Venice in the spring (2016)

hotel in venice
The hotel that we stayed in venice had only 6 rooms, However it was friendly and in a lovely location
st marks square venice
St marks square may be one of the biggest tourist attractions in Venice. It is though a must see and a trip up the tower for a high rise view is a must
st marks square
This picture of st Marks square is taken from the top of the clock tower.
a typical street in venice
It takes a while to get used to the way Venice works. It is like no where else in the world and everyone should experience it at least once.
A rooftop view of Venice
Just about every building in `venice has its own charm and is almost certain to be different to its neighbour.
Repairing Gondolas in venice.
The price of a Gondola ride in Venice is hugely expensive. There is however no shortage of takers. So there is plenty of work for the boat builders of Venice.
the outer islands of venice
When visiting Venice getting on the water taxis and visiting the outer islands is a must.
the bright houses of Burano
The brightly coloured houses of Burano are a joy to see. Apparently the fisherman painted their houses bright colours. So that they new which one was theirs from out at sea. Burano is also famed for its lace making. Although almost all the lace today is mass made.
glass sculpture on Murano
The island of Murano is famed for its glass making and there are still plenty of places on the island. Where you can watch the glass masters at work. The glass sculpture in the picture may not be a masterpiece. However it does have its own kind of cool.


Gong Curve 7.6 XTR

The Gong Curve is the second Gongsup that i have managed to get my hands on. I already have the 6.10 Fatal. Which is fine on glassy days. As soon as there is a bit of chop though it is a nightmare to stand on. So i decided to get a second gongsup with a few more litres to make it easier to manage on choppier days. it is amazing how an extra 10 litres can make when the chop gets up.

A picture of the Gong Curve 7.6 xtr
This picture gives you some idea as to why this board is called the Curve. it has a continuous rocker out line

Over the last few months i have used the Curve 7.6 Xtr in just about all conditions. From glassy to 25 knots of wind and from thigh high to double over head high waves.  So how does it perform, to be honest it has outperformed all my expectations. It has definatly taken my wave riding to another level.

a picture of the quad fin set up of the gong curve 7.6 str
My favourite fin set up at the moment. Quad fin for speed and drive. Why keeping the fins small though for maximum manoeuvrability.

So lets go through what i have learnt about the Gong Curve 7.6 XTR. For a start the curve lives up to its name and has a lot of rocker. Which helps when padderling out as it pops over the white water with ease. That isnt the only plus though so much rocker makes the drop in a breeze. You can drop in on just about any steepness of wave with very little chance of catching the nose on the way down. This gives you so much confidence on the take off. The slight down side to this amount of rocker is you need more front foot pressure to get that initial acceleration. However after a couple of sessions on the board this soon becomes second nature.

a picture of the outline of the gong curve 7.6 str
You can see the outline here. 28 and 3 quarters wide where you stand. With a pulled in nose and plenty of rocker

So now down to the most crucial point of any board, What does it perform like once on the wave. The curve 7.6 has really good acceleration and top speed. Therefore giving you options to do drawn out bottom turns, Charge to make the next section of the wave or the most important to me. The ability to drop down the wave and do tight bottom turns without stalling while keeping enough speed to power you back up for a top turn.

A picture of the deck of the gong curve
Gong really do make some cracking boards and the curve range is certainly a gem…

Overall the gong Curve is superb. It will help anyone who is serious about wave riding to develop and improve their wave riding. Even if the curve is not to your liking. Gong have so many sups in their range. You will find the right one for you. I cannot recommend gong highly enough.

go get yourself one you won’t regret it.


Barcelona in January, (Gaudi,s Barcelona).

Well, I have to say I am not a huge ‘City’ fan but when the opportunity to visit Barcelona arose I could not refuse.
As always, a lot of background work was done to establish the different options, package or diy.  DIY tends to win
most of the time as you have flexibility and choice as well as usually financial savings (I seriously cannot remember
the last time I used the services of a high street travel agent)

view looking over barcelona
View from our roof top terrace of the Gaudi hotel. Looking   towards the now art museum and the Olympic park

Pre-booked parking at the airport – 5 days £30.  Easy enough drive there and as usual we travelled light to avoid
the hold baggage rigmarole.  HOWEVER – word of warning – We noted that many people were having their luggage
taken off them at the gate and put into the hold!  This is obviously as hand luggage is encouraged and everyone uses
their full allowance there is not actually enough room in the overhead lockers.  We did note that it was those people
with the wheelie cases that were having to submit to baggage control, so a tip here, stick to holdall and backpack type!

