Posted by: smithdavid | March 31, 2013


We’re on the main road through Abersoch, the small Welsh coastal village. Phil’s driving and Loraine, the dogs and I are beside him. In the back of the Transit are racks of windsurfing gear, Phil’s sup and Matilda.

‘I think we turn here,’ says Phil as we come to a sort of T-junction. We veer left and pass a beach equipment shop and a chipper. But the road ends on a steep slope and we have to wait our for two others to make three-point-turns before we can turn.

We go along the road that we should have traveled along in the first place and soon there is more space between the houses. I’m sleepy but I keep tying to imagine what Hell’s Mouth will be like. It has more of a surfing rep than Rhosneigr, Phil said when we first discussed the trip.

rolling welsh hills...

rolling welsh hills…

The roads have become narrow now and Phil drives slowly. At last we come to a small, unmarked, almost empty parking lot. Phil pulls in and we are both quickly out of the car and walking along a fenced pathway that starts as grass and gravel but then becomes beach sand. The pathway is several hundred yards long and when we get to the end of it we see the long, sweeping beach of Hell’s Mouth. On either side the beach is framed by green, rolling, Welsh hills.

Near the shore a small swell line approaches, jacks up and then breaks. It’s only about half a foot high it’s too close in to catch anyway. There are now two others also looking at the break. ‘Might pick up in a while…’ one of them tells us in a strong Welsh accent.

‘Let’s get the sup and see what happens,’ says Phil. We go back to the Transit and get suited up. Phil brings the sup and I bring Matilda, just in case things pick up.

I paddle the sup out into the deeper water. There is something unnerving about being this far out – in Rhosneigr it always felt that we were sheltered by the bay. Here there is just the vast Irish Sea and it feels like a current could sweep me away with little warning or effort. Suddenly my balance isn’t as assured as it was and there is a ripple and I topple off the board. I get back up quickly but it feels different now.

When I get back Phil goes out. He doesn’t venture far and soon he picks out a swell line and paddles for it and then catches the small wave.

It’s enough for me to think there might be something on offer for Matilda and I. But when I get her out back to where Phil caught his wave things are quiet.

chatting out back...

chatting out back…

I sit out back and Phil paddles around me and we chat about the things that went on twenty years ago when we were students in Jo’burg and how we have arrived in this faraway place all this time later. And something within feels tethered and outside the range of whatever current may come.


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