Chicks on Waves Portugal. A Surf & Yoga Retreat

Summer feels like it is just around the corner as I sit here today prepping for tomorrow’s wedding, my first one back into the season. As I always do in the days that lead up to every wedding, I am a tumble of anxious nerves. Shooting a wedding is like nothing else I have ever done. I love every second, but my drive to do the best job I have ever done means my tummy fills with butterflies. I believe that it is an important part of my process to feel this way. It makes me a better photographer every time.

As I look down at my diary I see that it is filled with beautiful weddings. A summer filled with trips around the country and even abroad to shoot them. I am excited about all the amazing people I will get to meet this year and I am excited to be getting back into the swing after a winter being holed up in my little home, happy and content in this corner of the world that I love to live. A part of the world I have always known was home.

I look out my window at the sea and I am distracted by the surf. It is glorious today. The sea is the most beautiful colour, the waves look wonderful breaking across the bay. Since Easter, Fistral has been filled with learners again and its fabulous to watch. I made a commitment to myself when I moved to Cornwall that I would learn to surf and this winter, I made that happen.

I am a bit of a wuss so the idea of walking into the freezing Atlantic here off the coast was too much and so instead I decided to pack bags and head to Portugal. Still the Atlantic, just a little warmer I hoped. There I went on a surf and yoga retreat with the amazing, Chicks on Waves Portugal.

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A perfect winter escape to the sunnier climates of the Algarve. Katrien and her partner Niek have set up a wonderful retreat in the hills for any one wanting to get away from it all. I chose a weeks, all girls surf and yoga retreat. Intimidated by the idea of fully throwing myself outside of my comfort zone just by being away alone, I felt I needed to be surrounded by likeminded women rather than amongst men with something to prove!

After an epic journey from Newquay to Faro, I got the train to Lagos and on the way met fellow chick, Veerle. We got chatting and made our way to Figuera to meet Katrien together. Both Veerle and I arrived a day earlier than the others so we settled in and enjoyed a chilled out sunday at our accommodation at One Life Lodge and on the beach at Salema before a weeks worth of exercise!

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Day one was epic. After starting the morning with yoga and a healthy breakfast, we were picked up by our surf instructor Marta and headed to the beach.

I can honestly say that learning to surf is one of the most amazing, intimidating, exhausting, addictive things you can do. But you have to be prepared to leave your dignity on the beach. Never before have I swallowed so much salt water, regularly landed on my ass, had saltwater go up and down my nose until it burned like hell, been beaten up by incessant waves regularly and not known which way was up in my life. After a couple days of trying, the feeling of standing, albeit briefly, is THE BEST. After 5 days of yoga and surfing, I felt stronger, fitter and more confident. Healthier and happier. With new friends and suntanned skin, I left Portugal with a promise I would be back.

Now to carry on. My wetsuit is bought and now to be brave and go searching for the perfect board in some local surf shops. And then throw myself into the freezing Atlantic…. I can’t wait!

Although I took my camera, I used my iPhone a lot on this trip, as I tend to do when I am travelling. So follows a few images from my time with Chicks on Waves… most of these are iPhone with the odd non iPhone for the days I was not near sand!

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