one man, one boat, one paddle and one goal!! to kayak the length of england for water aid to raise as much money as possible, some 380 miles along a route which has never been attemted before in a world record attempt. read everything here and view updated pictures for the training and the journey itself as well as the aftermath!! please please make a donation and be part of this with me

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Pinkies Great Australian Adventure Vol.1 07-10-2007

Today we set off on our first Journey in Pinky Flip, a 1980's Toyota Hiace Campervan complete with four speed, located as a shift handle on the steering column, Aircon 290 ( 2 windows wound down at 90km/hr) and a lot of pink attachments courtesy of Wini.

Our aim was to motor West of Brisbane inland to a town called Mitchell which was dubbed "The Gateway to the Outback" which housed an Artesian Spa - our main reason for visiting.

The day started badly with a delay in Brisbane shopping for last minute essentials eventually with us leaving Chermside at 11:00am not the proposed 9am, the Tom Tom then decided to lead Pinkie Flip through the most hilly and windy road sections of Brisbane an otherwise flat city to Ipswich and the highway that would lead us to Toowoomba. As we chugged along the highway we watched in silent worry as the temperature gauge gradually rose until stopping dangerously closely to the warning yellow block on the gauge. as we approached Toowomba there is a long hill that ascends from the range into the mountain town with a steep winding road for some km's. Halfway up the hill we were forced to stop behind standing traffic still dangerously close to the yellow danger zone on the gauge, as we started to pull away again the engine finally overheated and we stopped, a few painful seconds passed by as cars and lorries rounded us before a chirpy fellow in a yute offered to tow us up the hill, thank god we thought as he put us out of our embarrassing misery. He tied us on and as he began to pull away it was obvious our weight would be too much as he struggled to pull us we snapped and jerked our way forward until eventually he gave up and dropped us at the side of the road halfway up the hill along with 3 other cars who were all there with the same problem,]. We all laughed and waited for the cars to cool before another toyota hiace pulled up with the same problem and offered some friendly advice, eventually we made it up the hill and pulled in for petrol.

Unsuspecting I got out the car undid the petrol cap and all I remember after that is becoming blind, soaked form head to toe and tasting the unsavoury flavour of petrol as filled my mouth, I later found out that Hiace petrol tanks work on a vacuum system so the cap must be removed slowly letting releasing any pressure build up. As I dried off we searched for a garage and booked Pinky in for a full service the next day and over a schooner of gold to help numb the taste of fuel booked into Toowoomba motor village for our first nights stop, which turned out to be a lovely site with great amenities from the 1970/80's and friendly staff, over a luke warm pizza we settled down and enjoyed out first night sleeping in Pinky Flip.

Long time no Write

It has been a while since I last updated the Blog but I am back on now and will continue writing about a new adventure, Unfortunately back in Februray I dislocated my shoulder whilst Kayaking and have been out injured for a while since, however a lot has happened in the mean time. I finally Graduated Uni with a 2:1 in Geology and was given a Job in Australia so I am now out here working in the Queensland Bush and spending my free time travelling, so for now the blog will become a travel Journal as I enjoy 10 days of travel every month with my Partner Wini down under. but as my shoulder strenghtens and I find free of crocodile water I will start to get back into training and prepare for future events.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

New Year New Goals

2006 saw the launch of PaddleAid as an idea and a goal to raise money for WaterAid. This was done to help improve the standard of life for people who live without one of the most abundant and readily available commoditities world wide, yet have to survive with little water. I wanted to do this via kayaking a hobby of many people world wide and myself as we enjoy this essential and life supporting commodity in our spare time. The year was agreat success as over £3000 was raised and 200 peoples lives have been changed for the better by this achievement. I could not have done it without all your help, support and of course your donations. So a huge thankyou.

So what now in 2007? the new official paddleaid website is now up and running and found at the website is aimed to keep you updated on what I have planned in the upcoming months as well as any other charitable events that are taking place within paddle sports to help raise the profile and make a difference. We will continue to be supporting the access to rivers campaign which is going from strength to strength and look forward to any new campaigns that may be sent our way over the next 12 months. You can email any of your own events or campaigns to we would be more than happy to promote them and support you in your vision.

