Archive for the ‘Wales’ Category

bugle_1I hope you have all enjoyed a little bit of Rob in your lives on a daily basis, but I’m afraid that this is the last post of these adventures.

After a year on the road you may ask what has this time away taught me?

Most surprising of all was that my eyes turn blue after prolonged exposure to bright sunlight. Go figure!

Going around the world in search of beaches has reconfirmed a long held belief that waist high waves can be far more fun than charging double overhead monsters, especially if surfing with friends.

worldI have spent time in each of the continents and have learned that surf culture is much the same wherever the waves are.

A smile has got me a great deal further than aggression in the water almost everywhere in the world, and it has given me so many wonderful new friends.

airlinesAirlines don’t like surfers very much, and this particular wave rider is not too fond of them either.

Internet and telephone technology has developed so much that this trip simply would not have been possible even ten years ago. However it still has a very long way to go before we live in a digital planet.

It would be boring if there was no adventure left though, and I think I will probably look back most fondly on the journey driving down the west coast of the Americas in my Volkswagen. It was all the more challenging taking it on in a language not my own, but so much more satisfying because I managed to do it all by myself.

life-clockFor a long while I have believed that time is our most precious commodity. It is worth far more than gold, and because life is not a dress rehearsal you must make the most of whatever is available to you.

I like to think that I have squeezed as much as possible into this journey so will always look back fondly on this adventure. I know it has been the time of my life and wouldn’t change any of it including the things that have driven me to insanity at times.

Sunset Surf

What next, you may ask?

I suspect it will be a long time before I spend the night with crustaceans in my bedroom again or I surf in shorts, but it wont take long until the next swell is on the horizon, even if the water will most likely be cold and I will have to wear a thick wetsuit to cope with it.

There is usually plenty of swell at this time of year, so does anyone want to go surfing?

Share

Llandudno Sign.jpgI stuck around with my sister long enough to enjoy her birthday, but needed to push once again so that my trip could truthfully claim to be one that went all the way around the world.

Growing up this illuminated sign on the road into Llandudno always told me there were just a few more corners left before I would be home. It might not be as famous as the sign for Hollywood, but it was a real delight to see it shining like a beacon in the night as I got close again.

How could you not be thrilled to be home when you get to enjoy views like these every day after arriving?

P1060103Getting home I had a great time with my family and wasted hours chasing Hugo, who you see here, around the house.

I was in a celebratory mood for completing my circuit and making it home largely in one piece, despite all the challenges and dangers I had experienced. It only felt right that I took everybody out to dinner as a consequence, and we enjoyed a fantastic evening.

I did it. Wooo-Hooo!

Share

Marathon_birthday_cake

I wanted to say Happy Birthday to my brother Gareth.

I’m still blown away by you marathon time dude. Sub three and a half hours is just awesome.

Hope you are having a great day.

Rob

Share

Pete Kraus SurfingI first met Peter Kraus (who you see here tearing it up back in the day) walking down the street in the early eighties. At the time he was our milkman, and because he was keen to get his round finished so he could get on with one of his adventures later in the day he asked if I would help him with the remaining deliveries for the princely sum of £1. That would have bought an 11 year old me a lot of sweets back then so I jumped at the opportunity.

We hit it off straight away and I ended up helping him deliver his round at weekends, during my holidays and even sometimes before school for the next four years. I can honestly say it was the only job I have ever had that I looked forward to going to each day, purely because we had so much fun together. It is also the reason why I have never been one for laying in bed for long, and always willing to get outside in the elements regardless of the weather because I am so hardened to it.

Stunt MilkmanPete was the first person to treat me like an adult, and continued to do so even when I was getting myself into all kinds of trouble that caused many others to give me a hard time or turn their backs on me. An example of this might be that he gave me my first driving lesson.

The reason for this was that if I drove the milk float then he could catch up on his bookwork as we went down the road. However I very much doubt that the local police would have been as impressed as I was with an eleven year old driving a motor vehicle through traffic on public roads. Pete trusted me though, and I should point out that my later efforts at driving the milk float off a cliff had nothing to do with this time. The results you see here were all my own work, but if I remember correctly he had actually managed to write off a couple of his own in his time.

