Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Expedition Planning

I spent the last weekend at the Paddlesports Expedition Symposium at Plas y Brenin. The weekend was a series of practical workshops and seminars covering the many aspects of planning an expedition that might escape the attention of event the more experienced canoeists and kayakers.
My first session was all about staying healthy on expeditions. Water purification, jabs, malaria avoidance and how to do what bears do in the woods were all covered in fine style by Loel Collins.
There were slide shows and talks and further workshops on expedition photography, first aid and even dealing with fatalities too. At an open 'experts corner' session in the bar I managed to corner Ollie Sanders and pick his brains on the subject of logistics as I am planning a return to Greenland in the next couple of years.
Day two was largely spent on the bushcraft sessions which covered the safe use of a knife and basic woodcraft skills. We put some of these skills into practice splitting and carving hazel staves into apparatus suitable for grilling fish.
Following a splendid demonstration we followed suit and gutted the fish and grilled them over a fire whist cooking small buns in a dutch oven.
The loaves and fishes proved too much and so the left overs were fed to the 5000 (or so) hungry paddlers nearby.There are some more photos from the weekend here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Canoexpo 2008

The golden winter sunshine outside kept me longing to be outdoors but I had decided long before that I wanted to use Canoexpo as an opportunity to catch up with some old friends and hopefully make some new ones too.

My offer of help to Pesda Press with their shared stand with book distributors, Cordee was greatfully received and I got the chance to meet some happy recipients of the 'Welsh Sea Kayaking' guide. The Cordee / Pesda Press stand had an open and informal feel and was busy throuought the weekend with people taking the opportunity to browse over the huge selection of guides, maps and manuals.

Amongst the crew at the stand were other Pesda Press authors & staff, from left to right: Peter Wood (Pesda Press), Gordon Brown (author of Sea Kayak), Me (author of Welsh Sea Kayaking), Franco Ferrero (Pesda Press) and Derek Hairon (author of Sit-on-Top Kayak).

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Arnside in the sunshine

This is the third time I have visited the pleasant seaside town of Arnside in as many months but until this time the weather had always been quite gloomy. This time the sun came out which makes a wonderful difference. Arnside is beside the estuary of the river Kent in the northeast corner of Morecame Bay. There is an abundance of wildlife to be seen here and the fishing is good here too. One of the famed activities here is barefoot flounder fishing. I have been told tales about wading around in the shallow water feeling for flounder in the soft sand and mud and cathching them by hand.

We Paddled from the promenade beach out with the gently flowing water from the River Kent. Heading out towards the outer reaches close to Blackstone Point we saw plenty of cormorants, redshank, turnstone and herons.

A disturbance on the still waters in the distance was the first sign that the 'bore' was on its way. The wave was less than a foot in height and moving a little more than a brisk walking pace. Birds that had been bobbing around on the calm waters took to the air everywhere around us as we turned to surf the surging incoming tidal wave.

After spending some time surfing the standing waves under the railway viaduct we headed north up the estuary in search of serenity in the upper tidal reaches of the River Kent before returning to Arnside on the early ebbing tide in time for fish and chips and a cup of tea.

Riverdance - biscuits on the beach!

On the way to Arnside I left the M6 and headed off towards Blackpool's North Shore where the ill fated ro-ro ferry 'Riverdance' lies stranded like a steel whale. I wandered accross the sands towards the bow and got closer than the coastguards and security team wanted me to. I have travelled by ferry many times to Ireland and France and these monsters seem so solid and elegant in their own way. To see 'Riverdance' half on her side like this seems quite surreal.

There was no further sign of the biscuits that were washed up along the shore but I have it on good authority that there are not likely to be any deaths due to starvation amongst the Blackpool and Cleveleys seagull population this month.