The possibilities of learning life lessons in surfing seem endless. Every day feels like a chance to draw parallels between life and wave riding. But for me, at least currently, the most apt and important is simply to keep at it — especially when it knocks you down…

Surfing is a mind game.

And the problem with games, is that sometimes, you do not win. I think this has been my biggest revelation since I started regularly paddling into the water. A good or terrible surf (there is no real in between) is decided almost before you get wet. If you stand on the beach practically hopping to get into the water, excited and positive, you are much more likely to finish the session glowing and happy. If your mind is not in it; if you are overly scared, anxious or wound up, you are unlikely to have…


Paddling Out of my comfort zone — the struggle and the joy

Ribeira D’Ilhas

“I think the ocean is winning.” I say to no one in particular, as the final wave of the set finishes dumping its heavy load on my head. Some lightheartedness to keep me grounded in this ocean.

I am learning to surf, and this is my first time paddling to The Outside; an elusive place beyond the baby slopes of surfing where the waves get bigger and the surfers get better. You hear a lot about The Outside when you are learning to surf. Not all of it is entirely reassuring.

For me, The Outside has been an experience in…


What running taught me and tips on how to get started — even if you don’t think you can

I never thought I would be a runner. I don’t honestly think I even thought it was possible to enjoy running. It was an activity that I practiced extremely sporadically as a teenager and throughout university. Short 2–5 km runs that always left me feeling a bit sick and which I always tried to race my way to the end of so that it would be over. Quickly. My earliest memory of running involves me and a big hill on a…


A continuation from three days variably successful travel through Alentejo and the adventures of van life and surf sessions.

Read Part 2 here…

DAY FOUR : Busy beaches and empty campsites

Odeceixe beach

One of the big issues about a trip like this is FOMO. You are never sure if there is perhaps another beach you haven’t found that is better, or a new town, village, hamlet that should be visited. We toyed with the idea of returning to one of the previous days beaches, but partly because we wanted to see what else there was to see, and partly because we did not want to ruin previous days pleasures by a second less exalting experience, we opted for the new and untried.

Zambujeira do Mar was our first…


Travelling through Alentejo and West Algarve learning about surfing and van life.

DAY ONE : Collecting the Camper

Our tursted VW Transporter!

To try and maximise our trip, we opted to pay 150 euro extra to be able to collect the van from Lisbon and drop it off in Faro. We were contacted by the very kind Nicholas with whom we arranged the pick up from Lisbon airport. Time and place agreed, we arrived loaded with our bags and equal amounts of excitement and trepidation. …


A takeaway from travelling through Alentejo and West Algarve learning about surfing and van life. A prelude.

Romantic notions of getting lost in remote corners of Europe, surrounded by sea sounds and sunsets, good wine and my wonderful man.

That was the premise when I started to plan my summer holidays, back in April 2017. I knew two things for sure; we would not take holidays until September and we would undoubtedly want to surf in the sun. This allowed us to narrow our options relatively easily. If we are to stay within European boundaries, we need to go Atlantic. If we want guaranteed sun in September, we need to go south.

After some brainstorming about what…


https://www.instagram.com/p/BfzJv9YHi8B

Ever since I managed to wrap my head around the unbelievable notion that my mother is no longer around, (and this took an incredibly long time — we’re talking years) I have alternated between wanting to be over it, being scared of ever getting over it, and wanting people to sympathise with me over my loss. Or, if not sympathise with me, to be impressed by how well I handle her being gone. Because it can still be so hard. Maybe it shouldn’t be anymore, but it is.

How hard it is has evolved since those first days, when my…


Picture the scene: It is the summer holidays in the West of Ireland, 2005. Six weeks spent in a small bungalow in a remote corner of County Mayo with the family.

If your mind’s eye has suddenly been flooded with depressing images of dismal rain, endless card games to pass the time and ‘picnics on the beach’ spent inside the car watching the rain aggressively beat its way in, then I ask that you try again. …


The sun is baking hot, there is an intoxicating smell of pine trees in heat, and gentle chilled out music floats through the air. People are chattering — but in the languid way of those dealing with great heat. There is a general unhurried atmosphere. You could be on some Caribbean waterfront, surrounded by forest and sand, sunshine and chilled travelers.

Welcome to Dreamsea, Portugal. An hour and a half outside of the cosmopolitan city of Lisbon, perched on a cliff overlooking azure Atlantic Ocean, little tipi tents and tiki huts built into the forest provide stunning vistas that leave…


On a recent trip to Biarritz, my boyfriend and I found ourselves with a day that the water was so flat we just could not surf. It was possibly the calmest water I have ever seen in the Atlantic, which, while beautiful is not ideal if you are only there for four days surf!

Calm waters of South West France

So instead, we wandered around, soaking up the stunning views, the lifeguard training exercises and the children rolling around on their skateboards. These cute little skateboards (they’re actually called Penny Boards apparently) that look completely harmless. …

Clare McGing

Irish girl living temporarily in Portugal and learning, often unsuccessfully, to surf. Also writing a blog www.melusinasurfs.com

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