Slack Water.

The 31st of December can feel like slack water –  a precariously short period of time when things are still before the ebb and flow of the rhythm of our everyday existence. Whilst “the stand of the tide” is free of stress, New Years is unlikely to be. That said, it does provide a natural time to reflect, to look back before turning our gaze forwards to the hopes and fears associated with 2016.

A year ago, I was musing that 2014 had seen many of those of us who were regularly meeting together relocating elsewhere. From a period of being gathered we became scattered.

2015 has been a year where I have spent much less time on the blog. But as I stared at the sea this morning, my mind was running over a surge of things that have happened this year.

Five years after I was first invited to join Christian Surfers UK (CSUK) at their annual leadership conference in Croyde, North Devon, 2015 saw Michael join me as a second CS Scotland rep. We had a wonderful weekend hanging out with some of the most genuine people I have ever had the good fortune of carving out time with. Each year the return pilgrimage provides a weekend that I feed off for the whole year. There is time to plan the year ahead and it is amazing to see how hugely respected and valued CSUK is throughout much of the UK Surf scene. We are involved in almost every notable surf event that happens, often working behind the scenes and helping to ensure that events run smoothly. Our reputation has been built on transparency, servanthood and only talking about our faith if invited to. Hopefully that is becoming increasingly clear to those in the Scottish surf scene too and any suspicion about us is being replaced with favour.


Another organisation we have sought to champion these past few years has been The Wave Project. They use surfing as a way of helping excluded young people grow in self confidence. This year we were able to gain access to the amazing building associated with my own church community, Central. They let us use a meeting room to help the Wave Project run an orientation training event for new volunteers. Shortly thereafter, we hired out the main auditorium with its huge screen and sound system to show “Beyond Sight”, a unique film about a blind Brazilian  surfer called Derek Rabello. The story that unfolds reads like a who’s who of mainstream surfing with the likes of Damien Hobgood, Laird Hamilton, Rob Machado and Kelly Slater amongst others playing way more than cameo roles. The film was really well received and the event drew over 80 surfers along and helped us raise £492 with 100% of proceeds going to the Wave Project. You can watch a trailer for the film below.


The late spring saw us road-tripping the length of the country to see fellow surfers, Switchfoot play live in Sussex and Edinburgh. We got a little chance to talk surfing in Scotland and some of the things we get up to.


July usually sees a crew of us making the trip down to Cornwall for the CSUK annual gathering. Michael made the journey on behalf of the team this year and had an inspiring few days with folks from all over Europe. As a family we stayed put this year as we’d been invited to the wedding celebration of friends who run the local surf school. It was one of the most beautiful evenings of the exchanging of vows I have ever witnessed.


July also saw us relocate to Dunbar as a family after 20 years of living in Edinburgh. That was something borne out of a clear nudge at the end of our inaugural SUrf Camp (something Scripture Union asked us to explore developing and delivering) in 2014. Talking of which, SUrf Camp 2015 was a lot of fun. We had 50% more young people attending this year. C2C provided amazing surf instruction and the rest of the team helped us offer a wide range of activities each day. As I type these words, booking is just about to open for SUrfCamp 2016.



Upon arriving in Dunbar, we were stoked to see three other members CS Scotland all relocate here too over the summer. Another amazing family connected with CSUK are currently exploring a relocation from Cornwall to join us in 2016, so we’re excited about what might unfold between us all and some others who already live here. In the meantime, we’ve kept our monthly rhythm of Soul Sundays on the first Sunday of each month where we simply throw out an open invite for brunch at our house before hitting the beach. Hopefully those days just provide time and space to hang out and deepen friendships and to do life together.


September saw us run another surf movie night at Central. This time we opted for the iconic Endless Summer with 100% of the proceeds going to the Scottish Surfing Federation to help them get the Scotland Surfing Team to the EuroSurf 2015 contest in Morocco where they did us proud. Close to £400 was raised.


September also saw an invitation to help facilitate a talk at the third Q Commons Edinburgh event. The themes from the various speakers were anchored in: staying curious, thinking well and; advancing good. It was an honour to discuss “Changing Lives Through Surfing” with Jamie from the Wave Project.


October brings school holidays and the opportunity for some of us to make another trek to Cornwall for the Jesus Longboard competition. Sadly, this year the charts and forecasts went against us with a lack of contestanle waves resulting in the rescheduling of the comp. That said, a good few of the crew had already booked accommodation in and around Polzeath. We ended up having a great family holiday whilst also spending lots of time with the wider CSUK family.




