our baguette, cold meats and cheese.

Why do I like it so much? I love the visceral effect of the sea. I love being so close to all that power. I love fighting my way back out through the breakers. I love the crash of the breaking wave, the gurgle as you ride the breakers and the rustle of the shingle under the board. I love the smell. I love the pull of all that energy propelling you up the beach. I love that time slips away unnoticed. I love seaweed tangled in my feet. I love the feel of sand in my toes. I love the triumph when you catch one just right and go from shoulder high water to inches of foam.

And you see here is the single best thing about body boarding. It is a physical activity that I enjoy and can actually do as well as my off spring. In every other area I lag behind, get tired before everyone else, feel like the lame duck. But with body boarding I out last them all. Except Youngest who could have stayed even longer. It is truly a whole family activity.

At one point during today’s session we all managed to catch the same wave riding it up to the shoreline in what , in my mind, was exquisite harmony. Perfect.

Body boarding is something that I can foresee carrying on with even after the kids have left and into my older years. I imagine myself at 60 or even older still riding those waves.

And then I struggle into or out of my wet suit slowly and often with help and reconsider…. I will have to develop an immunity to the cold. Or a layer of fat. And do away with one altogether. For I never want to give up that feeling of pure exhilaration.




I accuse Anglian Water with the lead piping … — March 24, 2016

I accuse Anglian Water with the lead piping …


So here is a thing.

A couple of weeks ago my new neighbours popped round to tell me that a recent water survey had shown that they had dangerous levels of lead in their water.

I am not sure what prompted them to get the water surveyed. But anyhow they had. And Anglian Water had done some scientific testing and the upshot was they were banned from drinking their tap water until the road could be dug up.

New neighbour explained that Anglian Water thought the problem might be the pipe between the main main and the house.

In a neighbourly way she thought I ought to know the lie of the land so to speak. Lay of the pipe? Obviously the road being dug up was one issue but there was also the fact that Anglian Water thought it likely my house would also be affected.

I think I may have mentioned the road being dug up in my blog Fares Please . Well I don’t think I did I know I did but, hey, links get me visits. So sue me I am a shameless reader numbers whore. Secretly all bloggers are. Numbers do matter. Sorry guys.

Here is another thing. Pipes running up to your boundary are the responsibility of the Water company (yea). Pipes on your property are not. They remain your responsibility.

We have all had those letters in the post warning us of the dire consequences of not taking up one’s Water company’s insurance for pipes on our property. We have all binned such letters. Or if super security aware, shredded them. I am one of those people. My laissez faire attitude to pipe ownership was perhaps coming back to bite me. Poison me.

Anyway our road was dug up. Neighbour’s pipe was lead. Anglian Water replaced it up to their boundary. And not an inch beyond. However they did say it looked unlikely that there was lead on their property. I am pleased for them.

Anyway in the manner of Pandora’s Box I now had to do something. I had been happily imbibing my tap water since last May with not a thought to its possible heavy metal content. Of course now there was the distinct possibility I was absorbing the old Pb I became paranoid. Not paranoid enough to switch to bottled water (too expensive and environmentally damaging) but paranoid enough to run my tap for two minutes each time I wanted a drink. I couldn’t put the thought back in the box.

I should probably add at this point that I have historically been a tap water evangelist. I have never seen the need to spend money on bottled water and pollute our local rivers with empty plastic bottles. I have always firmly believed in the benefits of tap water. And often told others so. I still believe this. Sort of. I will when all possibility of lead has left the arena anyway.

Of course I googled the effects of lead poisoning and wished I hadn’t. No really, I really wish I hadn’t.

So I called Anglian Water who, considering the circumstances, were happy to send out a scientist to test my water. And its level of toxins. I was expecting lab coats. And possibly a bespectacled gentleman.

I got a man in a van with steel toe capped boots and what looked suspiciously like four washed out coke bottles. Surely enough residual toxins in there to get my water onto the banned substance list. Anyhow he took his very scientific samples. Without labelling a single one. And nipped off to his van for a fag before drawing his last one- a 30 minute standing test.

He promised the results in writing within 10 days. That seemed an awfully long time to a person possibly building up ruinous levels of lead in their system. But then I reflected that since I had been gaily doing that for around 10 months it possibly didn’t make much difference.

In the manner of blood test results I expected a phone call should things be particularly hairy (sorry heavy). I hadn’t heard anything for 6 days and was starting to relax. I had stopped running the tap for two minutes every time I wanted a cuppa anyway.

I was just mentioning to my mother that I thought we were in for a clean bill of health when the man from Anglian Water called up. Irony or what… Leadery?

Suffice to say the level of lead in the sample taken from the street was over the safe amount of 10 mg per litre. Not much over but still over. The samples taken from my kitchen tap were lower but still showed the presence of lead. So there are lead pipes somewhere. My levels were not so bad that I was banned from drinking my water but he suggested going back to running it for two minutes before drinking to minimise the lead content in each refreshing glass full.

His suggested course of action was to dig up my road again and have a look at the pipe leading up to my boundary. If that proved to be made from lead they would replace it free of charge. Next another steel toe capped mad in a van would roll up and repeat the sampling. This time they would do a slightly more scientific test (in my view not difficult) for the ‘fag break’ one and take many more smaller samples which would help pinpoint where the lead piping remained within my property if indeed it did at all.

Quite why they didn’t do this before is unclear to me.

I asked him was it likely that the whole road (which predates the 1970s when lead piping became illegal) would be in the same predicament? He thought it likely.

That begged my next question. Why didn’t they just survey the whole street in a systematic way. Thus presumably saving time and money on hole diggers, pipe replacers and hole filler in-ers, temporary traffic lights and road closures.

His response? “That would be ideal but we have to target our resources”.

Clearly a stock response read off a card ‘to be used with difficult customers’. (I had one of those cards when I worked in a bank and had to sell loan insurance. ‘Overcoming Customer Objections’, I think it was called. If only the banks had not overcome such objections they would be a lot better off now. But hey ho that is a whole other issue and I appear to be getting side-tracked.)

His only suggestion was that I mention it to my neighbours directly. Of course I will. But a bit of proactivity on their part might have been nice. No not nice. Responsible.

It is not clear to me why shareholders in Anglian Water would come above public health but they clearly do.

Neighbour and I may do a leaflet drop. That will screw them right royally.

Serve them right.



%d bloggers like this: