I speak because I can

I speak because I can

Despite all the surfing women in my community, I find it strange and frightening that we are often misrepresented, or more commonly, not represented at all in the films, photos and stories. The internet and film festivals are full with tales of what surfing is like on this beautiful island of Ireland and there is rarely a woman featured without her being a mother, wife or barmaid. But we are here, throughout every season, paddling out and riding waves. It is our story too.

Introducing

Introducing

A little series that started on instagram...

For all the women here and the ones I haven’t featured yet; the young ones in surf league, the ones who are away travelling, the original ones who were surfing here long before I blew in, the ones who are in the sea all the time but no one has ever thought to capture it for you, the ones who are so shy and humble they quietly asked me not to be featured. I salute you.

Islands in the stream

Islands in the stream

I hadn’t thought about the Maldives as a Country rather than as a destination. This was the most significant lesson I learned and I am not sure why or how I had come to know none of what I learnt. This year they reintroduced the death penalty, and with the Islamic law a child as young as 7 can be tried, the Maldives is 100% Islamic. That the men can have four wives and women one husband. That lashings and floggings still occur, sex outside of marriage is illegal, that they have a brown sugar (cheap dirty heroin) problem and it is one of Asia's richest countries...

The Cove Collection

The Cove Collection

I met Zoe at the launch of Backwash Magazine earlier this year and she gifted me two pieces from her collection. The jewellery is not only incredibly beautiful, but also made from recycled and eco silver where possible, and offcuts of different woods which would otherwise be wasted. The packaging is also made from eco natural cotton and cardboard. So lovely to see jewellery handmade in the UK with sustainability at its core.

Growing

Growing

Winter has officially begun in Ireland and I am surfing an overhead left point close to our house with no one around. It doesn’t look pumping from the road, its hidden away a little from the beach where the wind feels onshore. After years of searching for a paradise on the lower latitudes I found the wave I was looking for all this time, I had been here as a child in a van with my father and sister, sat on the rocks but had the secret hidden in some soft corner of my mind.

Community

Community

We are learning to interact differently and slowly changing our behaviour. We want to be part of the solution not the problem. It is not an original idea but it is a movement towards a replicable model. I don’t believe people when they say small changes are insignificant. I have seen the power of small actions. Even in me a small changes are hard but they can make a huge impact. Every change is real, every smile makes a difference and is contagious and like all things we slowly grow.

An ode to spring

An ode to spring

Spring isn’t as conventional here as seasons elsewhere, winter is not quite dead. We are behind on our new farm, the lads are battling against the weather to get the beds prepared and onion seeds planted, polytunnels are going up slowly in the rain. Tiny little seedlings are popping up all over the place and waiting to go in the ground alongside the 5000 trees we have just planted. We fall asleep listening out for the cows, ready to help our neighbour on the night shift as he waits for the calves to be born.

The heart of things

The heart of things

28-year-old surfer, environmentalist and farmer Sophie Hellyer grew up on the wildest edge of the North Devon coast. It is a place of nautical heritage, brutal Atlantic storms and an aesthetic of otherness.

“I’m still in the process of finding home,” she says. “There’s something to be said for leaving the place you grew up in and exploring what is right for you. Eventually, hopefully, you can find a place that you have created as your home, rather than just having it as a static thing.”

Surf Girl Magazine

Surf Girl Magazine

This summer I became the first British female to feature surfing on the cover of Surf Girl Magazine. It was also the first cover to have no logos, branding or sponsorship. I was surfing in a bikini made from recycled plastic bottles and riding a hand made wooden surfboard. We never dreamed of getting a cover shot this session, it was just a regular simple fun surf, so I'm delighted they used the shot and what it represents. I think I am becoming less of a surf girl and more of a water woman...

Quiet corners

Quiet corners

There’s a fierce heat radiating from the time-blackened wood burner in the Kings Arms. It embraces the leather sofas, cocooning them in a reassuringly narcotic warmth, offering a place to relax. It is a refuge from the aching chill, an antidote to the frigid ocean, a place to thaw in conversation, to relive waves ridden and lay plans for the next trip. The Devonian coastline has a unique fingerprint – hills of gently rolling baize, verdant lanes lead to furrows of reef and golden sand. Cobblestone points that awaken in only the fiercest winter storms lie beside inviting expanses of beach, eagerly welcoming in any passing swell. Here the villages are chocolate box pretty, the waters Malibu busy. Sometimes escape comes not only in waves ridden, but also in quiet corners sought out.