Canoeing at Carsington

Yes I know!

This is yet another of the ever increasing number of posts that deviate from the avowed intention of this blog by having nothing whatever to do with bikes, trains or music.  I can’t even claim a link to the header above by claiming that we travelled to Carsington Water on the bike. In some ways I envy that band of self-disciplined bloggers who stay 100% on topic – even being able to run several blogs to compartmentalise their life into the relavent areas for each set of readers. Anyway, I take  some consolation in the fact that very many of the blogs on the interweb are just as chaotic as this one.

An interest in boats has been part of our family for a very long time. My dad was instrumental in this, with his lifelong interest in Scouting, and for many years, a passionate involvement in water activities of all kinds. I will always remember Powells Pool in Sutton Park, Sutton Coldfield as the venue for my own first tentative paddling in venerable lath and canvas kayaks. These were probably very similar to this one. I can also remember sitting in my first ever fibreglass canoe in about 1967. This belonged to an instructor who had come to teach us a little more than the basics. This boat was his own and was a Klepper Dolphin.

After a quick wander around Google, I was amazed to find that the company still exists, but concentrates on folding canoes these days. Their website is here.

From these early beginnings, my own messing about in boats of all shapes and sizes continued for many years, although it has had to drop away in recent times.

The 24th August is significant because it marks the end of another year of my occupation of a small piece of this planet; and the 23rd August is my eldest son, Gareth’s birthday. When the children were smaller, we would try to mark our almost-joint birthday by doing something together; perhaps going somewhere special, having a special meal or whatever.

The subject of this year’s celebration came up a while ago when we were talking with the boys some months ago. Someone suggested that we should go canoeing sometime and it was decided to mark this weekend by meeting up and getting afloat. For many weeks, nothing happened to crystallise this vague idea into any kind of shape until Sue decided to get her teeth into the idea, did some research on the net and found Carsington Sports and Leisure. They have canoes for hire on Carsington Reservoir in Derbyshire. The various offspring and partners were advised, interest was gauged as somewhere between enthusiastic and excited and bookings were made. It seems that canoe technology has moved on sonce the last 1960s and there is now a breed of canoe called “sit-on-tops“. These do not have the deck that kayaks enjoy, so in the evnt of a capsize, an inexperienced paddler is in no danger of being trapped, but will simply fall off into the water. Carsington also has Canadian canoes, traditional styled open boats.

The appointed day arrived and as I packed my spare clothes and towel into a rucksack, I had a real flashback to being 18 again because this was something that I did several times every week at that age. We set out to Carsington and met the rest of the family. The weather was overcast and threatening rain at any moment. I had been undecided about whether I really wanted to get wet and I decided not to go on the water, but to stay ashore with Sue and Emma, Gareth’s partner and fiancee.

The other young people were allocated wet suits and disappeared to get changed, reappearing a few moments later looking rather like the Tellytubbies from Children’s TV.  With buoyancy aids and paddles collected, they made their way to the water’s edge, boarded their boats, two single seaters for Gareth and Matthew, and a double, initially crewed by Daniel and his partner, Sophie.  Unusually for us, we had remembered to take the camera and first Sue and later I, kept busy getting photos of the fun. In fact, they were having so much fun that I had more than a twinge of regret that I wasn’t out there with them.

It was also great to see Sophie’s mum and dad who had come out to Carsington for a walk, but also I suspect, to see their daughter’s aquatic adventure as well.

After the hour afloat had passed all too quickly, the intrepid voyagers went to get changed and we all adjourned to one of Carsington’s cafes for hot drinks, followed by a piece each of one of Sue’s legendary Pavlovas, which we ate back at the car. This was when we discovered that we had forgotten to bring enough spoons, but undeterred, I can vouch for the fact that Strawberry Pavlova tasted just as good when eaten with your fingers.

It was heading for lucnchtime by now and Sue had booked Sunday lunch for us at the Hurt Arms, Ambergate. We enjoyed our usual good meal there (at the usual good prices). After an hour or so of eating and chatting, we agreed to do it again sometime. In fact some of the younger members of the party were talking enthusiastically about getting some training and qualification, buying their own boats and taking up the sport more regularly.

I’m fairly sure that we will go back to Carsington Water to go canoeing again.

It will be great if their interest in boats is part of my dad’s legacy that will continue into the next generation. Time will tell.

Ride Safe
Dave

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