Friday, 26 August 2011

I Went Canoeing

Guest Post
Hi Folks,
Sedate Canoeing

A good mate (Simon) over here in France wanted to take his two sons (Tom and Ben) out canoeing and his wife, Rosie being of a slightly chicken nature wisely chose not to risk life and lung by getting involved. Turned out I was short listed as being the next likely candidate, or stupid enough to say yes without thinking. Last time I was in a canoe I capsized 3 times in 10 minutes. I explained that to Simon and he was fine about that. So we booked the good weather for the Wednesday afternoon and flipped a coin for who got his least favourite son (joking) and I had Tom, Ben went with his Dad.

We got to Clecy and set off in their van with a trailer behind loaded with big plastic things that resembled flattened bananas and drove 7kms up stream. (that's just over 4½ miles in old money). Turned out those flat bananas were our boats. I thought they were buoys!

We set off fine, though the nosedive into the water was a tad intimidating and any hopes I might have had of keeping my bum dry were dashed. I'd even dried the seat before getting into the canoe! Sitting in a puddle needlessly seemed just too stupid for words. I shouldn't have worried really, that entry made sure I was wet up to my waist! Yes I've crossed the instructor off my Christmas card list!

Oh and the "Instructions"  were: red end forward, yellow end at the back. Hollow side up. This is a paddle. Y'know essential stuff like that!

5 mins into our epic voyage we were just getting the hang of the paddles when we found the first and biggest weir. I was all set to get out of the canoe and carry it around but noticed some poor sod got caught in the flow and went over the edge screaming... then came back for another go! NUTTERS! Then I realised this was meant to be. Sheesh, talk about baptism of fire.
Ben & Simon on the Weir

So with beating heart and suppressed girly scream Tom and I went over the edge. Poor Tom at the front end got the full force of the bow wave as the nose went under. Him being light though meant we didn't go that deep, unlike the couple that followed me. He was wet only to his eyelids. I suspect that woman's spleen was still wet two days later.

Anyway Simon and Ben wanted another go and so did Tom, I thought we were tempting fate, but was peer pressured into conceding. So Tom and I went for it again, dragging the canoe up some handy rocks beside the sheer 17ft cliff edge. (well it felt a lot higher than it was) Turned out hauling that canoe was a lot easier than I thought, but it did mean getting out of the boat and involved some wading. YUK! I think I have some cat genes in my make up because I don't like getting wet needlessly. Oh well needs must. Besides I think Tom would have hit me with the oar had I said no.

So we had 3 goes each. Simon even took both boys down with him at once. I got that on film. Anyway the
Aaron -  a born natural?
boys have some great memories and I had a few more grey hairs but I had to admit it really was fun. I saw 3 other boats capsize on landing, so Simon and I can count ourselves lucky... or a natural born canoeists

The rest of our paddle downstream to Clecy was a relaxed and very scenic. Passed some derelict buildings and managed not to snag ourselves on fishing lines from people on the riverside. Waved, did the "Bonjour" thing, look at us paddling in our boats aren't we clever. I bet they see it all the time. Anyway it was a novelty for us.

At one point of deep river Ben climbed out of his boat onto a rock midstream and Tom thought that was a good idea too, so we paused and then the two boys had a swim. That idea soon lost interest as they were shivering within 5 mins. At least Tom was. Truth be told I was a bit worried for him, he's just skin and bone, no blubber, unlike me. He got back in the boat and I had him take over the paddling a bit so he could warm up and I think it worked.
Tom hitting the 'Bow Wave'

Next couple of bends we had showed familier scenery ahead of us and then we found ourselves amongst the pedelos and dinghys. Somehow we resisted the ramming speed thing us now being experienced rivermen. 10 mins later were were climbing out of the canoes having had a really, REALLY good time. Dripping wet but grinning.

Big thanks to Simon for asking me along. I had a great time and will do it again. Thanks to Tom for being such a great sport and allowing me to do 90% the paddling. I sooo enjoyed that. Thanks to Ben not coming with me and making me paddle fast to keep up with his Dad who made it look so easy. I was tail end charlie most of the time.

All in all a throughly good time. Took us just over 2 hours. Any longer and it would have become a chore. We both agreed what we did was enough and was fun just like that.

Woke the next day with only mildly aching shoulders but otherwise fine. My trainers still haven't dried out though.

Aaron / Dad / Uncool Aaron / Biker

Copy of email Aaron sent to his family and friends. Glad you enjoyed the trip and thanks for helping with the boys - Simon


  1. sounds like fun :)

  2. They certainly did have fun - a real boys out together sort of a day. Ben keeps asking to go again but I'm not sure Simon has dried out yet!!


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