As Mother’s Day rolls around, we take some time to reflect on what is at the core of the celebration and how we can all make treasured moments to share each day. Chatting with Michelle England, saltwater guru and partner of longboarding champ Ben Skinner, we discuss what the day means to her and how she uses every moment to share her love of Cornwall and the sea with her children.
What would be your ideal Mother’s Day celebration? Do you and the kids have any special traditions?
I think that Mother’s Day gives us a chance to reinforce the messages that we should try and share every day. For me, the perfect Mother's Day would involve a day on the water, being together with my family and connecting over shared bonds and experiences.
What’s so special about your time in the ocean together? And in particular, surfing?
It’s about being together – being present, being loved and giving love in the moment. It’s not about where you are, it’s about who you are with and the inner confidence you are given. I am forever grateful for my beautiful children, family and friends and the moments we create together.
Who loves surfing the most amongst your saltwater crew?
Our whole family loves to surf and get in the sea as much as they can. My partner Ben is an 11x European longboard champion and designs and shapes handmade custom surfboards here in Cornwall. Our eldest, Lucy, is 23 and she’s a natural – she jumps on a surfboard like she’s riding a bike. My son Lukas lights up the sea with his phenomenal surfing and he’s a strong competitor both here and abroad. He’s only 13 and completes manoeuvres that I’ve never even seen before! Lila is 10 and she’s a cruiser with a natural fluidity and the most beautiful humbleness. Then we have Leven who is 5 and has just started out – he’s getting the stoke pretty quickly! I think we all feel it equally and in different ways.
Do you think living by the coast allows you to focus on what is essential and what's not?
I try to surf or dip everyday with family or friends and I find that getting in the sea regularly just frees my soul and my mind. It definitely gives me a clearer perspective on everything. I think living in Cornwall and being a part of an ocean community helps to build strong connections and friendships, and it also helps to boost your own physical and mental health too. The sea is a unique, free resource that gives us year-round joy – even more reason for us look to after it, like it looks after us.
What do you hope this ocean lifestyle will give your children as they grow?
We have been lucky enough to bring our children up where we can walk to the beach and surf every day. On a personal level, I hope my children’s love for surfing will bring them great friendships, kindness, happiness, travel and opportunities. Just as important is the respect for the ocean and their environment that we have been able to instil in them from an early age. They understand about the sea, its dangers and keeping safe. Equally, they all also understand the impact that we as humans can have on our environment and our oceans, like the devastating effects of waste and plastic pollution. We think accountability is so important and are members of local surfer clubs and ambassadors for Surfers Against Sewage.
What are you favourite memories of your children in the water?
Any time in the water always feels like good time. There are so many amazing memories – many of which are the most brilliant snapshots like the kids’ first stand ups, their first green waves, surfing together in a line, amazing Cornish sunsets, and even the hilarious warm-up routines as well (which usually consist of a few cartwheels from Lila!). I’m really lucky that Lila wants to come surfing with me and my friends. It’s just brilliant that she’s surrounded by amazing ladies to help her flourish and when she catches a good wave, her smile lights my heart. She’s quietly confident and has this infectious zest for life – she’s just beautiful and kind inside and out. I find there are memories in every moment together.
If you could offer one piece of advice about making memories together, what would it be?
Sadly, I lost my mum last year. The pain is so raw as we were close. Although she wasn’t completely confident swimming, she had a connection with the sea that was the catalyst for our lives by the water. She loved to watch the surfers and always supported us kids surfing. I know she would be so proud of her grandchildren’s love of the ocean today and we miss her very much. For me, thinking of mum reinforces the need to create these moments together and really live in the present with them – knowing that these moments will become cherished memories we hold onto forever.
Finally, what’s the best way to warm up after a surfing session together?
The magic combination for us is a hot water bottle, a flask of warm water to pour on us, a hot chocolate and of a course a snuggly Atlantic Blanket around us!! Perfect.
Photos by Megan Hemsworth