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  • James Glover

Story 15: Did someone say kite surfing?

Updated: Aug 23




On the whole doodles prefer to stick to their routine, but just once in a while it’s nice to do something different. Today, thought Harley was a ‘once in a while sort of a day’, and he needed to do something different.

As they settled down after their first doodle dash of the morning, Harley gazed along the beach and noticed some brightly coloured sails flying high on the horizon. He couldn’t remember seeing them before, but when he asked Dante if he had, he was told ‘they’ve been there for years’. Sounding like a wise Grandpa Dante added, ‘you really should take more notice of the world around you Harley, you will find it so rewarding’. Harley pretended he hadn’t heard this and slowly counted up to five so he wouldn’t get cross and say something he might regret later. When had Dante ever taken time to look at the world around him, Harley thought, he’s a fine one to talk, always with his nose to the ground sniffing out bestest ballie.


After a deep breath Harley suggested they might like to go and have a closer look at the sails. DeDe said she thought it was prettier to watch them from a distance, adding she could see furless two legs dangling on a string at the bottom of the sails, which she felt could be quite alarming. She’d read an article in her lifestyle magazine and knew the activity was Kite Boarding. Phoebe and Lily-Poo said they’d read the same article and remembered that Kite Boarding was an extreme sport. All three were adamant they didn’t even want another word spoken on the subject and certainly wouldn’t be joining them.


As they walked along the beach, Harley explained the others had been right, kite boarding was an exhilarating extreme sport. Dante didn’t know what an extreme sport was, but nodded knowledgeably as Harley explained more. He was fine about the wet suit and the standing on the surf board but when Harley excitedly talked about the wind filled sails and being pulled along over the crest of the wave, his legs went wobbly and he felt a little sick.


From a distance the kites were tiny, but as they walked closer they could see they were enormous! By the time they’d arrived at the reception hut Dante had made up his mind he wasn’t going anywhere near the end of any big sail. He would beg the furless two legs for some treats and then suggest they left ‘pronto’! It’s all very well watching from the Camber dunes, but close up they were terrifying.


Harley was not deterred by his friend’s nervousness and walked straight into the reception hut. He politely introduced himself then turned to introduce his friend, who had mysteriously disappeared. Harley popped his head out the door and saw Dante making his way back to the others. He quickly grabbed him and dragged him back inside to meet the instructor.


The instructor’s name was Shane, and he said mate after every sentence. “Good-day Mate,” “cool Mate” and “no worries Mate”. They hadn’t heard this sort of talk before and found it just a little annoying. Shane had long blonde hair under a red cap with BONDI written in bold letters on the front.


Harley explained they would like to enrol for kite surfing lessons and did they run doodle classes? Shane scratched his head, explaining he’d never been asked this question before. After a pensive minute he said, “I can’t see any reason why we can’t teach doodles, but we’d need a class of six to make it worthwhile.”


“Oh well, never mind” said Dante, “we don’t know any doodles who would join us, so we’ll be off” Harley was not deterred and thought for a moment. Perhaps Jangles might like to try kite surfing, and also Truffles, Bo Doodley and Wolfie would be good at it.


So while Dante was saying his ‘good-byes’, Harley was sending positive thoughts to see whether the others would join them.


Before Harley received any replies, he started to negotiate the price. Shane explained that there would be quite a lot of Health & Safety preparation before they ‘hit the water’. He would need to explain about the emergency procedures and how to get into a wet suit. On hearing this Dante felt even sicker, particularly when Shane mentioned ‘emergency procedures’. Again he tried to leave the room. Yet again Harley grabbed his paw and pulled him back, saying, “No Dante, we’ve not finished yet!”


After Shane had said his piece about personal insurance and the hire of equipment, he told Harley the price. In fact Harley thought it was quite reasonable, but always one for a bargain said he ‘couldn’t recommend these prices to his friends’. Glancing around Harley said, ‘you don’t look very busy, so how about we agree a twenty percent discount?’ Shane lifted his cap and stroked his blonde mop before nodding, with wry smile “Okay you have a deal Mate! When do we start?”


At that moment Harley received four “YES” answers to his positive thought. He now had six doodles for the class.


Harley looked up at Shane and said, ‘how about tomorrow morning at ten o’clock?” Shane glanced at his blank diary and said, “Hmm, can we make that half past ten Mate? Gives me time to get everything ready”


“Great”, said Harley, “I’ll tell the others and we’ll see you tomorrow”. Dante was relieved they weren’t going anywhere near the sails today and began to feel a little less tense as they walked away from the hut.

DeDe pressed her paw into his and whispered “be brave Dante, you can do this”

Next morning as Dante woke up, his first thought wasn’t ‘where’s my breakfast?’ but kite surfing. He felt a thud in his stomach and unusually didn’t want to get out of bed. Eventually he forced himself to go downstairs. He went into the garden and halfheartedly did his routine sniff checks to see how many cats, rabbits and foxes had visited overnight. When he went inside he couldn’t face any breakfast and went back to bed for a while.


It took all DeDe’s persuasion to get him to leave the house and catch Billy train to Camber. As they settled into their seats DeDe turned to Dante to ask what was the matter, and why hadn’t he eaten his breakfast? Dante explained he was really scared about the kite surfing and if he had the choice he wouldn’t do it but, as all the others were looking forward to it and the class needed six doodles he had to go. DeDe pressed her paw into his and whispered “be brave Dante, you can do this”


When Billy got to Camber, DeDe turned left to the beach and Dante right towards the Kite School. As he got closer he could see the others waiting for him. He took several deep breaths to calm his nerves before putting on a big smile and saying, “Hello”.


