I’ve been asked a lot recently how it is going without a car, and honestly it is mostly great. We’ve found so many positives from just getting rid of the car (expected and unexpected) – slowing down, appreciating journeying more (individual journeys and The Journey), fitness, mental health, and a greater sense of connection with ourselves, our community, the weather, the seasons… It really has been great.
But not having a car makes it very difficult to go surfing. And that sucks.
I started surfing as a teenager, and after a significant break (when we lived in various places that were a long way from surf beaches!) picked it back up again with relish when we moved back to the Yorkshire Coast. I really love it. I’m not very good, but that’s not the point. It is GREAT fun, and such a visceral and vivid experience – connecting with the flow of the ocean for a momentary exhilarating rush, plunging into the cold salty waters of the North Sea, and in between sitting in quiet, peace-filled beauty. I’m not often inspired to write poetry, but during one surf session last year I composed a short piece call ‘Liquid Prayer’ that captures some of why I love to surf.
But not having a car makes it difficult to go surfing. And that sucks.
We live almost as close to the beach now as we ever have – just over a mile, totally walkable (even with a board). But unfortunately our local beach is rarely surfable (I’m not going to go into the reasons why of coastal and wave details, you’ll just have to trust me on this). Some of the best beaches in the country – certainly on this coast – are really close by, relatively speaking. Just not walkable. And not really a distance I could cycle either (especially with a surfboard on the side – I do have a bike mounted board rack, but wouldn’t dare try to ride on anything except a side road with it!). Which leaves me a bit stuck.
Now if I want to get out for a surf I have to tag in with a buddy, or persuade someone else that they want to go too (not so easy when the air temperature is only just above zero, and water temperature not much more than that…). There is a certain kind of beauty in this, but it is also a serious limitation. Because surfing is one of those sports that you can only do when the conditions are right it isn’t really an option to put diaries together very far ahead and book in a time – you kind of have to be ready to make a plan and crack on pretty spontaneously. Tough enough when you’ve got a demanding job, even harder when trying to coordinate with other people too.
I still check the surf reports, normally at least 2 or 3 times a day – teasing myself by making sure I know exactly what I’m missing out on. I watch LOTS of videos of other people surfing – big wave madness, super chill sliding, everything – getting a vicarious fix.
Not having a car hasn’t stopped me buying a new (second hand) board. I’ve had a glorious few hours cleaning and prepping it, now I just need to grab a buddy with a van or a roof-rack so I can go and give it a try!
I haven’t been able to get out for a surf for months now… I think I will probably head down to the beach soon for a swim in the sea instead, but I’ve been holding off because I just don’t think it will be the same. It’s not life or death, but this is a genuine sacrifice for me. I knew this would be the case when we got rid of our car, but it is still frustrating.
Living with less to walk more gently on the earth.