I am Not Cool Enough to Surf

I am still reeling from my trip to India – which you can read all about here if you like – which, although not the most ‘active’ three weeks of my life, helped me come one step closer to fulfilling one of my New Year’s Resolutions… to try at least three new sports. I tried one.

 

Pre-Surf Breakfast

Pre-Surf Breakfast at Le Cafe

 

 

We headed down, in a rush attempt to beat the monsoon that was foiling all our plans, towards the east coast and a Union Territory called Pondicherry/Puducherry to hit the beach. It represented a lot of firsts for me, including my first dip in the Bay of Bengal (eee exciting) and my first ever surfing lesson.

I’m going to be a pro-surfer!

Kallialay Surf School

Kallialay Surf School

Beach shot 4

Serenity Beach

Beach shot 5

I mean, I’m not, but that was the first thing I text my boyfriend after reluctantly tugging my large, blue foam board out of the water at the end of my first session. It was a bumpy little auto ride down to the beach and at first glance it doesn’t look like much; a tangle of fishing nets, lobster pots and multi-coloured fishing boats take up almost the whole beach, fishermen weaving in and out on their own paths between the plant debris that is strewn everywhere, courtesy of the storm monsoon weather. Facing the shore are a few beach properties, low, light houses, so close to the ocean they haven’t even bothered with balconies, each with at least one moped slung on the concrete at the front. Kallialay Surf School is pretty  hard to find at first glance, clearly it’s relying on reputation and web-presence, but we find the quiet little quadrangle that houses the surf shop, the store room (changing facility is a canvas tube that drops from the ceiling to shroud one from view), a bench and an outdoor shower.

Beach shot 1

Beach shot 3

Beach shot 2

She’s going in

I meet my instructor and get acquainted with my board. I was silly – I thought beginners learnt on the small boards and the big ones were for the experienced surfers. This makes absolutely no sense when you think about it, balance-wise, so my partner for the session was a large – much larger than I thought – blue, foam board. I practised the theory of standing up on the board on the beach so I could memorise the movement. I had one misconception completely squished at this point. I thought you had to jump or ‘spring’ up from lying to standing, which was a pretty daunting prospect. Turns out you only have to stand, one foot at a time; a much easier idea. Then I was strapped, firmly, by the ankle to my blue beast for the rest of the session.

The whole time I’m surfing I’m thinking ‘I’m just not cool enough to surf’. I’ve always wanted to but it definitely seems like something that is reserved for the cool, the chilled out and the brave. I am none of the above, in fact at one point the instructor said ‘just throw your brain into the ocean’, as my classic over-thinking had killed my chances on the last three waves. Why didn’t someone say that to me years ago and can someone please tell me this about once every three months? I think it does me good!

 

surf 3

“The waves come from over there”

DSC01907

DSC01905

 

I loved the feeling of catching the wave and have it propel me towards the floor, I really loved it when I could stand up too – oh yea, I could stand pretty quickly! That’s when the first realisation came, that this is not as hard as it looks. The basics are, well, basic. I didn’t mind when I fell straight off either, I collected a few bruises and more than a few mouthfuls of water but, although damn exhausting, it wasn’t painful at all. It was just fun. Then there’s the second realisation – it’s not as glamorous as it looks on the movies, in fact, it involves a lot more snot sort of splattered across your face, quite a lot of spluttering and an a lot more hair plastered across your eyes than I’d imagined. Also the stance, which looks so cool when a tanned twenty-something surfer guy is poised in the distance as you watch from your seat at the bar, actually feels pretty bizarre, like a fencing pose in the water.

Surf 4

First go

Surf 6

Attempting it

Surf 7

Go on…you can do it…

Surf 1

I promise I did stand…

The next day, after no proper shower and a 9 hour night bus ride across a few Indian states, I was aching like crazy (debatable whether from the surfing or the bus though). Paddling yourself with just your arms right back out to where the waves break is an absolute killer. Not only my arms hurt to raise, a few bruises on my legs too, but also my ribs; somehow lying on the board had made me bruise in a nice neat curve all along the line of my ribs, and my stomach muscles were feeling a bit of a twinge too. It was an awesome workout, I really deserved my tea and lunch afterwards and I only wish I could have done more.

Surfing is recommended as calorie burner, all round great workout and very high on the fun-o-meter.

 x J x

Surf 2

Going, going…

 

P.s. There are no photos of me standing – blame my friend!

Three For Your Thighs

Hey, so I tried a video. I’m still pretty amateur with this and the audio quality turned out horrible (working on this!) but I hope you like it all the same.

