Recently I took part in a Plastic Patrol session in Gloucester Docks. The idea is simple - after a bit of stand up paddleboard tuition, you get to float around the waterways armed with a litter grabber and a bucket.
I joined the final session of the day, and was actually quite surprised to see how (relatively) little rubbish had been collected so far - apparently last year it was much worse. I was not surprised to see the obligatory rusty old bike that someone had fished out.
We paddled around the main basin, then down to just past Sainsbury's. I spent... continue reading »
For a late summer holiday this year we had a week in Croatia.
We flew from Luton, because we were booking late and that's where affordable flights were... stupid traffic jams on the M25 and M1 made me rather anxious about getting to the airport on time, but obviously we did get there or I wouldn't be writing this!
Anyway, we landed in Dubrovnik airport just before 10pm. Our accommodation for the first two nights was at Villa Radović in Cavtat, and I'd taken them up on the offer of an airport transfer (which took all of 15 minutes!). Within an hour... continue reading »
Last week I attended the Outdoor Bloggers weekend in Snowdonia. It's been a while since I met (in real life) any random people from the internet, and I've never really done any sort of networking so wasn't quite sure what to expect.
Despite an afternoon off work and good intentions, I arrived in the dark. Good thing my tent only takes a few seconds to put up! We were camping at Llyn Gwynant, which rather conveniently features a pizza shop on busier weekends. Yum yum!
We sat around the campfire telling stories and getting to know each other a bit - though... continue reading »
The Nene, in Northampton, was the UK's first pumped artificial white water course. It's a 2 hour drive from Gloucester, which probably explains why I've never been before as that's a long way to go for a small section of grade 2 water.
But we do like a bit of paddling variation, especially in summer months where there's not much natural whitewater around. I took my ridiculously small playboat, which hasn't been on any sort of moving water for quite some time.
Because of that I put on half way down the course for my first couple of goes - below the... continue reading »
Mid January sees the traditional weekend trip to Dartmoor, for kayaking and drinking. This year water levels were low, but not so low that we couldn't paddle. I've not done anywhere near enough kayaking recently, so a nice trip down the Loop was just what I needed to remind me what I've been missing!
On Sunday the levels were no different, so options were: paddle the Loop again, or go for a walk. I chose walking.
We started at Dartmeet and headed upstream, crossing the East Dart at the Laughter Hole stepping stones. Not the friendliest stepping stones I've ever used -... continue reading »
2015 has not involved enough kayaking. 2014 probably didn't either, but this year has been ridiculous. I paddled the Dart Loop in January, but that's been it in terms of white water! Ok, I've done a couple of flat trips too, and most weeks at the lido over the summer, but that's not the same.
Last weekend we did the Upper Usk. One of my favourite easy rivers, especially on a sunny day. Which it was:
There was a nice (and pretty!) dusting of snow on the Brecon Beacons, but it wasn't actually as cold as I thought it was going to... continue reading »
And, continuing on a theme, another long exposure shot of some water. I know this particular bit very well - it's the very start of the Dart Loop at Newbridge, which I have kayaked many times. Including the day before this photo was taken!
Photo taken in a rare (?!) few minutes when there weren't boats all over the place.
I think it's safe to say that canoe slalom isn't my cup of tea - I got beaten by small children at a couple of div 4 events several years ago, and did one interclubs, but in general I prefer my paddling without the competitive element (and definitely without the pushy parents).
But when CCC's slalom enthusiasts decided it was about time an event happened at Symonds Yat again, it was with the understanding that the whole club would be expected to help out, not just the stick chasers. Not a problem!
Four day weekend + good weather = no excuse for staying inside doing nothing productive (ie wasting hours on the internet)
one session of cardio tennis
40km bike ride
walk on Painswick Beacon
walk on Haresfield Beacon
many laps of CIWW (no capsizing!)
45km bike ride (complete with steep hill)
a bit of gardening
one tennis lesson
More than enough to justify a large takeaway pizza, several creme eggs and a bag of mini eggs... probably.
