This weekend felt exciting, important and somewhat seminal. We hosted our first ever CS Scotland Gathering in Edinburgh and it left me rather moved on more than one occasion to see these faces gathered from across Scotland looking back at me.
We kicked the day off with a great breakfast spread.
Then we launched into a sweet little two-minute video that Anna had put together. You can watch it on the link below and I’m sure it’ll make you smile whilst also giving a good snapshot of how things have looked for some of us as individuals and as a group this past little while.
Jaci helpfully shared some thoughts about the sea as a metaphor for life. Whilst the photo and film above show lots of smiling faces, the conversations over hot and cold drinks and tray-bakes at various points throughout the day also covered the reality that life for many of us has also thrown a few punches this past year. For that reason, amongst others, I know how grateful I am to have friends and people I know to varying degrees who share similar passions and with whom I can walk through life or wash off the troubles in the sea. Jaci encouraged us to leave some of our baggage at the door.
Throughout the day, we were grateful for the time and space that Josh so helpfully enabled us to carve out in order to process some of what we were thinking about.
We were really stoked to have Johnny Hillman of CSUK travel up from Cardiff to spend the weekend with us. He told the extraordinary story of the humble beginnings of CS in Australia in the late 1970′s and how the organisation has grown exponentially and globally since that time. Johnny then very helpfully unpacked what some of the core values of CS are and why – what it is and what it is not.
After lunch, Michael produced a map of Scotland. We identified recognised surf spots and surf communities (being sure not to disclose secret spots!) by placing a series of red dots around our cold-watered shore-line. Our CS Scotland Facebook group now has about 65 members, many of whom are fairly scattered by geography. He then encouraged us to place yellow dot stickers where some of these folks were based. It was interesting to see where clusters are located and also how many of the established surf spots had “yellow dots” close to them. Then we placed a green dot on the only place where there is an established group of us meeting up regularly to hang out, share food, socialise, read and talk about the bible together and to do life with one another through the highs, the lows and the in-betweens.
It was a hugely helpful illustration of what things look like right now. It will be a useful resource to revisit in the future to see whether any of the “traffic light colours” change in different areas. It was clear that this was not about pushing an agenda or forcing a belief system – quite the contrary. Many of our own experiences of CSUK have been ones where servanthood has been modelled well. Many of us have witnessed first hand the menial tasks of providing hot food or drinks at a host of UK Surf Contests from the UK Pro Tour in Thurso to the Boardmasters in Newquay through to the vibe at contests such as the Longboard at Polzeath or the Classic in Croyde. If you need any convincing that CSUK are a genuine and non-threatening bunch, then Tom Anderson’s book, “Grey Skies, Green Waves” ought to allay your fears. Personally, having loved his surf books for years I was privileged to meet him at a CSUK fund-raiser in Cardiff last year. That particular evening, Tom also gave an address as a non-believer whose own religion was surfing. He enthused about the role that CSUK plays in so many areas of the UK surf scene and why he thinks it is such a great organisation.
After lunch, we reconvened and I took everyone on a canter through 1000 years of surf history and 40 years of Scottish surf culture. We began to explore some of the trends emerging within surf culture. We then focussed on the somewhat selfish nature of it as a pursuit. Whilst surfing was once thought of as counter-cultural, it has become fairly mainstream. Just look at how frequently it is mined by marketeers. Our attention was then directed to how we can actually operate in a way that is counter to the culture, more selfless in a way. How can we create and contribute positively to that?
As the afternoon drew to a close we watched a very moving video involving pro-surfer Dave Yearwood. I’d really encourage you to watch it and I reckon that the 22 minutes or so you invest in it will be well worth it. I found it hugely powerful and you can check it out by clicking on the link below.
The intention had been to spend the evening chilling and watching surf movies. We ended up assembling a VW Camper-van tent, ordering in Chinese take-away and flopping on bean bags, eating, chatting and laughing. Someone described it the next day as the perfect end to the day and having felt like “family”.
On Sunday morning, Johnny and I fired up the engine of Davina the camper-van and parked her up outside Central Hall. We followed that with the pleasure of Jaci’s aero-pressed coffee and cooked breakfast complemented with a good side portion of banter at Team B’s flat.
Then a good core group of us reconvened at Central for their Sunday morning service where Johnny and I had the opportunity to talk about CS and some of the things that had come out of the Gathering.
There was an open invite to those who wanted to come back to ours for soups, bread, cheeses and a host of left over baking from the day before.
By mid afternoon, a few of us were beginning to wilt from too much time spent indoors. So, with Magic Seaweed having been showing that it was totally flat on the East coast, we wrapped up and headed off for a stroll along the beach at Portobello.
It was a perfect way to unwind in one another’s company and even involved a serenade on the famous piano that has been gifted in recent weeks to the people of Porty.
We finished the afternoon off with a good old blether over hot chocolates in The Espy.
It really has been a wonderful weekend.
Thank you to everyone who came. Thanks also to: Shirley for capturing so much of the day on camera including many of the photos included here; Laurie for welcoming people, scribing and for her signature Nutella cupcakes and; to everyone else who baked, contributed or who put in so much effort behind the scenes. For those of you who were unable to make it, we trust this gives you a flavour of things and we’d love to see you at our CS Scotland Gathering next year!