Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Less is more

My friend Skye reckons there's a really simple equation for going surfing - Less Is More. As in, the less you wear, the more waves you get.

It's a cracker isn't it!

That doesn't mean that she uses it to her benefit though! In fact, the Skye I know and love works right against it and always wants to know that she gets waves because she gets them, rather than someone allowing her to have them as a reward for wearing a bikini! The idea that her surfing gets negotiated through how attractive people find her makes her really angry and she rails against being sexualised and against the idea of using that sexualisation. She's pretty rad.

Another friend of mine, Ali, agrees with Skye's equation, but acts differently in response to it.

Yeah, for sure! But it's different at different breaks though. Like, it doesn't really matter at the breaks around the corner, but if I'm going to surf out at Tallows, I'll just wear my swimmers cos I get more waves that way. If letting some guy check out my bum means I get more waves then cool. If they're that shallow, then good for me. They're going to look anyway, so why shouldn't I get something out of it too!

And I reckon Ali makes a good point. Why not take advantage of anything you can. In fact, why not play up to it, if it helps. I'm certainly guilty of using it to my benefit on occasion and like Ali, I'm not ashamed of doing it.

Ali and Skye have really different ways of approaching this idea, but I can tell you that they're both actually really strong women and are quite similar in lots of ways. They're both really aware and sensitive about how women are treated and they both speak out about it without self-consciousness, they're smart and funny, they're both good surfers from whom I always learn a lot and they're two of my favourite surfing companions.

I was talking about this to a colleague a while ago, telling him about Skye's theory and he scoffed,

That's bullshit! No-one gives a fuck what you're wearing. No-one even notices. You're living in a fantasy land. I don't care whether you're a guy or a chick, in the water I'll treat you according to how you surf.

I looked at him as he spoke, taken aback by the strength of his response, but thinking that he makes a really good point. Lots of people are like him and that's great.

And my friend May reckons it's bullshit too. She reckons that it's no different for a chick in the water. But then, she usually surfs with her boyfriend and she surfs very particular breaks.

I don't know. I mean, it's complicated and it's generalising, but I've certainly noticed that particular ways of behaving are going to get rewarded. If I act the girl, making big eyes, smiling coyly, being polite and submissive, I certainly get called into a lot of waves by dudes. And I can't deny that the size of my bikini bottoms might weigh some effect on that...

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

My Great Aunt

My Great Aunt Lorna, one of my very favourite relatives, died this morning. She was my grandfather's oldest sister, the oldest of his family of 11 siblings (or 12? I can't remember). She was funny and tough and sweet and tiny and absolutely darling and she was 94. As they say, not a bad innings! At her 90th birthday party, she dropped her tissue while she gave a speech but was able to reach straight down to the ground to pick it up without missing a beat!

What a lady!

Until very recently, she lived alone in the same house for as long as most people can remember, across the road from where my dad grew up. When I was a kid, I would go there to visit her with my nan and she would give us sausage rolls and cordial - standard but valued Great Aunt fare.

Some days she would come out and visit my nan (who lived next door to us) and when my sisters and I got home from school we'd go over and visit her and steal scones and cakes and cups of tea. Lorna would call me over and get me to show her my spindly, adolescent legs,

'Lift up your skirt and show me those pins, Bec! Oh they're gorgeous!' she'd cry.

And the women would laugh at me blushing. But she meant what she'd said. She'd tell me I was beautiful and special and that she was proud of me even when my achievements were minor. Lorna, like her children, was the kind of person who left you feeling better than when you had arrived. I think that's one of the most special talents anyone can have and it's always inspired me.

I love all of my enormous local family, but I particularly adored Lorna.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Martine Emdur

Yesterday I was milling about in my friend's kitchen, when I came upon an invite to an exhibition opening that happened last month (so unfortunately we've missed it).

