A significant part of my Cornwall dream rests on me becoming the kind of person who hangs around at the beach. If I could end up one of those tanned, blonde, super-fit surfer chicks then so much the better, but I accept that less than two weeks after moving might be a little soon to be reaching for the stars. However, in an effort to do that while also meeting people, I decided to join the local stand up paddleboard club because it’s less than five minutes from my flat (have I mentioned this?) and I’ve always thought it looked pretty easy.
Holy shit it is not easy. Since Easter is all about getting back up when you’re down (and, incidentally, so is everybody’s favourite Chumbawumba song, but that is less relevant), and also because I had no other plans for my first Cornish Easter, I booked my club induction which involved a beginner’s lesson. As I stood on my board and practiced the strokes we had to learn I imagined my future as a professional paddleboarder. It looked bright and achievable. But then we had to get off the sand and out on the water.
I love being in the sea. I am, after all, a notorious cheapskate and it is, after all, free swimming. If you can get over the cold, and the presence of overexcited kids, and the sand getting everywhere, it’s actually better than swimming in a pool because there’s no lanes, which means no lane hogging. If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a thousand times: They need to start doing a speed test before people are allowed in the fast lane. If you’re slower than me, please do not be in my lane. It’s the only sport I’m any good at, and I’m a little bit of a dick about it.
Anyway, I love being in the sea. As it transpires, being on the sea is a whole different kettle of fish. It’s wobbly. As in, really wobbly. I probably should have suspected I might not be a natural after a foray into wakeboarding last year which saw me spending most of an overcast October day drinking gallons of lake water in Milton Keynes. But paddleboarding is slower, so I thought I’d be alright.
In a surprising twist, the girl who sometimes finds it difficult to stay upright on solid ground ended up falling off her board more times than anybody else. In that nobody else fell off at all, and I fell off a lot. But if nothing else I got really good at getting back on, and that is knowledge that some innately talented people just won’t ever have.
Something I hadn’t realised would be an aspect of beach life on Easter Sunday was the sheer volume of baptisms happening in the sea. Incidentally, they look really scary. There’s a very violent almost-flip involved, and people go right under the water. There’s a proper element of risk. Of course, the element of risk is significantly raised when an out of control paddleboarder comes barrelling out of nowhere and takes a dive headfirst into your meaningful and religious experience.
I wish I could pretend I wasn’t involved in that. I wish I could pretend they didn’t have to move and it didn’t happen again further down the beach, but here we are. Sorry, Jesus. I might have briefly upstaged you. But if it’s any consolation you’d probably be better at paddleboarding than me.