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Entrepreneurship

Why Forge, Hammer and Anvil?

Today is a great day and I am very happy.

I quietly announced that my company, Beach.io, has acquired three small products: Hammer for Mac, Forge and Anvil, from the guys at Riot.

A few thoughts on Hammer

Back in 2012, Hammer was born with a flurry of excitement. Back from the initial commit by Elliott to the Hammer server-side repo on June 10 2012, up to the announcement pretty much bang on 6 months later that the app was flying

People loved Hammer. It was a breath of fresh air for Mac-touting front end dev's everywhere.

I know this sentiment very well. I wasn't the first user of Hammer - in fact after signing up for the initial BETA, I didn't quite understand what it was for until I really got stuck into the first release.

It was a REVELATION to me

I wrote this guide to Hammer back in September 2013.

Since then, I haven't done anything static that didn't involve Hammer.

  • I prototyped new UI concepts for Currys / PC World
  • I used it to build Brand Swatches and Style Guides for Breast Cancer Campaign
  • I prototyped early static screens and clickable prototypes for Nourish Care
  • I built and ran value proposition experiments and lead generation for Ferticentro
  • I built product websites for Nuwe, HealthHackers, Nutribu, Beach, Double Digital
  • I used it during Hackathons
  • I converted many themeforest themes into Hammer templates just so I could use them without drowning in long HTML files...
  • I converted the Startup Framework into Hammer templates

2 years after Hammer's first release, I'm still an active customer and user of the product. But the world of Developer Tools moves so fast. We've seen the rise of javascript libraries and frameworks, from Backbone to Ember to Angular to React and Mithril. We've all been struggling to keep up, to place our bets on what will stick and what will fall by the wayside. 

In this time, we've seen other tools with similar promise to Hammer rise in popularity as the products have continued to adapt as the development technologies we use have evolved. Codekit, LiveReload, PreProc, CactusCrunch and Koala to name a few. [Editor: See additional notes at the bottom of the article]

I've tried them all in this time, but there's something about Hammer that keeps me coming back.

But, it seemed something was not right with Hammer, the updates stopped coming. New releases were not made. All was quiet. Meanwhile...

A few thoughts on Forge

Having been a Hammer user since early 2013, when I found out about the new service from Riot, called Forge, I was keen to dive in. In October 2013, when Forge opened its doors, I was right there to give it a try.

I had been having a torrid time with basic hosting, using Fasthosts VPS. It had caused me no end of bother, considering I didn't really want to be doing hosting in the first place, but when you're running client projects, it's something you end up just doing to avoid the inevitable hand holding of a client-managed hosting setup.

So, as soon as Forge came out, I moved a number of my simpler static sites straight over. That wasn't before I'd also wrestled with Amazon S3 for static site hosting, and found updating S3 buckets, configuring permissions and Route53 settings to be a pig of a job for something that should be so straightforward.

That's exactly what Forge was. Dead, dead simple. Drag, drop and forget.

I remember getting so pee'd off with the whole thing, I even ran a couple of demo sites straight out of a public Dropbox folder, I mean, jeez - so when Forge released Dropbox (and Github) integration, I was like "...are these guys reading my freakin' mind?"

Forge is like a bit of a secret weapon for me. In a way, I never really wanted to tell people about it, like they would discover my kryptonite or something. I've hosted everything from coming soon pages, to single page web sites all the way up to a rather nice React app with Parse.com integration on Forge. It's not as "static" as you might think.

I always thought to myself, I'd love to have some products like these, Forge and Hammer are just awesome - amazingly well executed, beautifully designed, simple propositions which really do have an impact on the way developers work.

Since Forge was released, we've seen a number of other static site hosting services, none more significant than Github's own pages service. Then there's Divshot, BitBalloon, Roots, Netlify, Site44, Paperplane and Brace (acquired by Squarespace)

Once again, as I could tell that Forge was not progressing at the velocity that I had hoped, I tried all of these services, but somehow, kept finding my way back to Forge.

A few thoughts on Nuwe and Me

I am CTO and co-founder of a startup, named Nuwe, which we founded in 2014. I have a small tech company, a bit like Riot, called Beach and we specialise in web and mobile app development, mainly focussed on products.

At Nuwe, we are building a developer platform which provides a Platform as a Service for people making new mHealth apps and services. I love ideas with real Social Capital.

