Thursday, July 29, 2010

Grey Skies, Green Waves

Think of surfing and your mind will most likely wander to some sun-kissed Californian coastline - all white sand and glittering, aquamarine ocean. You probably wouldn't automatically think of Pwllheli, or, gulp, Cardiff.

In, Grey Skies, Green Waves, Porthcawl surfer-writer Tom Anderson somewhat reluctantly forgoes the pleasures of exotic, foreign climes to reacquaint himself with the joys of surfing closer to home. That means freezing his arse off in various briny locales around the UK and Ireland.

Fending off hypothermia, and endangering his life in search of interesting North Atlantic surf might seem a tad eccentric but Anderson's quest is a compelling one. During his journey the reader is introduced to a host of characters from Britain and Ireland's surfing communities, from Christian practioners to event organisers of dubious morality.

We are allowed tantalising glimpses of secret and unlikely surf spots at Cardiff (honest!) and Port Talbot (I think). Anderson rides monster waves in the icy Scottish extremities of Thurso; swallows his oceanic pride to surf the Severn Bore; and deconstructs Britain's surf capital, Newquay.

There's plenty more to enjoy in this salty travelogue, not least the author's role in a Welsh tourist advert involving a flock of sheep. So, if you want to acquaint yourself with Britain's diverse surfing culture you could do worse than investigate Tom Anderson's enjoyable, Grey Skies, Green Waves. The book is published by Summersdale and costs £8.99.