One day we were out on the round and he told me that there were probably going to be good waves today, and asked if I would like to try surfing. He had got into it himself years before and still loved getting into the water. Prior to that time my only concept of surfing was the Old Spice aftershave advert and the titles to Hawaii Five-O.

sexwax_originalgreenAfter getting the all clear from my mother to go we went to Pete’s house to collect the gear. I can remember the mild alarm I had upon seeing a block of sex wax lying around while I waited there, wondering what it was and then being told to bring it!

We drove across North Wales and down to the end of the Llyn Peninsular to go to the beach, where it was Pete’s spare wetsuit and his old board that I was using in the session I have described in the Why? page of this website. It was nearly thirty years ago, and I still remember almost everything about that trip, and have never lost the love for riding waves that that day gave to me. It is a debt I owe to Pete, which I will never be able to repay.

The two of us went surfing a few times after that, and also invented the sport of urban surfing a milk float where we would take turns to climb out of the moving vehicle, climb up on the roof and surf it down the road. One of my most amusing memories of my childhood is going past an elderly lady brushing her teeth in the window of the first floor as I surfed along at eye level on the roof of our float. She didn’t have a clue what was going on but waved back when I saluted her on the way past.

It would be a few years before I was legally allowed to drive, and get myself to the beach but as soon as I could Pete was only too willing to give me an old board, surf magazines to keep the stoke alive between sessions, and a wetsuit because he knew there was no way I could afford to buy any of it myself. Regardless of the fact that the water temperature was less than 10C I surfed in that tatty old Rip Curl shorty for years.

Peter Kraus & Dick Van StraalenAs I moved on into university and then further away from North Wales with work we always stayed in touch and occasionally bumped into each other at the rugby. He was as ardent a Wales fan as I am, and always entertaining company.

Sadly over time he became troubled with illness, and his way of beating his own path didn’t always fit in with the conservative perspective of others. Despite this, his passion for environmental issues managed to get him elected to be a councillor for the Green Party, and by all accounts he caused mayhem insisting upon more radical approach to the way things got done. I know a lot of people didn’t approve of the way he went about things, but it always made me chuckle. You need mavericks to change the established order if it isn’t good enough and I thought it might be just the kick up the back side that any of the other politicians needed.

The last time I saw Peter was shortly before I left London. You can see him in this picture taken in my flat with the 7’2″ Dick Van Straalen board he had given me some twenty years earlier. He was in town and asked if he could have his board back. I have treasured it for the interim period and had it on display in my lounge, but could not refuse the request. Your first board is like your first child and any surfer would understand that he was the only person I would ever have given it up to.

We had a fun time together during his brief visit, and he read me a load of the poetry he had written recently, and he was surprised to find that many of the bands I have discovered by myself were some of his favourites from back in the day.

We have been in touch throughout this trip of mine, which simply wouldn’t be occurring were it not for Pete having introduced me to the sport that I love. He wanted to know about the waves I have been riding, the places I have stayed in and has even been good enough to put me in touch with several people so that I might get a bed for free on my way around.

Peter KrausAs a consequence of all the above I can’t tell you how upset I am to report that Peter has taken his own life.

Rest in peace Pete.

You were too colourful for this world in more ways than one.

I’m sure that the water is warm and the waves are pumping wherever you are.

Share

The Cambridges

Just a quick note to congratulate the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge on their new arrival, who is to be called Prince George and instantly became the most eligible man in the world because he will be our future King.

I’m sure he will like living in North Wales as much as William and Katherine do.

Share

Gatland celebratingA quick note to congratulate the British and Irish Lions on their first series win in sixteen years. Bring on New Zealand in four years time!

It has been a great tour and particular praise should go to Warren Gatland who has taken a fair bit of stick for some of his selections, however one doesn’t hear much criticism of any of that after the win.

Guarding the trophy

Congratulations too for the captain of the team Sam Warburton, who you can see a picture of here on his way home. I think the snap shows how much the win meant to him.

With so many Welshmen in the squad it bodes well for the next few years for my team too. I am particularly looking forward to seeing the next six nations tournament when I get home and then on to the World Cup in 2015.

Lions-surfing-on-bondi-beachAfter such a successful tour I don’t really want to pick holes in the preparation of Gatland’s coaching team, but had to mention an obvious flaw I have spotted in their training.