October saw theUK Pro Tour weave its way up to Thurso.  Once again, CSUK were invited to help with the organisation. Daren, Andy and Robin made their way up to serve hot food and drinks to competitors, judges and spectators alike. They had a great trip and, as always, it was a delight to offer a place to stay on their way there and back.



I say it all the time, but one of the things I love most about surfing is the people whom I meet through it. About five years ago we met a family from outside Glasgow who pitched up at one of our beach days. We’ve kept in touch over the years and it has been a privilege to watch their own journey. It was nothing short of an honour to learn that they had all recommitted themselves this year and to be invited along to hear each of their stories of the difference that really finding a faith of their own has made. What a beautiful thing to see an entire family decide to be baptised last month.


So, as this year ebbs away there is much to be grateful for. As 2016 arrives on the horizon, there is much to be excited about.

Happy New Year.

Stay stoked,





Food For Thought.

They say that there is no such thing as a free lunch.

I suspect that most of us have found ourselves in a position where an offer of lunch becomes transactional rather than relational by virtue of some other agenda, subtle or brazen. Then there are those other unexpected messages we get asking if we have time for a coffee or to grab a bite, the acceptance of which interrupts and brightens our day. There are also those very special moments when we glance around a table and realise in an instant that what has happened that evening is so much greater than the sum of good company, food and drink.

Our dining-room table is undoubtedly the most treasured possession that relocated with us from Edinburgh down the coast-line to our new home.  It’s a large hunk of wood that has weathered spillage, our childrens’ developmental artistry and much wiping down over the years. But, it is also the place where tales have been traded, friendships birthed and nurtured, victories celebrated and losses mourned.

Four or five years ago we started trying to put some new loose rhythms into life. One of them was to throw out an open invite on the first Sunday of every month. The idea was to simply enjoy time with whichever sets of friends or acquaintances wanted to take us up on it.

With the pace of life being such as it is I am a firm believer that we need to slow down from time to time, to create time and space in order to taste and see and savour life afresh – a mini sabbatical of sorts and a chance to enter a fresh week from a place of rest rather than after collapsing into a heap from exhaustion.

So, as we increasingly feel at home in our new surroundings, we are trying to re-establish that rhythm – to throw out an open invitation pointing towards the open door of our house. It’s an invitation to friends old and new, to those in and around our new geographic community and to those from further afield. There will be hot and cold drinks, pastries and other food available this Sunday from 10.30 and plenty of space for you to bring other stuff to share together over brunch. We’ll probably wrap up and head down to the beach thereafter as is our habit to continue our conversations on dry land or out in the water.


See you then?


Gathering Of The Clans Rescheduled.

Following on from the previous post, this weekend’s Gathering Of The Clans surf event will NOT be happening due to the forecast. It has been rescheduled for the weekend of 24th/25th October – so, please get that date in your diary.

All the info is here.

Q Commons and The Ocean Film Festival will, however, still be taking place in Edinburgh this weekend. It would be great to see you at either or both!  All the info is here.


Something for the weekend?

Ok mes amigos, there’s a host of good events happening in and around the East Coast of Scotland later this month so I thought I’d give you a little heads up.

Firstly, on Friday 25th September my friend Duncan is hosting the third Q Commons event. These nights are really stimulating as a variety of speakers (3 global talks via video broadcast and 3 delivered locally) address means of identifying and advancing the “common good” in our cities and cultures. My mind was buzzing after the last one I attended as I engaged with a bunch of topics and discussions that I may not have dealt with otherwise. Oh, and I’m helping deliver one of the local talks this time around with Jamie Marshall of Wave Project Scotland. All the info is here.


Secondly, Belhaven plays host to the Gathering of the Clans surf competition on Saturday 26th September. This will be a great chance to compete, spectate and socialise. All the info is up on the Scottish Surfing Federation website which you can connect to by clicking here.

Gathering of the clans

And, as if your weekend wasn’t looking busy enough already, then there is the awesome Ocean Film Festival screening at the Festival Theatre in Edinburgh from 7.30 that evening. It promises to deliver a wonderful evening of ocean cinemography. Click here to get the low-down and tickets.


