Tag Archives: kayak

Sex and Drugs and Eskimo Rolls

Back in the day when I was young, dinosaurs roamed the planet and Mars was inhabited by Donald Trump, Robert Mugabe, The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, Simon Cowell, Elmer Fudd and other strange, vaguely humanoid life forms I used to teach people how to paddle a kayak. My mates Omar and Norman were also instructors.

Possibly a visiting Martian but believed to be the dinosaur Ihateus Mexicanus (subsp. Iama Totalwanker)

Possibly a visiting Martian but believed to be the dinosaur Ihateus Mexicanus (subsp. Iama Totalwanker)

A couple of evenings each week we would teach people how to do an eskimo roll. This is a technique used to get yourself upright again if you capsize. Very useful. We used a school swimming pool for our classes – a nice, warm, controlled environment.eskimo_roll

All of our pupils were proficient kayakers. They could paddle in a straight line, use steering and support strokes and had capsized many, many times. They were of all ages and some were women which was splendid as there is no better sight than a woman in a wet tee-shirt! The terminology was great too although it may have changed since my day.

“Ok Janet. The Screw roll. Lean forward, grip the shaft firmly with both hands. Not too hard, you’re not trying to kill it! Tip over, sweep the shaft around, flick your hips et voila, up you come.”


The Reverse Screw.  Lean back, hold the shaft firmly……Carol, your tee-shirt is awfully thin……”

God I loved that job.

For our pupils it was an essential skill to have as most weekends they would load up their cars and go off to tour rivers or paddle along the coast and there is nothing quite so embarrassing as capsizing and watching your dry kit float off into the sunset. I wish everyone was as sensible.eskimoroll1

I remember Omar and I were preparing for our Advanced certificate. Mostly this was a practical exam carried out on a river with rapids graded at III or more. However, there was also a Leadership and Organisation element to the test as well. So we planned a trip to the River Wye. We were leading a group of 15 from a touring club and they were a bunch of old fogies. Some of them were in their thirties but worse, most of them were in their forties and fifties. Positively decrepit in our eyes. None of them had seen a rapid let alone paddled down one so we decided to forgo the pleasures of the Upper Wye around Builth where there were some honky-tonk Grade IIIs until the second day. Day one was spent further downstream but it did have a dinky rapid called The Hell Hole. Smashing. It was summer, water levels were not too high so it shouldn’t be a problem.

So we set off. There were a few bumpy bits and some rocks that got them excited. We got them trying out various types of support and steering strokes. We rafted up and got them to take it in turns to get out of their kayaks, run along the front decks, run across the stern decks and get back in without falling in the river. Some did but they all had a hoot. It has also got to be said that the Wye Valley is one of the most beautiful places on Earth and taking a slow paddle down it is far and away the best way to see it.

The Wye Valley

The Wye Valley

Eventually we arrived at The Hell Hole. Omar and I got everyone out onto the bank for a look-see and to explain what to do.

Once all the

“It looks jolly rough.”



“I say Dorothy, you DID pack toilet tissue didn’t you?”

had died down we explained what they had to do:

“Right. Dicks going down first ok? Watch what he does. Then I will send you all down one at a time and I’ll come down last.” said Omar

“Yeah guys, you see that ‘V’ shaped tongue of smooth water leading into the rapid? Yes Tarquin?… Your bag’s full?… What again?… Ok mate but be quick please. Just paddle down that ‘V’ into the rapid and keep paddling hard, especially when you get to the little waves at the bottom.”

“Did he say ‘little’? They look awfully big to me.”

“I think he’s on drugs. I’m sure I could smell margarinewana earlier!”

“Oh! Now you mention it, I’m sure I saw them sharing a reefer before we set orf.”

“Yes. I thought I saw them rolling some hay or straw or whatever it is these beatniks do.”

“You know, I DID say they looked a bit rough but I must say I’ve had a jolly marvellous time.”

“Yes but those waves are NOT little I tell you!”

I will say now that Omar and I NEVER smoked grass when we were instructing or leading expeditions. We smoked hashish as it’s much easier to light if it gets wet.

“Pay attention please people. Once you have paddled through those little standing waves….

“He said ‘LITTLE’ again!’

“Giles! Hush please. Once you get to the end , raft up over there on the right hand bank. Clear?”

“Yes” they all said.

“I’m just saying they are NOT little waves.” muttered Giles.

They were probably 2-3 feet high which, thinking about it, made them about head high when you’re sitting in a kayak, Little then!

