25 June 2017

Guide to Learning to SUP in Weymouth & Portland

If you follow me on Instagram (@becky_wren) you’ll know I post a lot of pictures of my horses when out in the Dorset countryside, Alfie dog antics, park-running & SUP’ing.

Last autumn I bought a second hand inflatable Fanatic SUP (Stand Up Paddleboard), & now seem to be a bit of a ‘go to’ person in my circle of friends when it comes to SUP questions! Although I’m still very much an amateur, I just love talking about SUPing!

So, I thought I’d share some of my local Dorset knowledge on where to learn to SUP in Weymouth & Portland.

What is SUPing?

SUP or stand up paddle surfing, is exactly what it sounds like. You stand up on a long board, pretty much like a surf board but bigger & more buoyant & use a paddle to push yourself through the water. SUPs come as hardboards or inflatables. Inflatable SUPs are better for beginners & easier to transport. Hardboards are great when you get into competition racing or down-winding.

Where to go SUPing in West Dorset / Weymouth & Portland?

If you’re keen to go ‘SUPing’ but never been out on one before, you can either just hire one & give it a go like I did many years ago or join a class or have a 1-1 – which I’d recommend!

Weymouth Watersports

First of all, it’s really easy to find. As you head out of Weymouth towards Portland, Weymouth Watersports are located at the Ferrybridge Boat Yard & more importantly right beside Billy Winter’s café/bistro, so you can reward yourself with a coffee or pint of cider when you’ve finished. It’s also great if you have friends/family who don’t want to get out on the water, as they can spectate or take photos! There’s also paid parking which is about £1 for an hour.

Richard & the team are super friendly & stock inflatable SUPs, kayaks & wind surfing equipment.

I’ve been to Weymouth Watersports numerous times over the last few years mainly because of the location & easy parking. You can go out for an hour by yourself or join one of their fitness / SUP yoga classes at the weekend. They will also stay open late if you ask them nicely & last year for my birthday I organised a mid-week after work SUP followed by pub grub over at the Cove where you can watch the sunset.

1 hour hire = £12
Fitness class = £10 for an hour
SUP Yoga = £12 or £6 if you have your own board.

Always check with the team on their Facebook page, as the good old British weather can mean that some days it’s a bit too windy to head out.

Adventure 4 All

Alex from Adventure 4 All is one of those people you meet who everyone wants to be mates with. He’s super chilled & makes SUPing fun – which is what it should be all about. He also offers a great range of water based activities from SUPing, kayaking to coasteering.

I first met Alex at the Jurassic Club SUP Christmas SUP last year, where we SUPed from Greenhill, around into Weymouth Harbour, moored up & had a mulled wine / cider in one of the pubs & then SUPed back.

If you’ve been SUPing a few times, I’d recommend joining the Jurassic Club SUP who meet every Wednesday at 6.30pm in a Weymouth/Portland location & head out for about an hour finishing off for a pint in a local pub or if it’s a beautiful sunny evening bring a drink to have on your SUP at sea! There’s no better way to finish an evening after work.

Alternatively, you can join one of the SUP classes on a Sunday or hire a board throughout the summer.

1 hour hire = £10; 2 ½ hours = £20
SUP Flex & Skills & Drills on a Sunday = £10 or £5 if you bring your own board 
Jurassic SUP Club = free if you have your own SUP or £10 to hire & includes wetsuit

Jurassic Coast Activities

Based over at Overcombe Corner by Café Oasis in Preston, makes Jurassic Coast Activities another great location to combine a SUP & coffee on the beach.

This is the place I learnt to SUP with my friend Helen back in 2010. We were both into our water sports - surfing & kayaking, so just got on & hired one board & had a go. I don’t think we really had a clue what to do or even which way round to hold the paddle. Which is why I’d recommend having at least 1 lesson or joining a fitness class to pick up some tips!!

For prices head to the website & give the team a call.

Other Top Tips:

109 Watersports
Callum & Sara at 109 Watersports are really helpful. They stock everything you need for SUPing & also give great advice on where to go SUPing.

Easy Riders
Ready to go exploring outside of the Weymouth/Portland bubble? Join the Easy Rider SUPers over in Poole who go out in the week evenings & weekends. You can take your own board or hire one. I went for a SUP last November in Sandbanks & met another bunch of friendly people.

If you fancy a weekend away with some top tuition check out Lucy McCormick’s SUPFit Facebook page. I was fortunate enough to have some amazing tuition by one of the UK’s top female SUPer's Marie Buchanan last October down at Wimbleball Lake in Exmoor which got me hooked & resulted in me buying my Fanatic board from Lucy.

Photo Credit: SUPFit

Do you like SUPing? Where do you go? Anyone SUPed abroad?

Also, if anyone has any SUPing questions, feel free to drop me a note at becky@countrybumpkinchic.co.uk or on my Country Bumpkin Chic Facebook page.

05 June 2017

12 things I've learnt whilst Animal Sitting!

My folks are currently having a lovely time sunning themselves in Crete. To help them relax even more & not worry about the animals I volunteered to house sit & look after the two horses – Barley & Jonty, & our very excitable Sporting Lucas x Sealyham Terrier Alfie. I might not have lived at home for a decade, but I do help in the evenings & weekend. How hard could it be looking after our own animals?

6 days in & we’re all still alive…. here’s what I’ve learnt so far:

Looking after animals is tiring. 5.40am alarm calls to start the morning routine & Alfie is the equivalent of the Duracell bunny on the go from the moment he wakes until he’s put to bed in his cage.

My mum was right about the cockerel. Crowing at 3.41am on my first morning was a shock to the system. 3.41am!! That’s just obscene.

I appreciate everything my Dad does. The mucking out, feeding the horses, making up hay nets, helping walk the horses up & down the road. & at the age of 66 & still working as a full-time architect, if he could fly, he’d probably be Superman.

Alfie loves attention. There’s no chance of getting any time to yourself with Alfie around. So much so, I’m typing this blog from the bedroom.

Ticks are in abundance this year. & you can’t leave them clung to the animals for fear of Lyme Disease. The O’Tom Tick Twister has been my best friend, once I found the pack instead of using my tweezers!!

Haylage bales are heavy. It took me & my best friend, Rachel, to give the bale a good heave ho into the barn. [Note: small child was not fed to the horses!]

Don’t leave anything you value unattended. Otherwise, they might just get chewed. Amongst a sea of tat from the tack room, Alfie took a liking to my French Connection sunglasses & ¾ of them are still missing in the garden somewhere?!
No need to go to the gym. Every day is a workout from squatting to pick up poo, lifting haynets to running after Alfie is a workout in its self. On the plus side, it means I don’t have to worry about eating an extra cake or biscuit this week.

The horses are well behaved around children. On Saturday, we had a fun morning introducing Evie & Jack to the animals. The horses were impeccable, less said about a very excitable Alfie the better. Jonty was on licking form & a shy Barley was happy to pose for photos.

Running for errands. Trying to fit in an evening run has been tricky, so I tied it in with a short run to the field to hunt for Jonty’s fly mask.
Riding out is even more blissful. Escaping for 45 minutes on Barley or Jonty is not only good exercise but also for the soul. It's great to get a moment of peace & quiet before heading back to the mad house.

Jordan from Hounds & Hooves is fab. Thankfully I’ve had a helping hand during the week turning the horses out in their field & walking Alfie at lunch. Not only is she brilliant with all the animals, but a jolly lovely person too!  

I’m sure by the time my folks return on Wednesday the list will have grown with more tales from the mad house!

Does anyone else have any fun tales from looking after pets?