I found myself sitting and staring at the works on the card for ages until I finally got up and asked my friend a bit more about it... The invite was for artist, Martine Emdur*, whose works I find beautiful and calming.

This, believe it or not, is an oil panting!

I couldn't find any more images to copy for you, but Martine has a website with an entire gallery of this particular series located here so you should definitely go and check it out!

*sister of Larry!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The lady is not enthused!

My friend Lorelei posted this image on her blog the other day to sum up how she was feeling,

and I have to say that it resonates with me at the moment too.

Well at the very least, it resonates with how I feel about going surfing at the moment.

And it's weird because if nothing else in life I can't usually be faulted for my levels of enthusiasm. In fact, you could most usually describe with using words like 'enthusiastic', 'hyperactive', 'annoying' and 'excited' on a regular basis.

But I've felt like this before, so I know it will pass. And due to my propensity for self-analysis I also have a pretty good idea of what it's all about (and that's absolutely none of your business, so stop asking!), so I know that will pass too, but for the moment... quel annoyance! I do keep going out in the water though, but even when I push through that I just can't be arsed paddling for anything. It's awful! And embarrassing. And ugly. It's not that I have a bad time or anything, I just don't really care.

So I've been making lots of effort at regaining inspiration this week - going to galleries, taking photos, seeing friends, walking, getting drunk - so I am trying! And I thought I got over it the last weekend when I was home and had two days surfing that were so great. It seemed that my enthusiasm was back and, although not at the usual level of 'overflowing', I was psyched. But the last week has proved that I was wrong.

So let's face facts and do so by making use of a bad metaphor - I'm having my own personal flat spell.


Tuesday, April 21, 2009

The first signs...

The onset of winter is marked by many things - leaves change colour, days get shorter, temperatures drop...

But for me there is one sign in particular that indicates the changing of the seasons and the beginnings of my yearly Winter waist-expansion. And yesterday, I confronted it head-on,

Look at them there - soft, sweet, pink and white with that intriguing dusty covering on the outside. Oh how I love thee, let me count the ways... I demolish them in handfuls straight out of the packet, but for me they really come into their own either toasted over a fire or immersed in hot chocolate! And marshmallows, my own personal dietary nemesis, go on sale every winter! Sale! Right when you're at your weakest and upping the hot chocolate quota, these little puppies become more numerous, affordable and accessible.

Oh the timing!

Oh the injustice!

Oh the sugar content!

(See you in three kilos time...)

Monday, April 20, 2009

Gerry Wedd: Surfer and Potter

This image from

Early last year I went out to Sea Surfboards to check out an exhibition a friend had told me about. It was great. One of the artists, Gerry Wedd, really struck me and I think about these works often.

Gerry Wedd is a potter who makes amazing works that are both beautiful and are sometimes also functional.

The works that he put in the Natureboy exhibition were not soooo functional but certainly fulfilled the inspiring criteria of art and I spent some time lingering over his tiles, teapots, plates and thongs! Each piece was decorated with images of surfing and with certain surfers that in particular.

(Gerry, if you read this... are there any of those tiles left?)

Tree surfing

A friend of mine once told me that when he's walking under an avenue of trees, he pretends he's getting barreled.

Those delightful gents over at The Endless Bummer were right - cities really are for surfers!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

How Very!

My friend, Noe, is one amazing lady. She is not only a really great friend, but she's also my favourite person to go surfing with.

I miss her.

When Noe and I both lived here, we'd meet before or after work, or pick each other up to go and find waves. We'd hang out in the water between sets and laugh and check out the guys and giggle like little girls. It's as embarrassing as it is fun! We have really great conversations that you can't have with everyone. We have the kinds of conversations that require real trust, intimacy and friendship. We have the kinds of conversations where you admit things that you don't admit to everyone. We talk about the things we're scared of, the things we desire and the things that make us hurt.

We also drink a lot of coffee together.

