Here I am back in England. Jet-lagged, moi? Not a bit of it. It's perfectly normal to be wide awake, wanting breakfast, or lunch, or supper, and writing a surf blog, at 1.30 in the morning. So, without further ado, here is a handy conversational guide to what to expect on your North Shore trip. (Buttons is photographed but lest there are any misunderstandings this Q&A did not take place with him.)
What part of Australia are you from?
I'm not. I'm from England.
You're from England! Awesome! It's cold there, right?
Yes, it can be a little chilly. But not where I live. I live in the tropical bit.
Tropical England? Which bit is that?
Cornwall. It's on the end and sticks out into the Atlantic. There's a palm tree in every garden.
Awesome! I know where you mean. You can surf there, right?
Correct. But we surf elsewhere, too. Scotland, for example, has its very own North Shore.
But dude, it must be freezing.
It is bit chilly, yes, but modern wetsuits are amazing. You can be warm even in the snow and ice.
Dud, you English are hardcore. I've heard of people surfing in the cold but in snow? Man, that's gnarly.
Thank you. But talking of gnarly,the surf you've got here is impressive. That Pipeline wave of yours is three times bigger than anything in Cornwall even when it's flat. As for Waimea when it's working, it is a leviathan among waves.
You English talk kinda funny. Love your accent, though. How're you finding life on the North Shore?
Expensive. A pack of ground coffee in Foodland is $14.00. That's more than double what it'd cost in the UK. But other than that, it's amazing. It's like being on a film set. World class surfers amble past and tear it up in front of your eyes. I've lost count of how many surfing super-heroes I've seen, or stood next to in Foodland.
Bro, everyone surfs here. Did I tell you I used to be a pro?
No, you didn't. But tell me, if I wanted to paddle out at Sunset, or Pipe, or Backyards, or Velzyland or Aint's or Off the Wall, would I have a hope in hell of getting a wave?
Sure, bro. If you show respect and patience you'll get your waves. Not as many as the locals, but you'll get some.
Acutally, I have a bad neck [cue tedious digression to explain cervical myelopathy and ACDF].
Dude, that's gnarly. Maybe you shouldn't be surfing. Shouldn't you quit while you're ahead?
Possibly. But I'm definitely not up for Pipe, unless it's flat. I would probably die. Is there anywhere mellow I can surf?
Sure. There's Chun's Reef or Sunset Point. Beginners can learn down at Haleiwa where Buttons has his surf school. There's also Kuilima Point, at the Turtle Bay Resort.
Yes, I surfed Kuilima Point already. Is it part of the seven-mile miracle?
No bro, the seven-mile miracle runs from Waimea to Sunset. But it's still a North Shore wave. When did you surf it?
A few days ago.
Wasn't it flat then?
Er, some of the sets were well over head high. What would you call that on the North Shore?
We'd call that flat, or maybe a foot. But well done, dude, you rode a North Shore wave! Stoked for you!
Thank you. I have to say that you Hawaiians are a lot friendlier than I'd been led to believe. The surf media portrays surfing on the North Shore as taking your life into your hands not just because of the more challenging surf than Brits like me are used to be but also because of endemic and very heavy localism.
Localism sucks, man. Here it's about the aloha spirit. Give love and get love back. That's the Hawaiian way.
Does that really apply in the line-up at Off the Wall?
Not always, but you get the idea.
I do. Be patient, show respect, and all will be well, even in the water.
That's right, bro. You English learn fast. Just a shame you spent so many years colonising the world and imposing your own norms and customs in places where they had no right to be.
I am not related to Capt Cook. Honest.
No worries, bro. What's that painting you've got there?
The last tree on earth. Bro, that's kinda cool. What does it make you think?
It makes me feel sad. But then again, I met some great people out here, and so did the painting.
So it's been a good journey then?
One of the best. Mahalo.