We were recently accelerated by Startup Bootcamp, as part of the Barcelona IoT and Data Cohort of 2015.

I come from a rich background of experience in running large and small projects, from PHP-based web apps, e-commerce and CMS builds to more recently, the last few years focussing mainly on Ruby (rails), Node.js and native iOS projects. I'm a developer, product manager, team leader, entrepreneur.

I have 2 small boys, 2 basset hounds and a very understanding wife.

With Nuwe, we've been helping 20 or so companies to build their mHealth apps with significant cost and time savings, during our closed BETA phase. What I've seen in this process up close, is that although the technologies we use to build products vary massively (a huge challenge for us being truly platform agnostic), that the real problem and barrier to growth comes with the understanding and application of the skills required to build and iterate on new ideas from the ground up. Those aren't technical challenges. They are a mindset barrier.

I've seen, first hand, the tendency to assume too much, to believe our own instincts and write feature requirement after feature requirement - often forgetting the real people who you want to buy the product and drowning behind the desk in the belief that what we're building is the right thing, the thing that people want. I've seen it with startups, indie developers and with large multinational corporates.

A big challenge for the creators of new Health services, apps and services in general for that matter, is in obtaining and practising better product development processes and that starts even before we even lay down one line of code on our product.

One of the best parts of the accelerator process for us, was to disconnect from the need to build software and reconnect with our audience. We designed, tested and iterated our value proposition over and again until we found something that resonated - in language, tone, style and structure. 

Doing that somehow free'd us to build later, faster and in a more targeted way. All we needed was a website, a view of the problem and way to communicate the solutions we had in mind.

Through all this, I knew we needed to help educate our customers to maximise the use of our platform and that we'd need to invest in the content and the tools to provide this.

The Convergence of Pathways

It was a chance conversation between myself and Elliott over twitter, since I knew of his move a while back to Dropbox, to ask him what his plans were for Forge, in particular, when we started talking about the future of these products.

Within a few hours we were talking about a deal that would see me take over the on going management of Forge.

And within a couple of weeks, we'd struck a deal for me to take over the ownership of Forge, Hammer and Anvil.

You see, Elliott and I have similar visions for the products they originally created. Elliott still has unfinished business for sure and so I was delighted when both he and Hector agreed to stay close to the products as key advisors and to share in any future success as the original creators.

There's a number of things that need to be addressed quickly, in my mind as a customer of the products and I'm sure you'll agree with those.

There's many routes that these products could take, and I'm sure we'll become more divided on those ideas as we progress, since the landscape is evolving all the time.

One things is for certain, these products don't deserve to end up on the crap pile. They're too damn good, too damn valuable and have too much bloody potential as yet unfulfilled.

My Simple Manifesto

I think that it would be rather premature to tell you what I plan to do, so it might make more sense to outline what I believe in.

Customer Service is Top Priority
One of the things I want Forge to be known for is Amazing Customer Service. It's going to be hard, we're a very small team to start with, but I see the potential for this product and I will do everything I can to make sure the service you receive kicks the cr*p out of the larger, less personal and more sales-driven companies. The service will be personal and the best way to reach us is via the new Intercom tool in your Forge admin area. Look out for this...
 

forge-intercom

Openness, Transparency and Collaboration
I'm going to bring openness and transparency to the roadmap, I want all of our Customers to have a say in the way that Forge takes shape.

Build and Enable Great Products
I believe in Products. And whilst Forge itself is a product, the customers using Forge are also building and promoting their own products. So I think Forge is a tool for creating better products and better businesses and this will guide what we do with Forge.

Simplicity Is Beautiful
I love simplicity. And that's why I love Forge and Hammer, it really was the easiest way to host and build my websites. Even so, some things are still not as simple as they could be and there's lots of things I'd like to add. Remembering this value will be crucial.

Social Capital is Really Important
I like working on things that provide an amount of Social Capital. If you're in Education or you're building products for Health, then I'd especially love to hear from you to see how we can help you further.


I'd love to hear your thoughts on any of the products, ideas you've been mulling over and waiting for over the past couple of years and your own visions of the future.

Follow Forge on Twitter

Follow Hammer on Twitter

Follow Anvil on Twitter

 

 


Edit: Thanks to @TheLoneCuber and Bryan Jones (@bdkjones) from Codekit for pointing out the potential for interpreting the article in a way that I hadn't intended.