Ocean Film Festival


Now, that’ll give you something to tell your colleagues about when they ask what you’re up to at the weekend?



Go, Scotland – go, go, go!

A huge “thanks” to everyone who turned out for our Endless Summer fund-raising film night at Central Hall, Edinburgh last night.


We hope that it created some time and space to catch up with familiar faces, put names to other ones and enjoy a classic surf film whilst raising funds for the Scotland Surfing Team.


We were stoked to have Phoebe Strachan and Robby Robertson along to chat about what it’s like to be in the Team, what lies ahead at the EuroSurf 2015 comp in Morocco and the role of the Scottish Surfing Federation.


A huge “shout out” is also due to Will and JaneAnne from Staunch Industries who somehow seem to find time between designing the livery for the new Borders Railway-line train, a host of beautiful items available via their on-line shop and kitting out the Scotland Team.


There are still a few days left to place orders for the next run of Scotland Team T-shirts and hoodies with a hugely generous 50% of the sales price going to support the team. You can check that out here or here


With 100% of the money taken at the door or for drinks and home-baking going straight to the SSF to administer on behalf of the Scotland Team we are  delighted to announce that £386.32 was raised on the night.

Thanks one and all.

We hope the Team are feeling mucho aloha from back on these Scottish shores.


Endless Summer Fund-raiser for Scotland Surfing Team.

We’re so stoked to be able to provide a rare chance to see surfing’s most iconic and timeless movie in a great venue, on a huge screen and with awesome homebaking. Entry is by donation with 100% of proceeds going to the Scotland Surfing Team for the EuroSurf 2015 contest.


Whatever you’re doing on Saturday 5th September – if it’s not this, then it’s time to change your plans! The film will appeal to surfers and non-surfers alike and is suitable for all ages.



Want to get ahead?

This is a thing of beauty. This is home. Scotland’s for me.

Thanks, as ever, to the wonderful curators and cultural anthropologists at huck magazine for sharing.





SUrf Camp 2015.

It’s hard to believe that it’s a year since I sat here typing words about a seemingly hair-brained idea that birthed a new friendship and a commitment to launch the inaugural SUrf Camp back in summer 2014.

Twelve months on and the lure of adventure, coupled with a large dollop of providence, saw a hand-picked team of awesome volunteers and a bunch of amazing teenagers from across Scotland, the South of England and, even, Switzerland immerse themselves in the antics of SUrf Camp 2015.


We had 50% more campers than last year, which meant splitting the group into morning and afternoon surf sessions and simultaneously running a menu of activities back at camp.  I have a great selection of polaroid pictures in my mind of: an impromptu ceilidh; some dare-devil sand-dune surfing; an innovative home-made water slide; a crazily competitive game of girls against boys football with the biggest inflatable ball known to man; faces exhausted and crying with laughter on inflatable obstacle courses;  a large aerial art-attack project involving squirting paint from a zip-wire slide; exploring some trails on mountain-bikes; learning as Alasdair from Surfers Against Sewage presented about the problems of marine litter followed by everyone rolling up their shirt-sleeves only to be dumbfounded at the amount of micro-plastics we found on a, seemingly, clean beach.

Most of the teenagers hadn’t surfed before and it was awesome to watch the daily Go-Pro footage of how everyone gave it 110%.  Whilst the filming from the start of the week would be appropriately sound-tracked by “Wipeout!”, the confidence and ability of the group improved markedly by the day as the waves also got bigger. There were big smiles, slides, glides, hi-fives and a few impressive tricks in the “expression sessions”. Then, of course, there was a memorable coasteering session where people launched themselves off rocks in to the sea.

Personally, I took such delight in watching some of my friends at Coast 2 Coast surf school invest so personally and to offer such specific advice and encouragement to each individual.  It was really awesome, once again, to see people from different parts of my life coming together to help make something good happen.

The theme of the week was “I Am Here: Here Am I”.  There was a recognition that just because someone attends a Scripture Union holiday, it doesn’t mean they necessarily share the same experience or beliefs as some others on the camp.  With that in mind, our evening sessions considered stories from the bible involving water and people’s encounters with God at those times.  At first glance many of these stories sound like the childish things many of us associate with Sunday School involving the characters of: Noah; Moses; Johah; Jesus and; Peter.  The aim was to explore how we interpret those stories and to see what application there could be for life in our very different looking society today.  As well as exploring these ancient stories, most of the team leaders briefly shared something of their own stories too – some of events over many years, some of occurrences in recent days or weeks or months. Those stories were left to drift during the week for people to explore or dismiss.

