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Native Moments by Nic Schuck: A review

Native Moments is a novel written by Nic Schuck focusing on surfing and adventure. Nic got in touch a while back to ask if we would like to review his book and we were more than happy to oblige. Once again we dipped into our extensive pool of talent and decided that Grace Melville, one of our bloggers, an avid traveller and an English Literature student was the perfect person to write our first ever book review! So somewhere in-between all the turkey and red wine she sat down during Christmas and put this review together for you and we hope you enjoy! It may even inspire you to read the book?

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Native Moments is a novel that takes the reader on a journey with the main character, Sanch Murray, as he seeks escape from traditional American life. With his arrogant, ex-pro surfer friend, Jack, the two embark on an adventure to Costa Rica, attracted by the low cost lifestyle and the great conditions for surfing.

The author presents the reader with two imperfect main characters who, despite their flaws, the reader cannot help but love and become invested in. Schuck gives much attention to character development, slowly unpicking the personalities of the characters in the story. The result is an intimate narration and the attraction to the characters is so strong that it makes up for occasional lapses in the quality of writing.

The story is easy to follow, keeps good pacing and also manages to surprise the reader at times. Most notably Sanch’s relationship with Andrea. It is left ambiguous whether she really cares about Sanch or whether she’s using him as a ticket back to America. Plus her being referred to as a ‘whore’ really muddies the waters around the authenticity of her attraction to Sanch. Regardless the characters are displayed with vibrant humour and colour, and we’re sad to see them go when the story pushes on.

Ultimately this book is a homage to the free spirited world of surfing and a celebration of a life not tethered down by materialistic wants and needs. Sanch Murray is escaping a life back home which would see him enter the Navy, a future he does not want for himself. This trip is a way to depart from his childhood and family tradition and carve out a new individual identity. What’s more the reader supports this decision and actively encourages him to continue down his chosen path. Schuck gives those who are stuck in a rut in their lives, uncertain of their future, a character to root for and hopefully a character to aspire to be.

Schuck clearly has a soft spot for Costa Rica and this shines through in his writing. If Costa Rica was not on your radar before, it will be after reading this book. This novel is one for those who are seeking adventure, and for those who already have the travelling bug, this story will leave you dying to get back out there and on your surfboard.

 

You can find Native Moments available to buy on Amazon here.

