We interview Alexandra, from I Love The Seaside. With her team, they founded a small publishing company that makes travel surf books.
What's your background?
I’m a writer/journalist and yoga teacher. Before I started ILtS I was working on freelance assignments for magazines, newspapers and online, usually on health, travel or travel related subjects. Many moons ago, I used to be a tour guide for active travels. My two fellow Seasiders (we’re a team of 3) are Geert-Jan, who did sourcing and logistics for international companies, and is now doing research and production, and Dim, designer and artist.
When and where did you start surfing?
At my homebreak in Scheveningen, Holland! Our family moved from seaside port to seaside town when I was a kid (dad being a naval officer). But although I grew up at the seaside, I was already late in my thirties when I started surfing, and stoked from that very first wobbly whitewater ride. It’s surprising how many proper surf days we get, any North Sea surfer will agree we learn to appreciate any surf able wave the ocean produces.
Where are you currently living?
Here and there, haha. Geert-Jan (my partner) and me live in a van for about 7 to 8 months a year, our 2 Portuguese rescue dogs tagging along. But we also have an apartment near the beach in Scheveningen, which we usually rent out while we’re gone. This winter however we’ve rented a little apartment in the south of Spain, (surf break at walking distance) because during these Covid days it’s not allowed and doesn’t feel appropriate to move around much.
When did you get more serious and involved in surfing and want to create I love the Seaside?
Me and my partner were travelling in our van in the winter months some ten years or so, working from the van or sometimes renting a house for a long period of time. It slowly became apparent to me that surfers, and their friends or family that came along on their journeys, were sometimes unaware of what else there was to do, to see or knew where to find that special place for a coffee, and in that way could be supporting and getting to know local people, small businesses and learn more about the local economics, nature and surroundings.
How did you come up with the idea to create I love the Seaside?
There are excellent surf guides, like the Stormrider guides, the classics. But in none of these guides you could find anything else then the technical details of the spots. Because we travel so much and get to know so many people both local and travelling, the idea came to connect both. Surfers will seek for waves, here, there and anywhere. So, why not show them who the locals are and what else there is to do and see while they’re there!
What was your motivation to initiate the project I love the Seaside?
As I said, the main motivation is to connect the travelling seaside lover with the local surroundings and people. From the start we’re not about revealing any secret or unknown surf spot, they can either discover this themselves, or (better yet) just leave it to the local crew. We know surfers will always travel or hang out at and around surf able beaches and breaks. We’re only there to point out there’s so much else too, that’s our main goal. We do point out surf spots and their potential, but they’re the known spots (oh, I know, a secret spot is debatable, but let’s say, spots we think are not secrets, or too hardcore). You’ll find more spots in the Stormrider guide, that’s for sure.
Why is it important for you to share your passion about the Seaside?
To be honest, it sort of grew organically from being a passionate seaside lover, to sharing this love and discovering a large community that liked our ideas, lifestyle and tips. Now it’s becoming more important to protect our beloved playing field and source of inspiration. Finding ways of sharing the stoke, but also being very aware of what tourism and travel can cause both in a positive and negative way. Luckily, surfers and people who love the ocean are generally also pretty concerned and aware of environmental issues. This makes it easier to reach out and talk and exchange ideas. There are loads of initiatives out there already when it comes to greener wax, greener surfboards, greener wetsuits, recycling materials. And, for instance, accommodations and restaurants trying to be as waste and plastic free as
possible, using solar energy, saving water, etc. I’m pretty positive about it.
What's your best moment, memory you had surfing and traveling?
It’s a mixture of small moments, time spent in the water with friends, meeting new and incredibly welcoming people, our exploring excursions into unknown territory in Morocco for the first time, having a surf session at 10:30 pm in Norway because we still had daylight, discovering little gems in our own country, or nearby North Sea nations. But most of all the people we met on the way.
Business wise, because our guides can be used locally, and we only have small scale places and initiatives in the guide, I think it’s very contemporary, and what we all should be striving for. Less air travel till we’ve a solution for its fuel, appreciate what you have nearby, or when you do travel far away, try to stay longer than you would normally. But still, especially now that Europe is still in the midst of it, and we don’t know when travelling is going to be allowed, normal, a thing to do; it can be a puzzle as how to promote our guides, without rubbing things the wrong way. Like playing chess with a very unpredictable opponent, phew…tiresome at times, but challenging and keeping us sharp mostly.
With the Covid, what is it your biggest challenge ?
Do you miss travelling?
Well, the thing is, because we travel most of the year anyway did so for years for us to be spending a winter in just one place is refreshingly new, and therefore an experience well worth diving into, to see what comes out at the other end! So far, so good. Suppressing a little itching here and there, haha! What I miss most is meeting up with groups of friends, going for coffees without having to wear a face mask, a live music event, hugging people without feeling uncomfortable or unsure if it’s the right thing to do!
How do you manage to keep yourself motivated now?
Spending time outdoors always lifts my mood. Being in the water too, obviously. And always, always trying to think of the bright side of things. It’s something I force myself to do, because that’s the only way forward.
What are your future plans for I love the Seaside?
Funny how we started with the one guide to Southwest Europe, and now having 4 guides already (+ 4 Dutch language guides and a few updates already). We’re not able to do it all ourselves and always wanted to work with local people. We started collaborating with co-writers for our Great Britain & Amp; Ireland guide, that worked out great. Now we’re working on a New Zealand guide with a New Zealand contributor! We hope to publish this guide right before Christmas 2021, when it’s summer season in NZ. There are talks of a Chili guide, and if the New Zealand guide works out, we’ll explore other territories. California is on our wish list from the beginning, Australia maybe, who knows Canada? And, a contributor who loves the mountains started working on a whole new adventure for us, but, Covid happened. Postponed, not cancelled.
For our web shop we just started working with some of the artists and photographers who have contributed to our guide, or who we met on the way. We’ll be curating some of their work too.
What's your advice for other women who are just starting surfing and want to live by the Seaside?
Go for it, what’s holding you back? Learning to surf is a never-ending process, that’s what’s so good and yet challenging about it. Move in and out of your comfort zone, that’s how you progress. And as for living by the seaside, I think it’s almost everywhere the same; becoming a luxury. In our hometown I see that groups of likeminded peeps share a flat or house, they create new families so to say. That way it makes it affordable, and fun too.
I like surfing mid-lenghts and longboards, so as long as it’s not too hollow and has a bit of a wall and a beautiful backdrop, I’m happy! But some of my happiest sessions are at home with my friends, even in the crappiest of circumstances.
Your favorite surf spot?
If you had the opportunity to go on a surf trip, where would it be and why?
Ireland. Loved it! But the last time we were there we were working, researching for the guide and had to move on and visit places all the time. Now I want to go surf, hike, relax, go to the pub and meet up with the people we met earlier, and, err… hide for the rain.