In addition to the lack of surf and snow, I have also missed the feeling of having some close buds around to enjoy them with. Therefore when Colin decided it was about time he came over, I immediately told him it was going to be a skate trip. He landed on a Thursday and despite having been told his board could be a weapon, made it through with everything. After a quick nap and some lunch back here, we went out skating. That first day and for the next couple we hit up Runcorn. This is a concrete park built a few years ago by the Town Council. It has a sketchy half pipe, two small bowls, and all sort of hips and spines and quarters. It is a bit small but is in pretty good shape.
31 August 2009
One of the most difficult aspects of moving to Liverpool for me was the prospect of having less than ideal access to surf and snow. I have been super fortunate over the past 10 years to live within an hours drive of one or the either and consequently, these have dominated my life to a large degree. Therefore, as we began a New Year in January, I wanted to commit to doing something that would help fill this new gap. Skateboarding was pretty central to the early part of my life and it enabled me to avoid and get into all sorts of trouble. It provided me with a pretty damn good education as well whether it be learning to navigate the streets and subways of NYC to find the Brooklyn Banks or protesting a proposed act in my town to ban skateboarding. When I graduated college, my skating really cut down as I started to work full-time and got involved in other things. Regardless, I have always had a board and would get back on it once in awhile. I thought that our new life in Liverpool might give me the perfect opportunity to start skating seriously again.
And… it has been a pretty amazing and frustrating 8 months or so. It seems these days that skating has enjoyed a lot more public support and financing. Along with inevitable ridiculous marketing and commercialization, this has meant a lot of skate parks have been built. This article in the WSJ is something we would have never dreamed of as kids. Liverpool has about 4 parks within a 30 minute drive, and it has been a lot of fun getting to know the different spots. Skating as 33 year old (as opposed to being a 13 year old) has been pretty rad (although painful) as well. There is nothing like coming home from the park exhausted, sweaty, and bloody, and then going right out for beers with your fiancée.
The park itself is situated next to some pretty awful projects. As one of the older guys I skate with who used to live there, ‘It’s pretty much like living in Beirut.’ Despite this perhaps exagerrated claim, the scene at the park is really chill and fun. There is an age range from about 4 to 54 and everyone is super psyched on each other. The only real trouble we encountered were a bunch of little kids throwing rocks at us while we skated the bowl. Not a big deal and they eventually bored of this. We had a lot of fun here over the past few days, re-learning old tricks, playing games of S-K-A-T-E, and generally eating shit. Colin got his pop heel flips back and I spent more and more time in the little bowls. It was so rad to skate with him again and it brought back so many memories of when we were younger. It is pretty awesome to meet a guy when you are 2, learn to skate with him when you are 10, and then be skating together in another country at 33.
Needless to say, a lot of beers were enjoyed after these sessions. Kathleen joined us in Runcorn and hung with the dog while we skated, but she jumped right in on the drinking sessions. She and Colin get a long amazingly well and we all must have looked pretty ridiculous giggling in a booth as we played dice using each of our iPods. Let’s just say that this night did not end up to pretty for a certain individual who has since been told he needs to practice a lot before his bachelor party…
As usual with the NW UK we were battling the weather throughout his visit. It would rain at least once a day but Runcorn usually dried up in time for a session. However on Sunday it was grey and rainy from the get-go so we decided to go to an indoor park called Rampworx. This was the place I first started skating back in January. The place has an amazing set up. It has a mini street course with a few hips, a table top, and some nice wedges. There is an amazing mini-pipe there that is so fun to learn tricks on. There is also a nice sized bowl as well. On top of this, there is a whole other side, that I have yet to really dial in. Check it:
Weekdays between 6-8 pm are generally pretty mellow, and Sunday morning sessions are virtually empty (church and hangovers pre-occupy the majority of Britons time on a Sunday morning). Recently I had stopped going on weekdays though because with school holidays it has been awful crowded. There are a lot of kids all packed in here and a lot of BMX’ers and Rollerbladers. It can actually get a bit dangerous at times with people dropping in on each other and bikes flying everywhere. However, since it was rainy and a Sunday, I thought we’d be ok. This was our last skate session of the trip, but definitely was the best. We skated as much as we could and were both landing things that had not even been thought of for ten years or so.
Despite being pretty wrecked from the past few days of skating as well as a bit of beer drinking there was still one mission we had been bouncing around. Kathleen wrote in the past about our trip to Hell’s Mouth and with Colin here, we thought it would be a perfect time to head back and actually get some waves. The surf forecast was not encouraging, but Colin was super into the idea so we committed. We woke up early on Monday AM and shot Kathleen up to work. It was go to be pretty fast paced as we had to jet out to the break a few hours away, get a session in, and then be back in time to pick up Kathleen from work. All in all, the plan could not have been smoother.We hit Wales around 9:15 and Colin was super stoked on the surrounding scenery. Our highway twisted and turned along the sea, until it finally spit us out on the tiny Welsh roads we had grown accustomed to. Out first stop was Off Axis, a super dope shop in the heart of Abersoch. We rented a few boards and found out that the surf was “small but would probably pick up some.” We drove straight out of town into the surrounding hilly farm lands. After a few miles of single track, we ended up at the parking lot to Hell’s Mouth. A quick walk down a small path and the Irish Sea opened out in front of us and…
“It doesn’t look too bad. Look that wave has a decent shoulder.”
“Yup and this incoming set does not look that small.”
It was on and all I can say in summary is that we scored. First day out for me and second for Colin and we surfed our asses off. The waves were a solid chest high with a few larger set waves. We caught a dump load of long lefts and rights in an uncrowded and friendly line up. On top of that, we were surrounded by some of the most dramatic scenery you could imagine. Colin and I have surfed on the East Coast and down in Costa Rica, but this was a pretty amazing session. This is not my pic, but you can get the idea.
We were in the water for 2-2.5 hours before it was time to pack it up and head back to pick up Kathleen. I was pretty impressed that we were even a few minutes early. That night we had a few more beers and reminisced on a pretty awesome few days. It is pretty rad that you can know someone for so long, yet still continue to make new memories each time you hang out. And in addition to getting some more skating in, it has gotten me really psyched to surf more. We are headed back to Wales next weekend and at least once more in September. Then I should be all primed up (at least surf wise) to meet back up with the boys back in NYC and MA before the big day!
10 August 2009
Two weekends ago, we ventured back to the Wirral peninsula for a visit to Hilbre Island. With the sun shining, we packed towels, wellingtons, and the pup in the back of the car and headed into the tunnel in downtown Liverpool.
We emerged on the other side and headed to the coast - and had an amazing afternoon hiking across the flat sand and around the cliffs of the island. (There were also seals, but I didn't get any pics)
Afterwards, we had some truly sub par 'homemade' ice-cream and headed further into the Wirral. This time, we trekked to Claremont Farm, and stocked up on goodies. We learned about the farm from one of my birthday gifts for Mark, the book Home Grown. It profiles chefs of the Northwest and the resurgence of haute British cuisine focusing on local ingredients.
We loved the farm, and have already been back. We can stock up on tons of fresh veggies, fruit, and good-quality meats (and have yet to spend more than £10). Yum!