Surfing Taghazout – By Sam Warren

We first came across Sam Warren on Instagram when his amazing surf photography caught our eye. You will often see his work gracing the pages of our Instagram and our blog. Late last year Sam headed to Morocco for a surf trip and has been kind enough to let us know his top tips for the famous surfing destination of Taghazout. Hope you enjoy!
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We headed over to Taghazout in December 2016 and would highly recommend it! We stayed with Surf Berbere, a surf house/hostel in Taghazout who were incredible! They catered to everyone’s needs, all dietary requirements covered, incredible staff and instructors, super duper friendly!
Whilst there the hostel also arranged for us to go on a series of different trips as well as surfing. I’d totally recommend checking out the Souk (market) in Agadir, it’s quite an experience and you can pick up some great souvenirs! It is also apparently one of the more relaxed Souks in Morocco, so you can wander round at ease!
We also headed over to Paradise Valley. It is about a 45minute drive from the hostel and is a series of rock pools hidden in the desert. It’s beautiful and there’s some sweet cliff jumping spots!
It was however the surfing that we had made this trip for so the spots that I’d recommend are:
Banana Point – The break is by the next town over from Taghazout (Banana Village). It’s a lovely right hand point break which works both on small and large surf depending on tides. It can get busy when the swell is good, but I’ve had a great time there when the tide is high and swell is smaller which resulted in us having the break to ourselves.
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Devils Rock – can be dumpy as the swell picks up but can also produces some nice left and rights. I’ve typically surfed here when the swell was 2-3ft so not crazy sizes, but still fun on a foamy! Gets a bit shit at high tide from my experience so probs best for a low to mid tide surf. There’s loads of beach salesmen here too, so if you fancy a donut (I don’t recommend the chocolate ones) or camel ride, I’m sure you’d be able to haggle a good price! (Will also have these guys at K17)
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K17 – a sorta point break between Devils Rock and Taghazout. Righthanders peel off a mini reef in the middle of the beach marked out by a ‘Magic Buoy’. You can see the reef at low tide, so it’s easy to avoid surfing on it, but at high it’s submerged so it’s best to keep the left of the buoy when you face the horizon (to the right if you’re facing the shore). What we found was just sitting right next to the buoy was the perfect take off point for most days, there’s a slight cross-current which drags you away from the reef which you’ll have to paddle against to maintain position but I’ve caught a few good long rides at this break when it doesn’t close out. Similar to Devils rock, can get dumpy when the wind and swell is strong enough.
Hash Point – situated right opposite Surf Berbere (check my insta for a photo of the lines coming through), this break is probably the most beautiful place I’ve surfed/watched surfing. Surfing here at sunset is incredible for visuals, and the waves are generally very nice! Can be a battle getting out back with the strong currents, but if you’re feeling brave you can jump in off the rocky point, although you might get smashed if you time it wrong! Popular spot for locals, but it’s totally worth getting in there just to give it a go. From what I’ve seen, it’s best at mid to high tide, but it still has surf at low. I tended to see surf of around 4-6ft here but can get bigger on the sets! Just be careful not to surf too close to the point or you’ll get smashed into the rocks!
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Sewers – Just next door to Hash Point, very similar case to Hash Point all round from what I saw.
Anchor Point + Big Swell = Heaven (either you die and go to heaven, or you think you have as you’ve just caught the best wave of your life!) Never surfed here, I value my life too much!!
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Imsouane – 1 hour north of Taghazout (totally worth the drive!) – famously the longest righthander in Africa, this is a beautiful place to surf, a very interesting wave which wraps around the headland and sea defence to scoop around the bay. I went when it was fairly small, but it was perfect for beginners. Been told on larger days it’s an incredible ride! Not sure about tides here unfortunately.
Imsouane (Cathedral Point) – point break off a headland which is very popular! The entire beach has breaks so doesn’t have to be crowded but by the headland it’s very busy. When I went it was low tide and it was nice, 4-6ft, sometimes bigger!
The dunes just south of Imsouane are another great place to to visit, amazing scenery and a little bit of sandboarding! Take the fins off a foamy and take the short hike up the dunes to witness beautiful landscape as far as the eye can see! There’s multiple slopes you can ride down, but we found the higher up you went, the better/steeper the slopes became! Probably best to ask a local or a surf camp about this as it’s pretty remote location and easy to miss the entrance of the dirt road which leads to the dunes!
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We had an absolute blast during our time in Taghazout, eating well, surfing well and even seeing a few sights! Who can ask for more!
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You can follow Sam on Insatgram here.

A Wintery Weekend in Croyde – by Nick Corkill

We love to see people getting out and enjoying the British surf – no matter the weather! Nick has once again made us get itchy feet and we can’t wait to get back out on the water!

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The Beautiful Town of Ericeira, Portugal

2016 has been a very exciting year for us and we’ve been to some incredible places, but very few can surpass the beautiful Portuguese coast line and the wonderful fishing town of Ericeira.

The town of Ericeira is famous for its surf and incredible beaches, but there is so much to enjoy here on top of the swell; beautiful seafood restaurants, enticing independent bars and an exploding culture are begging to be enjoyed.

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We stayed for four days in a brilliant apartment high above the old town boasting a balcony view with sight lines from Foz do Lisandro  in the south right across to the beach at Matadouro to the north.

Having arrived late on the Monday we spent the first full day getting our bearings and investigating the local surroundings. A short walk down the hill from our apartment towards the coast led us straight on to the boulevard, which stretches from the edge of the old town to the beach at Matadouro, home to some of Ericeira’s best surf. On the boulevard is a charming café where we sat for a late breakfast and coffee. Right on the path, Esplanada Sebastiao Café is the perfect place for a bite to eat and a coffee whilst enjoying the sea breeze and the often glorious sunshine.

