I arrived in Europe after booking my ticket two days before. Unsure of when I should go I just woke up and said, I think I just need to go, now…

So with a short notice and couple Facebook messages I had our English distributors and close friends pick me up well after my bed-time! On the car ride back to the Square Rock Headquarters and Aaron and Rhona’s home I realized this was going to be even more entertaining than I thought! Aaron was letting me know that he would be kidnapping me for the weekend to go paddling around the UK, depending on what was running. Eager to simply go kayaking and excited to paddle someplace new, I agreed.

Early the next morning a car arrived with Craig as my driver and paddling buddy for the day. We headed off to a wave called the Marsh Weir, and I have to say, it blew me away. When we were putting in the water all Craig would talk about is the bridge across the river right below the feature, the death metal poles and the dangers of the marsh weir. I was like oh great, I am coming to England and my first day is going to be surfing above certain death.

 

Luckily it wasn’t so bad but if you are a paddler that would be missing roles, it would be a safety hazard and I would recommend scouting it before paddling it.

The wave offered both hole moves and wave moves with a great left shoulder. This was great for right blunt mcnasties, helixes, and HUGE air loops. Craig got on the wave and started throwing air screws and holes moves right away. That’s when I knew I would love this feature. Back pan am’s and phonics monkeys on the same pocket doesn’t happen very often and I was very excited that it was! As you can tell from the photos my favorite move was the flashback! : )

Afterwards I went home to Aaron and Rhona’s, took a bath and slept like a baby. We got up early again only this time Aaron was going to drive me and we would get an early start. Rhona has chickens so we stayed long enough to ensure we got the best eggs ever before our session! (delicious!!) We arrived at the feature and everyone said that the gates had moved so we wouldn’t be able to get on. The previous day we used a rope and it wasn’t difficult at all, but sure enough, when we ferried up, it looked completely different…

It was tall and more of a wave. With bits of green water coming through breaking up the foam pile it was flushier but easier to get on top. The rope looked seriously painful so I decided I would try to ferry right on, which I did successfully on my first try. I surfed around throwing all the wave moves I could think of, then surfed off the other side where there was a teensy pocket eddy so I wouldn’t have to use the rope. No one else successfully ferried on or were having any luck with the rope so I wore myself out going on the wave, doing a few tricks- the flashback being my favorite, and then paddling into the small eddy on the other side of the river.

 

Once other people saw what I was doing they started to follow after getting on with the rope. It was fun to watch everyone on the feature throwing down.

 

Aaron didn’t have such great luck getting on the feature so we went to his Caravan right across from the Hurley Weir. Not expecting to paddle anything since it has barely been running for two years we were excited to see it had come in! With no one there and a buddy of Aaron’s we put on and surfed till our arms didn’t work.

It was super fun and nothing like anything I have ever surfed before! You feel like you’re between two cement walls the whole time and it goes so fast!

That evening I went pubbing with some of the English paddlers I have met over the years, such as Alan Ward, Mandy Chan, my new friend Scout, Martina Wegman, Doug and many more! It was super fun and ended well into the evening!

The next morning we were out surfing Hurley again. This time the word had gotten out that it was in and there were paddlers EVERYWHERE. Left and right, everywhere you looked there were paddlers hanging out, surfing and socializing with many friends they hadn’t seen in awhile as the waters been low.

I had a great time working on air screws, helixes, and all sorts of wave tricks. I also stuck one huge air loop that was super fun!

 

We left to go back to Aaron and Rhona’s that evening, and had an amazing meal of Indian food, can’t wait to have coconut rice again! It was EPIC!

The next morning I got asked if I wanted to go paddling again and of course I couldn’t help myself, back to Hurley this time with Lowri Davies brother who drove me with his awesome dog to snuggle with!

 

After a shorter session then the ones previously we had an amazing sit down dinner made by Rhona herself, with wine, shrimp, fajitas and more! It was the perfect amount of food to get me ready for my first slalom sessions the next day.

 

Craig showed up around noon-ish to drive me down south the Cardiff where I would continue to live and am living right now training for slalom. We had two great sessions together before he left me at a B&B where I am continuing to stay!

 

For my Irish adventure and slalom training thus far be sure to stay tuned for part 2 of my European Adventure!

Happy Paddling
Emily