Noe is not only funny and smart and a great cook (and a great dancer), but she is also talented at designing and making beautiful clothes. One summer, she made versions of 1950s one-pieces that she used to wear out in the water. They had frills and ruching and beautiful fabrics and they were so great.

Last year, we planned a trip away together. We both had to book time off work, and we had to meet up between our homes, so we couldn't plan things around timing in with good swell and wind. When we got there, there were no waves and the howling wind blew everything out anyway. It sucked! But we still had fun together. We moaned about our bad luck , went for walks, sat watching Heathers, listened to Ryan Adams and played Scrabble and talked. She also made sure that we had warm croissants and coffee each morning. It was a great trip.

When I come home now, Noe isn't here and it's just not as much fun. She's away down south, working, but I wish that we could go surfing together more.

Monday, April 06, 2009

I'm a sometime cheater!

A few days ago I was waiting at the water's edge for a break in the swell, trying to organise my timing so I could get out past the massive wash that was about to hinder me as I paddled out. The swell was solid and the sweep was still really strong and there were people everywhere trying to score one of the beautiful waves that were peeling off the point and back down towards the town. It was a good day to not make mistakes. The sets were coming through pretty close in, but every so often a big, fat, wide wave or two would smash through and clean out the crew sitting wide. Funny to watch from the beach though...

Anyway, as I stood waiting, a guy walked down and was standing next to me. He was holding a longboard under his arm, and as I checked him out, I realised he had no legrope. That's not unusual in these parts, but when it's as big and busy as this, even the die-hard-non-legrope-wearing locals bow to that length of plastic to connect them to their board. I had to comment,

No legrope, huh. You're game.

He looked at me with a delightful mixture of smugness and confidence,

Legropes are cheating.

I laughed.

Well, I guess that makes me a cheater.

He smiled, shrugged and went on his way.

Around here, there's loads of crew who don't wear leggies. Most of them are good surfers and they know the breaks and how they work. But when they lose their board, it can get messy. One local grump lost his board near me once, and then had a go at me for not grabbing it for him. I was on a wave by the way!

I'll admit that I often go bare-legged when I surf, but not when it's busy. When it's small and peeling and fun, it's fun to paddle out and take responsibility for your board and your surfing. I was talking to a friend about it the other day. She reckons more people should surf without them,

It would make them more careful and they'd have to learn to hold onto their boards.

True. But I'm pretty happy that (almost) everyone's been sporting them the past few weeks. I would've been clocked a few times without them.

Today, I was out in the water, when the cute guy from the few days before paddled past me.

Hey! and a smile.

He was riding something short and fat and round and, hang on, HE WAS WEARING A LEGROPE! It was my turn to be smug,

Soooo, I thought legropes were cheating?

Oh? Oh yeah. Ha ha. Only on that board. This board's different...

Really, so it's a board-based thing? There's conditions on the cheating rules?

Yeah, would you like a copy of them?

Oh how we laughed.

But honestly, if you're going to go around making 'legropes are cheating' claims to complete strangers, then you better be consistent.

Or cute.

Thursday, April 02, 2009

The Carpark

The Pass carpark

I’ve been surfing the Pass the past few days – it’s the only place I can cope with in this swell! I turn my banged up red car into the road towards the beach and hope and hope and hope that I’ll be granted a parking space.

Lots of the locals are parking back down the road at another lookout. It’s a walk from the break, but it’s closer to where we’re all getting washed in. The swell is solid and the sweep is relentless and everyone has to go in and walk back around after each wave. It keeps the numbers in the water down though and it gives your shoulders a break!

The lookout carpark is easier for parking, but it’s also on a busy road, so I sometimes feel a little exposed as I change and pack up my stuff. I park down in the Pass carpark that sits in under the trees and next to the park. It’s a funny place. It’s always full and busy with people talking and yelling at each other and having post-surf chat,

Yeah, got a coupla good ones.

Oi! Have you got some wax, mate?

That last wave you got was sic! It was fully bowling up behind you. So good!

