We spent a week camping in Galicia, right up in top left Spain, but round the corner now, staring westwards out into the Atlantic. Our campsite was pretty in a dusty, sun-dappled sort of way. We had a tent under the pine trees with four beds, a lamp and a fridge. It seemed to be a short stay campsite, all around us tents popped up and disappeared daily and a bubbling soundtrack of excited Spanish coursed around us like a stream around a rock. At the weekend highly dressed girls would emerge out of tiny tents to go and party, but they would be gone by 10am the next morning. We lived in the middle of all this movement and chatter in our own peaceful little world.

Apart from one night on the ferry, this was the first time that all four of us had all slept next to each other. There was a whole new range of nighttime whistles, snuffles and whispers to get used to: Matilda sitting up and giggling mid-dream, Arthur rolling out of bed for a pee in the early hours, breathing rhythms that rose and fell through the sleep cycles. The kids claimed that I snored terribly and did many lurid impressions, but I never sleep on my back so I found this unlikely.

The campsite was run by a father-son combination. There was also a mistreated old lady who did the cleaning, who might well have been mother. The son had big dark eyes like a water rat, and the same wild flickering gaze when he rattled through the camp commandments on our check-in. You notice eyes so much more now everyone is wearing masks. He scurried around the campsite, in a tight Homer Simpson t-shirt and short yellow trunks, conducting a fruitless war against the ants. Arthur found him hilarious.

“Dad, I just busted him crouching down behind our car. He looked at me and said ‘Ants you are too many. Die now’ and then he did this kind of dance and sprayed poison all over the floor. He’s so weird!”

The father ran the camp café. He didn’t like us and showed it by charging us a different price every morning for the same four croissants, two coffees and a loaf of bread. He only dropped his scowl once when Menna took him a red wine to uncork for us, and on seeing the label his eyes widened and he talked urgently and at length about its unique properties and then shuffled off to his living quarters to show her that he had this exact bottle himself. It was a very average wine that we had grabbed at the supermarket in town, but we sipped it carefully, trying to understand the hidden qualities that inspired such passion in the granite-faced old miser.

Our campsite gave straight out onto the beach. There was a large turtle shaped rock which the kids dived from and also used as a good vantage point from which to hurl seaweed grenades at their parents and other passers-by. Better still though was the next bay south, Playa Lanzada, a long beautiful beach which curved obliquely to the prevailing wind and swell. At the near end it was sheltered and calm as a millpond, but at the far end we discovered a break with beautifully spaced lines of waves that the offshore wind made steep and glassy. We surfed a couple of sessions there every day. I paddled so much that I tore the rotator cuff muscle in my left shoulder.

North of the campsite, after the end of the urban drift, there was a worn old boardwalk that wound its way out of town. We took this one day and wandered some miles through a series of deserted bays, through a landscape of evocative rock formations where sly faces and stray creatures loomed up in our peripheral vision. We came upon an old military site where artillery emplacements still pointed blindly out to the Atlantic. We ended up having our picnic down in a cove, right under the shadow of one of these rusted cannons. As we ate a sea mist rolled in around us and we were cold for the first time since arriving in Spain. We built a driftwood shelter and there we huddled together to warm ourselves awhile before wandering on our way.

Ghost Story

“What does it say Dad” asks Arthur in a quivering little voice. The sign was nailed to a tree right in the middle of the woods. We could just about make out the writing in the faint torchlight of my phone. It was in an old and ornate script.

“Well, it’s in Spanish of course, but I would translate it like this:

We the dead lie under your feet.
Like you we roamed the forest at night,
Then they came, they caught us, as we ran.
Listen and you will hear them now.
They are coming, coming, coming!

You walk on the path of death.
You walk on the path of pain.
You walk on the path of torment.
They are coming, coming, coming!

You must run.”

We stop still and listen for a long moment in the darkness. The forest around us groans and creaks and whispers.
I jump. “I think I can hear something!” I grip Arthur’s arm. He lets out a kind of moan
“No Daddy, no. It’s not real right? You’re being stupid”
“I think they’re coming…”

We run to catch up the girls. Arthur is in quite a state. I get badly told off by Menna but, flushed with wine and encouraged by the excellent reaction I have managed to get, I can’t help periodically creeping up to Arthur in the darkness and whispering “They’re coming, coming, coming!”

I do this all the way home.

