Breaking the Routine


So, it was a typical late November Saturday evening in Scotland – days getting shorter, weather getting colder, surf season pretty much coming to an end and thoughts inevitably turning towards Christmas. I’d been out on my board for a couple of hours earlier on and caught some decent waves at Belhaven Beach and as Jenny, my other half, was out I was looking forward to a really badass night in of beer, pizza and a movie – all that was left to do was choosing what I’d go for.

The first two were simple – with an excellent selection of IPAs in the cupboard under the stairs and a newly opened branch of Dominos just a phone call away I’d got both of those bases covered. The third, however was going to require some careful thought as it would make or break the weekend.

Comedy night? “Meh, not really feeling it.”

Rom-com? “Erm, no, not when I’m in on my own.”

Drama? “Nah, not in a worthy enough frame of mind”.

“I know, what better way to finish the season than…

(and, yes, I do mean the Kathryn Bigelow original)

So my evening was set up, beer poured, pizza delivered and movie on. I get about 30-40 minutes in – Keanu has had some tuition from Lori, he’s had his run-in with War Child (yes, I know, I know) and he’s starting to mix it with Swayze’s crew. There’s some amazing footage of huge waves, barrels, riders and the tricks they can do when suddenly I’m distracted by the thought “I would love to be able to do that, just once, to know instinctively which waves to pick, when to go, when to get up, when to turn and also how to bail and bail safely”. This is then swiftly followed by “Yeah, but it’s never going to happen as you’re 47, you live on the East Coast of Scotland where the waves are fickle, inconsistent and irregular, oh and you also work 5 days a week. So get over it, enjoy the movie, ride the waves when you can and stop being such an eejit”.

So I carried on in a slightly less positive frame of mind until Jenny came back, when, I paused it, to chat and as I wasn’t sure she’d want to watch the last half of a film she’d seen before. Having established that hers had been a great evening with friends, some superb food and excellent conversation as opposed to my more sad-sack-on-my-own evening, she asked if I was going to put the movie back on, to which I replied “Nah, I don’t think so” and I explained that the oomph had gone out of it for me due to the above and so didn’t need to watch it to the end. Her response was not what I expected…

Jenny: “You really want to get better at this?”

Me: “Oh yeah, I’d love to”

J: “How long would it take, if you did it every day?”

Me: “Hmm, I don’t know, if was able to get out 4/5 days out of 7, a couple of months maybe.”

J: “So why don’t you?”

Me: “What do you mean?”

J: “I mean, why don’t you go and do it? What’s stopping you?”

Me: “Er, well I’ve got to go to work everyday and pay the bills like everyone else”.

J: “Really? You work contracts and can leave when your contract finishes with no issue on either side plus you’ve got enough savings to cover your bills for the time you’re not working.”

Me: Short pause to consider. “You know what, you’re right, there is no reason why not and to be honest, if I don’t do it now I never will. My current contract is until March and it’s going to be pretty quiet workwise then. I’m pretty sure I can get somewhere relatively cheap to stay on a longish let between LA and San Diego and flights won’t be problem as there’s are plenty of airports to fly into in that neck of the woods.  Right, you’re on, I’m going to do it.”


…and so, during the next week I spoke to my boss, who was – let’s say – a little surprised, but he listened to my reasoning “if I wait 10 years, it’ll be too late. I’d just be an old guy in ill-fitting clothes falling off a board”. I imagine he was thinking “As opposed to now when you’d be just a middle-aged guy in ill-fitting clothes falling off a board” but he was good enough not to voice it…

I looked at flights, sorted out a one-way ticket to San Diego and over course of the next few days from a good selection of properties to rent between Encinitas near San Diego to Hermosa Beach up by LA I found what I think is gem of a place to stay in a wee town called San Clemente and I couldn’t be more excited.

Cali here we come!