I tried to show you my three favourite thigh moves that also help core and balance. My thighs used to be my least favourite body part and now they’re definitely not – although I’m not saying that’s entirely down to just three moves! Do you like your thighs? What would you like to see me do next?

 

Love Jessie x

Fantastic Feeling Feet

Hey!
We all use our feet an awful lot more than we give them credit for. If you play sport or run or walk or dance or anything really you’ll know what I mean. Constant dry skin appearing, blisters, bleeding feet, bruised feet – you name it, we get it. I decided it was time to say thank you to mine!
#loveyourfeet
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My Third Year Abroad/Meine Auslandsjahr

Ever wondered what it’s like working and living abroad- last year I didn’t even know what a full-time job felt like but now I sure do! This is a pretty positive look at what has been, at times, a really tough year. But it is something I would definitely do again and everything I’ve written in the article is true. I’d love for you to check it out and tell me what you think. If you’re planning on moving abroad, studying abroad or are already living the abroad-dream, tell me about it below or send me a message; I’d love to talk to you. I will probably put up more articles like this one but on my own blog about trying to move abroad for the first time and what it’s really like.

Habt ihr im Ausland gewöhnt? Wollt ihr? Ich habe das dieses Jahr gemacht und wollte meine Erfahrung mit euch teilen (wenn ihr English lesen kann). Diese Artikel wurde auf ThirdYearAbroad.com veröffentlicht und ich hoffe, es gefällt euch. Ich muss sagen, meine Erfahrungen sind nicht immer positiv aber sicher nicht negativ und ich würde es auf JEDEN Fall nochmal machen. Wie reagiert ihr über dieses Thema? Würdest du persönlich im Ausland studieren oder sogar arbeiten, wie ich? Würdest du mal wahrscheinlich in England ein Auslandsjahr/Semester machen? Sag mir drunten- ich spreche gern mit euch.

http://www.thirdyearabroad.com/work-abroad/item/2256-work-placement-survival-skills.html

Thirdyearabroad.com is a really good website, started by a former languages student while she was on her year abroad. Now it’s become a highly recommended, multi-layered platform, winning awards for encouraging language learning and giving great tips and advice to students, from students.

I Remember Why I Bought All That Fancy Clothing

Ready to Run

So, I’m always wondering what pace I should start my run on. It’s a tough one and it depends a lot on distance and current energy levels. If I’m running further then I definitely want to settle down into my ‘forever pace’ as quickly as possible and not race off at the start wasting all my energy. If I’m trying to push my time then I want to economize on the good vibes I have at the start of a run, rather than those other vibes that appear just before half way (yes, you know the ones I mean). However, exactly how fast to start off depends on, at least for me, how high I’m feeling at the beginning.

I mean that in two ways; I can be on a good emotional high, feeling fresh and ready to go, and therefore should definitely use the spring in my step to get going. Use that feeling- the more you use it, the more your body will crack it out for you to use! And I also mean you should use the anger-high. I don’t think anyone should ever use exercise as a way to punish their body but most people who love to exercise would be lying if they told you it wasn’t a great release for stress, frustration and anger. Sometimes that ‘grrr’ is all you need to make your run successful.

Today I was so annoyed I forgot to even time myself! But I’m pretty sure I was fast; certainly felt it. I used the bubble of annoyance and pent up energy that had been growing all day and just spontaneously went for a run, half way on my walk home. It wasn’t until I stopped for a brief but intense nose-blowing session (I am mid-cold) that I realised how gross I felt. I was at least wearing some running trousers, albeit ones that don’t really fit me, but on top I was wearing one of my older, definitely-not-sports-bras, a cotton baby-doll tshirt and my big, fluffy Fat Face hoody. Oh dear. It was when I first stopped that I remembered why I bought all my light, breathable, wicking tops and base layers. I remembered why I have my waterproof jacket with air vents and an ultra-light hood. And I remembered why we shell out so much on a safe boob-containing-strategy for our running habits.

I love that equipment, I love using it and I’d certainly recommend much of it. One thing I did remember though, is that, that was exactly how I started running; angry at the world and fairly poorly dressed, with no stamina, poor form and a long way to go. Whatever equipment, or lack of, you have in your wardrobe, I still say just get out there and use that emotion-high to create something you’re proud of. The rest will come.

 

Signing out for the day ;)

Photo by AJF Stuart Photography

The Hills Are Alive With Spontaneous Hikers!

