Sunday, December 24, 2006

The Search for Santa at South Stack

The theory went that if Santa was to approach Wales from the northwest then we might be able to spot him from our kayaks if we paddled around North and South Stack near Holyhead, Anglesey.
Barry and I assembled a crack(er) team of elite paddlers including Kath, Liz, Pete, Ed & Michelle and Jane & Chris. Spot (the collie dog) did not paddle due to felling a little 'ruff' but acted as shore support.

Kath and I paddled my 'Aleut 2' double kayak and as it was nearly Christmas we made a pact not to argue fuss or fight, but to play nicely and be kind and considerate to others. (photo by Liz)

The Aleut 2 kayak complete with crew and Christmas goose! (photo by Liz)

Liz and Barry paddled his NDK Triton double kayak, Liz called me names and from that moment onwards IT WAS WAR! All the dirty tricks were pulled out of the bag; paddle splashing, (gentle) ramming and the use of portable bilge pumps cunningly used as manual watercannon.

Ed and Michelle managed to keep the peace during the lunchtime picnic in Parliament House Cave. The enthusiasm for war and hostility was soon quashed by our full tummies, the abundance of mince pies and chocolate rum truffles had us leaving the beach feeling quite mellow. Nevertheless we managed to russle up enough energy for a brief play in the tidal race at North Stack. Some stopped to play in the waves at South stack too but Kath and I headed off to continue in our quest to find Santa's flightpath.

....and after waiting patiently we were duly rewarded!

After we arrived back at Porth Dafarch we loaded our boats back on to our cars and drove off to the Trearrdur Bay Hotel to celebrate with a nice cup of tea!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

'Welsh Sea Kayaking' - soon to hit the national press

Following the successes of the Kendal Mountain Film Festival weekend, journalist and Author Ed Douglas managed to stir up some media interest in the 'Welsh Sea Kayaking' guidebook.

Ed had expressed a keen interest coming along for a paddle with the aim to doing a piece for the Daily Telegraph. The idea was to feature the authors and provide readers with a background to the rapid growth of Sea Kayaking generally.

There was a miraculous spell of sunny weather on the Monday morning, that followed two weeks of gale force winds and spells of torrential rain. At short notice, the acclaimed adventure sports photographer Ray Wood joined us to make the most of the dazzling golden sunshine.

Four of us paddled from Menai Bridge along the Menai Strait to the 'Gazelle Hotel' opposite Bangor Pier. Publisher and kayak coaching guru, Franco Ferrero was on hand to give Ed some rudimentary 'on the water' guidance, and Kirstine was on hand to make sure I behaved myself.

A cold wind had developed by the time we arrived at our final destination, but there was still time for a few more photographs before heading indoors to continue the interview over a warming bowl of soup.

Many thanks to Nigel Dennis of Sea Kayaking UK for supplying The kayak and kit to Ed Douglas for the day.

All photographs on todays blog are kindly supplied by Franco Ferrero.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Kendal Mountain Film Festival 2006

From humble beginnings the Kendal Mountain Film Festival has grown and developed over the years to provide a stage for mountaineers and filmmakers of international acclaim. The film festival has also expanded to include filmmakers from other adventure sports such as Ski Mountaineering, Mountain Biking, Base Jumping and of course, Kayaking. The benefits to the outdoor community and the local economy grow each year in parallel with the improving success of the festival each successive year.

The festival lasts 10 days spanning two weekends. Each weekday night had a different theme based around a different type of adventure sport, for example: Tuesday was ‘Bike Night’, Thursday was ‘Ski Night’ … etc… of particular interest was Wednesday ….

Kayaking and wild water night, Justine Curgenven’s award winning films and DVD releases made her the obvious choice for the Kayaking and wild water night. I had arranged to take a modest handful of ‘Welsh Sea Kayaking’ guidebooks to sell during the interval. I wondered if the handful I had brought would be enough when two copies were bought as I opened the box, and festival officials expressed surprise at me not having brought a lorry load. All in all further sales were modest, but the interest generated within this specialised kayaking audience was excellent.

The evening began with some short clips from local Cumbrian paddlers the footage of paddlers on the Esk waterfalls was really quite breathtaking.

The evening got into full swing when Justine Curgenven took to the stage and gave a slideshow that began with stories of her earlier sporting encounters with school hockey. The stories moved on quickly through to more modern times with footage and amazing photography from expeditions to Greenland, the Greek Islands and a formative solo trip along the remote Icelandic northwest coast. Justine kept the tales of most recent trips to Kamchatka and Tasmania to a minimum, in anticipation of these films yet to be seen.

After the interval there was more white water fun with ‘Kayaks on the Roof of the World’. This film employed some amazing footage and wonderful tales of the development, of white water paddling in Nepal. Finally, Justine’s film of the first all female circumnavigation of Tasmania made a perfect end to the evening.

The Main Weekend Events were mostly centred on the Brewery Arts Centre. Films and seminars, slideshows and presentations from a variety of outdoor backgrounds were so much in abundance that it proved difficult to choose quite what to do.

Jon, Mark & Robbo’s Easy Drinking Malt Whisky Company were in attendance in the retail area offering their own blend of distraction, serving to steady the nerves of over inspired souls between events.

The British Mountaineering Council were one of the supporting sponsors and were at Kendal to promote the recently released ‘Alpine Essentials’ DVD and the new waterproof ‘Snowdonia Map’.

The Kendal Book Festival celebrated its 3rd year by presenting the Boardman Tasker Prize to Charles Lind for his ‘Afterclap of Fate: Mallory on Everest’. The Boardman Tasker Prize finds its new home at Kendal having been presented in London by the Alpine Club for many years.

There were a quite number of stalls providing an overwhelming choice of books, paintings and photographs. Literature and art new and old, traditional and experimental all well at home here.

It was a combination of the growing interest in kayaking at Kendal, and the newly emerging book festival that moved me to take the recently released guidebook ‘Welsh Sea Kayaking’ to the festival. I was proud to present ‘Welsh Sea Kayaking’ at the experimental ‘Book Signing Frenzy’.

The event gave enthusiasts to buy recent releases and get them signed by the authors (Sir Chris Bonington, above).

I wasn’t expecting all that much interest in a kayaking guide at a mountain festival but I was pleasantly surprised to have sold and signed more than half a dozen by the end of the weekend.

It is a well known fact that there is a great deal of crossover between the kayaking and mountaineering communities so we can expect to see more in the way of kayaking at Kendal in 2007. With that in mind we may also expect so see more titles from Pesda Press in next years event too.