One of the great things about running Babel Fish is that I get to teach class in the morning, then, come the afternoon swell, take those same students surfing at the local break.
And this is Babel Fish’s unique premise: students Surf & Study with us…with me.
I came up with the idea as they’re two things that, aside from being passionate about, I am qualified to do.
As well as EFL quals, it’s accreditation as a Surfing Instructor and Lifeguard which ensure the school is immersed in both quality language teaching and the ocean that surrounds us here in Newquay, Cornwall.
Last weekend I successfully renewed my lifeguard qualifications – meaning another two years of waves with students from around the world. Thanks to Rhys and Chris at Water Skills Academy for putting us through another great refresher course and making sure we’re all able to offer the best and safest support to those in the ocean.
As Babel Fish will be closed until September at the earliest (see our last blog for more on this), I will be surf instructing at Newquay Surf School on Great Western beach (many past students will be very familiar with this school and fantastic break) and for Blue Surf School at Watergate Bay.
I’m certainly going to miss all the students who were waiting to join Babel this year – and coaching them in both English language learning and surfing. But, honestly, I’m looking forward to a summer on the beach: honing my own skills as an instructor and as a surfer.
Waves for Days
People come to surfing riding different grooves – and my journey had a choppy start…although surfing Down Under sounds idyllic, try learning on the wrong board and with the wrong accent.
But the waves caught me, as much as I slowly began to catch them: I was in – I wanted to surf.
Coming back to the UK, I travelled the South West in a dodgy camper van: surfing, working, surfing some more.
I’d always intended to head back east…to ‘real’ life.
In the summer of 2002, I packed up the van one blue-skied evening, ready to jump on the A30 – the main road out of the county and out of the salt-encrusted, beach-grime lifestyle of Newquay and Cornwall.
The waves were just too good, so I thought I’d jump in at Fistral for One Last Surf.
There are moments in life, I think, where you can almost see the metaphorical crossroads become literal.
I was out back, sitting on my board – an Ocean Magic, 6’2”.
Sunset. Soft swell under the board. Sea shimmering like myriad fish-scales.
All of a sudden, a pod of dolphins started jumping and playing in the waves! (For real, this actually happened.)
The A30’s black tarmac stretched north and east. I was due on it.
But for what?
Despite being far from ‘home’, I knew that in the water, in the bay, on the board…I was myself.
A different sort of life waited up country – but one that would ultimately only take me away from this true self; away from the things that brought me happiness.
So I stayed..and built a school that, I hope, gives students the easy sense of belonging I felt that day – in class and in the waves.
I’ve worked hard to be fully qualified to teach EFL, surfing and to keep students safe in the water.
Surf & Study: only at Babel Fish.
Keep it real, come see us soon.