After the usual doodle pleasantries Shane popped his head out of the hut, “Good day Mates, come inside for the safety briefing before we put the wet suits on”. They made their way into the hut and sat down ‘class room’ style. Shane switched on a video and left the room. A furless two legs told them all the things that could go wrong when kite surfing, and how to keep safe. As the credits rolled Dante thought he was going to be sick, but without any breakfast in his tummy, he knew he wouldn’t.


The others were really excited to try on the wetsuits and choose the right size of surf board. All Dante wanted to do was go home and hide. One by one they were fitted for their suits, and when it came to Dante’s turn Shane looked him up and down muttering, “a small should fit you best, Mate”.


The suit smelt sweaty and horrid and Dante wasn’t keen to put it on, but as the others were watching he pretended to be thrilled and was soon ready to go. Next they had to choose their surf boards.


Dante chose the smallest one, it would be lighter to carry and, after seeing the safety video, if he got into danger he would drop everything and just swim for his life.


Shane walked them all to the sea, explaining they needed to practice with the surf boards before attaching the sails. Truffles and Bo Doodley had surf boarded before, so ran into the sea catching the first wave they could. Wolfie, Harley and Jangles hadn’t surfed before, so were a little more hesitant, but after two tries they had mastered standing up, and were gliding the crests of the wave.


Dante watched the others for a while before Shane came over and said, “Get stuck in Mate, the others are leaving you behind”. He thought back to DeDe’s words on the train and took a mighty deep breath and ran into the sea. The board was so slippery the first time he tried to clamber on it, but after a couple more failed attempts he managed to lie on the board as it glided towards the shore. He was quite pleased with himself and ran back out to try again, thinking ‘perhaps I can do this after all’.


After more tries Dante plucked up courage to attempt standing up. To his surprise he didn’t fall off as before and managed to reach the beach. As he gracefully got off the board, the others all clapped. Dante was pleased with himself, and knew he had DeDe to thank for believing in him.


Once Shane was confident they had all mastered surfing, he took them back to the hut to choose their sails. By now the wind had got up and the flapping sails made Dante uneasy. Once they’d chosen their sails they walked back to the sea to watch Shane demonstrate the technique.


Shane made it look so easy as he knelt on his board and let the sail fill with the breeze. Quickly he had enough tension in the sails to get onto his feet and glide effortlessly over the waves. It was breath taking to watch. After a few minutes Shane knelt back down on his board and came to the shore. It was now time for the doodles to try.


Truffles and Bo Doodley went first. Although they had been happy surf boarding, they found it much harder to manage the sails flapping around them. They both sat on their boards before letting the sails fill with the breeze. Truffles had no difficulty staying upright, but Bo Doodley suddenly found himself upside down in the water. Shane swam out to catch him and bring him back to dry land.


It was soon Jangles, Harley and Wolfie’s turn. Shane waved at Dante to join them, but he pretended not to hear and looked the other way.


The wind was even stronger. As Jangles, Harley and Wolfie made their way into the sea a particularly big wave crashed onto the pebbles. Dante could see Harley was a little hesitant so, not to desert his friend, ran to the shore to join them.


The four doodles walked into the sea together and once the water was up to their knees, they jumped on their boards. It wasn’t easy strapping their feet into the straps, but once one was secure the other three seemed to follow. The difficult bit was how to manage the sails. Wolfie, being the tallest had the wind in his sails the moment he stood up, and it didn’t take long before he was bouncing along, and flying into the air.


Having much shorter legs, it took the rest of them a little longer for their sails to expand, but soon they were also bouncing over the waves.


Just as Jangles felt in control of the sail, a strong gust of wind hurled him high into the sky and he was sure he grabbed some fluff from a cloud. The same gust hurled Dante somersaulting three times before plunging into the sea with a huge splash. Harley did well, managing to steer his sail into the wind and very soon looked quite the professional.


The moment Dante came up for air, he knew enough was enough. He uncoupled his paws from the surf board and swam to the shore. He’d tried kite surfing and under the circumstances had been very brave. The sport was certainly not for him and he couldn’t get out of the smelly wetsuit fast enough.

As Dante sat on the shore with Bo Doodley, who had also decided enough was enough, they watched the remaining brave doodles. By now Jangles was high in the sky and waving back with the biggest smile on his face, his sails so full of wind he could have flown all the way to the Fish Shop at Dungeness.


Harley, Truffles and Wolfie looked the most professional as their sails took them wherever they wanted to go. They were all natural kite surfers, and Dante was pleased his friends were having such a good time.


After what seemed for ever, the others returned to the beach with huge smiles on their faces. Dante and Bo Doodley could see they had not heard the last of kite surfing from their friends, but made it clear the sport ‘was curtains’ as far as they were concerned.


Once they’d taken off their wet suits and handed in their boards and sails, Shane called them back into the Kite Hut for what he called a ‘de-briefing’. One by one Shane told them how they’d done. Naturally Harley, Jangles, Wolfie and Truffles all got gold stars. All Shane said about Dante and Bo Doodley was they would need to ‘try harder, and make more effort to move out of their comfort zones’. Bo Doodley gave Dante a wry smile, and together they said ‘there will be no next time, Mate!’


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