On arrival at Barcelona the first thing I noticed was there was actually blue and white stuff for a sky instead of grey! Although
the temperature was still a bit chilly it was at least bright.

Looking over Palau Guell from the top of the hotel Gaudi
Looking the other way from our rooftop terrace over Gaudis Palau Guell. Certainly worse places to stay…

Getting around Barcelona was an absolute breeze and so so cheap.  Again pre-armed with knowledge we bought a T10
ticket from the machine at the station directly outside the airport.  This ticket enables 10 journeys on ANY public transport and
can be shared.  ALSO a journey starts on first click and last click is the last time it is used within 75 minutes.  So we were able
to get overground train and transfer to underground and get to the nearest metro to our hotel with using only 1 journey each!

Not bad for 2 Euro!!!

We stayed at the Gaudi Hotel, just off of Las Ramblas – Hotel was good, room was good and the roof top terrace overlooking Palau Guell as well as a lot of Barcelona was the icing on the cake for us ( although the plunge pool was not as deep as my bath and freezing! )The views were awesome and pretty inspirational as we were able to decide and see where we were heading to.

park guell monument
The monument part of Park Guell is worth every cent of the entrance fee.

So, the rest of the day was spent exploring the neighbourhood, buying cheap but good wine, eating and relaxing on the roof terrace
planning the next few fun packed days!!

The main motivation behind Barcelona was of course Gaudi!   We decided he was probably spaced out most of the time
and certainly mad and yes definitely a genius.  During the next 3 days we managed to WALK a marathon – covering 26 Miles of Barcelona.
We visited Park Guell, la Pedrera, Casa Batlli, Casa Vicens, Barcelonas Arc de Triumph, Parc de la Ciutadella and of course the Sagradi Familia.

The what would of been the market place of Park Guell
Gaudi,s park Guell was supposed to be a development of 60 houses for the rich and famous. What a relief it flopped as what is left behind is truly spectacular.

The Park was wonderful and in itself involved a mini trek to get around it all.  You have to pay 8 euros to get in to the monument part of the park. to miss this part of park Guell though would be a sin in itself. Starting off early we were lucky to avoid the tourists (Mainly Chinese) as by the time we left the park was really packed!  They limit the number of people entering the park and its buildings and we were lucky to have free run of the place before this limitation was put in place – by the time we left people were indeed queuing.

Arguably one of Gaudi’s most famous of houses was La Pedrera – It was not cheap to get in (20 euros) but it has to be done and in our opinion it was worth every cent !!  The inner courtyard was fantastic and the rooftop again was amazing – Gaudi,s version of chimneys are the best you will ever see. Apparently he looked out across the city rooftops and didnt like what he saw so put his own twist on the chimney, I for one am so glad he did. There were also several arches that when you looked through them were actually view points of other significant places such as the cathedral.

la pedlar looking towards sagrada Familia
A view from the rooftop of La Pedrera looking towards the famous Sagrada Familia

Sagrada Familia – Well, this was just special. It really is one of the best pieces of architecture in the world.  Lost for words to be honest – it surely has to be on many bucket lists as you have to actually be there and see it to appreciate it.  You walk in and say wow and Gaudi’s love of nature and his ambition to create buildings inspired by nature was never more evident than inside his fabulous Sagrada Familia!  The pillars were like giant trees with their many branches the framework for the magnificent roof!

The added bonus of our hotel room was it actually overlooked  Gaudi’s  Palau Guell and the wonderful chimneys on its roof.  A bottle of wine was enjoyed watching the men working and cleaning these in preparation for the tourist season.  Although the building was not yet open we got a good look around the rooftop and peep inside from our room and our roof terrace.

the tree pillars in Sagrada Familia
Gaudi,s tree like pillars inside Sagrada Familia.. One of the best pieces of architecture anywhere in the world.

Over the few days that we were in Barcelona. The temperatures slowly warmed  up and  day  3 we were sitting in the sun on the beach!