The Hell Hole. A dinky little rapid on the River Wye

The Hell Hole. A dinky little rapid on the River Wye

“Just remember, keep paddling and don’t lift your paddles up into the air. That raises your centre of gravity and you may capsize.”

With that, we set off. I shot the rapid, burst through the LITTLE waves at the bottom and broke out to watch the next one down.

“That’s it Tarquin! Keep paddling, well don….NO, don’t lift your…Aw Shit.”

A swimmer! I went over, emptied his kayak and was putting him back in when the next one came down.

“Brilliant Giles. Keep going. Paddle hard. NO! Don’t…..Aw Shit.” Another swimmer. Same procedure.

“Well done Dorothy. Power in your strokes girl. NO. Don’t raise….Aw Shit.”

There were 15 “Aw Shits” as everyone one of them raised their paddles above their heads and capsized. Not one knew how to do an eskimo roll. So we made them do it all over again and again and again and soon they all were managing to say upright. Once they realised they were unlikely to die, they had a bloody good time.

I’ve wandered slightly off topic again.

Meanwhile back at the swimming pool. Once they had become proficient at the eskimo roll some left the class although we would often bump into them at various rivers around the country. For some however, it was also a social thing and they attended week after week, developing their skills so that eventually they could do a roll using one hand and no paddle (it’s all in the hips) followed by a trip to the pub. One of these regulars was a guy called Ralph. Ralph was very well off, (In fact he was disgustingly rich) and lived in a huge house in a very expensive, leafy suburb in London.

Now Omar, Norm and I were only part-time instructors. We had day jobs. I worked in the print industry, Norm had just finished the second year of his plumbing apprenticeship and Omar was a gigolo I think.plumber_plunger

Knowing this, Ralph asked Norman to install a brand new central heating system in his house. He would pay for the equipment and give Norm a great many tax-free pounds. Norm readily agreed. Omar and I looked at each other then shrugged. Norm knew what he was doing didn’t he? He knew his onions (or olives) from his elbow. What could possibly go wrong?

Find out soon.

Have a lovely day.





Wow. Tessa over at Nothing Was Said has very kindly nominated me for the Liebster Award. I must admit that it was a few hours before the penny dropped and I realised what was going on. I was (still am) chuffed to be nominated. I looked it up on the interweb thingy to see what it was all about. There seems to be an awful lot of different rules with this award but I kind of get the idea. It did mean that I finally had to figure out how to put links onto this here blog. Remember, I have trouble understanding the concept of clock work so this kind of stuff involved quite a few cock ups on my part.

Anyway, the RULES.

1. Thank the blogger who nominated you: Thank you Tessa at Nothing Was Said. You are a sweetheart.

2. Answer 11 questions they set.

3. Nominate other blogs with less than 200 followers.

4. Let them know about the nomination and the questions.

Other rules I’ve read have said to list 11 things about yourself and the number of followers for a blog seems to vary an awful lot. Some say 200, others say 2000 while others say other numbers. One of the blogs I intend nominating has more than 200 but less than 1000, while another one gives absolutely no indication that I can see of the number of followers – it may be 6, it may be 1,000,000. I have no idea. Rules are there to be broken so if I break them, I’m sure the World won’t end.

The Questions.

1. Who is your favourite band/artist and why?

I listen to and enjoy a wide range of music from Miles Davis to John Lee Hooker, early Springsteen, Dre and Eminem, George Michael, John Legend, Led Zepp’ and Jimi Hendrix. I work out to Linkin Park. I have been a fan of Neil Young since forever but my favourite of all time is the Rolling Stones. As a band they never fail to produce excellent music that I can listen to all day every day.

2. Who is your biggest inspiration?

This is difficult. I cannot put it down to one individual as I have been inspired by many people during my lifetime. I think that if it came down to one individual I would have to say Nelson Mandela. That bloke was just unbelievable. I never met him but I wish I had. I met a guy who worked for him and he told me he was the nicest, most humble man you could ever meet.

3. What is your favourite food?

Curry. Chicken Dansak with rice (of course), onion bhajis with sundry bits and pieces. Apple pie and custard for dessert or maybe bread pudding. Stella to drink or if it’s sitting down with PIL drinking wine, its white zinfandel.

4. Where do you want to travel to most in the world?

There are many places. I want to go back to Kenya (PIL and I got married there), North America (both the U.S. and Canada) and despite it only being a 2 hour flight away, I’ve never been to Barcelona. I’m told it’s a beautiful city and the Cathedral has to be seen to be believed.

