London has it all!

We’ve lived in London for many years now. When we moved here, we knew we were moving into the capital city and a very busy town with people, roads, tube, buildings, pavements and all. We also knew that London was on the river Thames, however, at that time, it didn’t have any significant meaning to us, because after all most capital cities we knew had a river, Paris with Seine, Prague has Vltava, no big deal at all.

It was only later, when the river became our almost second home, we understood its the importance in the past and nowadays. Then, one day, we realised something even more significant. London isn’t just an ordinary capital city of a country; London could be viewed as a Mecca for outdoor sport, or at least where water is considered.

For a sea kayaker the tidal river Thames is a great place to paddle, we wrote about this many times. The changing landscape due to tide, standing waves under bridges, surf behind boats, powerful workout against tide, and smooth rides with it, we have spent countless hours going up and down through London. It is always different and we can’t have enough. With the conditions varying from mirror flat to wild fast flowing and confused water with waves exceeding meter in high it is an amazing place to learn and improve. Learning is an interesting and complex process. There and now it is important to change ones’ approach and try something new, something different. In the end what could be better than trying and applying the existing skills through different concepts of paddling to explore new levels and then bring this back to the original discipline.

So what role does London play in all this? It is the choice of opportunities. The possibility to do white water canoeing, flatwater freestyle, tiderace paddling or playboating within few days and in close proximity to London.

P6260037P6260042White water OC in Lee Valley. 

13558787_10209965853292395_1197877465244621623_oP6280084 (1)Free style boaters at Shadwell Basin.

13603400_10209998273702885_6307197631366317922_o13528227_10209998275502930_5332193559667065624_oSelsey Bill tide race (2 hours from London)

_DSC0037_DSC0078Olympic course in Lee Valley. 

Last week, there could have been hardly a be better place to work on your paddling.

Wave Machines

There are many things London has to offer to a visitor: architecture, scenery, history, just to name a few. Through all this the river weaves its path and attracts attention with its amazing views into the naval history, the beaches or water splashing over the railings, and of course the strong tides. Large numbers of boats pass up and down through the city at any time of the day. For me, however, the ones that create the beautiful wake to surf are the most interesting.  We call them Wave machines.

The feeling of excitement if a wave machine appears travelling in the right direction. Then, all what’s needed, is to check all is safe and paddle closer. To get the most of the waves and prolong the ride, it is best to surf diagonaly in the same direction as the chased boat. It is very easy to turn to much towards  the boat or to be too, aggressive in correction, both result in loosing the wave. Sometimes the first wave is not the best one, and it pays to wait for the third.

Last weekend we went for short paddle and made a little clip.


After raising almost £5000 when paddling around Britain, and continuing to raise another   £1000 through coaching on various symposiums (Jersey, WSKF Bute and Devon), doing assessments and giving talks, we decided to continue.women scottish seakayak 288

For this reason we launched our new project, the MAD Coaching meaning Make A Difference Coaching. You can read all about it on our page MAD Coaching.

During the preparation to set this up, we held some trial runs, and were privilege to coach the following sessions:

  • 3* training & assessment in Pembrokeshire,  October 2015
  • 1 day introduction to sea kayaking for a group of women from Norfolk, November 2015
  • 1 day introduction to the River Thames for a group of women from Norfolk, November 2015
  • 1 day paddle with another London based club on Thames, January 2016
  • 2 days of paddling on the Thames with the Eagle Club from Norfolk
  • 1* training and assessment


We also have 2 new boats Xplore M and Xscape S for those, who don’t have their own. We believe that the best learning experience is achieved by good quality coaching and good quality and well fitting boats, we have a range in our fleet available for coaching, trips and demos: 2x Tiderace Pace 17, 2x Extra HW, Xplore M, Xcape S.

So if you want to be coached by us, and make a difference to your paddling and to others, please, contact us via email, or FB.

St Kilda revisited

It has been several weeks since we came back from our eight weeks trip to the outer islands. Most of the time we don’t even remember being there or the paddling. Fortunately we made this clip to remind ourselves.

The first song is sung by Rosie Sullivan, who won the Young Song writer of the Year competition with it. We met Rosie when she came with her dad, who drove to pick us up in Port Ness and took us down to Stornoway in order for us to be able to get to our gateway to St Kilda on time. We listened to her songs and were impressed.

Watching the video not only reminds us about the wonderful places we visited, but also brings smiles to our faces. Especially the scene with our attempt to cross  to Flannans. It was the first calm day in three or four weeks. Obviously it wasn’t calm enough.

Fortunately the next calm day, two weeks later, we managed the second planned crossing despite starting to paddle for four hours against solid headwind.

Here we go.

