By Freddie Anderson
So winter has come just as John Snow said it would, not an easy time for outdoor instructors. All the great ideas we had for the off-season are hopefully taking shape, with people going away to the upside down half of the world or heading to the mountains. Or, if you're like me, you can barely afford to keep a roof over your head, let alone go away anywhere nice. So, what to do? Well I've found myself living in the village of St Agnes, heart of the infamous Cornish "Badlands". Although the village is actually very lovely and so are the people so things could be worse really. The trick now is finding winter enough work, usually from various sources in true Cornish style, to keep you fed and put petrol in the car for surf missions. Simple right? Think again.
Cornwall is not exactly renowned for its career opportunities and thriving industries, which leaves fairly limited and low paid options. So I find myself faced with the depressing reality of having to apply for the sort of jobs I became an outdoor instructor to avoid. The shops, bars, offices and building sites which seemed a world away back in August, are now the only hope of surviving the bleak winter months. So you take a job in Ann's cottage or a pub or something similar and at first it seems OK, after all, you know it's not forever. But as the weeks go by you realise this is going to be harder than you anticipated for one simple reason: you know you can do better.
Not very long after this the gloves and twat caps were out in force.
Maybe some of your new colleagues have done a bit of travelling or a ski season or two and can sympathise with your total lack of enthusiasm, or maybe you're surrounded by people who never had your same vision of a life of excitement and adventure, never wondered about the big wide world outside their home town, or did but never had the initiative or courage to try. This just makes things worse for you as you know there's a better life out there, you know what you can be. Just a few short months ago you were jumping off cliffs while battle-hardened military dudes looked on in awe, changing the lives of young people through surfing and now you're getting told off for forgetting to offer a customer a bag for life, or not knowing the difference between a merlot and a pinot noir. What a difference a season makes.
The consolations are, pumping surf; free beach car parks, no traffic, binge watching Game of Thrones, twinged with that tortuous knowledge that there is something better waiting out there for you, and this menial labour will not last forever. I know I'm not the only young instructor in this position, so anyone reading this who can relate, keep your heads up, enjoy stuffing your face with comfort food, ride the winter waves and don't lose hope, for spring shall come again and we'll all be moaning about wetsuit rub, holiday traffic and if we are lucky, sunburn.
Freddie has now moved up north, where Outdoor Adventure LTD have been lucky enough to scoop him up, good luck Freddie, come back to Cornwall soon!