We had small group times each evening where we chatted about life and encouraged a natural conversation about how the themes of the week were engaging with people and what they themselves thought. We were there to listen as much as to talk and I think those times were precious.

The week ended, as all such weeks should, with a ho-down late at night on the beach with a camp-fire blazing and sending embers and sparks skyward like our thoughts and hopes and fear and dreams and prayers.

It was so good to work in partnership and a huge thanks is due to everyone who got on-board.  As the Christian Surfers UK motto for 2015 reads, “Working together: achieving more”.

This little video edit prepared by JW ought to give you a flavour of things.

Till next year – stay stoked!



“…Your word is a lamp for my feet and a light for my path…”

Every now and again God gifts me a lived-out experience of an abstract concept within his word. We recently had one of those times, and I am still learning from it. Mostly I have been realising afresh that following Jesus means that the step of obedience is the one just in front of me that I can see. I am learning to take one step at a time, and to have faith that the one beyond will reveal itself as I take that step. Here’s the story:

The wedding party was over but still a few of us lingered, and so the bride and groom led us smilingly into the dark summer’s night. Each of us held a small lantern, a candle glowing and flickering within, and each of us tucked a log under our arm, carrying our share of the load for the beach campfire.

As we left the street and found our way onto the rough footpath, we fell into single file as the grasses rose high on either side. Away from the streetlights and into the dark we went. The lanterns soon became the sole light to guide us by, only casting enough of a glow to illuminate our feet and the heels of the person in front. Distant voices at the front of the line called encouragement and direction, but their words were lost on the gentle wind and in the swish of the high grass. Voices from behind joked and teased, wondering if anyone knew where the beach was. Laughter and merry banter trickled up and down the path, and soon we found our rhythm. Those ahead would call out warnings to those just behind:

– watch this wee rabbit hole – there’s a big hummock of grass – mind this drop coming up – here, take my hand – this patch here is a bit slippery – take it easy here – you’ll be fine if you follow me –

And each in our turn would pass the guidance, the direction, the call for caution, to the one behind, each in our turn leading where the next would follow.

The lamplight burned low and the vast wetland before the beach stretched blackly all around. The night had reduced all to deep blues and the indefinable colours that light’s absence can create. We only knew who to follow, we only knew that the next step to take was the one we could see, right before us.

As the candles became dim we joked nervously about finding our way home once the sun rose again.

As the candles became dim we muttered, wondering when this had seemed like a good idea.

As the candles became dim we grew uncertain of our footing. Who was it leading us? Could we really trust them? Did they really know where they were going? Because we couldn’t see more than our toes, we couldn’t….

…and then I stumbled, foolish and distracted. I stumbled when I stopped looking, and the ground and my feet lost contact with each other, and I lost contact with the feet in front of me, and I lost contact with… and then I was up. Laughing again at my own foolishness, suddenly resolute, I paid attention.

Somewhere along the way grassland turned into sandy dunes of marram grass and then there it was.

The sea, there, waiting for us. Just where it had always been, suddenly obvious. Suddenly the route made sense and with relief we cheered and joked. Of course, of course we’d made it.

We lit the fire, we threw our carefully carried logs on and, with the shared joy of passing a shared test, we smiled at each other across the flames.



P.S. If you like what you see here, then you can find more reflections from a variety of voices in our home church congregation by clicking here.



This Saturday the Wave Project in Scotland teamed up with the Scottish branch of Christian Surfers for only the second Scottish screening of ‘Beyond Sight; The Derek Rabelo Story.’ This movie tells the incredible story of Derek Rabelo who was born blind in Brazil to a surfing family. This did not stop Derek from getting in the water and the film describes his remarkable journey from learning to surf in Brazil through to getting barrelled at Pipeline. The night was an incredible success with inspiration being found both on and off the (HUGE) screen. It is even rumoured our gruff Scotland coordinator was spotted with a few tears in his eyes. The night also provided a platform to present what we do at the Wave Project in Scotland to many new individuals. With the kind of support we received on Saturday the future of the project in Scotland looks very bright indeed.

Finally a massive thank you to Brian and the team at Christian Surfers Scotland, not only for putting on an incredible night, but for raising an amazing £492.29!!

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