Sam was just a little excited when Wavelength Surfing magazine asked us if we would like to take the whole family to Surf Snowdonia for a few days! The idea was to see what a 'family surf trip' to this artificial wave in the Welsh mountains would actually be like? For me though... i must admit, i was a little more sceptical... i have been on quite literally hundreds of surf trips with Sam over the years and have loved every minute of it. But when you throw a young family into the mix (cue Huxley age 7 and Raphael age 4), it can be a little more, how shall we say? challenging? its kinda handy to have half decent facilities to hand (i.e near a washing machine, loo, kitchen, possibly TV?) - you're preferably on a warm beach, with waves and a little flat lagoon for the kids to play in, maybe a beach cafe that serves sun downer cocktails? You don't want to spend hours in the car looking for waves... and so on...
So, as i say, the prospect of a long car hike through the winding Welsh mountains in May (not summer), staying in a pod (I was not entirely sure what that was) and surfing this artificial wave on demand (holy crap, i'm definitely going to stuff that up) and just for a few nights (surely not enough time to actually unwind?) and on top of that Lewis and Matt (Wavelength's trusty photographers) are going to shoot the entire trip...argghh, no pressure then... so all this didn't really have me jumping for joy... don't get me wrong, i was really excited to see the wave, its just i thought the whole thing would probably end up being a bit of a mission... Sam would get his surf on, I would flounder and we'd kind of wait around... so onwards with a bit of trepidation then...
Off we go!!! whoop whoop...
Wee stop... AGAIN!
I really should also mention that we were given a spanking new Peugeot 308 SW GT to test drive... the kids went exploring straight away!
...they found secret passages and corners...
On the roof, headphones on of course, chain grease on the trousers is a fair price to pay for the best view at the services.
This is the view from INSIDE the car... I know - our minds were blown too!
A boot with a view...
These pods cost £100 a night for 4 people - and that includes a full english breakfast - so £25 a head for glamping by the waves... it felt like good value.
The guys at Surf Snowdonia have just opened these giant TeePee's with adjoining hot tubs, imagine having the venue to yourself for a sophisticated hen/stag do, birthday, wedding maybe - everyone staying in the pods, party in the tents and the waves just for you and your friends... could be epic!
Home ... the grass is so green because it's astro turf... no mud, no worms, always lovely underfoot! Sam is threatening do our whole garden in the stuff!
The view from the inside out. Waves come as standard!
... from the outside in! Simple, sparse, nordic - but somehow after the initial heart drop when you first walk in - with 4 bags - it soon becomes home ... and you fell sorry to leave. A couple of hooks, some shelves and I'd be totally happy!
The kids playing 'chicken' with the perfectly timed waves ... it's so nice to see them coming - no sneaker sets!
Raphael loved her independence - bombing around the Lagoon - look at that face - as if she would ever get into any trouble... lord help us! It was actually a real revelation - our kids had such a sense of freedom around the lagoon - we put them in bright coats and then we could watch them all the way round - either from our pod or the restaurant - the staff were super friendly, fantastic with the children - which allowed us to really relax.
Raphael " oooh is he going to catch it??"
I'll let sam talk about the wave... Sam "it takes a couple of waves to get the hang of how this wave breaks... but once you get it figured out it just becomes super fun. I loved the consistency, the shape and the speed of the wave - you have to surf it like a zippy little 'down the line' runner at your local beach - if we had waves like this at our beach every day I certainly wouldn't be complaining!"
Hannah "I loved the fact that there was always a gap between the waves - you just had so much more time to get ready for the next wave. There was no chop or weird rips or currents - it just felt more relaxed than surfing in the sea."
Sam "One of the hardest turns to do on this wave was the humble 'round house cut back' - the wave is just so quick and there is not that much room to get out onto the open face - I tried to get as close to the pier as possible - think I might have heard my fins delicately stroke the mesh fencing once!"
Hannah - "I loved being in the water with the whole family at the same time... it was such a pleasant, stress free vibe."
Sam "the early bird get's the glassy first wave of the day!"
Sam "I was so proud of Huxley ... the little man really had a good dig - I think if we spent a bit more time here it would help his surfing so much... we'll just have to come back soon!"
Sam "shark's eye view* "
*there are no sharks in this Lagoon - just so you know!
The kids enjoying the evening calm...
The 'boardwalk' that surrounds the lagoon is 700m of pure temptation for anything on wheels. This building houses the restaurant, the surf shop, the surf school and hire, and also the crash and splash lagoon as well as the soft play area ... as I said - plenty of action for everyone.
The food at Surf Snowdonia was delicious - and the chefs were super nice - making changes or special requests without batting an eye ... but sometimes after a full day of action all you really want is a pizza that is bigger than your head followed immediately with a crash and burn - right there at the table - Raphael ... out!
Hannah "When you wake up in a cool little pod, looking like you have been dragged through a hedge backwards, dying for a wee, and the boys are hanging out on your doorstep, dressed and ready to shoot. "
Down time... it's really worth bringing some entertainment for the kids - they loved nesting down in their den and unwinding, shattered after a day of action...
Liquid gold in the land of dragons and waves.
Just as we were leaving, Huxley spotted an old disused steam engine ... he loves trains - and obviously asked if we could take it home - Raphael was happy to just scale the barbed wire fence!
... and then, all too soon, it was time to pack up and head home.
We had such a lovely time and I really want to thank Andy and the whole team at Surf Snowdonia, what you guys have created is bold and amazing and I can't wait to come back again soon. Thanks to Peugeot UK for the perfect vehicle to complement our adventure - and also thanks to Lewis and Matt and the team at Wavelength Surf Magazine for taking such fine action pictures and making it all happen in the first place.