Women’s Seakayaking Festival Devon

Esther, Julie and I were sitting having dinner in a restaurant post Bute symposium 2014 excited from all the great time we had during the weekend and then slightly disappointed, that it wouldn’t be happening this year. I don’t know who’s idea it was, but already travelling down the M6 we started to make plans.

What followed were many Skype conversations, Julie and Paul live in Devon, Esther and I in different places in London. The roles soon established themselves, Julie and Paul were to take care about the site bit, Esther dealt with the admin, and I was in charge of the coaching.

old harry 7We decided to invite the best women coaches we could find in the country to come and coach the women paddlers. Our aim was to provide supportive environment within the women only environment, and for people of different paddling skills being able to paddle together, enjoy each other company, have fun without feeling that they may be holding someone back. However segregation was not our aim, and so for those participants, who wanted to come with their partner, as they may need someone for company on long drive, we created the man creche.

old harry 1There were many exciting moments during the whole process. The first paddler booked, the confirmation on the marquee and food, the box of printed t-shirts, the booking being full. And then it all started. We checked in the first arrived person, the first coach.

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The condition and weather held for us and even if Monday was more on the wet and windy side, everyone had wonderful paddling days, lots of laughter, lost of new skills. We had talks, and shared food. And yes, sometimes it took four to five women to put a boat on a roof rack, but still it was all done in very good company.


old harry 18

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And yes, when I think back about it, and read the good feedback and the constructive one, I feel good. Of course there’s room for improvement, but I am very proud of Esther, Julie and myself for pulling this off. We had enormous support from Paul, who has done millions of jobs, and Michal who cooked many delicious dinners for the Skype evenings, and Toby for t-shirts and many others.

And I think that I am starting to look forward to the next one.   old harry 16



Old friend Harry

Summer has been coming to an end and I was desperate to get paddling to my favourite location of all, The Old Harry. Unashamedly I often say that paddling around Old Harry is the best paddle on the British Coast. However to make the most of it, it has to be at high tide and the weather should be on the sunny side. This Saturday seemed to be doing just that. Yet, we took a while to get persuaded to pack and go, in the end to some it may seem to be a little bit too far for a day trip location.

But not to me, getting up in the morning, driving for three and half hours is a small sacrifice for what one gets. This time, as a bonus,  we got to go on a ferry.

old harry

After that it was quick unpacking and launching to make the most of the now dropping tide. old harry 8old harry 9

I wasn’t paddling alone. Toby and Michal were eager to make the most of the day and we headed towards Peveril Point on the other side of Swanage Bay to play in the tiderce.

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And yes, this time, it was me who got the camera. old harry 2 old harry 3 old harry 5

old harry 1

We practiced some rescues and rolling and overall were making the most of the conditions and good weather. old harry 4 old harry 10

Our return journey was less speedy, after all the playing in the waves for few hours took its toll on us.  old harry 7

Harry was now at low tide, but even then, he looked as handsome as ever. old harry 11

Arshan, the foothills  of the Sayans

Irkutsk was not only our gateway to Baikal but also to the mountains. Since none of us had spent much time researching, planning and looking for places to visit before we left, we decided to travel at random and take what comes. And for this reason we found ourselves travelling towards the Sayan mountains. 
Once we arrived to Arshan, we marvelled at the freshness of the air and absence of the dust. Also the prices, it was the cheapest place we’ve visited so far. We left sorting of accommodation once there, and it turned out very easy. As soon as our bus arrived it was surrounded by many people offering accommodation.  

 One lady with a notice board that stood out among the rest, it read: wifi, took us home. We had dry toilet in the out house and water container attached to a tree, but a porch where we could reach the wild wide world. 

  Arshan is a settlement at the foot of the East Sayan mountains, it has many mineral sources and is visited as a natural spa.  

Here we decided to spent few days among the greenery and wilderness. 


IRKUTSK, Our gateway to Baikal

  Originally we wanted to take a train from Vladivostok as it is the start or the finish of the Trans Siberian Railway. But then we thought differently of spending four days on the train and decided to fly. We landed in Irkutsk just before midnight, our hostel was booked, so the only thing we needed was a nice taxi. We decided to spend two nights and one day here, enough time to see it all and organise our following journey.   
Irkutsk was founded in 1661 on where river Irkut meets Angara. Since its first days the city had two main functions. Firstly it was religious centre of Siberia, Muslim, Jewish, Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches were all placed here. Its second role was a starting place of all tsar’s and exploring expeditions to Siberia. It was also a place through which many caravans to China and Mongolia passed. In mid 18 century it had 13 churches, in the years 1945 to 1956 up to 600 000 Japanese war prisoners lived here. 

