28 January 2007

Personal First D.

Today was to be the day, the day to end all days of paddling, the day that would go down in history as a monumental day for kayaking, the day I would actually get to paddle the Leven. The Leven, a grade 2/3 bumble in the southern Lakes, flowing out of the bottom of Windermere, is not really the most astounding river that can go down as a monumental day for kayaking, but for me it was a big thing. I had made attempts before to paddle the river, but various things had cropped up, like; being ill, the car being broken, the person driving the car being ill, too little water, too much water, too much celery in the salad crisper meaning that the balance was just totally out of line for the rest of the week kind of things which make it hard to get on the river.

So today was the day. I got dropped off at Fulwood Leisure Centre and caught a lift up to the Lakes where I met up with the rest of the group. The first thing that greeted me was a lovely sign reading "No unauthorised canoeing," maybe I still wouldn't get to paddle the river. Luckily, it was a day when canoeing was authorised, so not even a minor technicality stopped me from getting on the moving water. Though I guess , if it wasn't a day when canoeing was authorised each member of the group could authorise someone else to paddle the river, until we were all authorised, and then maybe we could have got away with it! Anyhow lets not whittle away our time talking about the ins and outs of access agreements, frankly they suck, and as soon as the laws in Scotland for rivers come into action over here the better. We eventually got on the river when all was said and done. However, the river wasn't done until it was done so we headed off downstream so I could actually say I had paddled the Leven.

Once on the water the Brickchute Weir soon comes into sight and basically this has a nice little stopper on one side great for some cheeky side surfing, and cheeky bow/stern splats and anything else that is cheeky that can be done in a really shallow hole. Then in the middle of the river there is a small wave train, and it may have been possible that on the second wave of the train, the first being too hard to get on, loops could have been thrown. Then after this chute there is another part to the weir that we didn't seem to go in, I don't know why, but we just didn't.

After the Brickchute Weir there is this cheeky little drop, which has been known to be a bit unkind to paddlers that have had upside down experiences if the line, which is suppose to be hit with style is not styled in anyway what so ever. However, today the drop had a rather nice boof spot (middle left of the above picture) for some cheeky boofs, which I managed to hit rather well, though I was a bit too far right, which meant I missed landing in the eddy. We soon moved on from here as there wasn't much in the way of playing potential, but downstream there was the odd little drop to get a cheeky boof, followed up by a cheeky surf in some shallow play features, which weren't letting you go to big in case you just got to cool.

There is also a section of river called the Graveyard, which is littered with boulders, which was rather splendid for getting some rather tight break-outs, which could have been classed as cheeky by some folk, but they were there for the taking and I must say that I took them rather well.

Once we had reached the end, as stated by the access agreement, but is by no means the end of the river as there is some rather splendid looking grade 4 supposedly, we headed back to the top to repeat the section again. Cheeky boofs were had, as were cheeky side surfs and there may have been the odd tight break out made.

Unfortunately I don't have any pictures of the second run as my camera decided to pack in, but if the ones on display aren't enough to keep you happy there are some more here.

On re-reading this post I seem to have got a bit hooked up on cheeky surfs and boofs, I don't know why that is, but it's just what my fingers decided to type. Maybe people should start referring to small boofs and small play features as cheeky just because you can. Who knows?

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

22 January 2007

Signed this?

Have you signed this? If not perhaps you should click yourself over there right now and get it signed. We need a constant flow of signatures to get this petition noticed and then maybe something may be done to improve access to the rivers of this fine country.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

21 January 2007

I must be stupid!!!

Today I got a lift down to North Wales and the home of Canolfan Tryweryn to paddle the... wait for it... Tryweryn. Fancy that! Now I must be really stupid to go and paddle the Tryweryn, a place where you have to pay to get on the water, when there has been so much water put down recently. However, when reading the Internet regarding river levels all the grade 3/4 gems which I want to get out on seem to be running empty. So maybe the Tryweryn was the only option where you were guaranteed water with out having to drive around for two hours like last week.

Once we had arrived at the centre and paid our fees we got changed and sorted out the days plans. Some of the people that we had met up with had decided to stick to the top section and play on the features which have been developed here and the four remaining, me included, would blitz down the top section and then continue on downriver to do the lower section as well.

Getting on the river above the Chipper.

Looking up the Graveyard.

