Lucky ol' me was a guest of Freewave Surf Academy for this weekend. I paid my own petrol lol... and you know me, as ever, all opinions are my very own. Photos by Tommy Hatwell and Amanda White.
In the back of my (2017) Passion Planner sits a list of things I wanted to do. Sadly that list never got transferred to 2018, or 2019 but I still remember what was on it. ‘Have a surfing lesson’ was on there… even though I can barely swim, am not the biggest fan of SUP and hate being cold. Despite all that, surfing looks cool, right?! Therefore, how could I say no to getting the first look at the latest edition to the Freewave Surf Academy offering – a Surf & Yoga Retreat in Bude, North Cornwall.
Now I’m not gonna lie, this was prob my fav part of the weekend considering the early starts, the weather and the water! We had our first lesson when we arrived on the Friday evening and although it seemed a storm was brewing, Robin (Chief Surf Instructor) didn’t take any prisoners and had us out in no time at all. In all fairness, we were only gonna get wet anyway and the weather being diabolical just meant you were better off, and warmer, being in the sea.
Our next lesson was the Saturday morning… at 6am. We all laughed when Robin told us… the kinda laugh which changes when the realisation sinks in that he is not kidding! But we all made it, despite the fact I set my alarm for 5 mins before we left and prob made us a little late. Oops.
Robin did great to cover the basics with us all and give us each the individual attention we needed along with one of his surf instructors, Charlie. They literally know everything there is to know about the water and how mother nature works so I always felt like I was in safe hands.
First Time Surfing?
Join the club! I’m not the strongest swimmer (at all) and I’ve never swum in the sea so this was way out of my comfort zone. The water that we had our lessons in had a big distance where the depth was shallow and although I knew this, sometimes my mind would forget when I fell in, which is evident from the images of me post submersion. Want some laughs?! Here you go…
Our Retreat Host – Freewave Surf Academy
Freewave Surf Academy is a surf school based in and around Widemouth Bay in Bude, Cornwall. Robin heads up the school with a team of local instructors who also have lots of experience under their belts. Over the past 15 years they’ve been taking small groups, families and individuals for surf lessons as well as many more aquatic adventures like SUP and Coasteering!
Well, you can’t have a surf and yoga retreat without the yoga, right?! We were very spoilt – there was soooo much yoga on offer …in the garden, in the house or on a cliff top (and it’s all optional). The evening sessions were usually based on Yin yoga, so relaxing, holding poses and gentle stretching; the perfect way to end each day.
Morning classes meanwhile were usually a little more energetic, based on vinyasa style yoga. I think I opted out of one or two yoga classes… one evening when I was just. so. tired. And then the last morning to allow myself a little extra time in bed to be able to make it through the long drive home.
Our yoga teacher Anna was great; I mean, she had to manage a group of varying experiences whilst keeping us within the realms of how we were feeling for each and every session.
It was kinda mad how much yoga plays into surfing and how much surfing plays into yoga. Made me realise that the crazy classes GymBox run of yoga on a surfboard type thing maybe aren’t so crazy afterall! Many of the positions in yoga are used in surfing so yoga can make you stronger on the board but then it’s also a great way to stretch out after being on the water.
The Beach House
Not only was this house where we were based for the weekend and did most of our yoga sessions in. It was also the place that we all came together to get to know each other over breakfast, afternoon tea and dinner as well as where we all hung out to get our video feedback post surf lesson from Robin. Enough bedrooms to sleep 10 sleep people and all just a 5 minute walk from the beach.
A Little Piece on Waste Free Living
Now I know I’m not out here shouting from the rooftops about saving the ocean, sustainability, re-useable plastic or waste free living, but I do try and do my bit where I can. On this trip and my last, I’ve not bought any new clothes, I’ve taken my re-useable water bottle and other bits I could.
The actual house-owners it seems are too big or bothered about this stuff with mini shampoos etc but Robin did his bit and added a personal touch with some locally sourced shampoo bars, bamboo cotton buds and a bag stitched out of fabric that can be used time and time again. But we all did our bit while we were in town…
The Beach Clean
Robin organised for us to meet a local activist on the Sunday afternoon to do a beach clean and learn more about how the locals look after their space. Considering the beach looked immaculate on first glance, you just had to rummage a little beneath the washed up seaweed to find bits of fishing net, plastic and other things which are harmful to sea life. We managed to fill a few bags with bits we picked up from the beach and learnt that it’s actually the smaller pieces, once things have broken down, that can be the most harmful.
How Would You Describe The Weekend?
Was what Tommy our photographer asked when we were doing some video content. My response was Wet, Windy and Wonderful… and in hindsight, I would add Wild!
I’ve spent the last few weeks lusting after a trip abroad (esp since returning from Antigua) when there is so much that can be done on the UK coast. This surf and yoga retreat is ideal for those of us whose lives are not dictated by school timetables, who enjoy being active, potentially want to try something new or this would even make an epic hen weekend!
Despite the epic journey to get to Bude (6-7 hours driving from Essex) I would without a doubt go back! Hands up if you’re down for a little road trip in the autumn…