Category Archives: Surfing

Waves and music in Doolin Co. Clare

I’m spending the last week of the holidays in Doolin, Co. Clare in Ireland, one of my favourite spots in the world. Right on the westmost edge of Europe, Doolin is a tiny village that has a very special landscape and tradition. It’s also a mecca for traditional music, not to mention one of Europe’s best surfspots. What a place.

Doolin, Co. Clare

Most evenings I get my fiddle out in O’ Connors pub, jammin with old friends and new. The standard of playing is very high – Clare is the birthplace of much of Irish music – but the locals are always very welcoming. It’s a different crew every night, so it’s great experience for a Dublin musician like me, playing tunes I rarely hear. There’s also a fantastic atmosphere in the pub every night as it’s packed with international tourists who have travelled to Doolin specifically to hear the music.

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During the day  there’s the surf. Few of the tourists realise that Doolin is neatly sandwiched bewteen Fenor and Lahinch, two of the best surf beaches in Ireland. At the moment I’m teaching the manager of the hostel and his kids to surf, it’s very satisfying. That said, there are bigger waves coming on Thursday, so it’ll be out back for me from then on..

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What a place, I’ll be sorry to go back to being a boring scientist. I’ve even got fit again without really trying!!

Update: photo for PW

surfer physicist

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The best surfspot in the world

This week I’m back hard at work after a short break with The Surf Experience in Lagos, Portugal. It was certainly worth taking a few days out, staying in a beautiful big house in the Algarve with about 20 other guests. Each day we went to the beach in a convoy of jeeps, west or south coast depending on the wave conditions.

Arrifana beach on the west coast

As usual, the camp was full of Germans – my favourite people to go on holiday with, and a great opportunity to improve my German. There was a lovely atmosphere in the house every evening, as the guests dined together and shared a few beers before collapsing into bed. Defnitely my favourite surfspot in the world.

Surfcamp in Lagos

I got plenty of work done too – I read a chapter of Manjit Kumar’s book on quantum physics every night, as I have been asked to review it for Physics World, the flagship magazine of the Institute of Physics. Today, it’s back to the real world, as I take our third years for a course in the quantum theory of solids.

On the plane home, I had a great thought for their first lecture. I think I’ll do some revision by getting the class to derive de Broglie’s relation from relativity, and to show how it led Schrodinger to his wave equation (they’ve already had a course in qt). It’s a nice starting point for solid state physics, and I had great fun going through the derivations on a napkin on the plane home (ok, they’re not really derivations but such outlines give students a great feel for the quantum world) – really nice physics.

Next week is Science Week in Ireland, and I’m giving several talks on the LHC, so I’m knee deep in that preparation too…sigh. I miss Lagos.

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