The start of the lower section could be said to begin just after the NRA Bridge and straight away you are into one of the two main drops on this section of the Tryweryn. The first of these is Chapel Falls, which I got out to inspect just to take a look at the line, whilst one other member ran it. I then provided rope support for the next paddler down. Unfortunately they didn't quite get their line and ended up having a bit of a surf in the hole. To give them credit they stuck it for quite a while and made an effort to fight their way out. I think I would have pulled my deck sooner than they did and started swimming like a carp. When they did swim however I had a rope straight to them and they were out of the water in seconds whilst the person who ran the drop first chased down the paddle which had floated off downstream. The boat obediently floated into the eddy where I was stood. Whilst we were recovering from this rescue the rest of the group came down the river and ran the falls with varying degrees of success.

A bit of carnage in Chapel Falls just after the swim.

I then stepped up to run the falls and took a similar line, but totally different to everyone else, to one I had taken on this rapid before. It was a nice line I thought with a fair bit of margin for error, however it took you straight into the eddy so it looked sweet when hit right. Luckily I hit it well, and with just one hard pull on the left blade I was out of the hole and sat comfortably in the eddy ready to paddle on downstream.

The river from then on in settles down a bit and is basically a grade 2/maybe pushing 3 bumble and considerably easier than the top section. With the recent wind however there was the odd tree in the river making the negotiation of some rapids a bit harder. Only one piece of wood in the river lead to a mandatory portage for the group, which isn't to bad. There probably was a sneak route on the left, but it just wasn't worth it.

The fallen tree in the river on the lower section.

The next notable fall on the lower section of the river is Bala Mill Falls. The group of four all got out here to have a quick look-see. Half of the group decided it would go whilst the remaining members decided to walk it. I was in the half that decided to run it therefore I deposited my camera so that a couple of shots could be got of the descent. Once the two members that were portaging had completed their portage the other group member and myself got back in our boats and headed off downstream, breaking out once before heading off down over the falls. I was the last to go so I did get to see the line taken by the other paddler, but basically it looked like any line would go as long as the bow was kept on the water.

Digging deep to escape the small tow back of Bala Mill Falls.

The river now flattens out and it is just a couple of hundred paddle strokes before we were at the car, packing up and heading back to the centre to see what the other paddlers were getting up to. We eventually managed to locate them at the NRA Wave, which has supposedly been improved and on this 16 cumec release it did look mightily impressive and the moves that were being landed looked good.

Going for the helix.

One handed blunt.

A shot I am proud of - an arc of water flies off the stern as the paddler pulls a blunt.

A paddler pulling a blunt.

All was left to do now was pay a visit to the cafe, then the chip shop and head for home with stories of the M6 being covered in snow.

More pictures can be found here.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

20 January 2007

Heading out into the Gales

No, the above picture is nothing to actually do with me; it was just taken off the BBC Lancashire website's photo section as I thought it illustrated this post rather well. I have, however, experienced some disruption because of the fierce winds which struck the region on Thursday. A tree blew over at college and landed on the cancer shed (aka the shelter for all the students who smoke), totally crushing it and putting it out of action for a while as it has to be raised to the ground and rebuilt. So I suppose in some ways the demise of the tree could lead to some people thinking about their health more and quit smoking - it might not be the actual smoking that kills them, but the objects which might fall whilst they're doing the smoking. How does this cause me some disruption? you way ask as I don't smoke. Well because of where the tree has fallen has meant that one of the ways I walk to most of my Business Studies lessons, and some Geography lessons for that matter, has had to be closed meaning a longer route to the classes has to be made.

The wind has also caused me some problems in a morning when I'm out on my bike delivering my papers, and earning money for kayaking kit as it has been blowing me all across the roads as well as blowing me back up hills when I try to freewheel down them. Whilst on my bike, delivering the papers, in the early hours of the morning the roads are empty and all I can here is the creaking of the trees as they strain in the wind. It is hard to imagine what the wood damage will be to some of the local rivers, especially those in the Lune Valley that have a fair few trees in them at the best of times, maybe some more portages will have to be made by the paddlers who decide to head out in this weather.

Talking of heading out in this weather, I was out in my boat today, not dodging trees lodged across any grade four rapid, but on the canal as an assistant for my dad who is running a beginners course for the canoe club. I thought the wind may have been a considerable problem on the morning's paddle, but it didn't seem to bad. Only a couple of times was I left to setting a ferry angle to make any headway in the cross winds. I think all those out on the canal enjoyed their first real taste of paddling when not surrounded by warm, chlorinated swimming pool water. I suppose that is an encouraging sign as of late not that many new members have joined, and stuck with the club.