It seems it could have been read that I was suggesting Hammer was the first tool of its kind in the market - that wasn't the intention. I was merely trying to make the point that since Hammer was released, other apps have continued to evolve and establish a place in the market and Hammer has not evolved at the same pace over recent months.

To clarify, and as both had pointed out, Codekit (thanks to Bryan's exhaustive and often entertaining public release notes) actually went live into Public Beta in November 2011 and according to the project's repo, Hammer's first commit wasn't until summer 2012.

 

 

 

Jimmy's Iced Coffee

Jimmy's Iced Coffee

I love to celebrate innovative, fresh business ideas - especially where technology is used to scale, distribute and optimise the customer experience. In particular, I'm very keen to support local businesses, in Poole, Bournemouth and the wider Dorset area and show the world that this part of the UK Countryside can mix it with the big boys.

So, I sent Ben to meet Jim Cregan, founder of Jimmy's Iced Coffee - based in Christchurch, Dorset.

IN THE BEGINNING || Jimmy's Iced Coffee

jimmys logo.jpeg

SO, LIVING HERE ON THE SOUTH COAST OF THE UK, I GET TO MEET SOME FASCINATING AND INTERESTING PEOPLE WHO HAVE SOME FANTASTIC STORIES TO TELL. ONE OF THEM BEING LOCAL SURFER JIM CREGAN.

Jim Cregan, a Dorset lad who spent his childhood growing up along the coast, watching and surfing the english channel most of his life and becoming quite a well known character in and around the area.

However Jim, like most of us Brits at some stage or another, had enough of our poor winter climate so decided to jet off to the other side of the world where he and his lovely lady Sophie would travel around Oz for a year. They bought a truck, converted it into their new home on wheels and hit the road. Magic. Loaded with boards, camping kit, stoves, music, wood and fire in their hearts they made it down to their favourite place in the world, Tasmania.

Alongside the wonders of the land, sea and adventures was a craze. The craze, "Iced Coffee". Jim fell in love with the stuff, consuming it when ever he could, after surf, while driving, as a hangover cure and for a lot of other occasions. He realised this epic product didn’t exist in the UK so he began contacting the Iced Coffee Companies in reach that he could franchise it. (although saying that, he had no idea what franchising meant).

After their mission and returning back to the UK to nothing but sweet and sickly iced coffee, he decided enough was enough. Jim persuaded his older sister Suzie, an endurance motorbike riding, charity fund raising legend and cafe owner to take part in the escapade to bring proper Iced Coffee to the UK. They both used her award winning cafe as a late-night laboratory, concocting all types of brews under the Iced Coffee umbrella until they found the right flavour.

jim cregan.jpg

Since the first lab session on that cold November morning in 2010, they have created Jimmy’s Iced coffee which you can now find and enjoy today. They sold their first carton in Selfridges London on April 7th 2011 and now have listings with Waitrose, Ocado, Welcome Break petrol stations, Budgens, WHSmith and a heap of wonderful cafes and delis across the UK.

I was lucky enough to get in contact with Jimmy himself about sponsoring me for my Longboarding and other activities that I get up too. I sent him over a couple of images, and Videos of myself and mates skating and he was quickly on side to provide us with a bunch of stickers, and a few crates of coffee for races and general riding.

thefamily.jpg

                                                                                  www.jimmysicedcoffee.com

Since then we have stayed in contact via social media and he’s a sucker for a good sunrise picture, so I occasionally drop him a photo of the sunrise in Poole harbour for his social media pages.

On Friday 31st I had arranged to take a trip over to the factory in Christchurch to catch up with Jim and to collect some more Iced Coffee for the up and coming races. The weather on this day was start of another storm on the way to the UK, heavy rain, strong winds, and traffic. I made my way over there and arrived at Jimmy's office and was greeted by his assistant (sorry can’t remember her name) she was busy doing accounts.

Jim got off the phone and we chatted about what I was now up to, where I was working, my longboarding, surfing etc.. We then got onto the subject of the company, and the next big step for them is to start shipping abroad.  He met a guy, who has sorted him out a container to ship in oversea’s. He has already shipped out to South Africa where the people there can buy his product.

As soon as the weather starts getting better, the plan is to head over to Christchurch and Mudeford where Jimmys is based and start filming some mini longboard edits and to get jimmy involved skating hopefully in his jimmy's iced coffee carton. RAD!

