Tag Archives: kayaking

It’s the weekend!

As ever at weekends there is always a shed load of stuff for adult males to do around the house. I am no exception to that. PIL has taken Greg and CJ to school and gone into town to do whatever it is that she does there. Probably look outrageously attractive, drink coffee in Starbucks and look cool. I, on the other hand have been given a list as long as your arm of things that need doing. Not least of which is mow the bloody lawn. I love gardening but mowing the lawn is a haemorroid in my life. So with so many things to do I decided to see what was on TV. 499 channels of crap was what was on TV but there was just one channel that caught my eye. Eurosport were showing the World Canoe & Kayak Sprint Championships. Result! Many years ago in my late teens and early twenties I was a keen canoeist and spent many a summer weekend instructing the fine art of paddling a kayak in a straight line.IMG_5693

I met many young ladies this way. Despite what  my so-called friends think, dating back then when I was young did not consist of bopping a young lady on the head with a club and dragging them off to the nearest cave!

Hey honey. Wanna come see my cave drawings?

Hey honey. Wanna come see my cave drawings?

Oh no. What it meant was teaching the correct capsize drill resulting in lots of young ladies wandering around shortly afterwards in wet tee shirts. Best job I ever had! I met my first love being an instructor. Bailey was wonderful but that’s an entirely different story. Omar was my best mate at the time and he too was an instructor and like me, dead keen on canoeing. The pair of us started to compete in Wild Water Racing which is broadly similar to downhill ski racing but you raced through rapids.

A wild water racing C2 like I used to race

A wild water racing C2 like I used to race

It was enormous fun. Omar and I trained twice a day. We ran to work each morning and each evening, come rain or shine, we would get together just up-stream of Kingston bridge on the River Thames and spend another hour and a half in our canoe racing up and down working on our stamina and technique. At weekends in the winter when we weren’t working, we travelled around the country to various rapid rivers and competed in races. We were quite good. We raced C2s which is a two-man canoe with each of us having a single ended paddle.IMG_5741

To say it was like an indian canoe was to compare a Skoda skip to a Ferrari but you get the idea. Unfortunately, some years after we packed up, I lost all my trophies, medals and photos so the images you see here are from the interweb but they give a clue as to what it was like. It was dangerous, some of the rapids we raced down were truly enormous but we were young and therefore totally indestructible.

I think this shows the scale of some of the rapids we used to race down

I think this shows the scale of some of the rapids we used to race down

Sometimes we would look at a set of rapids and think; “Oh this looks good.” and we would jump in and swim down it. We had a brilliant few years. Omar went and lived in Australia and I haven’t been in a canoe or kayak ever since although there are times when I miss it and consider taking it up again but in a more leisurely fashion.

Note the rescue swimmers on the bank

Note the rescue swimmers on the bank

A good friend of ours, Norman (as in Norman Wisdom) would come up to races with us. Norman didn’t compete, he came along to paddle down the river, have a good time and meet a girl in a wet tee-shirt. Norman was a nice helpful kind of guy but very accident prone. Things would just happen to him. He broke his ankle getting off a bus once and what he did to someones house is a tale all of its own. The last time I saw him he was off for his first ever parachute jump.IMG_5239

One particular weekend we were racing on the River Dee at Llangollen in North Wales. It was an important race for us as it was one of five races in the season that was “ranked” and you scored points according to where you finished. Top ranked in each class then went on for selection to the British team. The nice thing about the Dee race was that a canal ran parallel to the river from the centre of Llangollen up to Horseshoe Falls where the start was, and continued on to wherever it went to. Omar and I used this as our warm up before the race.

Love the expressions. I was the guy in the back, while Omar was in front although this isn't us.

Love the expressions. I was the guy in the back, while Omar was in front although this isn’t us.

Race day arrived and we set off up the canal to warm up. Norman drove the car up to the start and met us there. We transferred our boat to the river and got ourselves sorted. However, I was having trouble fitting my spray deck on. To put one on it was a case of back, front, sides but every time I tried to put the bloody thing on at the front of my cockpit, the back came off. We were getting closer to our start time and I needed to get this thing on toot sweet. Norman volunteered to help and thinking he was going to lay on the bank and hold the back on I agreed. So Norm jumped in the river thinking that as we were next to the bank it would be maybe knee deep at most. Unfortunately for him, the river was about 10 feet deep just there and he disappeared from view, resurfacing about 15 yards downstream and heading for a lovely rapid known as “The Serpents Tail”.

“Did Norm just jump in?” said Omar.

“Yeah” I replied.

“Doesn’t he know it’s 10 feet deep there?”

“He does now.”

“Spray deck on?”asked Omar.

“Yep.” I replied

“Ok. Let’s go fella.”

So we went off to the start and left poor old Norm to his fate. We found out later that he had actually ended up swimming The Serpents Tail and was rescued by the swimmers and rescue boat at the bottom of the rapid. He was fine though. We won that race too.2014_Downriver_Worlds_2

I have a great many fond memories of that time in my life and who knows, perhaps soon I’ll start again and race in the Masters or whatever they have these days. Or maybe I’ll just paddle up and down the river. It is a tremendous way to get and stay fit.

Nah. I was never like this.

Nah. I was never like this.

Ah. Just seen the time. I think I’d better go mow the lawn and get stuck into the rest of the jobs I’m supposed to do.

Have a great day.

More Dick soon.auto




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.