As for future paddling plans: I am trying to get some sort of a respectable group together to head up into the Lune Valley to assess the tree damage and see if it is possible to make a descent of the Roeburn and maybe even the Hindburn seen as we are that way. Failing that I may have to head down to Wales to have a taste of a 16 cumec release on the Tryweryn.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

14 January 2007

Looking for water...

As the title of the post suggests today was a day where no real plans were made in the hope that with a bit of flexibility we'd get on a river that was in condition. Well with all this rain you would actually expect something to be at a good level, but that wasn't the case for the group I was with today. I'll start at the beginning now.

I got picked up just after eight-forty-five and we headed north to the M6, stopping once to meet another two paddlers on some road off Junction 33. It was agreed here that we would head up to Burneside to take a look at some of the upper reaches of the Kent, seen as none of us had done any other stretches of the Kent apart from the classic and rather popular lower section (posts here and here about paddling that particular section). When we got to Burneside we were undecided about whether it would actually go, so seen as we were so close to the get-out for the Sprint we headed over there to have a look. Again, we were undecided that it would go so we walked up to the measuring gauge, and still we were undecided. We hedged our bets and set ourselves up to paddle the Sprint. This meant boats and kit was shuffled around once we were changed and then, once piled into one car, we headed up the valley to check the river out higher up. When we pulled up at one of the rapids, it didn't look good - it was too low. It was back to collect the car we had left at the get-out and then off to set up for a trip down a section of the Upper Kent. Once a car had been left at the take out we set off up the Kent valley in the hope of getting on the river, but once again when we pulled up to look at the level it wasn't good. It was too low. It was back to collect the car we had left at the get-out and then off to set up for a trip down the classic, and rather popular lower section of the Kent.

Getting on at the public slipway in Kendal.

On one of the flat sections of the Kent.

After running the entry rapid to the first gorge.

A person from another group running the main rapid on the river.

On the most notable rapid of the river one of our group took a swim near the top. There was a good bit of chase boating involved from the other three members of the group, me included. However, the rescue panned out rather well with the swimmer getting themselves to the side, but I did get surfed for a while in one hole whilst another chase boater nearly landed on top of me. I eventually managed to fight my way out of the hole and then get out on the bank to help in the recovery of the boat, which was in mid flow tied off with a rope.

Looking downstream after the rescue.

Me coming up from a roll as my stern disappears in a boil.

On one of the last rapids of the river I had a bit of a shocker. For some reason I messed up a line I have hit on four previous occasions and found myself upside down with the water swirling around my face. I rolled back up instantly, but still I wasn't best pleased.

I ran the next drop without problem and then carried on down to the finale of the river, Force Falls. Luckily I hit my line here as it can sometimes deal out the odd spanking to the unwary, but still I was a bit nervous especially after I missed a line further upstream on a rapid that is not anywhere as daunting as Force Falls.

I'm in there somewhere - at the bottom of Force Falls.

We had another swim on this fall. It was quite spectacular really. The paddler came over the drop on line, but then the bow flew up into the air and over they went. There was an attempt made at rolling, but it didn't just come off. They popped their deck and in no time at all we had them back in their boat ready to head off downstream to the get-out which was just around the corner.

Rescuing the swimmer.

Once off the river cars were packed and conversation was had before we headed off south for home. It wasn't a great day on the water for most of the group and I think it was all set up with the abysmal lack of water in the Sprint and Upper Kent, even though the section we did eventually paddle was a good high/medium level.

More pictures can be found here.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

13 January 2007

Response from my MP regarding the Brighton Report

You may remember that a couple of weeks ago I posted up a template of a letter which could be sent to your Member of Parliament in response to the Brighton Report well today I got my reply from David Borrow MP for South Ribble. His actual reply was quite short, but it did say that he had raised my concerns with Margaret Beckett and with his letter was a copy of a letter he had received from a junior minister at DEFRA, Margaret Beckett's department, in reply to the concerns I had raised. It said:

