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••• The International Writers Magazine - 22 Years on-line - Stayfaris are in style

Surfin’ Safari in the UK
• Peter A. Carrigan
I would’ve once thought a British surfing safari was a world of wrong, a contradiction in terms. Like warm beer and regular trains on London’s Northern Line, some stuff never sticks.

Wales Surf

Now, in the prosaic 2020s, I always travel with Ulysses or Moby Dick when standing on the platform at Archway on the Northern Line when on my way to slaughter a few tankards of British bitter in a mate’s garden shed. Plot the next surfin’ safari with my crowd of louche adventurers who have together bummed along New South Wales’s north coast, camped around the same feijoada cauldron for weeks in Laguna Brazil and surfed many sunsets in a haze on California’s Big Sur.

The fantasy was to hitch our wagon to the early matches of the British and Irish Lions rugby tour, peel off in Durban, hit a few watering holes, pick-up wave intel, the local poison, rent a van and hit the northern beaches. But that tour of South Africa looks less likely to happen and travel quarantine, jabs and fare profiteering means that ‘stayfari’ is the best option. Even a jaunty caravan over to check the breaks along the Bay of Biscay is off the agenda.

By definition, a safari is mobile, evoking images of canvas-sided, army green tents, sun-downers and what all safaris have in common, bloody mosquitoes.

So, this northern hemisphere summer, my surfing tribe is heading to dragon country, Wales, where I am assured it’s too damp and cold for mozzies!

Reviews of beaches, breaks and good times are 5-star for the Llyn Peninsula and Pembrokeshire National Park. There are plenty of pitches on farmer’s fields that allow for open fires, music, dogs, kids and general mayhem.

The spirit of the safari is key and what you pack determines your surf lifestyle. Along with the boards, leggies, wax and wetties, you need fishing gear. A couple of rods and reels. Mullet are on the run along the Welsh coast in August. Fun to catch, tasty on the grill. Also, a few distractions; playing cards, backgammon and a rugby ball. It is Wales after all.

Call ahead, be sure the pitch has a fire pit and good supply of wood. Cooking essentials include; can opener, two good size cast iron pots, kettle, metal mesh grill, wooden spoons, tongs, wooden cutting board and plenty of toasting forks.

Surfers are in the water morning and late afternoon. In between, sit around the fire-pit on your quality camp chair and replenish the pot with cans of kidney beans and chick peas. Tomatoes, sweet corn and broad beans. Pack a selection of spices; nutmeg, chili, garlic powder, coriander. Rice and pasta. Cans of sausages, tea, coffee, hot chocolate and long-life milk. Flour, water and salt kneaded into a dough can be backed inside the cast iron pot, on a low heat, the lid covered with hot coals for around an hour. Cans of syrup makes dessert and if it rains trek to the pub.

Cheap canned larger, expensive cabernet sauvignon and bottles of dark pirate rum to spice coffee and break the ice when the neighbours pitch up. A music system, solar panel, electric rechargeable light. Rig a tarp. Use your vehicle’s roof rack rails to peg out a lean to shelter. Slide the camping table underneath.

Can you get by with a bed roll? Slip a thin air mattress and warm sleeping bag into a bivvy bag. If you opt for a tent be sure an adult can stand inside, pitch it upwind from your fire and out of any watercourse.

Welsh surfing

Don’t forget the sun screen, zinc cream, talcum powder, Vaseline, lip balm, soap, big plasters, pressure bandages, salt, travel towel, paper towel and toilet paper. You’ll need one pair of dark coloured underwear every three days and a few old t-shirts. Two pairs of dark coloured big woollen socks and a fleece snood. Thick fleece lined trousers, woollen jumper and oversize fleece jacket.

Don’t pack stuff, you don’t need it, you think you do, but you’ll learn you don’t. Leave behind the table cloth and plastic wine glasses. One tin mug is enough for anyone. Surf or die and you don’t need an ice-box to survive. Refrain from going to the grocery store for fresh food, bacon and fizzy soda drinks. Live lean, off the land where you can. Get to know the locals and buy their eggs, drink their gin and eat left over apples and pears.

From time to time there will be a hose or beach shower to wash the salt off. A water fight is a good way to wash the salt away too and bring a bucket to help soap your hair. Refrain from shampoos, deodorant and all smellies. The perfume only attracts the mozzies. Best to be au naturel and the talcum powder is best to dry crevices and helps prevent rash.  

The safari, or this summer’s ‘stayfari’, is not for everyone, nor is the surfing lifestyle. The safari must put the surf board first. Even if cash is plentiful, the essence of the surf safari is to be living out a philosophy that freedom is found floating ‘outback’ or inside a barrel. Amongst the dunes, surviving on mung beans, afternoon naps and camp fire tales. To hang loose, brings a serenity, born from simplicity. If you need Instagram likes, stay home connected; ‘stayfari’ likes it monogrammed not telegrammed.

 © Peter A Carrigan - February16th 2021

Travel and Trade
Peter A. Carrigan

I presume I’ve gained knowledge from the road. One thing I’ve learnt for sure is that trade opens the doors, keeps the wolf away and greases the wheels.

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