This is how I ruin the night walk back from the restaurant in Boal. By the time we arrive back to Hotel Solanda, our farmhouse up in the mountains, both kids are in a real panic and Menna is absolutely furious with me. The silly ghost story has overshadowed the bats we saw, the hissing snake that crossed our path, the fine dinner down in town, the woodland path that we thought it would be romantic to take in the moonlight. My proposal to Menna that we might sit up and chat about life, drink whisky and look at the stars, is shot down angrily. I am sent out alone while she tries to restore calm.

“What did that sign really say?” ask the kids once they have been finally cajoled into bed. It is a chance at redemption, but I just can’t bring myself to say that it was only something dull about hunting restrictions.
“It said that they’re coming, coming, coming. I would be very careful tonight if I were you.”

And this is why I spend an extremely uncomfortable night on the sofa bed while Matilda takes my place next door in the master bedroom.

They never did come.

Video meliora proboque, deteriora sequor.



We celebrated the end of our time in Salinas with a dinner out. We’d tried hard to stay on budget during our week there, making picnics for the beach, eating fish from the market, revelling in having our own kitchen. Now it was time to live a little. Salinas hadn’t shown much promise in terms of restaurants but we weren’t fussy.

Menna chose us a place that had been recommended by nervous Maite, our AirBnB host. El Real Balneario de Salinas, at the end of the boardwalk, beautifully situated right on the sea front.

As soon as we walk in I realise we have misjudged this. Dim lighting, lush carpets, a expensive bronze statue of a lobster uplit on a mahogany coffee table. A small crowd of waiters coalesces around us and we are greeted in warm but hushed tones, Arthur’s skateboard is whisked away, we are ushered to our seats, two glasses of champagne materialise. I didn’t think that Salinas had this kind of restaurant.

Luckily we’re ‘dressed up’ which means that Arthur isn’t bare chested and I have a crumpled shirt on. We are in flip-flops though and our feet are sandy from the beach. Matilda wears her new skirt from the market which is several sizes too big and is gathered in with a belt, her hair is wild and her eyes flash danger. I myself haven’t had a haircut since lockdown started and I’ve given up trimming my beard too. More than this, I have been cultivating some spectacular ear hair which has already been attracting a lot of admiration around Salinas. I see the waiter clock it, his eyebrows raise a quarter inch before he can compose himself.

We are like a family of mariachi gypsies who have left their wooden caravan to sign a reality tv contract with Simon Cowell. Only he hasn’t shown up.

We haven’t been in a restaurant together since the day before lockdown was announced in the UK – some five months ago – and it appears that that all sense of dining etiquette has left our kids. They run between tables of murmuring businessmen and Spanish aristocracy, shouting random observations back at us. They find a tank of lobsters and crabs at the back of the room and immediately start trying to touch them, then fish them out. I go over to tell them off but somehow get sucked into the game.

Our waiter weaves a passionate story about the specials. We nod encouragingly and smile, understanding little of the shellfish terminology. He’s very keen to make his point though, so he repeats it in English.
“The chef recommends the percebes, they are very fine this year. Very special indeed.” Seeing our confusion, “I think in English, you call them barnacles.”
Barnacles? Surely not. Clams maybe. Whelks even. We check Google and they are indeed barnacles. I still have a delicate stomach and this doesn’t appeal.
“I think we’ll share some of the jamón and perhaps a plate of the croquetas to start thanks my man.”
“But the barnacles are truly very special and it is a typical plate of the region. Perhaps I might suggest just a half portion to share.”
We get a half portion of barnacles to share.

By the time the starters arrive the kids have wolfed down two baskets of fine bread rolls and aren’t really hungry any more. This is a shame, as we have now been served a large platter of very expensive acorn-fed smoked pig and a silver plate where 12 golden croquettes nestle invitingly upon a delicate floral arrangement.

Then the barnacles arrive.

I was expecting some little innocuous round shells, of the type that cling to rocks or boat keels, but that is not what we got. The Gooseneck Barnacle (Pollicipes pollicipes) is a dark, crusted tentacle topped with a white shell claw, and it looks much like a gnarled old witches’ finger. I pick one up and play with it for a while, totally at a loss what to do. A waiter appears at my elbow, smiling indulgently, and gives us a short lesson on how to cut, twist, break and suck out the interior worm of mollusc that is hidden within each hairy warted tube. We find out too late that they squirt out a salty emission when you breach them. I get a jet in my face, Menna’s dress is soon covered with a fine spray of barnacle juice, the table cloth is a mess. We make such a hash of it in fact, that a new waiter appears ten minutes later to give us another tutorial. I think they were all watching us from behind a two way mirror. The barnacles are nice in a salty kind of way, but we give up on them before the plate is finished.

