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...

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