It was only a quick catch up as he was waiting for Dorchester Council to turn up for a meeting.

So, keep an eye out for his products on your local super market shelf, take a photo and tag @jimmysicedcoffee or #jimmysicedcoffee. He’ll appreciate it.

 

Schoey

 

Ben's Journey || First 6 Weeks at Beach.io

Ben's Journey || First 6 Weeks at Beach.io

Ben Schofield is a 23 year old adventure sports fanatic. From December 2013, Ben has started a new career in digital technology, startups and entrepreneurship. Follow this blog as Ben writes about his experiences, learning a new industry from scratch as an Apprentice to @r3trosteve

So on December 1st 2013, I quit my job within retail to start an "Apprenticeship"  with my eldest brother,  Steve at Beach (formerly Double Digital).

A long road ahead - learning, creativity, tea and coffee making and more learning. Where my brother is today, 3 years on after leaving his full time job, having increased his wealth of knowledge within the technical side of web design, creating, building, consulting and coding, and where he is today, is where I would like to hopefully be in the next 3 years. 

This meant I was going to have to throw everything at this, if I wanted to succeed and to prove to  Steve that I am able to make it profitable to have me working for him, I would have to load my brain with the necessary  tools that he uses to do his job and to do it well. 

 

Project Administration

So, first things first, Steve handed me the responsibility of his admin duties, uploading data from his project expense reports into the billing service which Freeagent offers. I have found Freeagent to be a fantastic program to follow the progress of our developers, most of which work overseas; its an easy way to log their work hours, and to keep a record of outgoing expenses and bills to clients. Social media plays a huge part of Beach, so using Hootsuite, which is a great program to have when you have multiple social media pages for various logins, which you can control all from page, so uploading relevant topics about social media, digital media to the Double Digital (@steve: Double Digital is in the process of being rebranded as Beach.io, references to both maybe used interchangeably) Facebook, twitter, etc, I found that I could kill too much time looking for a topic to use, so I needed to cut down on time spent looking through blog pages and websites to find sourceable information. 

@steve: distraction is a productivity killer. You need to be very disciplined, especially when doing research for social media or a project. The web is there to suck you in. Maintain a focus on your objectives and stick to strict time allocation for each task.

 

A few Programs I am using a lot are Elance, Odesk, Transparent business, Hubstaff and Freeagent. The first three are which we use for our developers so they can record their timesheets for us to see, to make sure that they are working their hours, on track with project deliverables and so we don;t have to keep interrupting them with constant status updates. They're very simple programs to follow, as it gives you the week and their total hours worked, which you can then go into a single day to see the daily hours where i need to then input that into Freeagent. I use Freeagent to input their timesheets so that when he need’s to, Steve can pay them. The only problem that I found, is when you click onto the developers work that they have been doing, its hard to see what the topic is, as i need to put a task into Elance, it can make it hard, so hopefully now the developers will start labelling their work to make it easier for us to see what task there on. 

@steve: Great point Ben. I need to ensure that there is a balance between accuracy of the data captured and balanced to ensure that it’s not getting in the way of the developers. It was easier when I was doing the admin work myself as I generally know what’s being worked on, but this isn’t scaleable and so more diligence in stating current Job Number, Job Title and Task in time tracking reports is necessary. I’ll raise this with the team.

 

Web Design Basics

Steve set me up with his Lynda.com Training site, This is a fantastic site to learn anything on the computer, my first training course was the HTML essential training course, this showed and taught you the basics of coding a website from scratch, It made sense to me that while learning how to code and build a basic website I may as well build something in which I could use in the future. Within this I found it’s very simple to make a mistake, in which it could cause the whole website not to work, so it was important to make sure you had all the correct coding in place, for example:

<h1 class="LR-site-title" style="display: none;">SILICON BEACH Labs</h1> <!-- This is correct. -->
<h1 class="LR-site-title" style="display: none;">SILICON BEACH Labs<h1> <!-- This is not correct. -->

In this example I have forgotten to put in the forward slash at the end of the closed tag, this is telling the website that it isn't closed so wouldn't format the heading. This shows it is important to make sure your work is neat, colour coded, and formatted correctly in order for your coding to work correctly.

