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.

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LA THUILE

or rather On the way to Sardinia

Last year it was the first time we tried this Easter Combo – ski and kayak, on a small scale in Scotland, and we liked it very much.

This year we decided to go bigger, further, although it probably wasn’t much further than Scotland, and foreign. So early April saw us packing skis, boots, paddles and kayaks in the car and taking ferry down south.20140501-220146.jpg

 

Our first stop was La Thuilein Italy. We chose this as it was high, close to Monte Bianco, and promised good skiing in late season. We weren’t disappointed. And rather than writing long articles about it, we made a little video.

 

 

Tower Hamlets Canoe Club Women and Ladies’ Trip to Sardinia

The title is rather long, one has to admit that. However an explanation could be given. There were six women and two guys on this trip, so everyone should understand the dominance of the sex.

However the two guys on board insisted that the word “Ladies” was added. Here they are comparing their Wine Tits and Green Boobs.

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London had no winter at all, and the spring flowers and colours were out long before the official date in March, yet here in Sardinia one could really see and feel the waking up of the season and colours were truly everywhere, including our group. sardinia 7

For Michal and me the idea of kayaking on Mediterranean sea took some adjustments, tides and flows weren’t important. So as soon as we acknowledged that, we were thinking “here we go, we arrived to the pond”.
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We were kayaking from Fertillia, close to Alghero, on north west coast up north. We wanted to go as far as the islands on the north west tip of Sardinia and finish at Stintino. The sea might seem to be calm, but the coast line was truly amazing.
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It didn’t last long. If there’s no need to worry about the tides, the wind can cause some big seas. The calm waters became rather hilly.
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How many kayaks – people can you spot here?

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Where’s Alison?

This is from Toby’s 1967 guidebook on Capo Caccia: “If the wind is blowing – which it often is – the drive (paddle) can be rather nerve wrecking. The heights are so high, the drops so sheer and nature herself so arrogantly powerful that you may be hurled into the sea at any moment…”

It may seem like a fun piece of writing, but trust me, at some point, this is what the paddle was like and we had to turn back and retreat. Still the next day we really enjoyed the paddle around and visited many caves. It is one of the paddles I’d strongly recommend.

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Our group had eight people and we had to have most food and water with us. We were lucky that Clark (whose boats most in the group were using) from Sea Kayak Sardinia offered to meet us and help with restocking. Our dinner ladies did amazing job of dishing the food out.

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As it was still out of season, we even managed to have campfires on two of the nights.
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We had to slightly change our plan and decided not to paddle as far as Stintino. This resulted in some interesting outcomes.

The guidebook has more to say about the area where we were:
“There’s a small hole in the middle of the floor through which the sea roars and sends up fierce gusts of air, and to stand near it is rather like standing over the entrance to the hell.”

After a rather romantic sunset on a beach which should have warned us by being rather steep,
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we woke up to big dumping surf and had to evacuate by pulling the kayaks up the steep rock and slope, a bit like white water paddling.
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The post exercise swim proved our decision to be the right one, even if it was a bit laborious.
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So, no paddling for us on our last day, yet, we still managed to occupy ourselves. Apparently an Easter THCC sea kyaking trip tradition has it that a piniata needs to be made and hit and broken at the end of a great trip.
Sardinia THCC

 

 

Trip to Ghent

Last year at Anglesey symposium I was standing in the car park waiting for Michal when I heard some people speaking Czech. Not living in the Czech Republic, we don’t hear that language very often. And if we do, we very seldom acknowledge that we do indeed understand. However, this time, hearing it in the middle of kayaks, made a difference and I started to chat to these people. They were very nice, and they lived in Belgium.

We have not seen them or really spoke to them many times through the year, but we each tried to persuade the others to come and visit. Having weekend to spare during this half term I send a message “we could come” and received a reply “do”. And so last Friday saw us on the coach (money won over time) to Ghent.

Since we were coming, we were asked to give a talk on our circumnavigation for their kayaking club. We can’t resist that one, and had a great evening in Gekko.

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Four kayakers would naturally choose their bums as mode of transport and we visited Ghent via its many waterways. Jarda proved to be a very knowledgeable and entertaining guide, and what he didn’t know he made up, I’m sure.

However we saw Ghent’s version of Billingsgate market and Tower.ghent 6 ghent 7

We had opportunity of paddling a historical boat to the historical town centre.ghent 3ghent 4

On the way to Rabot Gate we visited tortoises but they were still hibernating.ghent 8

Of course there isn’t a trip without a coffee.ghent 1

And since it was Belgium, the waffles were a must. Waffle, or wafre, wafer, wâfel, waufre, gaufre, goffre, gauffre, wafe, waffel, wåfe, wāfel, wafe, vaffel, and våffla is really a batter grilled between two plates. Still there are many varieties around the world, twelve in Belgium alone. Many things could be said about waffles, we had them with strawberries and cream.ghent 2

Thank you to Anička and Jarda for your hospitality.