The food on the Las Ramblas was as you would expect – touristy and not of a very high standard. Obviously most people only stay in Barcelona for a few days. So these eateries certainly did not seem to worried about repeat trade. – but off the beaten track there were many small local eateries to try – From Which  we did end up settling for a KEBAB on the last night. Not what we intended BUT a very nice one it was too!!

gaudi,s sagrada familia
Absolutely Amazing

All in all if you are looking for a city break then put Barcelona and Gaudi right to the top of your list of must dos 10 out of 10 ….

20 Mile SUP Queenboro To Gravesend

Jono contacted me and asked if i was up for a distance sup. After looking at the weather forecast we decided it would be perfect for a downwinder from Queenboro. In to the thames estuary and up to Gravesend.

Jono on his slingshot race sup
Jono turning the corner after a hard start.

With the forecast giving the wind 10 to 12 knots due east. this would make the wind directly behind us for about 2 thirds of our Paddle to Gravesend. Our launch spot was going to be Minster, However being a weekend in August with clear blue skies the traffic turned out to be a nightmare. So we decided to change to Queenboro instead.

Ships are a common site why supping in the thames.
A close encounter with a ship why going up the Thames.

After a good start to our paddle. We struggled to get around the shallows leaving the river Medway and in to the Thames itself. We then thought it would be plain sailing with the wind directly behind us and some wave gliding down to gravesend. Unfortunatly the swell direction was coming from more the north. So this made it into a very bumpy ride down the thames.

Jono with his race board at the finishing line.
A downwinder that turned in to a 5 and a half hour endurance paddle.

Unfortunatly our perfect forecast turned in to a 5 and a half hour endurance paddle up the thames.  Not out finest hour on the race sups however this was a bit of the thames that neither of us had paddled so it had to be done. Although we both agreed neither of us is likely to be paddling it in the near future..

You cannot have it epic everyday otherwise what would be epic….

Summer Waves at camber Sands (Harbour arm Sup)

How often does every surfer dream of waves at their local break in the summer when it is lovely and warm. When in reality we all end up only getting wet when it is damp cold and horrible weather during the winter months. this senario regularly applies to us who livbe on the south east corner of the UK. Where swell only usually manages to work its way up the English channel. When we are wearing hoods,Boots and gloves.

barry on the starboard pod in warm summer waves
Air temp over 20 deg c and shoulder high waves.

So what a pleasent surprise the 8th of july turned out to be. Shoulder high sets coming through over the high water. In 20 degrees of warmth and the wind dropped right out and swung offshore as well. What more could you ask for when you only have a 10min drive to get to the beach. It is on these days that you love living close to Camber Sands. As it will suck in any swell that is coming up the channel and works as well as anywhere on the south coast east of the aisle of Wight.

we all love fun in the sun
Shoulder high waves what a joy

With just Rich out on his waveski, Tris from the kitesurf centre and myself you cannot say that there was much in the way of a crowd. What it did mean was we could all have the pick of the waves as they came through.

All in all it turned out to be a great evening session in the middle of the summer and to boot Richard and myself came back the next morning and grabbed ourselves some glassy thigh high wonder walls  WAHOO

14 mile SUP, Faversham to Queenborough

I got a call from Jono on saturday morning to see if i wanted to do a distance SUP paddle on the sunday. John was doing a two way over the weekend. Leaving his car at Queenborough on the saturday. Then paddling over to Faversham. Where i was going to meet him and we were going to paddle back to queenborough on the sunday.

The weather forecast for the sunday was perfect. Bright and sunny with a light North Eaterly breeze. I met Jono at his friends boat at favershams Standard quay. On which Jono had spent the night. We were going to leave from Standard Quay. However there was still no water in the creek when i arrived. So we revised our plans and decided to leave from Harty ferry. As there is water their at all states of the tide.

We left Harty ferry at around 2pm in lovely bright sunshine with a light breeze behind us. Exactly what distance Supping is all about. This tripwas not about eating up the miles. This one was more about soaking up the sunshine and tranquility. We still made good progress though and on our way decided to make a small detour up the creek to Conyer. What i little gem Conyer is Quiet peaceful and picturesque. We were just about to head back out of Conyer when we spotted a long time friend of ours on his boat. Chris Calthrope was just getting ready to go out on his sailing boat for a sunday afternoon  play in the summer sun. We had a quick chat and catch up with Chris. Then we were back on our way.

