Tag Archives: River Dee


I’ve been away working for the last week and I’m still feeling a bit cream crackered and brain activity is at an all time low. However, I will soldier on and hope that some of my few remaining brain cells start to connect while I’m writing this post.


Sometime in the near future I will write about what my mate Norm did to someones house but for now I just want to show what he experienced taking a swim in the River Dee many years ago. In my last post I mentioned he had jumped into the river to help me with my spray deck without realising how deep the river was and he kind of got swept away and ended up swimming down a rapid known as The Serpents Tail. This is what it looks like:

Norm had to swim down this. Plonker!

Norm had to swim down this. Plonker!

And this is what awaited him at the bottom:

As Norm approached I suspect he may have done a bit in his trousers!

As Norm approached I suspect he may have done a bit in his trousers!

That wave is known as a “stopper” and it does exactly what it says on the tin. Imagine a whirlpool on its side – that’s effectively what a stopper is and they can stop you dead and can be very dangerous to someone forced to swim into it as it will hold you in and keep spinning you around, mostly underwater. Omar and I were in Austria for a Europa Cup event some years ago and we got it slightly wrong on one of our practice runs and hit a huge stopper at an angle. It pulled us under and then spat us out like a Polaris missile. We were vertical and completely clear of the water. Bear in mind we both weighed 11 stone soaking wet, our canoe weighed another 20 kilos, was 16 feet long and that stopper just spat us out. I wish I still had the photo of that!

This guy is free styling and this is deliberate but you get the idea. This stopper is a tiddler! Imagine what a big one can do.

This guy is free styling and this is deliberate but you get the idea. This stopper is a tiddler! Imagine what a big one can do.


I’ve been away from home for a whole week and my garden has gone bloody berserk! I haven’t got any weeds but I do have a great many triffids!KONICA MINOLTA DIGITAL CAMERA Just sorting them out is going to take quite a lot of effort and will undoubtedly give me back ache. However, my ornamentals are also doing very well and have suffered very little damage from sl*gs and sn**ls so far.20150513_090412 My experiment with making a concoction from stinging nettles has gone out the window, or more accurately, down the drain. PIL didn’t realise what I was doing so chucked it away. She doesn’t find it odd that there buckets containing various gooey substances dotted around the garden.  Not a drama, lots of stinging nettles around so I can restart that. While I was away, I spent a little time talking to Pete, one of the gardeners who works on the estate where we were and he told me that they use coffee grounds as a sl*g deterrent and it seemed to work reasonably well. He also told me that a feed made from stinging nettles (soak a load in a bucket of water for a couple of weeks and use the resultant liquor) is one of the best natural plant feeds you can get. I’m also hoping that doing this will deter sl*gs as the little buggers never seem to eat nettles and covering my ornamentals with nettle juice may just confuse them. I have to say that Pete has to be one of the most contented men I have ever met.

Pete. On e of the happiest and most content blokes I've ever had the great fortune to meet

Pete. On e of the happiest and most content blokes I’ve ever had the great fortune to meet

He is a retired fireman, a job he always wanted to do and as far as he was concerned he was living the dream and now his dream continues as he gardens, which he loves, and gets paid for doing it. I am soooo jealous!


I’m still looking into this. There seems to be a major problem with honey bee colonies dying en masse and no one really seems to know why.Honeybees While I was away, we all had to suddenly leg it as a swarm of bees came over where we were working. I let the estate manager know so that he could take action in case they landed inside the buildings and pissed off his guests. My gardener mate Pete came along shortly afterwards looking for them but found no trace and concluded they probably returned to their hive. Now oddly enough, scientists looking into why bee colonies are dying off have been hindered by the lack of bee bodies. Apparently, the bees fly off never to return. Aliens? It would also appear that farmers rent bee colonies to pollinate their crops as and when the crop is ready and in full flower which may explain why I’ve not seen too many honey bees this year. I will report back on this subject later.


It’s amazing what’s provided these days. The hotel I stayed in was very pleasant, the staff were nice, the bed lovely and comfy, the shower was good and the TV remote worked. My first morning I got in the lift to get breakfast, pressed the button and a womans voice said;

“Going down”.

“Ooo” I thought, “I think I like this hotel but she’ll need to be quick as I’m only on the third floor”.

man & woman in lift I’m pretty certain I was alone in the lift so there wasn’t a queue but I remained fully zipped up throughout my descent. I did mention it to the reception staff that while the woman had said she was going down, nothing had actually happened. They said they would get an engineer in to sort the problem out but perhaps they had to wait for a spare part as the poor woman remained stuck in her little cupboard somewhere in that lift for the duration of my stay. I hope she’s ok.BH-NwgdCUAI-6yg.jpg-large I am in dire need of a cup of tea so I’m off. I hope you have an absolutely smashing day.

More Dick soon.auto

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