SnowFest 2010

… was tops.

Sue and I got a bit older. The rest of us collected hangover, bruises, fresh tracks, bunnies and smiles on the slopes.

Some random photos (stolen from facebook) from the trip. Big thankyous to Sue for all the organising. You can organise my Birthday celebrations every year.

The Perfect Seat

So, you need the right shoes for running, the right glass for your beer…

Now the right seat to watch videos

The Perfect Seat

Provided of course that the video was something like this.

Oh yeah, I have a kayak again… no more swimming :)

Washburn report

On Sunday, a whole bunch of folk headed to the Washburn – Alison, Kaylia, me, Penny, Bob, Frank, Will, Cath, Chris, Anna, Splinky and Kev. Will found it “too boring”, or maybe he was too hungover from party the night before, and decided to jog the shuttles instead, which was very handy for the rest of us.

Was a lovely day with brilliant sunshine. Despite the weather, the water was chilly – luckily only one swim between us all day.

The Washburn is certainly pricier than we’d remembered – £8 even for bcu members – I guess I’ve only usually gone in an evening before, is it cheaper on the eve runs?

On our last run, we found a lone random, “paddling without his boat”, haha. I’m sure he was delighted to be rescued by us 5 girls (not). Unfortunately he was too young to legally purchase swimbeers.

Hooray for a nice sunny Sunday with good company.

Also spent Saturday in Angelsey, which had nice surf, not huge, but very pleasant – lets have some surf trips this spring,

Happy paddling xxxxh

Feels like

And the forecast today is blizzard snow, Easterly winds blowing cold air from Siberia, highs of zero degrees in North Wales, but with the wind chill factor this will feel like -4.

What exactly does -4 feel like? Oh great, lets find out.

On Sunday, we set off for the Dee, AlisonH, HelenH, Kaylia, KatieL and Penny. Lately, we’ve been doing a kind of “paddling for softies” progression (Penny is strengthening her shoulder, while Alison and me are just plain soft), so this January we’ve been to Chester (yes, the flat bit) and Trevor (there’s one rapid) with Kim, as well as a few runs of the Burrs last week. So, this time, in the spirit of easy rivers, we tagged on several miles of the flat section of the Dee above Horseshoe as a warm up.

Warm up.

The section was very pretty, we saw heron, dippers, and some men with a nice bonfire who shouted at us a lot. The sun shone down, occasionally making to us at the bottom of the valley, but could not counteract the biting, miserable, face-exfoliating wind. We soon lost all feeling in our fingers and toes, expecially Penny who bravely struggled on with no gloves.

By the time we got to horseshoe falls, two of us had hypothermia but still enough sense left to stop paddling and jog back towards the car – thanks Manchester for the lift! – while the other three were obviously further gone, beyond thinking rationally, and carried on paddling.

Before serpents tail, my left hand was a disembodied object, no connection for the messages I was sending it, and no response in movement. Luckily it was curved into a hook shape to grip the paddle, hey ho. I went down serpents fine, keeping left and skimming happily over the shoulder of the stopper, aiming for, and making, the nice little eddy river left.

Which I then found I couldn’t leave… Oops.

Kaylia was next, and as she headed on line, perfectly aiming at me and shouting “Get out the way! Get out the way!” Sad to say, swerving to miss me was her undoing, and the resulting swim cooled her down thouroughly, in case she was feeling too warm. Katie, the one we were supposedly “looking after”, bobbed down the rapid easily like a little duck, and didn’t even get her hair wet.

Kaylia had experineced the pain of a whole body instant chill, while by now, I was actually beginning to feel much better – probably the adrenaline – and my hand had become mine again, rather than an alien lump of chilled meat. The rest of the river was fine, and at Town Falls, we all made the line we’d planned, left of the slot, despite all the “helpful” advice from the pub balcony encouraging us to “Go right! Go right!”

At the bottom, hooray, dry socks have never felt so good. A quick phone call to find out about the uni, who were over at Teeside slalom, getting the brunt of the east wind and gales. They had come 7th! Wow, what a fab result!

Now for the shuttle. There is a picture I want to put here, but someone won’t let me. Suffice to say, the lady at the house by chainbridge wants us to write to the council and ask for bollards to be put in – apparently this is not the first time cars have ended up at a jaunty angle in the evil ditch there with their back wheels shoulder-height off the ground and their exhaust pipes pointing at the sky.

Hooray for farmers with towbars, we love you.

Next we retired to the Sarah Ponsonby pub, and made our resolutions to take a bit more notice of the weather forcast next time.

Dusi Canoe Marathon

Hello, just back from South Africa, very nice.

Right now one of the top news stories on the TV and newspapers there is the upcoming 58th Dusi Canoe Marathon, which starts on Thursday.

The Dusi runs from Pietermaritzburg to Durban, 125km, 3days, 1,500 participants (!) in all manner of craft.

As well as various rapids, weirs and portages, hazards include: e-coli, water hyacinths, and crocodiles.

In 2008, Michael Mbanjwa became the first black person to win the Dusi, competing in the K2 class together with teammate and 7 times champion Martin Dreyer. This year, Mbanjwa is entering the K1 event, while Dreyer is putting his energies into a new project to get local villagers involved in kayaking – over the last 3 months, he has been working with a group of herdsmen who live alongside the Dusi, providing training, equipment and backup so that they can enter the race down their local river.

What is really noticable is the sheer amount of media coverage this canoe race generates in SA – the race hadn’t even started yet, and there were already full page features in the national newspapers, interviews with past winners on the TV, together with highlights of previous years, i.e. fibreglass K2s getting kerunched on the rapids, and paddler profiles and speculation about who will win in the Sports pages. The routemap is  printed on cans of beer and bottles of  pop. Nice to see kayaking in the news.

dusimap

White Christmas

A trip planned based on the theory that I can’t possibly be with my family at Christmas, so I am going to encourage everyone else to skip out on theirs as well. Skipping out on family turned out to be less popular than I expected, the only locals to make the trip were JimBob & Andy Ince.  Joined by the orphans for the year, myself, Ed, Dan, Sharon (Aus), Thai (Alaska) all going to visit Chris (exiled in France for a Season).

The tone for the trip was very much set on the first night, we laid out or luggage to discover we had more bottles of spirits than we had people. Obviously to get through all this we would need to be drinking all day… Christmas presents were given early and by day two everyone was packing a hipflask filled with their spirit of choice. Which helped to build up courage above the black runs, and also reduced the price of our nights out. One round can last all night when you can load up with every trip to the bathroom.

Christmas eve I am told was good… somewhere along the line we invented “Irish Russians”. A bit like a White Russian, only replace the milk with Baileys… then for some reason everything gets a little hazy.

Christmas gifts continued, and on Christmas morn we were all packing Santa Suits provided by Dan. So by mid afternoon Seven “Sober” Santas dragged themselves to the top of the mountain. In order to slide back down.

Thats about it, Video was created by Thai. Much thanks to everyone who came along and made it my best Christmas since landing in the Northern Hemisphere (Same time next year?).

Stay Classy…

Congrats Dr Rachel

Graduated 8th Dec Congratulations!

rachelgraduate

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