Get ready for a swell time! The World Belly Boarding Championships (one of our all–time favourite family days out in Cornwall) are riding straight for us on the crest of a wave.
This year’s 14th annual championships take place on Sunday 7th September on Chapel Porth Beach, St Agnes. With cake, fancy dress, a great beach, good old-fashioned wooden belly boarding and ice-cream on offer, what more could you want from a family day out?
And if you don’t yet know how much fun the whole family can have with vintage bathing dress and a piece of ply each, then allow our friend John Isaac to tell you.
John – father, style master, photographer, dungaree-enthusiast and collector of fine boards (belly and otherwise) – takes his good wife Elly, son Ed (nine) and his twin daughters Amelie and Gracie (seven) along to the champs most years.
“The belly boarding champs are held wholeheartedly in the spirit of a bygone age,” he says, “back when having fun at the seaside didn’t need to involve a skip load of plastic.
“The ‘competition’ is delightfully non-competitive. And what’s interesting about belly boarding is that it’s a fantastic way for all ages to interact and play around together in the sea.
“Belly board is being kept alive by the older generation, but it’s great to see the young ones discovering how much fun a person can have sliding shore wards on a slither of ply – whether you’re eight or 80.”
John’s son Ed was four when he made his belly boarding debut at Chapel Porth.
“All my children enjoy it,” says John. “They’ve all got their own boards, which they’ve painted themselves.
“That’s another lovely thing about wooden belly boarding – the boards are so personal. When they brought in the plastic boards, they weren’t so personally customisable, and we started to lose that make-do-and-mend mentality that taught children to look after and really value their belongings.”
John’s whippersnappers, as you can see from these photos, are as sartorially-minded as he is, but what child doesn’t love a bit of dressing up?
So dig out some woollen bathers, plus fours or a swimming hat festooned with flowers, pack up your picnic and your parasol and get ready for a good, old-fashioned family day out in Cornwall.