I have seen clear evidence of the Lions team going surfing before the first test and further evidence of them satisfying their wave crave before the third test, but no evidence of any surfing before the second test which they lost. I’m just saying…

Share

WP_20130706_007It is the main event and the whole of the rugby world is looking towards Sydney. There are lions shirts everywhere, in fact so much so you wonder if there are going to be any Australia fans at the game.

Two of my school friends are separately in town and I’m trying to meet up with them before the match because I know how much carnage there will be after the final whistle. Sadly I don’t manage to meet up with Neil, but randomly bump into Emma at a pub on The Rocks before heading to the stadium. We haven’t seen each other since we were teenagers but recognise each other instantly, and catch up over a drink. 

WP_20130706_051Later on I meet up with my section of the lions support and we head towards the ANZ stadium where the atmosphere is building nicely. Chris had secured some great seats for us and after a few beers the game kicked off.

The lions are doing well but an Australia score late in the first half means things are far from certain whilst we discuss the connotations over a half time beer. However in the second half a team made up largely of Welshmen beats the Wallabies into submission and the game ends in a record victory for the lions. 

Lions carnage 1The carnival atmosphere had started for the lions fans some time before the final whistle, with every Aussie fan leaving early getting a round of “Cheerio, cheerio, cheerio!” from 30,000 rowdy Brits in the stadium.

It was one of the things I was really hoping to see on my own tour and our own festivities continued well into the night. As you can see things got a bit messy, and I cannot explain why my friend’s wife is sticking her fingers up my nose, whilst I proudly hold the hat I had liberated from one of the fans of our vanquished foes. The rest is a bit of a blur…

 

Share

Classic Vs LegendsIn the build up to the deciding test match, a game between Australia and the British and Irish lions was played at the North Sydney Oval close to where I am based. It was an older and fatter version of the main event this week, with the Aussie team being led by David Campese

I persuaded Adam and Romy to come along to the game in a bid to increase the rugby banter in the house in the build up to the final game of the tour.

WP_20130704_001The game also allowed me the opportunity to catch up with an old flatmate from university, who is out here for the whole tour and visiting family.

Firthy and I were very much in opposite camps during the dark days of Welsh rugby when record losses were an all too frequent occurrence and Will Carling’s England were reaching World Cup finals, all of which meant I had to suffer dogs’ abuse for years. As a consequence it was good to catch up over a few beers and be cheering the same side for once. That the test team for Saturday had already been announced with so many Welsh players in the team was pennies from heaven for me too.

Lions FansAs for the match itself, it immediately became apparent to Adam and Romy that the result was somewhat irrelevant. It was largely another excuse for the lions fans to wear their shirts and sample a few more of the local beverages.

Campo tried a few goose steps much to everyone’s enjoyment and the lions team won the game but the moment of the match was Australia’s try in the corner right in front of us. The Aussie flanker who didn’t look like he had run for anything more than a bus in years had to try and make it down the entire length of the pitch after an unexpected interception. Bless him, he looked like he was running in treacle by the time he reached the try line, but just about managed to stumble over the line in slow motion like a falling tree to score to much applause and laughter from the huge crowd who had turned out for the game.

Share

george-north-folau-carryI am going to be brief here because the result is a long time passed. Well played Australia. It was another nail biter that could have gone the other way, but it didn’t so congratulations to them.

However for the rest of my days my recollection of this game will be of George North who should have been in the process of being tackled deciding that he would simply pick up the tackler rather deal with being hindered by him, and just run with him as well as the ball.

I’ve never seen anything like it in all the years I’ve been watching rugby. Just Awesome! Here is a clip if you would like to see for yourself:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zVgc2JVNGaE 

 

Share

Me and RickI have been in Sydney for about 10 days and am delighted to hear from one of my old neighbours in the flats I used to live in back in London. Rick is a Kiwi who works in the oil business and is now based in Singapore.

However he is in town for a couple of nights on business and we take the opportunity to catch up over a few beers.

Lions vs RebelsWe meet up in a rugby club that is located right in the heart of the city. There is not a rugby pitch in sight, but the atmosphere there for the game between the Lions and the Melbourne Rebels is like any rugby club in the world.

We are joined by one of Rick’s colleagues James and have a great laugh watching the game, whilst reminiscing about motorcycle trips across Europe to Austria with the rest of our ‘chapter’ Dom and Adam, who join in the fun back in London via the internet. A great night.

Share
css.php