As for me I am hoping to increse massively the contribution made so far to WaterAid and continue to make that difference with your help. I already have two more record attempts planned and will be updating the blog shortly.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

lets all get involved and make a difference!

I recently came across another bloogers website who had posted about this summers expedition for which I was most grateful however a comment posted on the site caught my eye. Another blogger had written how it could possibly be a world record when so many other longer journeys have been achieved? And was it truly for the furthest distance only?

The world record was for the furthest distance which is a far cry short of many journeys taken already especially the ones from british columbia to Alaska, or the Paul Caffyn's journey around Australia. However I think they are missing the point of what it was that I achieved and was trying to achieve. Through a natural resource that many people like myself take for granted and use for our hobbies and my great love of that hobby I was trying to help raise money and awareness for a charity that supplies what we have in abundance for our pleasure to those who need it to survive.

Unfortunatley though media coverage and PR do not always just go for everyday fundraising events so in order to maximise the money and awareness that could be raised I attached the world record attempt. This enabled me to raise to date £3000 and help supply a clean sustainable water supply to 200 people in the third world and counting.

It is my hope that other paddlers will get involved and do something they love and enjoy doing in order to supply water to others world wide and help support the cause paddleaid for wateraid. thsi way by doing what we enjoy we can help others live! I would love to hear off fellow paddlers who have any ideas of their own to raise money for paddleaid I would love to help you get involved no matter what it is you want to do and that even goes for want to be paddlers who wish to get into the sport.

Thankyou again for all your support

Sunday, November 12, 2006

World Records!!!!

It has now been confirmed by the guiness book of records that this summers kayak is an official record.

The record is the furthest distance kayaked solo and stands at 327 miles.

Hopefully this will not be beaten and a will be entered into next years official book, but just to be on the safe side I am planning another world record attempt this January to ensure I hold two world records and hopefully one will make it into the book fingers crossed!!!!

The main reason as always though behind the madness of my endurance kayaking is to ensure money and awareness is raised to help provide a clean sustainable water supply to the third world and so far with your help we have managed to change the lives of 200 people!!! a huge thankyou and lets try push for that target of £5000 and beyond.


Friday, August 11, 2006

finally back from spain!!!

Well since completing the solo world record attempt I have had to head to Spain and the Pyrenees to do my dissertation for my degree in Geology. I know har work running around the mountains fof several weeks looking at rocks ;p

however now I am back and it is time to start with paddleaid 2007 with plenty of ideas banding around in my head time to settle down and work out where to go next, any ideas that you may have as well please let me know at as over the next year I want to develop the charity and expand it to get more people involved and raise more money.

it is now time to hit training hard ready for the new year and campaign having had time to relax and reflect on what was achieved during Paddleaid 2006 where to date with the effort of everyone involved I have managed to make over £2000 so a big thankyou to everyone who contributed and helped out

althoug I was meant to be out in Spain working on my dissertation I did however manage to sneak a few fun activities in with some free climbing, scree running, cultural excursions to barcelona, mountaineering and of course a little bit of........... kayaking!!!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Day 11 the last stand!!