The meal was long and varied, the service attentive, the cuisine fantastic. We had way over-ordered and as I suffer from a compulsion which means I cannot bear to leave food on the table (except eggs and barnacles), I eat an extraordinary amount that night. Monkfish parcels, hake meunière, melting tenderloin steaks, strange amuse-bouches, strawberry millefueille with almond ice cream fondant.

The bill when it came was roughly equivalent to our entire living budget for two weeks. I was pleased to note that the half portion of barnacles was the highlight, coming in at a sweet €100. I speculated to the waiter that the grease spots on Menna’s dress were probably worth a euro each.

We strolled home along the beach under a beautiful sunset. Menna and I argued all the way.

The postscript to this story is that gooseneck barnacles suddenly began to permeate our lives. A barnacle necklace would catch our eye in a boutique window as we strolled past, we would see graffiti on an ally wall, stumble across an Instagram hashtag, even, most gallingly, find whole clusters of them flourishing wild (and free!) on the rocks by the sea. I was tempted to gather a bunch and go sell them back to the restaurant.

Billions of bilious blue blistering barnacles!

Captain Haddock

Fever Questions

The fever came on and off for a couple of days, mainly spiking in the evening. It wasn’t particularly bad – some hot and cold periods, never more than 39˚, some sweats, stomach cramps, a bit of a headache.

Menna was worried though she wouldn’t say so.  She is the family doctor and all responsibility for anything medical is immediately outsourced to her.  I sit passively like a pudding (tiramisu!) while she sticks thermometers in my armpit, changes my dressings, prods my appendix, tells me to shower and opportunistically cuts my toenails.

While she discounts options, calculates probabilities and works on her diagnosis, I meander through a lazy series of scenarios and questions. What if it was coronavirus? Would I have to go to hospital? Here? Salinas? Would we be deported from Spain altogether? How would we even get back home? You can’t fly or take the ferry when you’re infectious. Drive then? I have a nice daydream about the insurance company springing for a private jet to repatriate us, realising we have no house to go back to and being forced to put us up in a nice hotel to recuperate. Then I remember about the pandemic exclusion clause that I found in the small print which pretty much renders our expensive travel policy totally invalid.

Is the whole family about to fall ill with this?  Will the incubation period mean that our infections are staggered, each one of us falling sick two weeks apart, drawing the whole thing out for a couple of months? What if Menna herself gets ill? Then we would be really screwed. She is the one who really keeps this leaky vessel fuelled and floating.

We would have to do contact tracing too, that would be fun. I think about trying to identify and reach out to everyone who was in Dreamsea, everyone in the ferry too. All those hundreds of intersections and interactions over the last weeks, like a game of tag where each touch leaves a radioactive afterglow. I visualise a wispy cobweb stretching across Europe, stretching and pulsating, the lines lengthening, splitting, unravelling, reforming; viral particles flowing through the strands as a sinister green illumination; nodes glowing; breakaway elements floating off to spawn new clusters that then grow and bond and strengthen and then radiate further, carrying the viral load out into the world. And imagine this new green network of ours transposed over thousands of other existing viral webs, in all the colours of the spectrum, together forming a deep-rooted, multi-layered tangle that grips and chokes the whole globe. Surely mankind is doomed.

I wake.  What if we needed to go into quarantine and isolate, then where would we go?  Can we stay here in this tiny apartment? Could I bear a wall of Brad Pitt staring at me for two weeks? (Sure I could! He’s an extraordinarily good-looking guy). But it’s probably already booked out to someone else next week and it’s going to be very difficult to find any new accommodation as a confirmed covid case. I would be a social pariah!  I suppose I could manage a couple of weeks sweating the fever out in a little tent alone up in the dunes. The family could leave me messages and packages of food outside. I would talk with the gulls, monitor the environmental impact of the Avilés factory emissions, carve strange evocative sculptures from driftwood.  Is the booking deposit on our next camp refundable?

Menna discounted coronavirus.  The fever pattern wasn’t right.  The abdominal pains weren’t consistent with Covid.  There was no cough or secondary symptoms. 