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From here we walked along the coast to the already highly credited Matadouro beach front, here we stood and watched the busy waters of the late morning and planned the surfing lessons we went to Portugal to take. Down on the seafront we met Sami, surfer and owner of Activity Surf Centre, but more about them to come.

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This beautiful spot is an absolute must for all holiday makers, surfers and explorers trekking along the coast. There is access to Matadouro beach, where at low tide you can walk out across the rocks and shallows for 100’s of meters. Overlooking the gold sandy beach is a wonderful seating area which is provided by a perfectly placed American style pop up eatery serving a range of classic food and drink. This is one of my fondest memories of Ericeira, sitting with my feet up enjoying a beer and basking in the glorious heat of the late afternoon.

For the remainder of the day we walked leisurely back into Town to get our first taste of classic Portugal. We drifted in between cobbled streets dressed with white and blue buildings until we arrived at the town centre. From here we ducked down a side street and came across Cassa Portuguesa an authentic restaurant on the corner of Esperanca and Outubro. We sat on the street in the sunshine and both enjoyed freshly caught Octopus; not our usually plate of choice but honestly it was incredible, the rumours of the sensational seafood in Ericeira were true. Finishing our meal and topping off our water we received the bill.  One of the great surprises of Portugal and Ericeira was that it is dramatically cheaper than the rest of Europe, in fact you could certainly enjoy yourselves on a budget, enjoying Portugal with out breaking the bank.

For the week that we were staying in Ericeira the Portuguese Surf Film Festival was on, showing two films each evening on a variety of surf culture issues. This was too good of an opportunity to miss so we purchased tickets for every night we were there.  The films typically ran from 9pm until 11pm, which meant that after a few drinks beforehand we were usually ready to head home and get some rest before the morning surfs lessons.

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The following days passed by in a brilliant routine of surfing in the morning and enjoying lunch at Matadouro; then heading back home to change before walking down into the old town to eat at one of the many seafood restaurant, then watching a few surf films in the evening. We rarely had reservations, but this was not an issue if you are ok with eating between 7pm and 8:30pm as the Portuguese like most Europeans tend to eat dinner a lot later than us British.

The second evening we ate at a place called Restaurante Tik-Tak, decorated with nautical themed antiques with a wonderful collection of wine on display throughout the walkways.   Located directly opposite Cassa Portuguesa where we ate lunch the day before. This choice was not made because of its location, in fact it came highly recommended and with great reviews. We got to the restaurant just before 7, found all the tables were reserved and they were completely full for the evening. However one of the staff noticed us reading the menu and kindly highlighted that there was a table for two reserved at 8, but if we were happy to finish our meal within the hour she could seat straight away. Another example of the kind and friendly nature of the people in Ericeira.

The meal itself was divine. Nicole had the catch of the day and I had Monkfish Rice with Prawns. Although we only had an hour the staff weren’t pushy and the service was expertly delivered with recommendations for drinks and bars for after. We left the table at 7:55pm completely satisfied and raving about another brilliant meal.

On our third evening we decided to treat ourselves and we ate at a beautiful seafront restaurant called Esplanada Furnas. This restaurant is idyllically placed, right on rocks with a view of horizon supplied by the restaurant glass fronting. A wonderful piece to Esplanada Furnas’s romantic charm is the option to choose your fish from the counter upon entry, where the staff then grill it there and then. We had an entrée of barnacles and prawns; a messy affair but definitely worth it, the barnacles were superb. Our main was the Flounder we had picked at the start, grilled to perfection and professionally served. Perhaps not the choice of fish if you’re looking for a fish with a lot of meat on the bones, but a wonderfully light and flavourful fish. We stayed for a while after we finished our mains and watched the sun go down; this was possibly one of the most beautiful views and moments we have had on a holiday and if you do make it to Ericeira you must head down to coast on a clear evening.

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On our final evening we ate at Restaurant Prim and much like our evening at Restaurant Tik-Tak this place was all reserved and we hadn’t made a reservation. Classic! But true to form the wonderful restaurateurs of Ericeira found us a table. We sat down at 7pm and had to be at the Town Hall for 8 for our final evening at the surf film festival. Once again the staff were expert and helped us with our orders and drink choices, which came in plenty of time for us to enjoy at a slightly increased pace, but still one of pleasant company. Nicole and I both had the steak, a change in diet and menu after days of fish and other seafood. Perhaps it was the overdosing on fish that made the steak all the better, but it was so good.