After a great night last night at the willow tree marina we awoke fresh and ready for the last day looking forward to gentle paddle into the city centre. The campsite in a west London park was actually suprisingly quiet and comfortable. With only one interruption as a couple walked past the tent at 3.30am surprised to see us there, as we were surprised to be there. But as we awoke and packed away the tent for the last time the mood was good and relaxed and with only 10miles to go there was no rush and we chilled in the marina having a relaxed breakfast and one last goodbye to Graham the warden.
As we jumped in the canal for what would be the last time a photo of big boat little boat just had to be took as much as I love the kayak I reckon next time it would be more comfortable and easier in the white one!
After letting our guard down and relaxing the aching muscles came into play making the last stint hard work and slow going, over the last 11days I felt today that I had given my all and it was now just the adrenalin and determination to complete this adventure that drove me forward. It amazed us how much greenery still lined the canals as we worked our way through London towards Little Venice and the finish.
We knew it would be a low key affair as due to finishing so far ahead of schedule people had been unable to get the day off work and cheer us over the finish line so as we pulled into Little Venice and stopped, we just sat and floated that was it all this work all this effort and now all this pain and like that... it was over! Mixed feelings welled up I was glad to finish at the thought of a shower and a bed for the night but at the same time sadness and emptiness, everything was building upto this moment and now it was here it was over!! Nothing left. Well I say nothing my brain went into overdrive as I started to plan the next expedition, something bigger, more dangerous and challenging to really push the boundaries of endurance kayaking. I hand now done 326miles in around 77hours worth of hard paddling, I can push it harder.
We jumped out the canal and parked ourselves in a lovely barge cafe drinking tea as we waited for Duncan Wilbur the wateraid representative to turn up and take our pic and sign to say it was completed, Duncan was well impressed and a great guy to meet at the end. He was really enthusiastic about what I had achieved and was well behind pushing it further so watch this space PaddleAid 2007 is on and going to be bigger and hopefully now everyone can get involved and try kayaking and set yourself challenges in order to raise money for a most worthy charity.
We must have sat in the same cafe for 5 hours waiting for the support team to arrive and take us away. My mum and sister had made the journey from the lakes to london to pick us up in only a few hours, a journey that took me 77hours over 11days, but we were glad to site them and loaded the kayaks up ready to make the way home a journey of which I would share my part in driving, no rest for the wicked. At this point I would love to give abig shout out firstly to my paparazzi sister for her great piccies, updates on my myspace and apparently some great navigation through London, secondly to my mum who over the course of the last few weeks drove hundreds of miles to drop off and pick up my dad to be with me and of course my dad for being there at the beginning and the end without any of them this would not have happened and the money would not have been raised so a huge thankyou, the effort you have all put in has been amazing!!

As for me, well now I am off to Spain to look at rocks and recharge but this is only the beginning I have plenty more ideas for next year and will definately be back with a bigger challenge and a new record to break. So watch this space and keep checking in to see any developments. Have a great summer and keep on paddling who knows where it will take you!!!

