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  • Surfing in Ireland

    This year I had the pleasure of spending Easter with my family and over 100 cousins (no exaggeration) in Lahinch, Co. Clare, a little surfy town on the west coast of Ireland.  Lahinch is one of my favourite places on earth for so many reasons... The fresh sea air... the beautiful drives along the coast (particularly towards the Cliffs of Moher)... the chilled out atmosphere of the town... the fish and chips in O'Looneys ... the sound of the waves... and most importantly, the SURFING!!!  Landlocked in London, I hadn't been surfing since the days of my time in the U.C.D. Surf Club too many years ago and I soon found out that any skills I had acquired back then were sadly lost in the past.  However, once I got back into the waves, the surfing bug was reawakened and I found it very difficult to leave the water.  Yes, after the first two days my arms were fit to fall off after battling waves for several hours but the fatigue you get from surfing is a beautiful one, the wholesome kind of tired you might remember from running around the garden all afternoon as a child and as you fall asleep you feel you are still being carried across the water before being washed up into a deep slumber and dreams full of waves.  It really is the most magical sport.  By day 3 I was standing again and by day 4 I had mastered the combination of timing, standing and travelling along the wave (not for very long though!) and by day 5 I was just so so sad that it was my last.  How would I get through the days back in London without the sea? (aside: I am back here 3 days and still asking myself this question.  Answers on a postcard please!).  It's just as well day 5 was my last though as that was the day I left my gloves on the roof of the car before driving off.  They were not seen again and wearing wetsuit gloves in the sea definitely helps to keep off the cold.  And is the North Atlantic cold at this time of year?  Well I doubt it's very warm but I had my trustee old Rip Curl winter suit on and with the added insulation of the gloves and boots, I didn't even feel the temperature!  It was very sunny though and I was worried about my face getting scorched.  I don't think one application of sunscreen is enough for 3 hours in the water and certainly had that tingly uh oh might have been burnt/bought some future wrinkles feeling at the end of these coastal excursions.  However, I recently purchased a fantastic face cream from Space NK, Soothing Oil-Free Facial Hydrator SPF 12 by Elemental Herbology, a magical concoction of natural ingredients such as green tea, acerola fruit and Kakadu Plum, pearl extract and bio-dynamic algae, and this little pot of wonders kept my skin in tact despite the relentless exposure to seawater and sun.

    Soothing

    And on the note of skincare while surfing, it is definitely important to have a good hand cream at hand.  I've been using Voya's, a very nourishing lotion consisting of Irish organic seaweed extract.  It smells of sea air too!

    I now know where I'll be spending as much time as possible this summer...  And I might even buy a board on my way...  No better place to go for that than Surf Dock, a watersports specialist shop in the Grand Canal Basin in Dublin.  Set up by his father in 1992 and uniquely located in an old Aran Island ferry, my friend Colin (from the UCD Surf Club days) runs this very special ship, not only selling an expertly selected range of watersports equipment and gear (online too) but also offering equipment rental and wonderful courses in sailing, windsurfing, stand up paddle boarding and kayaking.   There are also childrens' courses during the summer which unsurprisingly are very popular.  Surf Dock is something of an institution and I will certainly be hopping on board to pick up a new pair of gloves at the very least when next in Dublin!

    And I can't wait for that day when I have good reason to replace those gloves!  Surfing is highly addictive.  Students at The Lahinch Surf School are even made read a warning to that effect before going out into the waves.  And those legends that are told by the sea about doctors throwing in their careers and husbands leaving their wives and indeed wives leaving their husbands for a life of surf hold more than a grain of truth, I am sure.  And I'm not sure if I would blame them.  Until next time, those rolling waves in Lahinch will be calling.

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