A later season Alps trip this year - spending the first week of August on the River Inn in Austria and Switzerland. There's a bit of everything there, from flat to death on a stick - more than enough to keep everyone happy!
We stayed in Prutz, which has two rather nice pizza restaurants and a lot of apricot trees.
Besides kayaking, we also went swimming several times - in the local pool, lake, and an amazing spa - more on that later. Much entertainment whenever we came across any sort of slide!
I spent last week on Malta, having my first proper foreign holiday in a very long time to not involve a canoe club. Here's some of what I got up to, in no particular order:
Lots of balconies
I did a lot of wandering around various Maltese towns. They certainly like their balconies! Streets tend to be narrow, and for some reason a lot of the pavements are very shiny. I lost count of how many times I nearly slipped and fell over - walking on the road often felt safer. (the locals seem to agree)
As a bit of a last minute plan last weekend 3 of us headed up to Llangollen for this year's Dee River Festival.
The river was fairly low and - as I discovered with my first roll of the year - very cold! But the sun was shining, so it wasn't too bad. I was expecting it to be a lot busier though - I've been to other kayaking festivals/tours at the Tryweryn, CIWW, Teifi and Tyne and they've all had a lot more people show up... Oh well, it meant we didn't have to wait for shuttle bus/trailer space.
Somehow I never got around to writing about our trip to Scotland last October. oops.
We went up for a whole week, for some paddling (of course!) and also for Sharon and Duncan's wedding
I'm a sucker for autumn colour anyway, but the highlands were particularly orange and beautiful. Not that it hasn't been just as pretty at easter, of course - just a bit more green.
Paddling wise, we were quite lazy and could have done more rivers if we'd felt arsed. But instead there were hangovers, trips to the shops/pharmacy, and some faffing about driving up to Invermoriston for no... continue reading »
The mamba is fantastic on the river, but it turns out rather boring for the lido. So I've acquired a cheap second hand playboat (which took a stupid amount of time to make its way across the country to me, mostly thanks to TNT being a bit rubbish. grr). It's a Liquid Logic Vision 44, ie the very small size. It's got half the volume of the mamba, and I struggle to fit in it with shoes on. Apparently this is a good thing?!
It seems Slovenia is just as lovely as it was two years ago. So I probably don't need to repeat all the waffle about how beautiful and chilled out it is...
One definite improvement on last time is the fact that I did not capsize all week - compared to 5 swims in 2010. Partly this may be due to me now having a fatass boat (which is awesome, I love it), but mostly I would like to think it's because I've actually got better at paddling.
The first couple of days were really misty. Not being able to see what's coming... continue reading »
Yet another weekend spent swimming in the Tryweryn - but on purpose for a change! A white water safety and rescue (WWSR) course, run by Richie of the Wye Canoe Company. Definitely a worthwhile course for anyone regularly paddling white water.
Saturday was a very wet day - lots of swimming in the morning, then even more swimming in the afternoon! I'm fairly practised at this, ahem, but some bits were new to me - particularly body surfing stoppers, and all things chest harness/live bait related (though my BA doesn't have a harness, so I had to borrow Ems' when it... continue reading »
2012's kayaking adventures started with a weekend of 4* training on Dartmoor.
Now, I'm not really one for paperwork - I got my 1* at the age of about 13, but that doesn't count! Last year I made a bit more effort and got FSRT and First Aid certificates, but missed out on 2*assessment due to illness. This year's aim is to do WWSR - in my opinion far more useful than star awards!
On Saturday morning we met up with Chris, our trainer/coach/whatever, in Buckfastleigh and after a bit of a briefing got kitted up and headed off to paddle the... continue reading »
Tyne Tour - a new one for my kayaking repertoire! I wanted to go last year but was away working, so was quite excited about actually going this time.
Hexham is a long way away, so we left at lunchtime in order to get there at a reasonable hour and perhaps avoid the worst of the traffic.