"... I am a firm believer in the benefits of outdoor recreation whether on land or water. People make over a billion visits to the countryside each year, enjoying a wide range of recreational activities. Visitors are good for the local economy and people who exercise regularly are healthier than those who do not. So I am keen both to promote recreational activities, including canoeing, as widely as I can and to ensure the provision of increased opportunity to participate in such activities.
Our view is that increased access to water, for activities such as canoeing, can most effectively be achieved via the voluntary approach. This conclusion is based on the findings of two pieces of research. First, a Countryside Agency feasibility study on developing best practice for access agreements for canoeists on key stretches of water in England. Secondly, on research into the opportunities and demand for water-based sport and recreation, which we published in December 2001. The report, 'Water-Based Sport and Recreation: the facts', concludes that there is some unmet demands for white water and long distance routes for canoeists, but that for most canoeists, as for most other water users, overall supply is roughly in balance with demand.
As a result of this research we commissioned the Environment Agency to complete agreements in four pilot areas (the Teme, Waveney, Wear and Mersey) which were the subject of the feasibility study mentioned above. I recently announced that these agreements have been successfully concluded, and have delivered over 70km of new access. However these agreements were not just about increasing access on the rivers in question. The aim was to provide a template agreement which could be used in a variety of circumstances on different waterways, together with an access negotiation 'toolkit' based on experience gained in developing the agreements. This covers all aspects of the negotiation process including model forms for licenses, contractual agreements, and codes of conduct. Further details are available on the Environment Agency website.
The Mersey project also demonstrated the process by which landowners may dedicate land for access (including land covered by water) under section 16 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act. The effect of dedication is to preserve a public right of access in perpetuity. A number of landowners have agreed to dedicate access to the river and in one case the legal formalities are complete.
If we are to make real progress in opening up new opportunities for recreational access to inland water we also need to adopt a strategic approach to identify what access is needed, and where. DEFRA is supported by the Environment Agency in its proposals to work with other stakeholders in developing regional strategies. Plans for the first two regions will be in place in 2007.
By adopting the voluntary approach and developing regional plans I believe we will be able to deliver increased access where it is needed. I am convinced that this is the right approach."

Now I've just got to draft some sort of reply and send it off to Mr Borrow to see what response I can evoke. If anyone has got any ideas what should be included in the reply put a comment on this post. I'm off paddling tomorrow so check back sometime tomorrow evening to see what I got upto.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

11 January 2007

Buy Me!!!

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

09 January 2007

Take a look-see

I was checking my emails today when this dropped into my Inbox. It is a video of me running "a strong hole" on the Clough on Sunday. Why "a strong hole"? That is how Stuart Miller in his excellent guidebook White Water Lake District describes it.

I was impressed with how I ran this particular drop as when I got out of my boat to scout it I could see two possible lines. One was on the right and would be a bit tight, maybe even requiring me to get the hull of the boat to scrape down the rocks on the lip of the drop and the other was on the left. This required me to get the boat on top of a boil and paddle away. As can be seen in the video this is the line I went for and after watching the video again and again for the last five minutes I can see that I near enough hit the line spot on, which is what impressed me the most. I looked at a feature, assessed the lines available, evaluated the possibilities and then implemented the line I decided was the best for my skills.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

08 January 2007

Another bit of Nostalgia

I've been looking through some of the older shots I have of myself in the early days of my kayaking life which can be found in my 100mb+ collection. The photo featured is that old now (November 03) that most of the kit I am wearing does not feature on any of my more recent pictures and hasn't seen water for a good few months/years. In fact two pieces of it, the paddle and helmet, aren't actually mine but on loan from the canoe club at the time the picture was taken. As for the boat, Eskimo Kendo Sport, that's sat in my backyard looking all dry and sorrowful at not seeing the water for so long. Maybe I should give it up and sell it.

On another totally unrelated topic after yesterdays river trips I have now ticked off four-and-a-half rivers on 'the list' set down last November. Why four-and-a-half rivers? I only did the Lower Rawthey yesterday, where as the Rawthey I stated on 'the list' was more specific to the upper section, so I feel that constitutes only half a tick. What's now left?
  • Sprint
  • Mint
  • Hindburn
  • Roeburn
  • Rawthey - upper
Looking at the weather for the coming week it looks possible that, if I get my act together and get a group of mates together, we can at least strike another, maybe even two more, rivers off 'the list'.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

07 January 2007

The Lune valley is going off

Just got back from another nice day out on the water in my boat and what can I say: it was great. I'll start from the beginning so you can get a complete story. I sent an email out on Friday evening to the usual suspects and the usual suspect replied. On Saturday a couple of texts were sent in the hope that Artle Beck maybe running but it was doubtful as the Lune was so low so the plans kind of stalled there. At half-ten that night I got another text saying I'd get picked up at half-eight and we'll be off paddling.