Day 10 Fathers Day

Day 10 was fathers day and so it was good to wake up after a really good nights sleep and spend it paddling with my Dad, however with all the preparation and the fact I had been kayaking for the last two weeks I had forgot it was fathers day. As my dad slipped it in and reminded me of the day I decided that my gift was the fact that he was paddling for the weekend and that I would treat him to lunch, so with a chuckle we set off on the day from hell!! We already knew today would be hard as we made on last push to get us as close to the finish as possibe and with being the edge of London we were well aware of the number of locks facing us. Usually I would trolley up and walk round a massive series of locks to saves in and out repeated action. We started off walking round the locks but the trolley we were given to test for a danish company finally let us down as the wheels fell apart leaving just a plastic wheel to try pulling along for distances. This was a big let down. Now we faced paddling for a few minutes reaching a lock dragging the kayak around the lock then clambering back into the boat and paddling again for a couple of minutes until the next life draining ordeal. The going was slow with the hours passing and the miles still remaining. The good nights sleep seemed so distant now as we dragged around the 15,16,17 whatever number it was lock. Tempers were short and it all seemed like so much hard work. Every now and then though we were lucky enough to get a miles paddling in and see some of the canal side developments being built along the canal. These seemed to be a common theme through out the London boroughs. Also glimpses of some mansions came into view beautifully modeled by my dad as he paddles past one in Hemel hampstead. Just as the trolley had broke so it would seem was our spirit. With midday approaching and only a few miles completed we decided to pull in and take an early lunch to help revive ourselves. As we found a nice pub and dragged the kayaks the couple of hundred meters into the beer garden we greeted with the enews that no pub food was being served today, the fitting response to an already frustrating morning. Eventually we did find a lovely pub the coy carp and settled for lunch, where we had the nicest soup spinach and creme fresh! very nice followed by a good roast dinner A great fathers day treat. As we eat we consulted the map and found that we were about 28miles away from the finish so although a stressful morning it had been we had covered some good distance. Even more spirit lifting was the fact that there were now only four locks left between here and the finish and they all fell in the next 3miles!! Great news. So we decided to push on and find a great camp in London near the finish. As we head back out towards the boats I felt satisfied and full from a great lunch and relaxed as it was almost done now. This was wind down, as I dropped the boat into the canal and started to climb in I fell forward and lost my balance tipping the kayak, thankfully I caught it just in time and fell into the seat to wave of water filling the boat. I had survived the first possible fall for the entire trip only a short distance from the finish! No time for complacency that would have been major embarrassing.
We pushed on and finally arrived at the last lock where the celebratory picture of thumbs up wa staken. From here on in it was just straight forward paddling. At the lock here it was nice to see some signets only a few days old. Now I know I hate swans but these signets were just so cute, what made the picture even better was the lovely ramp that someone had built and put up for the signets to exit the canal. When talking to the residents along the tow path apparently the swans had been nesting there for years but unfortunately they had lost all their young last year as the signets couldnt climb the steep canal side to get out and all died. So to see this ramp built was a lovely touch.
As we put our heads down now and moved forward counting down the miles until we reached Little Venice there was a sense of great achievement, after
consulting the guide we decided on aiming for willow tree marina as our last camp, around 10miles away from the finish line setting up a nice leisurely finish on the last day. The other thought behind this marina was the mention of showers as it had now been four days since my last shower and frankly I stank! So the emphasis was on reaching this marina and of course hoping we were welcome to stay.
Along the way as we pushed for the marina we came to the last junction and a great sign which said we were only 13miles form paddington which was the otherside of the finishing destination. So everything felt good, and a posing session was in order as we both enjoyed having the picture taken with the sign. As we paddled through west London the scenery was getting more industrial and as we paddled through an area that was highly populated by Asians it was great to see the community spirit as the families sat along side canal and waved us past enjoying the evening sun.
The marina was soon reached all that remained was the hard task of being given permission to stay, as we paddled in it struck me how there was no grass around so was worried even with permission there maybe no where to camp after all. I approached a few people sat around a table at the side of the canal and introduced myself saying what it was I was doing. Instantly the marina owner Graham chirped up and said that I should have phoned he could have gotr some money rounded up for us. As I laughed and said thankyou for the offer but actually I was hoping for just a shower and somewhere to sleep for the night everyone laughed and welcomed us in. Graham instantly jumped up and showed us around the marina, saying we were free to use any facilities and welcome to stay. After showing us around he insisted I had a shower then joined them for a while to talk about what it was I was doing, I hope the insisting was about joining them and not having shower although I could understand why it would be the shower ;p After cleaning up and feeling a lot better we joined Graham, Lee, Mike, Laura and heather for cheese and bread. Everyone was amazingly friendly and well interested in what we were doing and for Graham nothing was too much trouble making for an amazing evening which was fitting abd reflective of the journey as a whole. Everyone had been so friendly and helpful and on the last evening this was no different and a great memory to take away from the residents of willow tree marina. Thanks to everyone for an amazing evening and especially the warden Graham for all your help.

Day 9 Doris Day on the canals?

After a restless nights sleep with the big hard lads of Stoke Bruene seeing to that my dad and I decided to just pack up and leave. My dad obviously now joining me refreshed after a few days off and myself now 9 days into the expedition really feeling it, was going to make for an interesting day.
Today was to push past Milton Keynes, Leighton Buzzard and reach the oustskirts of London so we set off at a good pace. Catching up on the weeks gossip and the adventure so far it felt nice to have some company. We passed through some great scenery along the Grand Union with a beautiful bridge on dispay as well as a rather interesting and innovative way of using barbwire, lining the locks as we made our way south. The morning was hard going with my arms aching something chronic now and I hadnt been able to use my fingers properly for a couple of days due to gripping the paddle for so long.
We gently made our way to Milton Keynes and after a breakfast which consisted of some nuts and a chewy bar we decided to stop for an early lunch and headed into a canalside Toby Carvery. As we headed in I asked a lady sat outside if she could watch our drinks whilst we filled our plates to over flowing with the roast dinner on offer. As we came to sit in the sunshine the couple were just getting ready to leave but on seeing the platefull with which we returned the question was raised " how much was that then?" after quoting the price the fella raised an eyebrow "grab your stuff again we are staying!" so having filled their plates we sat together and had a great lunch discussing the canals and what we were doing kayaking the full lentgh of them as always this comment got the usual "really? WHY?!"
After lunch we pushed on hard feeling revived if not a little bloated after such a huge meal. The hard graft was made easier with a little cat and mouse game with a barge which was lead by paddington bear sitting proudly at the front. As the open canal stretched ahead we would burn past the barge stopping for a quick chat then at the locks we would stop and relax as the barge caught up. Having being on the canal for 9 days I realised I had yet to see a lock work so took this opportunity to watch and chat to the couple on the barge. As she found out what we were doing she disappeared into the boat and returned with some money to the cause, so a perfect photo opportunity. The pose was struck and with the big glasses and sun hat it was like doris day had graced us on the canal. Brilliant form and a great laugh at the locks. As we pulled away and followed the barge I was again called to the rescue but this time it was to salvage a stray sandal and not a sheep. But was a pleasure to help a damsel in distress.