Was it a recurrence of endocarditis then? I had gone through some weeks of fevers a few years ago before finally getting diagnosed with bacterial infection – right in my frickin heart. On that occasion I spent seven weeks on a drip in the Royal Brompton hospital. That would be way worse than coronavirus! I imagined seven weeks in a Salinas hospital. I’d definitely improve my Spanish and the kids would be very accomplished surfers by the time I got out. Menna may well have run off with a salsa instructor or something by then though. The suspicion of another complicated illness sends her a little wild-eyed and manic. She was the one who really took the brunt of my last illness with all the daily hospital visits, looking after both kids solo, managing her work shifts and giving constant updates to a wide community of panicked friends and family. No way she’s sticking around for another one.

Menna eventually reaches a diagnosis:  “You have some non-specific virus that isn’t endocarditis and isn’t coronavirus. It doesn’t seem particularly bad.”  I am crushed.

I have forgotten that the world is still full of the same old nondescript illnesses that were always there. They still come and go with the same frequency, they have the same impact, they’ve just been pushed out of the limelight.  They aren’t interesting.

I feel totally fine by Wednesday. The fever is gone but the questions remain. I realise that life out on the road leaves us in more of a precarious position than I had believed. It is disconcerting. This is a time where there are no clear answers, the old protocols have eroded and with them the security of delegated responsibility. The rule book is being redrafted and in the meantime we will just need to figure things out as we go along.

We all go to a remote beach and explore some spectacular caves. From a responsible distance, we talk to an old fisherman gathering limpets out on the rocks. “Everything has changed now” He tells us, “the seas were full of life before, but now you see nothing. It is very hard. In twenty years it has all gone” He waves expansively at a black smudge that runs across the cliff face. “That is oil pollution there.”

Once humankind has been decimated by coronavirus perhaps the limpets will all come back, I think. And if we need to isolate in the meantime, those caves will do nicely.

A Session to Die For

On the last day of our stay at Dreamsea I was invited to come along for a surf session with the instructors. There was a serious swell forecasted and a bunch of them were getting up early before work to go and catch some big waves at a Gerra, a distant beach which is ‘much more pumping!’ than Oyambre where we normally surf. I wonder if I am ready for this, but it is too good an offer to turn down.

Despite my good intentions, I ended up staying up late the night before. I can never turn down a pub quiz. I got a few hours of restless sleep but was already awake when my alarm went at 5:45am, visualising alternate scenarios where either I totally amazed everyone with epic surfing – of the kind that I had certainly not shown in any of the sessions so far – or where I drowned. I quietly eased out of the tent and dressed outside in the darkness, where I had a small pile of clothes waiting. “Don’t die” said Menna sleepily and rolled over.

There was mist below the pines and a morning chill. It was either that or I was shivering from nerves (how big exactly is ‘big swell’?). I was the first one at the rendezvous and struck a nonchalant pose by the gatepost: surfboard under my arm, wetsuit over one shoulder, wishing for insouciant cigarette to hang off my bottom lip. Gradually the others appeared in ones and twos and a minibus roared up to the gate. We loaded the surf boards onto the roof. We were six all together, I was the only camp guest and I felt a little like I’d gatecrashed a private party.
“You coming too?” I am asked, surprised, by Matteo from the kitchen. Even though the camp is very relaxed, there is the inevitable division between staff and guest, no matter how much ping pong you all play together. Is my presence restrictive? Are the team unable to relax properly and enjoy their session? Do they feel they need to look after me? I was offered a banana and ate it in silence.

We drove along the high coast road and already the waves looked big. We parked on the cliffs and the waves looked bigger. We climbed down to the beach and the waves look bigger still. Glacial green mountains rolling ponderously inwards then smashing down with percussive impact, throwing spray high into the air. The white water is foaming and heaving and sucking. The paddle out looks long and dangerous.

“My God! We gonna surf today!” Says Gigi, good-looking Italian receptionist.
“Those waves look like Bali when it gets big on the reef” says playboy Manu, camp owner.
“Hombre! Last session like this I broke my board” says Victor, our surf coach, though it is understood that he is not on duty now. I am on my own here.

They’re smiling and joking and doing complicated warm up routines. Getting pumped. No one notices that I’ve gone silent and am contemplating quietly hitching a ride back to camp.

But you can’t right? All the bravado; all of the tales of Costa Rica; kids looking up at me with little disappointed eyes, ‘But Daddy, you said you could surf anything…’ (‘That was a frickin joke Arthur! Go back to bed damnit!”). Some things are worse than death by drowning.