So at half-eight I got picked up and we headed to Bamber Bridge for a chat with a paddling mate whilst me waited for another paddler to arrive. Once they had arrived boats and kit were moved and we headed to the motorway. We pulled in at Lancaster Forton services to meet up with another paddler before heading even further north to Sedburgh to meet another two paddlers. From here we headed to the get-out for the Upper Lune to take a look and it was on the high side of good. It could of also been down to the events that happened over the last week that kind of put me off paddling this river. So we headed on to the get-out for the Upper Rawthey (this is starting to sound like a day I have had before). With a quick look over the bridge we determined that it was again on the high side of good so plans were made to go and check out the Clough. When we had a peek over the bridge here it looked on the low side of good; it was on. We headed to the get-out, which is also the get-out for the Upper Rawthey and get changed before heading back up the valley to put on.

Once on the river it was pretty continuous, but three events stand out the most to me and these are what I'll talk about:
  1. This was the first time we had, had to get out to inspect the river. When sat at the top of the gorge all we could see was the river disappearing around a blind bend so out we popped to inspect. It was definitely a goer so I got back in my boat, settled myself in and headed off. I came to the main event of the section we had just scouted, a kind of hole which had the water all funnelled into the middle. I looked to take it on the right, flaring as I went. I think I wasn't far enough right, my bow kicked up and it looked like I was going to go for the full loop. However, I managed to pull her down and tame the bucking bronco and paddle the rest of the section the right way up, even though the first part of it was done vertical.
  2. This was the second time we had, had to get out to inspect the river. This is the main feature on the river and is referred to as "a strong hole" in the White Water Lake District guidebook by Stuart Miller so naturally we all got out to have a look at her. On inspection it looked marginal, but it was definitely a giver with a line either right (had to be spot on) or left (must land on a boil and be quick to get away). One of the group ran it with me providing bank support and then I headed up the river, got lost trying to find my boat, and eventually got back to the river. I broke out once on the lead into the "strong hole," took a breath and headed off into the maelstrom. I went left on the drop, flared nicely onto the boil, got spun around and was out of there quickly back paddling. Sweet!!!
  3. The last drop on the river. To be honest I didn't actually realise the drop was there until I made the last eddy before the water cascaded over the two metre drop. To put it easy I was a bit f$%£ed by this as I couldn't really get out and inspect or portage so I was left with no choice but to run a drop where I had no idea of the line. I then heard a voice from above; "Iain, it'll go." On these three words I broke out and took a narrow chute over the drop. I made a half-hearted attempt at boofing and the boat skipped away from the drop and I managed to get away before colliding with the vertical rock bank. The next person down took my line and styled it. However, the next person did not. They plugged the drop a bit too much and got spat out back towards the drop. This took them over and after a couple of attempts at rolling they were swimming. Rescues were carried out and as this was coming to the end the next paddler dropped over the drop, off line and got looped. They made a couple of attempts to roll, but swam and after having a bit of downtime they got to the side on the opposite side of the river to where there boat was. Ropes were thrown across to reunite boat and paddler.
From them sections described you can say I've written enough about this river so now I'll move on. The get-out for the Clough, as it happens, is the put-in for the Lower Rawthey so after some car arrangements four of the group (two had called it a day) headed on down the river. The Lower Rawthey is a bit of a step down from the Clough and easier than the Upper Rawthey, but still it was nice. There was one rapid where I got out for a look and hit some of my line after messing up the entry into the rapid. When I thought the trip was coming to the end, and I was winding down, this really nice play wave appeared so I put my head in gear and had a bit of a play, nearly nailing a blunt, before eventually getting off the river and heading for the pub.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

02 January 2007

I have mail...

You may remember that a couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I had put an order into Penstock Productions for their Seven Rivers Expedition DVD and a year's subscription to LVM. Well today a package, after seventeen days of waiting, dropped through my letterbox from America and hit the vestibule floor with a slightly worrying amount of force. I took a break from the revision I'm wading my way through at the moment, for my upcoming modular exams, and ripped open the package to be left with LVM 20 and the Seven Rivers Expedition in my hands.