@steve: Colour coding will be done automatically via your text editor, such as Sublime Text, which you are using. But, paying attention to the colour coding patterns will help you identify issues in your code. Formatting your html is also very important, particularly in static sites where you may end up with lots of html code in a single document, making it hard to read. A nice article here

 

From this HTML course I moved onto Essential CSS training, which I was looking forward to as design, art and graphics are what I enjoy most. To be able to learn how to format and design my page into how I would like it to look was very interesting and meant I was able to play around with photoshop, illustrator, and After effects.

 

Throughout the learning of html they kept referring to a “stylesheet” which they had not explained and I didn't know why I didn't have a stylesheet - this confused me. I then learnt that while building your html you start to build up a stylesheet in which you can use to make formatting your pages similar otherwise you would have to go through every page of your site and format the coding, whereas if you have a stylesheet it will make all the headings the same, the paragraphs the same, etc etc. 

So for example: 

class.mega-title h1 {
padding: 0;
margin: 0;
font-size: 40px;
font-weight: normal;
font-style: normal;}

@steve: can you amend your above example to valid CSS please. Check class selector . notation and remember to close it properly.

This is just some example of formatting in CSS, this says that all H1’s should look like this, which you can easily go into padding or font-size and change the value off.

Marketing Essentials

I have also briefly been looking online marketing essentials on Lynda.com, The marketing funnel is a consumer focused marketing model which illustrates the theoretical customer journey towards the purchase of a product or service. 

 This an example of the Nutribu funnel that I created this to show how many installs, register, and profiles are being generated through our app, out of screen is a table to show figures. I will be looking creating some Facebook and Google ads as well as some A/B testing.&nbsp;  A/B testing is where you send out either 2 of the same emails, newsletters, or something similar but you may only change one factor, that could be a “Click here” button to a “Press Here” button or “Sign up now” to a “create profile” button, you would then send the two out to your client base and see what gets a better response.  I am currently still working through the course for essential online marketing tools, and will come back to add more about this in the near future.&nbsp;     GRAPHIC DESIGN FUNDAMENTALS  My favourite thing to be doing is being creative, whether that's with a pen and paper, or painting, so I really wanted to get to grips with Illustrator, Photoshop and After Effects, so once again I found myself back on the Lynda.com website on each other essential learning courses, taking notes where I thought was appropriate to help me learn. I have past experience with Photoshop, I dabble with it now and again on my Ipad, and computer but never have I got looked fully in depth with the program, I look forward to continue to grow and expand my knowledge of these 3 programs to help me progress in my career, creating me more work opportunities in the near future. The most difficult thing I find at the moment within Illustrator is when drawing paths, I find it difficult to remember where the anchor points should be, and and which direction to drag them to create a curved line.&nbsp;  Overall, the last 6 weeks has been a real eye opener for me, I am thoroughly enjoying the learning and find it very mind stimulating, However I will look forward to some extra work from either Sergio or Nuno, which will increase my wages.&nbsp;

This an example of the Nutribu funnel that I created this to show how many installs, register, and profiles are being generated through our app, out of screen is a table to show figures. I will be looking creating some Facebook and Google ads as well as some A/B testing. 

A/B testing is where you send out either 2 of the same emails, newsletters, or something similar but you may only change one factor, that could be a “Click here” button to a “Press Here” button or “Sign up now” to a “create profile” button, you would then send the two out to your client base and see what gets a better response.

I am currently still working through the course for essential online marketing tools, and will come back to add more about this in the near future. 

 

GRAPHIC DESIGN FUNDAMENTALS

My favourite thing to be doing is being creative, whether that's with a pen and paper, or painting, so I really wanted to get to grips with Illustrator, Photoshop and After Effects, so once again I found myself back on the Lynda.com website on each other essential learning courses, taking notes where I thought was appropriate to help me learn. I have past experience with Photoshop, I dabble with it now and again on my Ipad, and computer but never have I got looked fully in depth with the program, I look forward to continue to grow and expand my knowledge of these 3 programs to help me progress in my career, creating me more work opportunities in the near future. The most difficult thing I find at the moment within Illustrator is when drawing paths, I find it difficult to remember where the anchor points should be, and and which direction to drag them to create a curved line. 

Overall, the last 6 weeks has been a real eye opener for me, I am thoroughly enjoying the learning and find it very mind stimulating, However I will look forward to some extra work from either Sergio or Nuno, which will increase my wages. 

