The spice of our lives

Bruno Compagnet and Layla Jean Kerley share their experience of the principality of Asturias on the northern coast of Spain. An enchanting region which confirms that salty sea water and the sweat from a ski tour are a good mix.

I’ve been surfing this left for a while now. I tried the right, but it closed out… The left is long and a little soft, but I always end up on the sand. Sitting at the wheel of the van, I went on surfing it in my head.

Layla Jean Kerley

Ok! Are we going?”

Layla woke me from my daydream. Yeah, let’s go, before the wind turns and it gets too high. Before cerebral surfing overrides the reality of this 11°C water. I often wonder how she does it. The other day, I had to undress her because her hands were too cold, and she couldn’t take off her wetsuit or open the van. She was shaking from head to toe. But it takes more than a little cold water to intimidate a red-haired Englishwoman whose ancestors were probably burned at the stake during the Inquisition. Surfing on this wild and deserted coast at the end of February is very attractive. The rare beauty of the skies and a festival of perpetually changing light make entering the water feel like diving headfirst into the beauty of the world.

Bruno Compagnet

Far from the hustle and bustle of our modern lives and the artificiality of our permanent links across the web, surfing marks a break with everyday life. Being alone at the line up or at the top of a mountain becomes a quest rather than just a goal. For several winters now, we have favoured unexpected places at off-peak periods. Layla and I are not performance seekers, but we enjoy sharing our experiences and helping people believe in their dreams. These are part of the things that motivate us.

Surfing and skiing are my two passions in life, yet although I’m Pyrenean, I had never managed to combine both activities in a single day. The day before, after surfing, we had driven up a winding road through an isolated valley which we discovered in the light of our headlamps. The van was roaring up the road, struggling to cross a pass which bore no indication whatsoever as to where we might be. Finally, we reached a village which was already fast asleep. We waved goodbye to our hopes of a nice combinado dish (a simple and economical cooked meal). Later on, a man had driven up to us to ask if we needed anything or whether we were lost. At that moment, I think we had never been more so.

Layla Jean Kerley

Then, there was the day on which we took a small, vertiginous cable-car and skied a lovely white blanket of fresh snow whilst overlooking the Bay of Biscay, over 2000 metres below our feet. The Picos de Europa are not a major skiing destination. You can’t expect extraordinary skiing, but it’s an extremely wild mountain range which offers great opportunities and allows you to combine skiing and surfing in the same day. In mid-February, we were only a handful of skiers waiting on the platform of the El Cable lift station. Equally, we were only a handful of surfers waiting at the line up for the nice waves of Playa de Meron. To offer a conclusion, I would say that the place is wonderfully beautiful, the food is good, and the locals are friendly and welcoming. This trip was one of the most exotic of our winter and we left having enjoyed a complete change of scenery.

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