The miles were coming off now in a relatively easy and normal day with nothing to really report through out the afternoon. A few locks, some swans and a nice icecream stop all pretty normal stuff. As always the people on the barges were overly friendly and as we walked around a lock we stopped to chat to a moored couple. As you would expect as we started chatting at the side of the canal 10miles or so outside of London this couple were from the lakes and lived just along the road to us! Is a small world. Skip and Barbara were great making a cup of tea and setting the table and chairs up so we could chill. My dad was over the moon to find skip was a motorbike enthusiast the same and at 72 had just got a new bike with a bit of a kick.
Pressing on refreshed after the evening brew and donation we pushed through the locks in the pretty town of Marsworth and through the woods that followed in order to find some land that was flat enough to camp on and ended up at a small marina outside of Berkhampstead. We had reached the edge of London! After the great Sunday lunch we had enjoyed earlier in the day, the aptly named marina seemed perfect for the night, cowroast was our resting place.

Day 8 BAAAAAAA! can you see a theme?

Awaking nice and early to a cup of tea from Alan was a true blessing and allowed me to get away early and make a real good run to reach the Grand Union Canal. This would be the last canal that I had to navigate so was a big marker. Nearly done and the prospect of a hot shower and bed at the end gave me new enthusiasm and helped numb the pain that my arms and fingers in particular were facing. As I continued along the beautifully scenic Oxford canal another random animal encounter took place. As I paddled towards a barge which looked moored on the opposite side to the towpath an elderly lady called out, "young man can you help please?" well I was intrigued and of course willing to offer assistance. As I rounded the back of the barge a sheep was entangled in the canal side brambles in the water. Apparently the sheep had fallen off the bank into the canal and become tightly tangled and unable to move. A little aprehensive I paddled close to the sheep and slowly reached out to pat its head. Amazingly the sheep remained extremely calm and didnt try anything funny. I slowly started removing the brambles from around its neck but it was hard going and slow whilst maintaining balance and trying not to scare the sheep. Eventually the barge residents chirped up "would you like some scissors?" well yes that would be kind of helpful thankyou, 20 seconds later the sheep was free and wading around the corner to safety. Well I say safety knowing sheep it would probably end up caught the same 5 meters down!! Oh well I had done my good deed and felt pleased with myself. As I paddled for Braunston and the start of the Grand Union I finally sited my first sign for London which sent shivers down my spine and a sense of achievement filled me. Today had been a good day so far and long may it continue.
I was under no illusions though if I really pushed it today I could get around my last two tunnels the Braunston and the Blissworth. These two bigger than the already conquered Harecastle. After a spot of lunch in Braunston I was ready to tackle the tunnel. As you will already know I am not allowed in the tunnels and need to trolley up and navigate over them. So on came the wheels and up I climbed above the tunnel. This time it was a straight forward path over the tunnel according to the map so no chances of getting lost. Although the climb was steep the path was nice and the views made it worth while, I was really enjoying the break from the strain on my arms and pushed forward over the rolling hills towards the other end of the tunnel with ease.