So of course I paddled in after them and it turned out just as you would imagine. I quickly lost the others; saw them find the outbound channels; make quick progress out in the gap between sets; paddle up and over those vertical rushing walls that would soon come crashing down on me. Then we were separated by angry mountains of salt water.

I spent a long time in the impact zone on that paddle out. I had some bitter moments of self realisation there. I made the line-up fifteen minutes later, tired and breathless, salt water in my belly, but that arrival felt like a triumph in itself. Friends! Safety! Of a sort. We were bobbing on our boards in a loosely strung-out line, pulled around by rips and currents, floating up over the rollers. I triangulated myself against various reference points on the faraway land. I mustn’t go too far out (too long to paddle in again) mustn’t go too far in (get caught by the big sets) mustn’t drift too far right (rocks). And eventually I found a kind of peace there, in the perfect antithesis of surfing, trying my hardest to go precisely nowhere on a board. Occasionally I would give a thumbs up or shout “nice wave” at one of the others, as they caught another epic ride. It felt good to be part of the pack.

“Go Weeliam, go! Go! Paddle now!” Victor shouted at me, totally breaking my zen. Startled, obedient, I turned and paddled. I was in just the right position and for a moment I felt the wave loom up behind me and saw the line I would take inscribed on it. I felt then that I might do something amazing on that wave. It was so big and steep though that I just screamed my way down the face for some eternal frozen moments, then totally failed to make the turn at the bottom, got caught up in the break and tumbled underneath for a long time. As I rolled in the darkness, twisted and massaged by mighty underwater forces, I reflected on just how amazingly that wave might have gone. And that was pretty much the highlight of the session. There was another time when I drifted out of position and got badly caught inside by a set of five big waves, but I don’t count that.

After the last hold-down I decided that I’d proved my mettle enough for one day and paddled alone back to shore. I had been out for less than an hour.

I sat cross legged on the beach and thought I might meditate for a while while the others finished, but I was far too adrenalised. Instead I watched the white walls and red tiles of far-off San Vicente light up in the morning sun and I congratulated myself on a heroic session.

Did I catch any good waves? No!
Did I have fun? Not really!
But did I survive? Yes!

So let’s take that as a win shall we? A war story: I was out there in the big Gerra swell of 2020. I couldn’t wait to tell the kids how big it was!


In the foothills of the Cantabrian Cordillera, somewhere between Santander and the baroque palaces of Comillas, we found Camping Huelguero, a neat little spot, fringed with flags and pine trees. As we drove through the site, wondering if those regimented rows really captured the true spirit of camping, we found a smaller hill right at its centre, deeply wooded with oak and eucalyptus, where a steep winding access road was marked out in chalk. We took this track upwards and there, nestled in clearings between the trees, were the tents and rolling walkways of Dreamsea Surf Camp.

It was perched there like a crusader encampment above enemy lines; all bamboo structures, white bell tents emerging from the vegetation, fluttering banners and downtempo beats.

We arrived in this serene oasis and promptly vomited the contents of our car out onto the decking, under the bemused gaze of a handful of surf-bums drinking daiquris at the bar. Bikes, surfboards, skateboards and yoga mats are piled up, wetsuits, backpacks, bags overflowing with laundry (we only left Plymouth two days ago – how is this possible?), electrical wires, a box of school books, half a bottle of Llaphroaig, a badminton set.

We were urged to chill. Just let the luggage sit there, someone will probably deal with it.  Come and take a tour…

There was a central living area with a canteen, bar, chill-out zone and some kind of Swiss Family Robinson bamboo shower block. A teak yoga platform juts out over a gorge, then down a twisted path is an elemental dance floor, sunken in a hidden glade where tree roots tangled with lighting cables and lizards danced in the sunbeams. There was a skateboard ramp and a rack full of bikes and longboards and surfboards for you to help yourself to.

Our bell tents sat on a raised wood decking and they had carpets, beds made of authentic looking coffee pallets with proper linen and there was some kind of antique chest there under the yucca plant. For pampered city folk easing into a life under canvas, this seems like a pretty good start.

There was an ethno-organic-Bali-soulsurf kind of vibe that permeated Dreamsea.  It was super chilled and a consequently a little chaotic.  The showers didn’t have hot water; someone was going to get around to it but they’re probably off surfing right now.  You wandered to the bar to order your sunset mojito to find that bartender, manager, and pretty much everyone really, had downed tools for an impromptu group session on the skate ramp and they’re really into it, and pulling some pretty gnarly moves, and it was probably better not to disturb them.  