Fidgetstick - Under New Management

As you may recall, I sun-setted my social network for adventurous people, Fidgetstick, after a few years of trying to figure out how to build a business out of a verticalised social network.

The lessons were plentiful, the mistakes were hilariously obvious, the product was crap, the intent was genuine, the execution sadly lacking.

Mobile technology was nascent, social platforms were not so widely adopted. Timing was wrong. I didn't have the technical, design or product skills I have now. I didn't truly connect with the market.

But I have some unfinished business, and to address that I realised that someone else would need to continue my mission - their mission, with some help and guidance. 

I'm pleased to say that someone will be my younger brother Ben

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He's a young, passionate adventure sports enthusiast - kayaker, climber, activity instructor, long boarder. He's a little illiterate (excuse his text speak, I will knock it out of him). Mostly, he's passionate, honest and determined and for me that's good enough. Everything else can be learned.

Ben inherits an existing community of 12,000+ adventurous people that are on Facebook and will reignite the activity around curation and distribution of the best adventure-sports related content from around the web, topical discussion and leverage the power of community to return value to its members - through exclusive offers, discounts, prizes etc. that community members will delight in.

As Ben gathers insights from his own experience and from interactions with the community, we'll start to plan what the next version of Fidgetstick should become... 

A community hub?
A store?
A micro-site?
A tool?
An information repository?
A media sharing site?
A product?
An app?
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Right now, we're not guessing. But we are hoping that by restarting the conversation, getting excited about the outdoors, being adventurous, pushing the boundaries, scaring ourselves, trying new things with new people, we'll figure out what challenges lie ahead. and how technical solutions can help.

If you have any thoughts, tweet @fidgetstick  or 'like' the facebook page and join the conversation.

 

The Surfer - An Analogy of Entrepreneurship

Sergio Mottola is a good friend, an inspiring entrepreneur and has a wonderful eccentric Italian flair for a good analogy. I'm actually on a skype call to him right now, starting to type this post before I forget it.  I've embellished his analogy in my own way, for the purpose of an original yet inspired post.

Here it is.

Being an Entrepreneur is like being a Surfer. 

At some point in my life, I simply have to grab my board and hit the sea, hoping to catch a wave. 

I'll enter the water with bravado and intent, a vision of my perfect wave etched in my mind.  Clasping my board under my arm, I stride ahead into the shallows before lunging onto the board head first. The icy cold water gets into my collar, first the trickle down into the small of my back,  across my chest and down my legs. At first it's shockingly cold, and I wonder why I decided to get up out my nice warm bed at 7am and hit the beach.

I'm still feeling the bite, as I glide across the frothy white shallows and into the first set of small breaking waves, slipping past surf-schoolers, body boarders, stag weekenders, newbies, the too old and the too young. I get mixed up in the noise, dodging the oncoming traffic, distracted by the odd hello, even less small talk and wetsuited beauty to frequently to efficiently push through.

But eventually push through I do and as the wetsuit is starting to warm up, I've cut through the initial reticence and I'm optimistic about what lies ahead. There's a little spray off the surface and the sun is starting to break through the morning mist. Life is good and we're pushing on.

And WHAM! 

I'm hit with the first of a new incoming set. It's a different experience to the smaller frothy white stuff I'd seen others happily satisfied playing around with in the shallows. No, this wave had a presence and a sense of raw power that, although you expected, you are never quite prepared for.   

I'm initially knocked from the board. and I feel the leash pulling against my ankle as I hope there was no-one behind me and feeling the repercussions of the surprise attack that took me completely off guard. It's ok, no lasting damage. I regain control of my board and lunge atop, square myself up and paddle head on into the oncoming breaking set.

This time, I'm a little more ready. I spot the wave a little earlier, it's bigger than that the last, but at least I'm prepared. I pull my body forward and push down on the nose of the board, as the wave tries to lift me and duck down into it gathering body of water. I feel the pull, it lurches me and I'm a little off balance, but I'm able to relax, retain control and surface the other side of the wave, keeping forward momentum and pushing on. 

This time I'm totally ready. I spot the wave early. I'm carrying good speed across the water. I've timed it perfectly to duck dive as before, finely adjusting my body position based on the feedback I'd received from the last dive to further improve my hydrodynamic qualities.  