Our exploration was very random. We started with a visit to local tourists centre located among beautiful historic wooden buildings. We wanted to see more, sadly Irkutsk turned out not to be a town full of picturesque wooden buildings with lace like features around window frames and under roofs.   

Later we found out that in July 1879 a big fire lasted three days during which 3 500 wooden buildings were burned as well as 105 brick ones. 15 000 people lost their roof. The heath was so strong that a church bell made of coper melded and dropped to ground in a heap which weighed 1000 pud (about 16 500 kg).  


Following this, wooden building within the town centre were banned, within two years most was rebuilt in stones.   
To give our exploration some direction we decided to follow a statue trail from the map. This allowed us to see an interesting mixture of architecture styles of old, new, nice, ugly, wooden and stone, embarkments, and of course, we met a tourist, too.  


Islands are everywhere  even in the Far East Russia

City is city, it has been great four days, but then there was time to move somewhere else. Once we had a glance on the map of the Bay of Peter the Great, it was very clear where would go next. There were several islands in the bay and we chose two, Popov and Reineke. Later we realised that we would only be able to go to Popov as there weren’t any ferry tickets left for Reineke. 
The ferry timetable makes it impossible to visit it as a day trip, and so we ended up going on Wednesday night,, returning on Saturday night. The tickets were cheap, 54 RUB per person, about 80pence for two hour journey, the accommodation not so. We were lucky and the lady in the tourist centre at the ferry port helped us to book an accommodation. All what we knew was, that we were to stay in a base, which used to be pioneer camp called Mama Sacha. The Russians always used to go on such holidays and still do, at sea sides, in the mountains or forests there are many “baza oddycha” “base of rest” where people spent days and weeks. Some are basic, some are more comfortable. For us, as we have never been here, they are a bit like a lottery.   
  Once we boarded the ferry we stepped into a movie. We left Vladivostok while the sun was falling down. The town spread over the hills was reflecting in the water of the Golden Horn Bay. The sea gulls were following the boat. The Tokarevsky lighthouse was at the east of the East Bosphor Strait, the bridge to Russkij Island was sparkling in the west. However as soon as we went under the bridge the skye changed to dark clouds followed by fog. 
For the next hour and half we didn’t see anything until we landed on the island. The first thing what we saw was the fences. Then as we were descending the from the boat following the rusty gang way there were cars and people everywhere with high activity. Yet, we could not see anything as someone decided to park in the middle and shine his headlights towards everyone’s eyes. 
Within few minutes most fellow passengers were distributed among the waiting vehicles. Only us no one wanted to take or drop off. Our “Mama Sacha?” was coming to deaf ears, until one said yes. And off we went in the dark of the night at hight speed towards nowhere. The road was dusty lined by very dusty looking trees. Just when we thought that we were being highjacked, we stopped and some outlines of hut appeared among the trees. 
We were shown our hut and went to sleep. Only in the morning we looked around. Conditions may be quite hard for some, but we don’t really care. We came to see and take what we’re given. Our hut was wooden, and so was the toilet, outside, of course and dry. Water tasted wonderful but not from the taps. The paths were marked by white shells. We were based on the hill and had nice view over the whole bay and sea.  

 Three main things are on the island, the sandy beaches, rocky shores and trees surrounded by clear clean sea. After few minutes on the beach we decided to indulge in some coasteering while walking towards a headland. 
The next day the fog returned and we decided to visit local museum dedicated to sea life. Sadly local history isn’t really discussed here. But in the past it was a place where the Japanese, Korean and Chinese pirates lived. Then, since the end of the 19th century the Russians started to live here. And Mama Sacha according to a tale means Black Land bellow the Only Star.
 Our stay on Popova was like a movie. The base was run by two ladies, and they had a young guy with them, who they run by very firm hand. His name was Sergey, and we heard it called very often. On Friday evening the ladies decided to have Russian sauna “baňa”, so they asked us whether at the end of the wet foggy day we would like to have sauna, someone needed to pay for the wood. Well, we had nothing to loose and said yes. Sergey started the stove. We had an hour and it was absolutely great. When it became too hot, we decided to cool down outside as well as with the cold water. So we were standing outside wrapped into our sheets drinking cold water watching the leaves moving in the evening wind. Suddenly the stillness of the evening was broken by a scream “Sergeej!”. And soon high activity started again, there were at least five pigs that broke into the camp and the ladies wanted them gone. So Sergey came and started to chase them off, as well as the two ladies, the family from the hut next to ours, and my mum. Michal and I finished our glass of water, went inside to have the last run of the sauna, and then let the ladies to have a go. Unfortunately tomorrow morning we have to leave.