5. If you were the creator of your own planet, what would it be called and what would it look like?

It would be called “Bob”. I have never been to another planet so I have nothing to compare it to but I think Planet Bob would look very much like our planet. Earth is a beautiful place. However, on Planet Bob there would be no poverty, everyone would have enough to eat and have clean drinking water. I would take away the pollution. Sir David Attenborough would be the President of Planet Bob and he would live as long as he wanted. There would be no place for Robert Mugabe, Kim Jong-un or any others of their ilk.

6. Are you more like your mother or your father?

Apparently, physically I look incredibly like my dad. Temperament wise I think I’m like my mum. She had a very long fuse (she needed it being married to my dad!). No doubt my sister Boo will have something to say on this!

7. What do you see yourself doing in 5 years time?

I hope that I will be sitting in my garden gazing at the fruits of my labour there before my kids demolish it again playing football, basketball, cricket or rugby. I will continue to write my blog, take the pooch for a walk every day and no longer have to worry about work or money. I will have a permanent smile on my face not of smugness but of satisfaction at what I have done and achieved during my lifetime and what I will continue to achieve and do for the rest of my life.

8. At school, were you a rebel or a teacher’s pet?

A rebel. Always in trouble. Always missing lessons.

9. Who is your favourite author and why?

I read for relaxation so I like books that don’t involve a lot of effort. I read both fiction and non fiction. Currently, I’m into Lee Childs and his Jack Reacher series of novels. A certain amount of brain cells get involved trying to work out “whodunnit” and they are an easy read. I like John le Carre, particularly the Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy series. That involved paying attention. Both authors construct the characters well, the story lines are plausible and both lead the reader up the wrong path before you finally get it. I read Charles Dickens “A Tale of Two Cities” before Christmas. It was a struggle to begin with because the language and sentence construction is so different to modern novels. The first two or three chapters were hard going but it clicked into place then and it was worth the perseverance.

10. What is your least favourite animal?

Easy. Slugs. The slimy bastards keep eating my garden!

11. What advice would you give to your younger self?

Work hard, play hard, party hard. Never let the bastards grind you down. Be yourself.

Well, that little lot will now mean that people will think “What a berk” but never mind. I’m now supposed to make my own nominations but before I do, on some of the rules I read about the Liebster, it was said you should list 11 things about yourself. I may not list 11, but here are some things about me.

1. I’m right-handed, left footed and a left-handed kayaker.

2. In my late teens/early 20s, I was a kayaking instructor and raced white water racing C2s with my best mate at the time.

3. I started going grey at the age of 16.

4. I am short-sighted and wear contact lenses.

5. I don’t like Marmite.

6. I have no superpowers.

7. I am a Chelsea supporter, always have been, always will be. My dad was and my children and PIL are.

8. I am slightly red/green colour blind.

9. My favourite colour is green. Or is it blue?

10. Despite what my so-called friends claim, I did not fight at the Battle of Crecy in 1346!

11. I am now a non smoker.

Now for my nominations.

totaltimewaste Has more than 200 followers but there you go. written by a 17-year-old who seems to be obsessed with girls. Worth a look as it’s very funny

thecrumpettfiles I only found this blog a short while ago and I think it’s brilliant. The posts are quite short but without trying to be poncy, it’s like drinking elderflower cordial over ice on a hot summers day – totalling refreshing.

sunfartsandvagrainbows Should be approached with caution. Susie Sunfarts hates everything and everyone and isn’t scared to let you know! Profane,anarchic this blog is the antithesis of all others. While every other blogger on the planet was wishing everyone a Happy New Year, Susie was giving everyone the finger! She hates everyone from the guy who comes out every morning, starts his car and leaves it running to the “cheer up, look on the bright side” brigade. I think it’s great. The observations are very sharp and it’s all tongue in cheek. Or you think it is until you get to the last sentence or two and think, “Oh wow! I hope she doesn’t have access to firearms.”

My questions for my nominees:

1. What does your dream house look like?

2. What is your drink of choice?

3. If you could meet anyone in the world, who would it be?

4. If you had a superpower, what would it be?

5. What is your favourite food?

6.Who is your biggest inspiration?

7. Would you prefer to live in a big city, the suburbs or the countryside?

8. When you were 11 what did you want to be when you grew up?

9. What is your favourite colour?

10. How old am I?

11. What was the first record you ever bought?

Have a great day.

More Dick soon.