Oh my God! Did you see me take one on the head. Argh!

Fucking kooks. What the fuck are those idiots doing out there anyway? It’s too big for them, man.

This isn’t a quiet spot. It’s social. And it’s really working in this swell, so it’s even busier than usual! People are sharing wax, sharing stories, catching up on the weekend, making plans for tonight, checking out each others’ boards and checking out each other…

There’s the guy that was dropping in on everyone. There’s that chick who was shredding. There’s that dude who lost his board on the rocks. There’s that hot guy who was on the red fish. There’s my friend, Linda.

Are you going out?

Yeah, I reckon. But I only brought my mal… Is it big?

It’s pretty solid, bigger than yesterday. But it’s mellow in the water – there’s no aggro. I reckon you’ll be ok on that though. Maybe sit wide.

Yeah right? Is it cold? Do I need a wettie?

Nup. The water’s really nice. But the wind’s picking up a bit. Oh, and the sweep is BRUTAL! Oh my God, I thought my arms were going to fall off! Everyone’s getting so punished. Ha ha ha. You’ll be sweet on your mal though!

Are Pete and Angie out there?

Yeah. Pete’s smoking everyone, of course! That guy gets so many waves!

Alright, I’m gonna have a look. See you later.

You have to be careful as you drive in and out. There’s people everywhere, milling about as they chat and walking back to their cars. Families trail children, towels, boogie-boards, buckets and spades. And there’s cars waiting behind you as you change, waiting to take your spot, blocking the road and causing chaos. I love it. I really do.

I try and park near the grass, so I can chuck my board down while I change. A blue sedan cruises in and parks next to me, the driver smiling and waving,


He goes to check the water but is back within a minute, stoked! I wait to see what board he’s going to pull out of his car. He’s always surfing some different shape and in some bright rainbow colour. I honestly don’t know where he gets all these boards! Today’s board looks like a pointy banana – I don’t even ask. He runs off with his banana tucked under his arm.

Ok. I need coffee and toast so let’s move this along…

Lately, there’s a heap of campervans parked here. Backpackers spill out of them en masse and they sit and listen to music and play the part of free-spirits and hippies*. Whatever, I’ve seen it all before – Byron’s full of it. I hate parking near them because they sit there and watch while you get changed.

There’s a van parked next to me today and as I’m getting changed a dude gets out and light a ciggie. He sits and stares. I have a towel wrapped around my nakedness but I’m trying to take off my wet top and put on my bra. It feels weird. I don’t really care about people seeing my boobs, but this is blatant and it makes me feel self-conscious and I resent it. I stare back and wave at him, perched on the step of his campervan.

‘Are you right?’ I accuse him.

The guy just keeps staring, draws on his dart and flicks the ash.

Seriously, what are you looking at?

He gets up and crawls back into the van.

This is no rural or isolated surf break and it is certainly no quiet carpark. This is not the kind of surfing they sell you in the magazines. This is no ideal. This carpark is a busy place, just like the lineup a hundred metres away – busy, social, obnoxious and full of people. So what? I reckon its great.

A chick pulls up behind me and asks,

Are you going soon?

Yeah, I am. I shove my board in and slam the boot shut, brush the sand off my feet and get in the car. My hair is still dripping so I throw a towel around my shoulders to spare the seat. As I turn the key, The Cure blares out and I start singing along as I drive away…

Til the afternoon!

Spectators - Tom Milledge

Love Only - Tom Milledge

* I don’t hate backpackers, I hate the hypocritical backpacker ‘scene’. I also hate fire-dancing, designer dreadlocks, people playing guitar on the beach at sunset like they’re giving you some kind of gift and fisherman’s pants. I also HATE Wicked Vans. The most offensive one I’ve ever seen had the following proudly emblazoned across its rear - “I don’t trust anything that bleeds for 5 days and doesn’t die!” Are these people fucking serious?