For everyone who likes to travel the southwest coast of Europe there’s one indispensable companion next to your partner and a surfboard. The surf guide I Love The Seaside provides an extensive overview of the best surf spots, local people and places to go in France, Spain and Portugal. We talked to editor Alexandra Gossink about the book, the story behind the development process and her favorite places.
Hi Alexandra, do you remember when and where you had the idea to produce and publish a surf guide like I Love The Seaside?
Yeah, I had the name registered some time before, after I had this moment of „oh my god, how I do love the seaside!“ in Ericeira, Portugal, walking in one of those small sunbleached, salty streets. I think it was in winter 2013/14. I still wondered what I Love the Seaside should be. A platform, a book, a shared passion for the like-minded.
Because we (me and Geert-Jan as well as our designer Dim with his family) have travelled the coast of southwest Europe so many times and spent longer times at certain places, we got to know local people and nice shops, great hangouts, and initiatives. We made it our mission to connect that local business and goodies with the surf travelers. It’s a growing group of people that now also travel with their families, or people that don’t surf and want to know and do other things, but like the surf lifestyle and love the ocean.
Who is the team behind the book and who was in charge for what during the process?
I am the boss… haha, no, it was initially my idea, but it would never have happened if we didn’t all play key roles, and are equally passionate about it.
We are with a small ‘core’ team of 3: me, Alexandra Gossink, the writer/editor; Dim Rooker, the designer; and Geert-Jan Middelkoop, who handles most of the distribution, sales and did the researching together with me.
The other team members are Gail Bennie, from Jersey but residing in Portugal, who did all proofreading and some texts as well. And the two photographers Melchior van Nigtevecht and Marinus Joris who provided beautiful sphere photos, alongside our own pictures.
How long did it take from the first ideas to a printed book with more than 300 pages?
Ah … A very long time :), really, from idea, research, writing, designing, crowdfunding and printing it took somewhat over 2,5 years.
You used crowdfunding for the financing of the book. What is your experience with it und would you recommend it for others?
I would definitely recommend it, certainly when your product or idea is for a ‘niche’ public. Our strength was just that and quite a big network, so the crowdfund also worked as our PR and helped spread the word. So, even when people didn’t already backed the campaign, they knew the name or what we were doing. But if anyone decides to do so, they have to realize it’s almost a full time job while the campaign is running. You have to believe in your idea or product and not feel shy to keep telling people about it, in every possible way (mailings, FB, Insta, word of mouth, personal messages, etc. We were even harassing people while we were surfing ;-))
What were the biggest problems in the process of producing the book?
A lot of things were new to us, like the crowdfunding, and of course publishing. Me and the designer have years of experience working for magazines and different clients as freelancers, but now we had to make all decisions by ourselves and sometimes felt unsure about it, or had 3 different opinions. And then there was the time-pressure once the crowdfund was successfully finished. It was far more work than we anticipated. Geert-Jan has lots of experience in distributing goods, but with sales no one really had experience. We are learning so many things along the way, which makes it challenging, but also exciting!
What can the reader expect when purchasing I Love The Seaside?
The guide describes more than just surf spots, we also focus on the surroundings of the spots. We selected places (to sleep, eat, drink) that are run with the heart, small businesses mostly. And we provide a lot of alternative activities, from yoga, SUP to horse-riding. It’s also a „feelgood“ guide, a nice book to have around in the house and dream away. We give yoga tips, food facts and recipes, interviews with local artists, shapers, athletes, and the guide has many, many, inspiring photos in it.
For what kind of people did you write I Love The Seaside? Who should definitely buy the book?
All ocean minded people, everybody who loves the seaside. And of course especially surfers, and partners and family of surfers who like to get to know more of the surroundings, the local people and businesses and nicest places around the surf spots.
What makes that kind of traveling described in the book so special for you?
It’s actually for all kind of travelers, so you don’t necessarily need a campervan, it’s also for those who fly in and rent a car or stay at one place. It’s just that the focus is the ocean. And the places described and selected are, as said, run with the heart.
What’s your favorite place within the book?
That’s a difficult question … Different places I can love for different reasons. But the most magical places for me are Galicia and Asturias in northern Spain, and Brittany in France: wild, natural, some even unexplored. And I have a soft spot for Sagres in Portugal, because I’ve spent so much time there and made good friends.
Who’s van is on the cover?
From one of our dear friends in the Sagres area.
Every van has it’s stories. What’s are the stories behind the bus?
Well, the van on the cover is, as I said, from one of our dear friends. But our own van, in which we did all the exploring for so many years, does have a story. About 10 years ago I got sick – cancer. I had quite a heavy operation and treatment and after that whole period (it’s all going well now) we realized you better live a life you really love to live. I always longed for a dog and my partner Geert-Jan longed for a campervan. So, we got the two on the same day, quit and changed our jobs in the way that we could work from the van most of the time – less money, more life quality, and the rest is … well, there’s the guide!
What do you like most about the European coastline?
That it’s different every corner you turn. And although surfing is getting more popular, you can still find empty bays and beaches.
And why didn’t you write about the coastline of the Netherlands? I think, it would have been worth to be shown from our (German) point of view, wouldn’t it!?
Ah, but we are already thinking of new destinations, amongst others North Sea nations and Scandinavia! But the reason we chose southwest Europe first and stuck to France, Spain and Portugal – which is already a big area to cover – was that it’s the most consistent of Europe. We did think of starting here in Holland, but realized that we really wanted to go deeper into the southwest countries first. And the larger the area you cover, the less you can actually tell about it, so we didn’t want to make it any bigger than it already is.
Are there any plans for a second book?
Definitely! But we will keep you posted. :)
Personally, why do you love the seaside?
Born, raised and can’t imagine a life away from the seaside. I love the sounds, the smell, the sight, the comfort, the power and the promise of endlessness of the ocean.
I Love The Seaside Video
Pictures of I Love The Seaside
Get your I Love The Seaside surf guide here!
All additional Infos here: ilovetheseaside.com