So ladies and gents that concludes our whistle stop tour of Ericeira, the restaurants and the beautiful spots we found. In short you have to visit for the surf, the food and most importantly the place.

GVSCO x

Meet the Bloggers! Maria Korzeniowska

Maria Korzeniowska – a very warm welcome to the freshest member of the blogging team!
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Maria is not just a pretty face with a an extremely long surname, believe it or not she’s also a medicine student with a touch of a modern day “renaissance (wo)man” – basically her interest list is never ending! In keeping with her nomadic nature, when Maria’s not too busy balancing Med School and actually having a so called ‘life’, she’s a keen tropical traveler, fitness addict, wannabe DJ, blogger, photographer and an all around creative spirit. Still unimpressed? Her travel writing & photography has even appeared on Billabong’s blog and whenever time permits, she continues to innovatively collaborate with various brands.
To keep up with Maria, follow her Instagram here and personal blog here.
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Meet the Photographers! Lachlan Callender

Lachlan is a 15 year old Photographer and filmmaker from the South Coast of Australia. He lives in a small town named Bodalla and escapes from the countryside most weekends to the beautiful coastlines of the South Coast.

Whilst Lachlan may only be 15 years old, he certainly does manage to get up to some cool stuff, so will be blogging to keep us up to date on his travels, whether that is shooting a surf trip on an ordinary weekend or working on big projects.

Lachlan originally got into photography and filming for a hobby but since his involvement with Great Venture Surf Co has realised that this is the path he would like to take in life. He is now focusing on expanding his work and hopefully one day making a living out of it. Its a tough gig but he is going to give it a go!

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The Meaning of Life: Jeff Allen

Jeff Allen lets us into his life and thought process in a touching and inspiring short film, if this doesn’t strike a chord and invigorate your sense of adventure then nothing else will.

Press play and drift away for 5 mins ….. trust me you will not regret it.

Stay stoked

GVS CO.

Meet the bloggers: Jeff Allen

We are extremely lucky here at GVSCO to have started working with the legendary explorer and Journeymen that is Jeff Allen. With his very unique skill set and passion for the outdoors Jeff strives to bring the nature and humanity back to its symbiotic relationship where by we can enjoy the beauty of the natural world but also respect it, view it and live with it in an educated and thoughtful manner.

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WHO IS JEFF ? 

Jeff is the founder of the International Sea Kayak Guide Association (ISKGA), which is a commercial guiding organisation, specialising in training and assessments of commercial sea kayak guides.

Jeff is also the founding director of several successful commercial sea kayaking businesses, specialising in tuition, guiding and expeditions by kayak/canoe, these businesses include Expedition Paddler, Sea Kayaking Cornwall Ltd and Gylly Adventures. In 2008, working with David Whiddon (Sea Survival Trainer RNLI) Jeff developed the first sea survival programme aimed specifically at the sea kayaking industry, this two day course has since been emulated by various organisations around the world in Canada the US and Europe and he is regularly consulted in areas of rescue, survival and incident management. Jeff is the technical advisor to the DGI, Denmark’s leading sea kayaking organisation as well as to various other sea kayaking businesses. He teaches and presents regularly at sea kayak symposia around the world Within the sea kayaking industry, Jeff is considered to be a technical expert in these fields and due to this recognition is also a regular contributor and columnist to the Ocean Paddler magazine.

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Jeff draws not only on his proffessional awards in training the service, awards which include the highest levels of proficiency and coaching of the British Canoe Union – but also on his experience, to date Jeff has accumulated more than 20,000 miles of practical expedition sea kayaking experience, including a classic first un-supported circumnavigation of Japan, the first British Circumnavigation of South Georgia, a combination Ski and Kayak circumnavigation of the Scandinavian Peninsular and a world record breaking speed circumnavigation of Ireland as well as many other personal and commercial expeditions to the Mediterranean, North & South America and Europe. He plans the logistics and itineraries for these expeditions which run in a variety of climates where temperatures have ranged from -20 (Winter in Northern Norway) to + 35/40 (Sub tropical Japan & Mexico) Celsius and has an understanding of the requirements for conducting small boat expeditions in a whole variety of environments.

