Holiday excitement and buying a wetsuit

Well, the excitement is building. Sarah and I have booked our surfing holiday and we’re heading off in a couple of weeks. We’re going back to Biarritz, largely so we can progress the French along with the surfing. It should be interesting going there slightly off season, and I’m curious to know if it’s going to be as fun and exciting as it was last year. Whatever the town is like, I’m sure the surfing will be something to write home about, as I’m going to take my board and try to use it for the first time. The goal is to stand on the board by the end of the week. That might not sound like much, but I have a horrible feeling it is!

Our original plan was to get to Biarritz and try to buy wetsuits on the first day and hire a board for Sarah. She’s going to try out a few hire boards before choosing one to buy (although her heart is really set on a Bic board already). However, some time last week we both admitted that the thought of buying wetsuits in Biarritz was beginning to freak us out. Yes, we’re sure (absolutely positive in fact) that it’s possible and, yes, we’re pretty sure that the language barrier could be overcome, but actually we wanted to get wetsuits without any pressure and without having to remember the French for “I’m suffocating in this thing”. So, yesterday we went to a couple of shops in London to look for suits. Happily, we found that these shops are selling off their summer suits as it’s the end of the season so, while stock was low, so were prices. The first shop had some cool suits but they didn’t quite fit. And, let’s face it, a wetsuit that doesn’t fit is not worth having. The second shop, though, was more successful. We tried on a couple of O’Neill suits and both settled on the same suit – an O’Neill Hammer convertible suit – but with different patterns on them. They have detachable sleeves, which makes them better for very warm water (we wish!).

The weirdest thing about buying wetsuits was walking around trendy sports shops in a wetsuit. If you’d told me, 18 months ago, that I’d be doing that, I’d have laughed you out of town. Now, however, it seems completely natural. What was kind of interesting to me was the way the suits are designed. When we’ve been surfing in hired suits before, we’ve always worn men’s suits. They have been fine, but there’s always a slightly odd fit between the legs and they’re tight around the thighs. Ladies’ suits, of course, don’t have that problem at all, but they do have a few other expectations about body shape. If your bust is not large, they tend to not fit quite right. This is completely understandable, and I have no problems with my self-image or body shape, but the guy serving us yesterday kind of did. He said “to be plain, you’re wider at the hips than at the bust”, as if a: I wouldn’t have noticed that already; and b: I thought it was a problem. Hey dude, I’m a surfer, not a model!

Anyway, the smell of neoprene now fills our flat. How cool is that?