But nooo. There'd been an accident on the M42, so it took 2.5 hours to go about 8 miles. Then we hit rush hour around Nottingham, and at some point stopped for food too, so eventually reached our Travelodge (yes, really) in Gateshead at something... continue reading »
This is the river Teifi between Llandysul and Henllan falls, as captured by my dinky little gps:
Surprisingly accurate! I was expecting it to be all over the place, what with being buried inside my bouyancy aid. Though I have tidied up some of the messy squiggly bits at the start and end, and also where I swam (oops) and where I portaged the evil weir (which I think everyone else ran anyway, but I was having a rubbishy day so wasn't going to risk it).
As with last year's Teifi Tour we headed over in the daytime on Friday... but with... continue reading »
August bank holiday weekend in North Wales - usually means guaranteed rain, but this time only in the form of short showers between bits of sunshine.
I took Friday off work for an extra long weekend, and in the afternoon we headed up to Bala. Not without incident - for starters, I'd had to beg a security person to let me load my car up (Tall Ships festival = busy docks!). We went via the back roads, which took forever due to getting stuck behind several slow moving lorries full of hay. Still prettier than going via motorway though.
It's June, and I've been on holiday. Must be Alps time! France again this year - third time lucky?
Well, sort of. The first few days were great. The sun shone, squiggly mountain passes were driven over, rivers were paddled (wearing shorty cags!), ice creams were eaten...
...and then we woke up on Wednesday morning to find it was cold and snowing. Brilliant.
Snow turned to heavy rain, the rivers rose and turned interesting colours (Durance was yellow, Guil grey, and Ubaye nearly black). This made me lose enthusiasm for paddling - faster with fewer eddies? eek. I was never going to push... continue reading »
It's April, which means Scotland time! Previous trips have been over Easter, but as that's stupidly late this year we went a weekend earlier, in the hope of more chance of rain.
Hah! A gloriously sunny weekend, and very little water in the rivers (but I believe things haven't improved in the week since, so still a good call, methinks)
Still plenty to do for our 'intermediate' trip though! We had a very long weekend, taking the whole of Thursday to travel up to Kinlochleven, where we were staying - Blackwater bunkhouse, highly recommended!
Argh, it's the second week in November already! I'm not quite sure how that's snuck up on me, other than me being far too busy doing a million other things to notice.
The final weekend of October was the Teifi Tour - a weekend paddling the River Teifi, in South West Wales (in fact, 3 days for me, as some of us went early on the Friday). Hundreds of kayakers from various clubs all around the country, plus a massive party - which we avoided as we'd decided to stay in a lovely warm cottage rather than camp in a disgustingly... continue reading »
Last year, I spent Easter weekend up in Scotland. This year, we were more sensible and went for an entire week.
(Yeah, I could/should have posted this weeks ago. But I've been somewhat busy with work, business trips and hours and hours of photo editing...)
Awesome week! Plenty of rivers, mountains, gorgeous scenery, lovely people, drinking, cakes, faff, etc etc. And one not so lovely stomach bug that went round throughout the week, knocking most of us out for a day. grr
We travelled up on Good Friday, stopping in the Lake District to run the River Kent on the way. Camping on... continue reading »
I've been on holiday to the French Alps again! Been back a week now, but it's taken me until now to sort through the 300+ photos I took (split between 2 cameras, as I now have a little waterproof one too, which is rather cool)
Anyway, same campsite as last year, with some of the same people. But this time, no floods and barely any rain! So much more kayaking was done - not especially by me, as it turns out I'm not so keen on Alpine water (it's fast and continuous and scary). Obviously I fell out of my boat... continue reading »
Bit of a last minute plan, following a conversation the weekend before that went something like "Scotland next weekend?" "ooh, can I come?" "yeah, sure".
Wild camping around the Fort William area - near to rivers, obviously (yes, it was a kayaking trip).