The rest of the paddle up to Queenborough Was very peaceful apart from a short time where we met some people on jet skis that looked like they had bought them but did not really know what they wanted to do with them. They seemed to be going round in circles aimlessly. Once out of site and sound of the jet skis. We had a quiet paddle up to Queenborough. With the wind just building as we got to our destinatioin. We arrived at Queenborough at about 6.15 in the evening. Not a cracking pace but a great paddle in great weather. Possibly the most pleasent paddle i have had in a long time.

A good call by Jono….



Sup Surf in Algarve In shorts (Albufeira)

It does not matter what sport you are doing. Some days are going to be better than others. Then occasionally you get a day that is a real treat and when you have finished you look back on the day with a big smile on your face. This is what happened to richard and myself on our last day in the Algarve. We had been staying in Albufeira just up the road fromwhere Lee and Emma had been staying. They had flown back the previous day and after a week of chasing waves on the south and west coast of Portugal. Wedecided to have a relaxing paddle right off the beach where lee and Emma had been staying for the last month.

Richard took the above video while taking a drink break and applying some more sun screen.

We had been wearing a wetsuit all week while we had been surfing. Well sup and a waveski as the water in portugal in march is pretty cold. However as we were only intending to have a leisurely paddle. We decided to just wear a pair of board shorts and soak up the sunshine. The treat started when we got to the beach. We were treated to a chest high wave breaking in the exact spot where we were launching from. With the rest of the long beach being completely flat. So Richard on his waveski and myself on The starboard POD. Spent the next two hours catching waves totally on our own and just in shorts. This was the best SUP surf i had of the whole trip. Not the biggest or fastest wave we saw but the most enjoyable. This wave was what the sup was invented for. We both finished with huge smiles on our faces and went home very happy people.


Extreme SUP

After paddling my Starboard POD for about 4 years. Everything was becoming a bit easy and with the POD supposed to be a pretty extreme board for its day. I thought well it is time to come bang up to date as they say. So that is when i decided to get a new school extreme SUP. The gong 6.10 Fatal XTR pro looked like it should fit the bill perfectly.


The thing is the difference between the Gong 6.10 Fatal and the Starboard POD really is extreme. The POD may of been extreme in 2010. However it is nothing compared to the Gong xtr. I thought it would be fairly easy i can however let you know that it is not. For anyone thinking of buying a SUP under 7 feet and also under 100l. be prepared for another steep learning curve. As these boards really are extreme Sups and your technique will need to change to get anywhere near the potential out of the board. The video above is of myself who is still learning the board. The video below is of Leroy Xavier who shows you how an Extreme SUP should be wridden. Same board just his technique is a lot better. I am not trying to put anyone off because once you get on a wave all the hard work is more than made up for. As the Gong 6.10 turns like no other Sup that i have seen.


Gong SUP paddle review. (Wave)

For about the last 4 years i have been using a Starboard full carbon wave paddle. With the largest blade that i could get my hands on. I have been using this paddle for wave riding and also distance paddling. The problem though with only having one paddle for all occasions is that everything is a compromise especially with the length of the paddle itself. For wave riding you are going to want a lot shorter paddle than for distance paddling. So i decided it was time for a second paddle.

a picture of a gongsup wave paddle.
The blade size gives you plenty of power on the wave

Fortunatly for me but not so fortunate for my age. I had a big birthday coming up. So my daughter Lisa and son in law Dan insisted on buying me a new paddle. With already having bought a board from Gong. The 6.10 fatal which is a cracking wave board. I decided to give one of Gongs paddles a go. At 139e for a carbon wave paddle this seemed the obvious choice. So i ordered the paddle which arrived very promptly from their warehouse in France.

A picture of the carbon shaft of the paddle
The oval carbon shaft is very comfortable and light in hand

Program :

Surf high performances. 100% dedicated to the glide and the moves.

Specifications :

Blade :
- Height : 45.7 cm = 18’’
- Width : 23.4 cm = 9’’ 1/5

Total weight for a 185 cm / 73’’ paddle :
- 727 g.

Price :

- Paddle Carbon Surf Cut & Glue : 139 € sold with the handle not glued.

Gluing option by the after sales GONG costs 10 €.

Order :

To order this product on line, please follow this link to :

Sizes :

Cut & glue :
Available at 215 cm long with the handle not glued. You can cut and glue it yourself to make it at your perfect length. Or you can ask to our after sale to do it for 10 €.
By this way you can be sure to have the exact length you need, 193 cm for example.