Just as the wave approaches, I spot out of the corner of my eye, the fast approaching outline of someone rising from their board, taking to their feet and settling into an attacking stance. I turn to get a clearer view. This throws my body off balance slightly and the board lurches to the side. Still the oncoming board approaches and headed in my direction. I start to panic as I continue to lose balance whilst trying to calculate the course and trajectory of the surfer headed straight toward me.  

I take decisive action. I grab the board and turn sharply to the right, as the surfer gathers onto me and before I know it has carved straight past. Side onto the wave, my board gets hit full force onto the widest part and it forces me off and tumbling over with the wave. I can't fight it, I let go and again, feel the snap at the ankle as the leash once again gets its tensile strength tested.

Eventually, I regather, realign and press on. I'm much more adept with my duck diving. I can spot the on coming traffic more readily and take earlier action to avoid or deflect the uncontrollable instances of those ahead of me choosing to take their shot and come straight towards me. They're not aiming at me, they;re taking their shot. They've waited, they've been through the same waves as I have. They've earned the right. 

And now, as I break through into the calmer swell, hanging out the back of the onslaught, I take a moment to catch my breath. My shoulders ache from the paddling. I need some time. Time I now have.

Watching the horizon, I have a picture of my wave still in my mind from the moment I set foot into the water. Even through all of the turmoil and tribulations, it's still there. And now I wait.  

The first wave of the new set gets me excited. I paddle hard as it approaches, keen to jump straight on and ride it all the way back to shore. I forgotten the battle that I had to get out here in an instant and all I can think of is how I'll paddle hard for 10 seconds, rise triumphantly to my feet, gather speed as my board and I descend the face of the wave before leaning onto the right edge of the board and carving back up the face to the crest.

I'm still paddling hard as the wave rolls quietly underneath, not enough to even think about grabbing me and the board and taking us forward. I stop paddling, cuss myself of the naive over exuberance, turn and reclaim the distance I'd just lost out of pure innocent excitement.  

There's quite a few more instances of misjudged, misaligned, frustration-driven attempts to catch otherwise seemingly suitable waves but for whatever reason, weren't the one. Some would pick me up enough to get a quick thrill, others continued to roll innocuously underneath the board. 

And then, after all the waiting, the failed attempts. It's here. It's really here. This is it, this is the one.

Everyone else around me is getting excited, they sense it too. The change in expectations is palpable. Readiness in unison and boards turn, bodies lie flat and assume attack positions. Peering over shoulders, the wave forms perfectly behind us and we start to paddle. We're jostling a little, trying to get our right of passage, the etiquette of the wave in place early to avoid conflict. For others, no matter. This is an opportunity not to be missed. 

It's coming... 

I start to paddle hard, my shoulders feel strong and I quickly gather speed. The adrenalin is overcoming the fatigue of all the earlier attempts. All the pieces are in place, these are the perfect conditions - the perfect wave, I have it all planned out. I'd rehearsed it over and over in my head. This is my time, my wave, my destiny. No one was getting in my way. 

Shit. 

Just as I start to get gathered up by the wave, I feel the leash gather around my ankle. It feels awkward, but I think I can still carry on. I'm on the wave, now's the time to stand up and be counted.  

FUCK. 

The damn leash is not only wrapped around my ankle, it's caught on my board fin. I can't stand up. I'm half up, I'm off balance. I'm holding the board one foot is up, the other off the back of the board, flailing mercilessly behind.  I'm off balance, but the sheer perfectness of the wave takes me on, gathering speed as I battle in ungainly majesty to stay on the wave. But, I'm doing it. I'm still here. I look a sight, but I'm heading towards the shore. I've got one leg tied up, I'm off balance, but I'm riding the wave.

It's hard, but the velocity and raw power of the wave takes me on.  And on. 

I must look frickin' ridiculous. 

As the wave finally comes to a rest, I gather myself, untangle my foot from the lead, unstrap myself and raise the board up under my arm. I walk from the water, tired, excited, thankful but somehow unfulfilled. It could have been better. I can improve. 

Just then, the wind picks up. A gust of unnatural energy blasts through. The cute blonde who is trying to elegantly and swiftly change her swimsuit under a careful placed towel comes a cropper, as the towel blows away down the beach leaving her exposed and embarrassed. I smile and walk on, thinking about the next wave I want to catch and how next time, it could be even better than the last.