The one thing I’d definitely planned for my Austria getaway, was escaping into the countryside for a day to breathe some very fresh air. I’ve spent so much of the last year appreciating cities and towns (albeit not very industrial ones) that I suddenly found myself craving a walking holiday. Okay, we’d left it a tad late to do a full walking holiday but I found that regular buses run out of Salzburg to the nearby lakes- I believe there are seven within the time-distance circle of about an hour- I was genuinely very excited to get out.

Beautiful Fuschlsee Fuschl am See

We chose the nearest lake, Fuschlsee, which has convenient bus stops at either end, in Fuschl am See and by Schloss Fuschl, for a perfect round walk. It also houses the Red Bull headquarters, which I’ve been dying to see since I did a presentation on Red Bull in Austria for my speaking class last year. I do want to work at the headquarters, I must say, there was such a modern, futuristic feel to the barely-there glass buildings but because they reflect all of the colours around them, they still blend almost seamlessly with the stunning back drop they’ve landed in.  Red Bull is certainly spot on with design.

Red Bull HQ

Not having been into the countryside properly for a while, I felt like I was in heaven; with alpine peaks still covered in snow standing watch either side and the idyllic clarity of the water, sparkling in bright turquoise thanks to the near-perfect sky. The little holiday village of Fuschl was delightfully deserted, still in low season, with its delightful private beaches and shady alcoves and the fields- the most classically Austrian fields I’ve ever seen- full of bright meadow flowers, almost an unnatural quality of green, stretching up to the hills behind. We wound our way through the quiet village and set off on the lake-coast path, soft underfoot and dappled in shade and soon became distracted by a path leading higher up the hill. As we were wandering past the tractor-red benches, through the peaceful golfers’ heaven, towards the course, I can’t remember who first voiced the thought ‘shall we go up to that peak’. Now bear in mind, I hate heights and I’m not a fan of climbing or scrambling- losing my footing even within about 100m of a sheer drop is my idea of hell. We started walking towards where we thought the ascent might start nevertheless, unsure of the difficulty, but we knew it must be somehow possible to reach the jutting, rocky peak because a quick zoom on the camera revealed three people stood atop it and at least a regularly climbed trail (but for actual climbers, not people without ropes and climbing shoes). The ascent was definitely do-able, pretty unrelenting up-ness but it didn’t take us too long in the end at all. We followed the Austrian flag, marked out on trees and rocks, through the forest, amid constant protests from me that I probably wouldn’t make it to the top and that the sign had said ‘for experienced people only’- it failed to mentioned what they ought to be experienced at.

I think we should climb that... The view

For most people this was not even a remotely challenging slope, and despite my fears about scree, I was reassured by a lovely +70 lady who told me it would get less slippery soon, as she powered on by, a little boy who took the descent like one might attack a sand dune, and a girl we passed on the way up as she was coming down in booties. Yes. But for me it was still a challenge. I don’t see the point in going that high and not looking around, it just takes me a little while to get comfortable with being perched there. On the way to the very peak, there are two great, slightly off-track, view points. One we were beckoned to by a man, with a fabulous local dialect, telling us how often he came up here and how he was going to have a bench put there so he could bring a beer up and sit in comfort; top plan. And he wasn’t wrong about the view being great, he estimated you could see seven other lakes from this mountain, on a clearer day, and said too, that we were lucky, this was the south facing side and free from shadow, because all the snow from the previous days had melted, making it easy going for those of us just in walking boots and jeans.

Scrambly Slope

It could have been a clearer day but the top was still so rewarding. Once up there we found plenty of space to pose for photographs, sit and stuff our faces with much needed food, and watch other people as they hiked by or sunbathed. We even found the time to watch a heli-rescue from the other side of the mountain. While up there, only 1,303 m, I found myself thinking that I could get used to this, that this could be my year for taking my height-fear face on. I won’t ever completely shake it but I loved the exhilaration of just being up there, enjoying my much expanded horizon and watching the toy town below. I’d forgotten how much I love to hike, not least the friendliness of it (Southern Germany isn’t always the friendliest, most open culture), with every person, be they running, walking or sunbathing, throwing a ‘Grüß Sie’ and smiling as we crossed their paths.

Frauenkopf- summitFusch Bird's Eye View

We still finished our loop of the lake and even continued down the bus route for a few stops (to Bader Luck- yes really) as the bus wasn’t coming in a hurry, and even the roads barely interrupt the beautiful countryside in its stride. I’d forgotten how rewarding and tiring a decent length walk can be; and the peak was just the icing on top of an alpine cake. Possibly the best spontaneous choice of the year.

Summit in Snow

 

Me very happy, atop le mountain

Very Happy!

Some images provided by AJF Stuart Photography

To see more adventures follow me over at whyiwander