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, June 25, 2006

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.


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