My good colleague and fellow curmudgeonly northerner Mr. M. Axelby Esq recently informed me of the following notice he had observed whilst suffering the unfortunate experience, to use a fine phrase from that splendid movie ‘Withnail and I’, of finding himself ‘on holiday by mistake’ in Boscombe.

Said notice informs one and all that ‘Boscombe reef development in conjunction with the urban surf apartments, restaurants and cafes means Boscombe is one of the top European surf destinations’ (at the same time there was also a sign advising that the surf reef was ‘closed for repair’. Oh dear…).

If you surf you are probably now picking yourself up from the floor, since this is the biggest load of bollocks you are ever likely to read in relation to the fine art of riding waves.

Let’s briefly analyse why. For any surf spot to be a ‘top’ destination it can be generally agreed it must have the following essential features:

  1. Consistent swell
  2. Well-formed waves emanating from that swell
  3. Consistent offshore winds

Additional bonus points can be added for warm climate, warm water and lack of crowds.

Unfortunately Boscombe (‘top European surf destination’) has none of these. Nothing more need be said on this score and I am yet to hear anyone justify the ludicrous expenditure that has been put into creating the reef here, a reef that rarely sees a solid groundswell pass over it.

It says a lot about the direction that surfing in the UK has taken in recent years that a district council should feel they can bullshit the public like this, and that ‘urban surf apartments, restaurants and cafes’ are considered prerequisites for becoming a top class surf destination.

My scathing comments are based on personal experience, having surfed at Boscombe whilst working on a hateful commission for the Guardian a couple of years ago when, travel pages being what they are these days, it was necessary (as is usually the case with journalism) to sell my soul when writing the piece and try and make out that the whole ‘urban surf scene’ is something surfers should come and check out.

The facts – it’s rubbish and not worth travelling a mile for – wouldn’t make for a 21st century travel piece which invariably relies on positive feedback on whatever destination is being covered, but that’s another matter.

That said Boscombe may be something that novice surfers with more money than sense might want to check out. If your requirements in terms of waves are very low then it may just come up with the goods; if you also feel the need to sip cappuccino and eat tapas whilst recovering from your exertions then you’re in business; and afterwards you can go and spend too much on designer surfwear and maybe even buy a cool surfboard that’s totally unsuitable for your level of ability.

In fact that sounds like the perfect day out for a London surfer…



2 Responses to SIGN OF THE TIMES

  1. Mark Dove says:

    Spot on mate but remember that selling ones soul as a cub hack requires a tradeoff in later years ..

  2. Matt Exley says:

    I’ve been trying to make contact to praise your rrrickety chair Young Ones reference in the recent Red Mountain article in the Guardian.

    However, on arrival here, I find another on-screen reference and one that I often use when I find myself on holiday by a pool on Spain.

    Loving your work.

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