A late swimmer, I am the one in the slow lane doing breaststroke with my head held high, counting the lengths until I get out and warm up with a coffee.
So, it came as somewhat of a surprise when, during our holiday last week in beautiful Cornwall, that I put my book down, hired a wetsuit and jumped in the sea with my sons.
Two hours later, and still as warm as toast, I handed the suit back to the staff and gave Lucas his body board back as we booked a surf lesson for the following day.
I am not sure whether it was the fact the cold water couldn’t penetrate the 5mm thick neoprene, the faces of my sons as we laughed and jumped through the foamy waves or a feeling of freedom that got to me first, but that afternoon was a real turning point for me.
As my husband and I chatted in Watergate Bay Hotel later that afternoon, he admitted he never thought that he would see me embrace the water with such ease and to smile with sheer enjoyment at being in the water.
We have been together for nearly two decades, so I can see where he was coming from but after a few sad events occurring around me in recent weeks, I decided that it was time to stop sitting on the sidelines and actually get out there and have some fun. We live in Devon, we are close to the ruddy red sands of some great surfing beaches and only an hour from Cornwall, so why didn’t I make the most of the opportunity and get involved? The truth was, it was only my laziness and a fear of going under the water, that was holding me back and on reflection, they were both pretty rubbish reasons.
The next morning, with my own suit and matching shoes on (there are somethings I just can’t shake off) and butterflies in my breakfast full tummy, my elder son and I went for our first lesson. While it was mostly made up kids, there was another mum in the group with her son and a young couple who were starry-eyed and on a mini break (my thoughts not their words). I will be honest, I enjoyed the warm-up session and the theory, but once we were in the water I forget everything the smiley instructors told us, was hit by a wave and swallowed more sea water than advisable.
As the youngsters were gliding through the water I was there like a trying to ‘catch a wave’ like a pensioner tries to catch a bus, only to go down again and again and yes, again.
By this time my husband was there with the camera eagerly waiting to see us perform perfect ‘bottom turns’ but I wasn’t feeling the love. Part of me wanted to give up, get out of the water, get back into my Jack Wills hoodie and finish reading ‘The Break’, but my stubborn determination wouldn’t let me.
I went back into the water, not so deep this time, got on my board and went into the waves.
Again and again and by the end of the lesson I wasn’t just on the board, I was standing on it and not falling off.
The feeling was amazing.
My smile was huge and those feel-good endorphins were pumping around my body.
Even thinking about it a week on makes me want to do a small dance because I didn’t think I would ever do that.
I can happily write blog posts and books, set up charities and bring up my sons, but surf, me, I didn’t see that coming.
During the rest of our holiday, we got back into the water each day and loved it more and more each time.
We arrived home with tans, boards, and wetsuits and a passion in our souls for being free in the water has been unleashed.
We have a whole summer ahead of us to explore the beaches and get wet in the waves and I really cannot wait.
We are even going back to Watergate Bay Hotel in December for our wedding anniversary and with thermal jackets and a whole world of winter accessories to keep you warm, I may even jump into the water in the winter and try some of the moves Eddie and I are looking at on YouTube.
What I know is that life is short.
Things can change in a second.
Lives can stop and loves can be lost.
I don’t intend to sit back and miss anything else that could bring me and my boys happiness and great memories, even if the laughs are at my expense!
I hope you don’t either.