As with everything though when you get complacent life throws you a little challenge to keep you on your toes!! What started out as a nice path soon turned into a jungle from hell with sweltering heat from the sun and towering nettles the going got real tough. The trolley wheels became jammed with weeds and fell on five occasions leaving me to wade through a sea of nettles in shorts and sandals to pick up the kayak and place it back upright as I dragged with all my remaining energy to get free from the undergrowth. This was certainly a challenge I could live without. As I got hotter and frustrated the path finally widened again and the ordeal was over the tunnel had come close to defeating me but I conquered it and as one last effort to get my own back on Braunston and its tunnel I deposited a little present in the field hehe

With the Braunston tunnel down and conquered I set my sights on the Blisworth tunnel and the little village Stoke Bruene on the otherside where I had agreed to meet my dad. Ready for a weekend paddle together. As I paddled the last stretch I met a lovely couple in a canalside bar who were keen to hear about what I was doing and even donated towards the cause as I sat and chatted another barge I had been kayaking and chatting with from Braunston pulled up and offered to buy me a beer ( the people not the barge that is I try not to talk to barges but you know how sometimes it just happens.) As I left the bar and the couples I was told only 2 miles to Blisworth and the next tunnel so I set off at a good pace ready to get there early so could rest before seeing my dad. As I maintained the pace I thought I was covering some distance surely I should be there? Asking a gent canalside he assured me it was still 2 miles to go. Couple of miles later another walker confirmed it was still 2 mile sto go to Blisworth, eventually after more like 9miles I made it to the tunnel entrance. SO much for only two miles! My dad was now already waiting on the otherside of the tunnel and after the Braunston fiasco a local couple walking their dog said the easiest way to Stoke Bruene was by road. So off I trotted for 2and half miles along the lanes with kayak in tow. Some funny looks that night! And into the village to meet my parents. We had already decided to camp here for the night and after meeting alovely lady and her friends in the bar my camp for the night was to be her lawn, thanks to everyone in the bar that night for being so friendly, especially Michelle for letting us camp in her front garden. Stoke Bruene looked like a lovely village an dthe lawn was extremely comfortable. Unfortunately the nights sleep was ruined by the druken walk home of some local lads who decided to talk about fighting very loudly for an hour at 2am. Although they did talk and shout a lot no punches were thrown, seriously you would have save time an dlet the village sleep by having the fight! it would have been over in seconds and everyone could carry on as normal! oh well suppose you get stupid drunks everywhere!

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Day 7 MOOOO!!!

Today was spent kayaking the Coventry canal and got underway nice and early with a 7am start feeling refreshed after a good nights sleep a shower and some great pub grub. As for the coventry canal itself it was extremely pretty with plenty of rolling fields and some bridges and.... well not much really, was a pretty mundane day didnt even see much in the way of canal side.
Was looking like a hard day of just head down and paddle with little to entertain myself and with England playing later everyone looked like they were staying off the canal in preparation meaning hours passed with out seeing anyone when thankfully the funniest moment of the trip to date spared me from boredom and let me enjoy a giggle for the rest of the day.
To date I have been attacked by swans and geese but finally today a new nemesis raised its ugly head. As I paddled along the canal a distant cow perked up and stared me down, I shrugged this off and carried on. Next minutet the cow lets out an almighty MOOOO and started to charge down the field towards the canal and my boat. Random I know. However the cow charged me and as I later found out they have smaller legs at the front compared to the rear and therefore struggle down hill. As the cow charged and hit the bank it stumbled forward head first into the canal with an almighty splash. As I picked up the pace and paddled past in tears of laughter I thanked the flailing cow for a humorous midday event. Thankfully the cow did make it out fine and unscathed but will think twice before charging me again LOL.

AS I pushed on it got to 5pm before I finally found a pub canal side which was open and serving so completely shattered having not eaten since 6.30am I tucked into a sandwich and watched the buildup to England v Trinidad and Tobago, and enjoyed a cold drink. As the match kicked off I was left with the dilemma of chill out and watch the game or complete more miles. After 15 mins of the match it was obvious what had to be done, so I jumped in the kayak and began to paddle, only to later find out I had made the right decision as the match had remained boring through out the 90mins, at the end of the coventry canal the Oxford canal loomed which would take me all the way to the Grand Union and onto London and here the first major sign post, 77miles to Oxford!!