I dutifully popped the second of the above mentioned DVDs into my player and sat down to watch whilst taking a break from revision. Wow... is all I can say. Wow. That was one amazing expedition those paddlers planned, carried out and documented. It was probably one of, maybe even the most significant whitewater undertaking in the United States in the last 20 years. The actual footage was quite raw and uncut, but it just added to the whole expedition experience, at times it felt like you were the one stood behind the camera watching them getting pasted and sticking some amazing lines on what has to be some of the most demanding whitewater in one amazing wilderness. It just makes you want to get out their, paddle and document it as well as John Grace. I can only dream of being a part of an expedition as groundbreaking as the one they managed, but who knows if I live my life to the full and don't let everyday life hold me back it may just be possible.

It was then back to revision but I've now watched LVM 20 and it was good, not as good as the Seven Rivers Expedition DVD, but still it opened my eyes into the paddling lifestyle especially as it looked back at the previous five years of LVM. I just can't wait until LVM 21 drops through my door as it'll be featuring some local[ish] paddlers.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...

01 January 2007

Happy New Year

Looking Back
2006 wasn't that bad for me. I finished my first year of college and got four grade A's at AS Level and in the last couple of months was accepted by the University of Central Lancashire to study Outdoor Leadership at Newton Rigg, Penrith, which is soon to be known as the University of Cumbria. I also received student of the year as well as student of the month for 3D Design, but that is not of any real importance as paddling is my life and that is what matters most to me.

Paddling wise 2006 was very good to me; 18% of my year was spent in my boat with some of the best people in the world exploring new places whilst doing something that means so much to me. I've had a weeks holiday in Scotland on some of the classic Scottish rivers and discovered my liking for the harder rivers and just in the last couple of months started exploring rivers, that are fairly local to me, which I've never really considered before. I also passed my 4 Star at the beginning of the year and this was followed up, later in the year, with my Level 2 Assessment, which I passed seven days after turning 18.

My bank balance also took a bit of hit this year with my expensive tastes in kayaking equipment. In the last few months I have taken delivery of a nice shiny, custom design helmet from the nice people at Happy-2B, a top of the range PFD from the American firm Astral, who've just started importing to this country and my final purchase of the year, and has to be the best purchase yet, was my Palm Stikine Extreme Suit. My expensive tastes in kayaking kit has meant that I have had to take on extra responsibilities at the local paper shop where my only source of income can be found. For six days a week I'm up at 6:15am to deliver over twenty papers to houses spread three miles apart and then on Sunday, paddling day, I'm up at 5:58am to put the supplements together and deliver another twenty-or-so papers.

Looking ahead
2007 will hopefully be a much better year. Academically I hope to mirror my AS results with 4 A's at A Level. This will mean that my place at Newton Rigg on the Outdoor Leadership course will be honoured, but not until 2008, as my entry has been deferred to allow for a gap year. This for me will probably be the best few months I've ever had and may even be the best few months I'll ever have as from July 07 I should be in a kayak every day of the year.

On a more short term basis my paddling plans are somewhat ambitious. My list of paddles for the 06/07 season has seen a few ticks with descents of the Duddon, Kent (with water) and Lune. However, there are still some rivers left unchecked - Rawthey, Clough, Hindburn, Roeburn, Sprint and Mint - but with only two months or so of the white water season left and river levels being such a deciding factor those ticks could be quite hard to obtain. On a much long term basis, as I've already mentioned, I'm hoping to be in a boat every day from July to the end of the year. At the moment the months of July, August and September look pretty well sorted with work in France for PGL, which means six days of instruction to one day of knocking up some hard runs. The rest of the year is up in arms. I would really like to spend it travelling, alone, with my kayak around the southern hemisphere, but finances probably wouldn't permit so it may be a case of packing up and heading south for New Zealand to catch their kayaking season and work as a safety boater for the rafts.

As far as work is concerned I'll remain a paper boy until the day I leave for France and then I'll start receiving my first pay checks for doing something I love. These won't be large, but I'm already use to having little money and making it go far. My kayaking kit should increase over the year with the purchase of another boat, a creek boat this time and then there is the stuff to go with it. There will also be another helmet, a full cut version this time for all the gnarly paddling I hope to hit up in France and where I end up for the last three months. My AT's are also looking in a sorry state so they'll be replaced in time.

Now I'll leave you to plan your 2007.

Good lines, stay safe and see you on the wet stuff...