The Life And Times of an Inland Surfer – An Extract.


Not all the AgeingSurfer Squadron are based on the coast. A lot of our community live a good few hundred miles inland, or the closest beach to them does not ever produce the waves notorious for some of the other parts of the UK. Hence the need to travel, and if it’s a particularly long commute, may as well make a weekend of it.

Jon got in touch to share an extract from his book ‘The Life and Times of an Inland Surfer’. This extract resonates with us as back in the 90’s ‘Run to the Sun’ was an epic gig where pretty much every human raced to Newquay, it was f*cking crazy. Despite all local breaks being absolutely rammed with surfers, bodyboarders, lilo enthusiasts of all levels (no SUP’s back in those days), it mattered not due to the chaotic carnage going on everywhere else both during the day and in the evening. It was like shopping at Asda on Black Friday on acid. The scenes!

If you would like to get your hands on a copy of Jon’s book you can send him an email by clicking here


In late 1990, I got rid of the Beetle and much to my Dad’s disappointment I went full tilt, grew my hair long and bought myself a 1972 VW Bay window camper. If I was going to do it, I was doing it in style! Bring on the summer of 91!

The first trip of the year was once again to Run to the Sun on sunny May bank holiday. We set off again the Thursday night prior to the bank holiday. I picked up the lads from the Martins Arms in Colston Bassett and set off. The camper had two seats up front, a fly seat that fitted between the driver’s seat and the passenger seat, this faced backwards. There was also the bench seat in the back. There were six of us in the van. The other seat was made up of cases of beer, which some poor sod had to sit on for about eight hours (that’s how long it takes in a VW to get to Cornwall). 

We hadn’t gone far, about three miles when the tax disc blew out of the passenger window going up Owthorpe hill. You would think six of you would be able to find it but it was dark and my crew of five were already pissed.

Now the trouble with taking a bunch of pissheads on a long journey, especially when you’ve picked them up from the pub, is that every forty miles they need to stop. (it’s worse than taking kids on a long journey, believe me I know). So the scene is set for the weekend. Pick up from the pub 9.30pm Thursday night. 9.40pm lose the tax disc. 10.10pm stop at first services on M42. It wasn’t until they were all pissed up and fast asleep that we actually made some ground on the journey, by this time whoever was sitting on the beer can seat, was now sitting on the floor amongst the empties. We finally made it to the car park over-looking Watergate bay around 5am. With everyone still asleep and no campsite open yet, I went for my first surf of the year.

It’s a big weekend in Newquay that weekend, loads of people, loads of cars from all over the country; it must drive the locals mad. However you can’t call yourself the surf capital of England and not expect tourists, so don’t moan too much Newquay. After a quick surf I was back to the van to check on the state of the others, minging is the only way to describe them. After a quick drive up to the campsite to check in, it was my turn for a quick nap, I’d been awake for over 24hrs. Nobody really felt like surfing later so we headed into town. My God it was carnage already, the place was packed. We queued to get into the Newquay Arms, hair of the dog was the order of the day for the others, I just needed to get through the day I was knackered. 

In the queue I noticed a lad bent over a park bench outside the pub. It wasn’t the fact he was bent over the bench, it was the fact he was naked, crying with a lager bottle up his arse and Gaffa taped to the bench. Not what you expect to see while waiting to get a pint. He was quickly released by the local constabulary and nothing more was thought of it. Just a bank holiday weekend in Newquay. 

I was here in the Newquay Arms we met Pete and his mates playing pool. Long haired surfer looking types, we got chatting and soon realised, although a good laugh, Pete wasn’t a surfer. He was a West Ham and England football hooligan on a lads jolly to coast. He had previously been deported from the Italy 90 World cup after only 7hrs of being in the country. As a Forest fan I’ve known some football hooligans in my time, so I kind of knew what to expect from Pete.

A few beers passed and we left the pub, as we left, the lad who had previously been released from the park bench was back, no longer crying I think he was that pissed by now, I don’t think he cared! 

We stayed out ending up in Sailors bar. It was at this time Chesney Hawks had a hit with ‘I am the one and only’ Google it, you’ll know it. Anyway my brother Chris looked a bit like him, especially in the dark with Mat and Lank covering him up, shouting ‘make way it’s Chesney Hawks, no autographs please’. We made quite a stir. I don’t know if he actually signed any autographs but he might have. There maybe a few girls out there who think they have his signature from a night out in Newquay. You haven’t it was my brother!

The following day was the big Run to the Sun convoy around Newquay town centre. This is a bit mental. Every kid and every car had water-pistols (imagine Songkran in Thailand, Thailand’s New Year water fight, which is amazing and I was lucky enough to be part of last year). We didn’t have water-pistols we had a dustbin full of water and small buckets which we used to chuck water at every kid we saw with a water pistol. We drove through Newquay with the side door of the camper open soaking anybody who stood still. It was at this point that the local plod pulled me over.

What I hadn’t told you prior to this was that before our trip, I had bought some new doors for my camper. When I say new, I mean old but not rotten. Same age, so you would think they would fit straight on. I couldn’t get the drivers’ door off, so I took the angle grinder to the hinges. Not my finest moment. Door came off, new one wouldn’t fit. So the day before going to Newquay I had to drive to the local garage with no door and get them to temporally weld the drivers’ door shut. You could only get in and out through the passenger door or the sliding door.

Remember the tax disc blowing out of the window 10 minutes into the journey? Well that’s why I got pulled over. It went a little like this:

‘Is this your vehicle sir?’

‘Yes officer’

 ‘Did you know that you have no tax disc?’ 

‘Yes officer it blew out of the window on the way here’

‘Really sir, do you mind stepping out of the vehicle?’

‘Do I have too officer?’

‘Step out of the vehicle sir’

I had to climb over everyone, passed the dustbin full of water and out of the sliding door and walk round to meet plod. I don’t think he could actually believe his eyes.

‘Why have you come out of the sliding door at the back?’

‘Because the front door is welded shut!’

Now he was confused and just shook his head. I think he actually felt sorry for me. He gave me a ticket for driving without my tax disc showing but said if it all checked out then the fine wouldn’t have to be paid. Phew!

Every time we went passed him after that he waved and gave us the Shaka sign, known to all surfers and V Dubbers alike.

That night all scrubbed up and ready to go out we ventured back into Newquay. Sailors bar was our destination. It had a big dance floor at the back and we were off to bust some moves and show these southerners how to party. Once again we bumped into Pete, who had fallen out with his mates, they’d locked him out of the hotel room and left him to his own devices. We took him under our wing. 

All was going well, I was giving it the big one on the dance floor and generally having a good time, right up until the point where a rather large US marine from the air base at Mawgan Porth took a dislike to my dance moves, bit me on the forehead, kicked my legs from under me and dislocated my knee. Fortunately it popped back in but fuck it hurt. Pete took a dislike to this and promptly twatted the marine. It was time to leave, we took Pete with us. He slept sitting up in the front seat of the camper.

The next morning my knee was like the size of a balloon, so I took some Nurofen put my wetsuit on and went for a surf. It hurt like hell and I couldn’t really surf but it did take the swelling down, meaning that I could drive home the following day and go back to work. I’d given up playing football due to breaking my leg and time off work, now I’d done my knee on the dance floor.



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