A more glorious day on the South Coast does not exist. Temperatures in the 20s and not a cloud in the sky, I headed off to Poole Harbour for a Stand up Paddleboard lesson with Easy Riders. I was glad to grab a Costa drive-thru on the way for some caffeine-induced (as we say in opera) “coraggio”.

I had tried SUP before with friends but was keen for some pro tips if they would stop my knees from buckling in fear. Those of you who know me, know I like a challenge and to push myself out of my comfort zone but I still have to tell my body that’s what we’re doing, and it takes a while to catch on. I met up with an old friend who’d come to take some snaps and I chewed his ear off with nervous and incoherent gibberish.

As I waited on the harbourside, anxiously clutching my wetsuit, my teacher Dom approached, gliding effortlessly atop the water in a cap, sunglasses and neon shorts. Casually hopping off his board, he introduced himself and asked if I was planning on wearing the wetsuit. I muttered something about safety and was promptly informed that the only consideration was warmth and not to overthink it. In Dom’s inimitable words: “Grace, it’s not that deep.” Already roasting in my shorts and a strong swimmer (incidentally, far more comfortable front-crawling for hours in open water than wobbling about on a paddle board) we decided I’d be fine.

Dom gave an excellent, practical talk on the features and safe use of the board but I can’t recall a word of what he said in detail – I was beginning to question my choices. I’m pretty gutsy and will go in for anything these days but the problem is, I wanted to look cool from the off and I’m ever aware that’s unlikely to translate into my photos and videos.

Instructor explaining stand up paddleboard technique to blogger

Anyway, Dom was kind as I clambered aboard, initially kneeling. After what seemed like the blink of an eye, he suggested standing up. “This stand-up paddle-boarding instructor’s out of his mind”, I thought. But he’s a canny one and, after a few genuinely very helpful and easy-to-remember tips, he gave me a starter for 10 on opera. I was off, chatting incessantly about something closer to my heart and – whaddya know – before you could say “vincero”, I was on two feet and pottering about the harbour in Dom’s wake.

I spend my time at home in Dorset doing some lovely and enviable stuff – I waft about singing in stately homes, cycling the majestic Purbeck hills, running forest trails and swimming miles of our picturesque coastline. I can honestly say, this was up there with a stunning way to see this beautiful county at its best and with fellow musician, Dom, to chat to, I was in my element.

Ultimately, I got the hang of a few swanky ways to turn the board around and drifted back in without drama and, crucially, without falling in. With Dom’s help, I found my surf vibe, managed to stay chill and took it easy. He was so right: “It’s just not that deep!”

Two stand up paddleboarders in Poole harbour




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