Posted by: smithdavid | February 10, 2013


There is girl in front of me in the queue in Manchester Airport. There is a couple in front of her and someone else in front of them. I thought it would be empty at 6am, that I’d walk to the check-in desk, present Matilda and be greeted by a smile and a ‘no problem’.

Now I survey the queue, trying to work out how much luggage each person has that will potentially clog up the hold in which Matilda will need to travel.

Slowly, we move on.

‘I’m not sure that’ll fit, it’s a small plane…’ says the attendant when I get to the front. ‘If it doesn’t, we’ll send it on the next flight that has space.’

the perfect left. if you're six inches tall...

the perfect left. if you’re six inches tall…

‘But that could take days,’ I say, thinking I’ll only be in Cork till early Wednesday morning and it’s Friday morning now.

‘I know,’ he says, ‘take it to oversize and I’ll do my best for you…’ He seems sincere, but how much influence does he have?

That nagging feeling is back as I go through security, as I eat breakfast and make notes. Can it be that Matilda is jinxed? First the ding, then the problems with SAA, then the Tube. And now Aer Lingus. I try and work out what I’ll do if she doesn’t make it to Cork.

When I enter the tail of the plane I’m looking to see if she’s there, it seems there is no hold beneath the flight deck. I take my seat and I’m taking deep breaths, trying not to think about it.

Eventually, just before they close the doors, I look to the tail one last time. I see the check-in attendant. His eyes are searching, I hold my hand up so that he sees me, he brightens, he holds a thumb up. I smile and mouth ‘thank you’.

Now Helen and I are at Incheydoney Beach. It looks pretty flat and she has heard that Castlefreke (a nearby beach) is good. I see that Incheydoney Surf School is open. I go around the back.

‘Where’s best to surf today?’ I ask a tanned, sandy haired instructor. ‘Castlefreke better than here?’

incheydoney, it's small but there is something...

incheydoney, it’s small but there is something…

‘You can try, but I reckon it’ll be best here later on,’ he says.

We drive on to Castlefreke regardless, I want to be sure and it’s always good to see a new place. Once there I see a beautifully shaped wave forming, it breaks 50 yards out and then curls over, running left to right as I watch. Perfect overhead for a goofy, but good for a regular too. Perfect that is if they were 6 inches tall.

Now I’m back at Incheydoney, wetsuit on, Matilda under my arm. There is no-one else out and there is only just enough of a wave to make it worthwhile. I recall how easily the Blue Bus picked up waves and I remember Andre’s words – ‘get the longest board you can.’

I’m thinking curse aside, Matilda is not long enough for my level of surfing. But as I feel the cool water around my feet I remember what a privilege it is to be fit and healthy and in the sea.



  1. Dave,

    So long as we hold on to that sense of privilege, of gratitude, it’s all good.

    Don’t know how many times I’ve sat on the beach, looking at a nearly dead calm sea, but then watching the shorebreak and imagining myself to be a wee surfer riding that big pipeline. In my imagination, the wee version of me is an awesome surfer!


    • ditto for me tom. maybe one day that 6 inch wave will be a six footer!

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