The camp was staffed by a tribe of young beautiful people with floppy hair and great tattoos, usually with a beer in hand. They loved to chat. It seemed to be a mandatory requirement that all personnel not only surf, but skate as well, and they were keen to prove their credentials on the ramp that is conveniently right by the bar. Arthur, with his new birthday skateboard barely out of his wrapper, was in total awe. Within three days he had been fully assimilated into the crew and was taking his turns on the ramp and being earnestly coached on how to throw a healside turn. Despite being a longboarder myself (read middle-aged sedate cruiser), this scene was seductive enough that I wanted in. I gave it a few goes and predictably I wiped out hard each time, and soon had cuts all over my feet and elbows. Everyone was so encouraging though, I wanted to nail a big move just to please them.

These were the Lost Boys and Wild Gals of Surf. Chasing the next big wave and some impossible dream, unable or unwilling to put down roots, talking animatedly about what adventures they might find next season (I have a friend in California! I hear the surf in Bali is going off! Head for Sri Lanka dude!). Always looking for something around the next corner: girls, boys, waves, enlightenment, but never having quite found it yet. I liked them a lot. Come and have a mojito! Let’s go and have a dance! Hey Steve, get the BMX onto the skate ramp! They inhabit a celebratory live-for-the-moment kind of world. I think that’s what we’re looking for too.

It became apparent there is a bit of a cult thing about Dreamsea. The Cantabrian location isn’t a one-off, there is a list of sites that reads like a roll call of the surfer heartlands – Bali, Sri Lanka, Nicaragua, Portugal. The staff drift between them, and the more avid guests challenge you for prior visits, before listing the four or five that they’ve stayed at, with their relative merits. We wondered if we were in a subtle indoctrination program. Perhaps we would wake up hungover one day in Bali with Dreamsea hoodies, a collection of tattoos and a rinsed-out bank account.

Victor, our surf instructor was from the Canary Islands. He had a moustache, zinc warpaint and melancholy eyes. His passion for surfing was huge and the kids absolutely loved him. We got a family coaching session on day one: drills and technical instruction on the beach then out together into the breakers where Victor pushed the kids into the smaller shore waves while shouting instructions at me and Menna as we surfed further out at the back.

“No Weeliam, in the bottom turn you must look for your line, then lead with the hands. Shoulder and hips will follow… It’s like salsa! You dance salsa right” Wrong Victor, I dance a kind of jerky techno.

“No Manna, two step pop-up only! Why your knees?”

Our days quickly settle into a pattern that looked something like this: wake, sunrise yoga session, breakfast. Arthur and Matilda do some reluctant school work in the central living area. Morning surf coaching. Picnic lunch on the beach. Afternoon surf coaching. Beach chill, visit local town, eat ice creams. Menna tries to make us all go for a run and sometimes we give in. Skate ramp. Ping pong. Cocktails. Dinner in the dining area. Party / salsa dancing / quiz / concert. Bed. Repeat.

It’s exhausting, but we all made good progress at surfing. The waves were big but mellow. I had my pop up totally re-engineered. The kids are very enthused and would do anything that Victor says. All of us feel our shoulder strength building: we can paddle for longer, catch bigger waves. Arthur is getting the parallels between surfing and skating, it is not long before he starts to put together some fairly slick looking turns on the skate ramp.

We talk to Victor about his tattoos and he weaves a life story around them.

“This one has the lion waving the Rasta flag. People all say it looks like the gay flag but it is not. And ok, so what, I still like it. It was done on a beach in Thailand. This one is the mermaid firstly because of the sea but also because of what she symbolises about love, you know, it never works out and it’s all like an illusion really. You think you’ve found the one but then something always goes wrong. It disappears.” Shrug. “These ones on my shins are High Tide, Low Tide, very common. This one here, ‘Be Everything You Can Be’, was from an advert, a big sign outside the house when I was staying all alone in Canada. It gave me big motivation…” He stops and sighs, something of that lonely Canadian winter flickers across his eyes. “So anyway, the tattoos are my history. Now let’s go surf!”

Matilda won Wave of the Week in a campwide prize ceremony. There was some confusion when she wasn’t there to receive it and we had to drag her out of bed at 11pm in her pyjamas. She was all sleepy and confused but very proud. So were we. So was Victor.