So it is clear to see that the man and legend that is Jeff is a force to be admired and not to be messed with 🙂 . With such a broad skill set and huge vault of experience to draw upon is there anything that he can not do ? We are extremely excited and honoured to bring you these adventures as they unfold so keep your eyes out for Jeffs blogs ….. they are sure to make you rethink and get up and outside.

Please visit his website and get in contact he would love to hear from you:

http://expeditionpaddler.com

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Stay stoked

Gus

GVSCO

 

 

Our Long Weekend in Rome; Day 2 by Alec Warriner

On our second day in Rome we took upon ourselves to jump on a tour bus. There are now many choices for tours and from what we could gather they all covered pretty much the same stops, but what you don’t want is to get scalped for over priced tickets from an unsavory character in the street. So our tip is to head to Roma Termini, which is the main train / bus station in Rome as a lot of the tours start here and you can buy legitimate tickets from the tours themselves.

The tour we chose went as far out as the Vatican City which was our main goal for the day and as most do provided the luxury of being able to jump on and off at landmarks. The one thing I will say on this is be sure to plan when you want to get off and on as the stops do get very crowded and you could be waiting for several buses to come before you are allowed on.

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The first half of the tour took us around ancient Rome and having experienced most of this on foot the day before we stuck to our original plan stayed on until the Vatican City stop. This was of course perfectly enjoyable,as although it was mid Feb and slightly nippy the weather was clear blue skies and we could sit on the top deck and listen to audio talk us through the histories of Rome.

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Once we arrived at the Vatican City we hopped off and walked across St. Angelo Bridge. Built in 134 A.D the bridge gives access to Castel San’Angelo, a vast circular 2nd Century castle now used to house a collection of Renaissance furniture and paintings. But equally as interesting, Castel San’Angelo was the hiding place of Pope Clement VII during the sack of Rome.

We walked with the crowds up to St. Peters square and not for the first time nor the last we were stunned by the architectural beauty of the buildings. We stood in the square and avoided the many people trying to persuade us to part with our cash and follow them to someone selling tickets to the Sistine Chapel. Another tip here guys is to try and be as early as possible if you want to visit the Sistine Chapel and purchase your tickets at licence vendors; there plenty many in the square. We chose not to go into the Chapel as the line which was HUGE, because we did not get there early ha.

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After walking back across St Angelo Bridge we caught the open topped bus for the second half of our tour of Rome and settled back into the romantic audio of our tour guide and historic Rome. Our next stop was the Spanish steps and by this time the afternoon was coming to end and a beautiful purple sunset was on its way.

Unfortunately the majority of the steps were closed to the public due to much need TCL, but we were able to walk down the right hand side of them. Even then the marble was spectacular looking and smooth enough to slide down, not advisable. As expected the Spanish Steps and the area around the baroque ship fountain at the foot of the steps was packed with tourists taking photos, which makes getting any personal photos quite difficult, but when in Rome you need to give it a go!

If you can be at the steps for the end of the day it is 100% worth it as the sun strikes the Trinita dei Monti, which is the 16th century church at the top of the steps and creates another amazing photo opportunity. Our photo of this was taken from the balcony of a wonderful little restaurant called Mariotti, which is directly to the right of the steps if you’re standing at the top.  We perched there for an hour or so drinking prosecco and red wine whilst the sun went down on our 2nd day.

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We ended our day with a wonderful evening walk through the streets to Trevi Fountain, which is a short walk from the steps and only took us 15/20mins after a few large glasses of wine. This for me was the most impressive moment of our trip, the fountain after dark is illuminated by underwater lighting creating a magical environment and stunning view of the statues grandeur. Once again the crowds are slightly too many, but be patient and get the all-important selfie with the fountain and throw a coin over your shoulder into the water, making a wish!

To be continued…