Updated: Oct 19, 2018
So, after three years of knuckling down to full time work, I have tried to manage my wanderlust with regular, quick, cheap surf trips; Portugal, the Canaries, and UK weekenders, but with dark winters and limited annual leave, in true honesty, IT SUCKS and I am doing an awful job of it. The words ‘annual leave’ send chills down my spine. I had no idea what that even meant before I moved back to the UK after working seasonal jobs abroad.
Dark winter days where you long for the weekend because you might get to see daylight. And maaaaaybe that swell will stuck around for the weekend so you can get your salty fix; however, UK winters can be insane for surf! Thumping! …But months can pass until those decent conditions coincide with a weekend. Although my heart will always be drawn to those UK cold water solo adventures, my ‘annual leave’ has resulted in me spending every last penny to ensure my addiction is 100% taken care of!
The joys of surfing! The drug you have gone and got yourself addicted to without the resources to fuel it. They say only a surfer knows the feeling. We are a selfish bunch ay? Fickle. Unable to commit to anything in advance because ‘what if there’s surf?’ The city-surfer lifestyle is a challenge and requires a hell of a lot of organisation, commitment, planning and will power… none of which I have, so to book a trip months in advanced was an achievement for me and an astonishment to my manager.
I previously spent my life planning the maximum of five days ahead (if that). With difficulty guaranteeing the surf forecast in advanced and arranging short notice leave from work made those ‘quick trips’ extremely difficult. I know I’m not alone here?!
After one hell of a long winter I took a hard look at myself, and then before I knew it, I was sat on a boat in the middle of the Maldives. I decided to spend a pretty penny on my one of my few ‘annual leave’ surf trips. If I have limited time to travel, I may as well go all out, right? The Maldives had the highest chance of surf, multiple surf sessions a day, and sun. It was an ocean adventure searching for waves… Total paradise!
...Okay... so we hit the monsoon season… it rained… a lot... but the sun came out too; welcome to the tropics! After that rain passes, the sea settles, and the line up comes alive with more than just those glass crystal peelers heading for you - this place is an aquarium. Disconnected from the world, there’s no reception - just ocean, islands, and the occasional local’s island. It’s pretty epic.
Having finished making love to a tennis ball between my shoulder blades, after an insane couple of days surfing up in the northern atolls, we headed South! I jump online for twenty minutes to check nothing has burnt down, then engross myself in surf mags. Images of pumping surf, kelp in the pit and full hooded suits; this still turns me on - maybe it’s the Brit in me! Maybe it’s just giving me a sense of home while I sit on this boat. Maybe I’m reminded of those winter swells I missed or maybe a new cold-water adventure is soon to come?
Winter and work are quickly forgotten out here, and suddenly, somehow, it all becomes worth it. We watched the dolphins feeding off the back of the boat at dusk, before sleeping on the roof amongst the stars, having had one of the most beautiful peelers of my life shared with a turtle.
For me, however, this trip has simply fuelled the fire and opened the floodgates; why can’t I make this my life? Going home will be a tough one. Perhaps the next time you hear from me I will be writing of how I am now lost in paradise dreaming of a luxury boat trip? Who knows?
Those hot chocolates always tasted so much better and well deserved after a cold-water surf in the UK, but for now I have taken to the tropical lifestyle and exchanged hot chocolates for a grown up beer.
Visit my Instagram @surfpioli for a few vids of the trip so you get the full picture of this tropical paradise at its finest.
Here are the only two mishaps of the trip...
The first image is following a wee collision with the reef, the boat was watching me wince while Tommy sorts out the reef cuts (I may have ripped the bikini on the reef too but I will save your eyes haha)
The second image is Giulia following a little eye infection... so we thought we would give her a new one.