Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Kayaking porn . . .

Be gentle with me, I am a symposium virgin.

This weekend that is going to change. I am making the trek from South to North Wales, to the Gogledd where "Gogs" do live. Passport is ready and have brushed up on my Gog speak. (I should explain there is a bit of the Irish, Cork and Kerryman banter between the North and South Walians.)

Can you tell I'm excited, well wouldn't you be. Anglesey, hub of Welsh sea kayaking and all that. Nigel Dennis is running the 24th Anglesey Sea Kayaking Symposium.

It promises to be a long weekend orgy of kaykaking stuff. I promise to share the kayaking porn when I return, if that is the overfalls don't swallow, but spit me back out!

Wednesday, 23 April 2008

Friends Reunited

Until today, I haven't walked for three years. That long ago I had a fortunate motorcycle accident. This involved trying to pass myself and motorcycle under a crash barrier on a remote Spanish twisty mountain road, and fly without wings over the edge.

Not recommended, but it did have some useful outcomes. I thought at the time I was about to check out-the exact moment was-"I don't think my head is going to fit under that".

I walked away with an ankle broken in 3, and a rearranged perspective on life. I say fortunate accident, as it became a life reassessment moment, and in a roundabout way led me to return to surf kayaking and the discovery of sea kayaking. (And that really was the end of life as I knew it!)

The rather over dramatic introduction of not walking needs some clarification. I refer to mountain walking and the reuniting was with my boots. It was refreshing to get out for a proper walk with some old friends (of the human kind) after such a long time.

I like mountains, enough to have been an active member for over 10 years of a mountain rescue team. My stomping ground was in the Brecon Beacons, the wilder, remoter, west of it. Here I developed a mentality of carrying all the required kit for the "what if" situation. (And the additional kit do deal with the current "has happened" shout.

This mentality seems to have found a home nicely in sea kayaking. Day, Night, Sun, Rain, Wind, Fog, Snow, whatever. Being able to face and deal with the weather mother nature decided upon is very empowering, to the extent that her moods lacked respect (within the remit of our sub 1000m operating zone I should stress).

The sea on the other hand (or foot) has the greatest of my respect.

I hope it always stays that way.

Wednesday, 16 April 2008

Walk or take the Escalator

After a few days of windy conditions it was a change to come home and find the wind had dropped off a little. Looked as if it would turn into one of those nice evenings.
I jumped at the chance to nip out for a short paddle along the coast.
The tide had just turned and was starting to ebb. Having no shuttle, it would be a there and back trip. Decided therefore to go out against the tide from Southerndown towards Nash.
I've paddled this stretch of water a few times now. It isn't getting boring, I guess just like a favorite local walk, it is convenient, less than 10 mins from home and along a beautiful stretch of the Glamorgan Heritage Coast.
Each time I've done it it is different. Today it felt like a jogging trip, a feel good trip to balance the weeks calorific intake against energy expended, so it felt good to be working hard against the gradually increasing opposing tide. After about an hour I could see the base of Nash Lighthouse and turned for home. Paddling back into the setting sun with the tide this time, it only took about 20 mins to return.

The sun's going down like a big bald head - Sharkey's Night - Laurie Anderson

I remember when I was little, (and confess, occasionally still do for the hell of it), running up escalators the wrong way to see if I could make it to the top.

Do you take the lift or the stairs?

It is fairly plain at which point I turned back, but I do worry how many kids these days can actually interpret graphs.

Saturday, 12 April 2008

Stand and deliver!

This weekend for Mark Rainsley is the culmination of 18 months hard research, hard paddling, hard organising and no doubt some hard core fun. It is the launch date of his new book South West Sea Kayaking.

Devon bound, a group of kayakers first meet up at AS Watersports in Exeter, where the book is officially unveiled, before heading down to the Pigs Nose Inn for some home cooked victuals, cider, slide show and talk.

Everyone unashamedly (self included) seemed to quickly look through to see how many times their photos were in it and if they could match Heathers picture count. Not a chance!
The book is a great resource for anyone wanting to explore the varied south west pointy out bit of the UK. 50 trips with all the local knowledge you would want to plan a safe and interesting trip for each one, and some great pics (of me) of course!

Slapton Sands

Not able to stay down for a Sunday paddle I teamed up with Andy Levick for a short paddle in the afternoon. We paddled from Strete Gate on Slapton Sands (site of disasterous Operation Tiger) through a bit of a squall to the Dartmouth estuary, had a great Devonshire Cream Tea (what else) at the old castle café before heading back.

Just before the squall passed by

Andy enjoying the sunshine

The American amphibious tank, recovered from the bay, used as a memorial to the 749 lives lost during Operation Tiger 28 April 1944 in preparation to the D-day landings in Normandy.
Quick, sharp! to the pub!

By the time we arrived at the Pigs Nose we were eager for our tucker and many a cider was swiftly sunk, being enlightened by Marks entertainment.

Start Point lighthouse


Thursday, 3 April 2008

Mine Blowing

Half day off, surfing on a lovely sunny afternoon.

I was being waved at from the beach to come ashore. Looking around I could see it was not just me, but everyone was leaving the seashore. I began wondering if the sea was contaminated.

Not quite, we were being cleared by the local coastguard to allow a Navy Bomb Disposal team to blow up a WWII marine mine that had been discovered on the beach.

I'm not sure if it had floated there or had been uncovered, as I didn't go over and have a look. Apparently it was one of the kind with spikes like the picture above.

Chris managed to get a shot of the water blast as the thing blew up.

Over 60 years on, a stark reminder of the debris of war.

After the bang, we were allowed back onto the water, but by then the surf had died down.

Photos (except the mine) by Chris with his new camera.