We left Birmingham at stupid o'clock on Friday morning, and arrived at about half 2 I think. Went for a walk along the banks of the Etive, which had a lot of water in it. Randomly bumped into some people from Cheltenham canoe club while we were there. As a side note, walking... continue reading »
Ah, my parents must love having me around. The past two weekends I've taken over their nice clean (well, it used to be) bath/shower and filled it with wet muddy smelly kayaking kit. yay! And then left it there for several days to dry. It wouldn't all fit in one photo which makes it look less impressive, but nevermind:
Not pictured: helmet, large dry bag and pile of thermals, last seen somewhere on top of the freezer. Also several smaller drybags that were in the kitchen somewhere but I think have now been moved...
If I hear the phrase "extreme kayaking" mentioned again this week I am going to start hitting things. Yes, some people ran the Llyn Brianne spillway. Wow. Not like that's never been done before, and it's hardly the first time anyone's put photos/video of it on the internet either...
Actually I'm more annoyed by all the idiots who immediately react with "oh, extreme sports should be banned beause they're dangerous and the NHS has to pay when someone injures themselves blah blah blah waste of taxpayer money blah blah". Ahem. Ever heard of insurance? Oh, apparently that only exists for skiing... continue reading »
moving house (so - packing, cleaning, driving all over Birmingham, unpacking, etc)actually doing some uni workhacking the firmware on my camera (more on that at a later date) and playing around with photo editingjoining various 'trendy' websites (twitter? eww. last.fm? better.)
I have managed to find time to go paddling. Phew. (I do have other hobbies, honest!)
Last weekend was the annual BUKC Bude surf trip - apparently famed for never having any surf. Not this time! There was surf, and we had fun in it! Until I swam and twisted my ankle,... continue reading »
Because it would take far too long to properly write up the two weeks I've just spent in the French Alps, here's a random photo and a list:
32 hours of driving (at least)
one river paddled (l'Argentiere Slalom course, and a bit beyond due to missing the eddy)
half of the Chateau Q via ferrata (because it started raining and got quite slippery)
one glacier and ice cave
several bottles of wine
two very yummy crepes
many croissants/pain au chocolat
various bits of sunburn
about 160 photos (using up 6 sets of batteries!! not impressed!)
large quantities of faff
a general lack of sleep
Revision is still very boring. I've been amusing myself by spending lots of time in a boat (I know, how surprising).
In the last few weeks I've done BUSA polo, been surfing in St David's (awesome fun, see photos!) and a few random canal trips. At half 7 this morning - yes, I really was awake that early - I was paddling to the Mailbox and back.
Anyway, last Saturday we went over to Llangollen, paddled up the canal and then back down the river Dee. In the sunshine. Lovely
My plan for last weekend was to have a break from revision and go and watch my mates play canoe polo, party, and generally enjoy myself.
This backfired at some point last week, when someone realised that the B team only had 4 players (you need 5, plus ideally a sub or two), and I found myself offering to take my kit and play. hmm. I still haven't made my mind up about polo - I like playing it, but I don't think I'm really competitive enough, heh. Also the rules say you can push people in if they have the... continue reading »
Yesterday I managed to cross off one of my new year's resolutions - roll a kayak
This is a very big deal for me, as I've been failing at it for several months now, without any obvious signs of improvement. But last week I had some kind of breakthrough where it nearly worked, and last night I finally did it And more than once too, so it can't have just been a fluke
Right now it's half 3 in the morning. Ask yourself what I'm doing up at this hour... One reason could be that there's currently a total... continue reading »
Here is a bit of a clue as to how I spent my Wednesday afternoon this week:
Unfortunately I'm no longer 8 years old, and also having spent a horrible month working in the Lucky Bags factory a few summers ago slightly spoiled my appreciation of Cadbury World. But it was good, and they let us in the staff shop to buy very cheap chocolate
Pretty much everything I've done this week seems to have somehow involved boats. Apart from lectures, which have involved learning more things I already know. Maybe this week I can find time for some climbing. Or... continue reading »