A picture of the head of the gongsup wave paddle
The angle of rake on the blade is just right for wave riding, Giving great paddle power to catch the wave.

This is the charte size to choose your paddle’s sizes.
Before, please, note these points :
- Usually, a small SUPer prefers the smallest size in the charte, the opposite for a tall SUPer.
- A shorter paddle than what this charte advise will be more maneuvrable on the wave and allow you shorts turns and to put more angle on the board.
- On hollow waves, use a shorter paddle to be closer to the face in barrels and to reduce turn’s diameters.
- A shorter paddle means more frequency but is painless for your shoulders.
- A shorter paddle is advised for short and thin boards. This charte is designed for beginners on a big board from 11’ to 12’ like a NFA 12’ for example. Please, reduce the size of 1 or 2 inches per foot less. For example, a 6’2 tall SUPer will use a 79’’ on a 11’ or 12’ board, a 77’’ on a 10’, a 75 on a 9’, and a 73’’ on a short board like 8’ or less. So it is usefull to ride a paddle of your exact size when your are an expert.
- A short paddle is great for windy conditions.
- A long paddle is so powerful and efficient for take offs.
- A long paddle gives you a better balance.
- The more your paddle is long the more “row effect” you have, so the most difficult is to paddle straight.
- You definitely need more than one paddle in your quiver : you can break it and you need to choose it regarding to the conditions of the session and save your shoulders.
The paddle components don’t change this charte.

- Paddle of 63’’ for a SUPer size from 4’7’’ to 4’10’’.
- Paddle of 65’’ for a SUPer size from 4’9’’ to 5’0’’.
- Paddle of 67’’ for a SUPer size from 4’11’’ to 5’2’’.
- Paddle of 69’’ for a SUPer size from 5’1’’ to 5’4’’.
- Paddle of 71’’ for a SUPer size from 5’3’’ to 5’6’’.
- Paddle of 73’’ for a SUPer size from 5’5’’ to 5’8’’.
- Paddle of 75’’ for a SUPer size from 5’7’’ to 5’10’’.
- Paddle of 77’’ for a SUPer size from 5’9’’ to 6’0’’.
- Paddle of 79’’ for a SUPer size from 5’11’’ to 6’2’’.
- Paddle of 81’’ for a SUPer size from 6’0’’ to 6’4’’.
- Paddle of 83’’ for a SUPer size from 6’5’’ and more.

The information above was taken from the Gong website.

A picture of the whole sup paddle
The gongsup Paddle is a great cost effective way of getting your hands on a carbon paddle.

So now to the important part what does the paddle perform like. All though being a bit heavier and the blade being smaller than my Starboard paddle. The Gong carbon wave paddle gives you plenty of power to catch waves with ease. The paddle is light and balanced in your hands making transitions easy. it also keeps your speed up when trying to make different sections and reforms on the wave.

Overall 4 out of 5, Only reason not giving 5 out of 5 is that the paddle could be a little lighter. This really is knit picking though. As if you are looking at a cost effective carbon wave paddle then the Gong should be right at the top of your list


Snowboarding in Milton Keynes

Still in Milton Keynes on our adventure weekend. It was time to g  o Snowboarding. Lisa,Lee,Emma,,Dan and myself were all up for this one. We were booked in for an hour and a half taster session to give us an idea of what Snowboarding is all about. Also to get us going down the slope in one piece.

we had a great time at Snowzone in Milton Keynes
The Snowzone arena in Milton Keynes is a joy with real snow toboot WAHOO

Snozone in Milton Keynes is such a good venue. You have real snow and a decent length slope to go down. So we were in for a treat. before we got on to the slope we were acquainted with our kit. This took 10 to 15 minutes. Then it was time to get on the snow. Apart from Emma we were all familiar with board sports. The lesson concentrated on getting us going down the slope on out toe edge. Starting with simply sliding down backwards. Which was more of a balancing act rather than Snowboarding. It did however teach us how to stop safely.

After we had all mastered sliding down baxkwards we got on to some traversing backwards and forwards down the slope. Which was much more like it as you actually felt like you were actually snowboarding. Unfortunately by the time we were getting the hang of things our time was up. Which definately left us wanting more. We were all agreed that this would not be the only time we would go Snowboarding so watch this space.