With renewed energy from the sign I hit it hard and paddled further down the Oxford before sighting a nice patch of grass canal side which was full of moored barges in the middle of nowhere, so was nice and quiet for the night. Spotting a couple around from one of the barges I asked permission to camp in front of their barge and was pleased to not only receive a plot but also a cup of tea, a nice chair and some great company for the night with Alan and Hazel. Alan used to do a lot of kayaking as well as climbing with the army so we swapped stories over a cup of tea and chilled for the evening before passing out after a hard days work still chuckling at the charging cow.

Day 6 Deflated

After Garys great bit of work turning around the boss decision last night and allowing me to stay at Festival park, I got a great nights sleep and felt refreshed and ready to hit it hard in the morning. Having rushed to pack up my tent and loaded the kayak as to not outstay my welcome, I popped the kayak on the trolley and headed for water but nothing happened, the kayak just fell off, strange. I took another five minutes to load the kayak back on and again of it fell without the trolley so much as moving a mm. So off I trot to check the trolley to find a punctured wheel where a massive thorn had gone through the tyre!! Gutted! Without the trolley there was no way to get around the tunnels or flights of locks as the kayak was just to heavy to walk for 2miles dragging it or carrying it! At this point Gary was up and about and doing the morning rounds to check everything was ok with the marina and spotted my anguish. Amazingly he had an old bike repair kit and said not to worry. He shot off and came back with a pump, repair kit and most importantly a cup of coffee! Great news.
Having looked at the wheel we were both struggling to take it apart and access the inner tube. Now this is where I hold my hands up cos I am useless at anything like this!! Put me in a kayak and say paddle 320miles fine, but ask me to repair a punctured tyre no chance! Barry the marina owner then turned up for the day and thankfully was an expert at tyre mending and had the trolley up and working in no time! Although he was a whiz with tyres he didn't like cameras so the piccie is of Gary my other tyre hero!! Thanks guys for the help!

After the delay in sorting the tyre I set off a little later than planned but feeling good after a coffee and the fact that my trolley was now fully operational. Heading through Stoke was a pleasant experience as being a stokey myself was nice to see the development happening along the canal and hopefully pushing it forward into the naughties from what appears to still be the fifties! The canal banks were lined with the pottery houses which once made stoke so great with royal doulton canalside and numerous other kilns standing out.
Leaving an industrial rustic beauty to this stretch which was nice as it broke up the fields and green in a pleasant way. As I motored through stoke and downwards through more locks the oustkirt town of Stone was reached which was extremely pretty canalside and finding a lovely little Italian restaurant decided to park the kayak up and head in for the lunchtime special. 3 courses for £7.50!What could be better.Salad, Lasagne and chocolate cake with icecream left me feeling ready for the afternoon and ready to attack the trent and mersey canal hard and head for the Coventry canal at Fradley Junction, this would mean another 38miles done today.

Along the trent and mersey the monotony of paddling was broke by the presence of a lone cyclist Mick who had been paroling the tow path looking for a barge to buy. Mike slowed to my pace so we could chat away as he used to regularly kayak the canal here too before hopping on the river trent and playing in the flow. This is where I realised a couple of things, yes I was faster than the walkers and barges yet a lot, lot slower than the cyclist I had failed and chose the wrong mode of transport, I would have finished by now but then everyone cycles so at least is something new! And secondly why didn't I head onto the trent and use the flow to move me quicker? Oh well to late now. I was perked up when I noticed that thankfully I was the only idiot in England that was camping on the tow path and as Mick told me how he scoured the area with a metal detector looking for old Anglo Saxon treasure and was currently going through the process of selling a rare broach he discovered in the area to the British Museum the afternoon flew by. At school I was never really into history but I have to say Micks knowledge and stories behind what has been and can be found was most interesting. As Mick left me I realised it was only a couple of miles now until I reached Fradley Junction and tonight's camp. Once there the facilities were great a shower toilet and most importantly pub!This shower was great as it had been a couple of days since the last one and I don't mind admitting I needed it although this did let me know where was hurting as I relaxed and undid the good work my brain had achieved in helping me forget. Nevermind a lovely mixed grill and chat with some local bargers Andy and Janice in the pub soon made me forget my aches and an early night was in order.