All these are fantastic qualities to have in a paddle board, however, when this is only the third time stepping onto a board then it throws up an issue - they're not very stable for the novice. The thinner, lighter and more agile the board, the harder it is to stand up and find that neutral grounding to provide a decent balance. That first half-an-hour was precarious for most of the team with a couple almost ending up having a face-to-face meeting with the canal (me included). I'm not sure if you're familiar with city canals but they're not exactly a swimming pool, it wouldn't be a nice experience falling in. Surprisingly none of the team did end up meeting the canal face-to-face, a feat we're all very much proud of.
...there is a life away from the screen and, as a nation,
As we passed Little Venice the whole team had found their 'water-feet', or as Mr Pilate's would say: "the neutral spine", and were beginning to work 'as one' with the board. The sure-fire way of noticing this is that the general conversation between the teammates moves on from the stability of the board compared to previous experiences to general chit-chat and team bonding. It was a pleasant evening with a breeze that was light to moderate depending on the direction of travel. At one point we were greeted with a head-on gust, not too strong that it endangered our balance but enough that it caused the surface water to ripple in a consistent motion towards us. It was astonishing how much more effort was needed to keep the paddle board moving in a forwards direction and in a straight-line. It was a realisation that a head-on wind could drastically slow-down our progress on this trip. On the flip side however, if we experienced a tail-wind this could make life a lot easier and propel us at faster speeds counting down the miles as we go: it's swings and roundabouts.
This was a fantastic training session and team bonding exercise. We were still one person down from the team but hope to rectify this in a couple of weeks when he returns from Myanmar! But, as sessions go this has definitely gone a long way to help us realise that we can actually do this and that it could be a whole lot of fun along the way. Still so much yet to organise but the team are well into it and looking forward to the challenge!
Don't forget we are doing this challenge to raise awareness and funds for the Youth Adventure Trust, a fantastic charity that aims to give children the confidence and ability to take on life and to battle it head on through the use of free adventure. Teaching them that they can reach their full potential to take anything that life throws at them. So, feel free to follow this link: www.paddlecrawl.co.uk and click on the donate button at the top of this page to help them, help children. Thank you.
Image by: Active360
It took the best part of half-an-hour to find my river feet and eventually stand up. Frustratingly - for me - I was the last person to get onto my feet and as a result I was drifting way behind the rest of the group. Being at the back always brings up those dark thoughts of: "I'm slowing down the rest of the team". During that first half-an-hour all that was going through my head was: "If I can't get to my feet now, how am I going to do 165 miles on the challenge", feeling like I'm letting myself down, the team and everything we've worked towards so far.
I was beginning to really enjoy the art of stand up paddle boarding and a huge smile was appearing across my face; how have I never discovered this before?! During the latter part of the session the sun began to set, taking with it the warmth of the spring day. This gave the river a beauty that I've never witnessed before even though I've been living near the Thames for the best part of 6-years. There was something rather magical about floating in the centre of the river as the sun dipped below the horizon with the background sound of chirping birds and quacking ducks. I had forgotten that I was within a bustling metropolis and, not only that, the capital city of the UK. The beauty was astounding.
Stand up paddleboarding:
The return leg of the session was easier to paddle as we were now travelling down stream, going with the current. This was fun and allowed us to cover the same distance in a fraction of the time. On this return leg, I felt invincible and a little over-confident to the point where I almost went head first into the river. Luckily, I regained my balance and stayed on the board. It was enough to put me in my place and to respect the river that I was on.
Overall, it was a successful first session and I look forward to getting more and more confident on the board before loading it up with equipment and beginning the challenge in July. We will try and keep this blog up-to-date throughout the preparation and the challenge itself. Don't forget to subscribe to avoid missing out.
I've been a busy boy this year but that hasn't stopped me from getting involved in a couple of challenges that will dwarf anything I've done in the past. I've learnt a lot from all my previous challenges including the numerous runs, the attempted but failed Walk Home for Christmas and the National Three Peaks Challenge but these will be nothing compared to what awaits me later on in the year. The challenges I have planned will test my endurance, will to succeed, mental and physical grit and overall determination. One will take place on British soil whilst the other will take place on foreign lands.
It tries to instil the 'believe - achieve' mindset that will prepare the children for different eventualities that they may face in their lives. You can find out more about the charity by clicking here. The challenge is coinciding with 'Wild Night Out' happening on the 16th July 2016, which is a combined initiative that tries to motivate children and adults to have an adventure no matter how big or small it may be. It might be a trip away to the mountains or national parks or just a simple camp out in the back garden under the stars. It's an initiative that tries to re-connect people with the natural world around them and away from modern living such as smart phones, TV's, computer games etc... To remind people that we are surrounded by natural beauty even so close to home. It's a known fact that people who spend a lot of time outdoors whether that is with a group of friends or family have a closer relationship and bond with each other. It's also a great way to meet new people; after all strangers are just friends you haven't met yet. There are numerous ways to follow our progress before, during and after this challenge:
And, if you would like to donate to the Youth Adventure Trust charity then please follow the link to our team Just Giving page:
"...strangers are just friends you haven't met yet..."
No matter how hard the journey was the elation of reaching the summit is something that I find hard to put into words. So, this brings me onto my second challenge of 2016 happening in August. I will attempt to summit Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania; the highest free-standing mountain in the world measuring in at 5895 metres. This will be a 7-day return trek that will take me to altitudes that I have never trekked before. To say I'm excited is an understatement. This is a mammoth challenge and one that I'm looking forward to. I've decided to fundraise for Cancer Research on this trip, they have worked tirelessly hard to find cures and treatment for cancer but yet still only 50% of those diagnosed survive. This is a great percentage when you think of the survival figures from back in the 1950-60's but it's still not high enough. Cancer has blighted many a family and mine is no exception with my Nan having survived hers and my Grandad having it twice many years apart. The first time he survived, the second time was fatal. And, even today, I have an auntie who is currently battling the disease. This is why I think as a nation we should continue to fund cancer research so that one day not a single family will have to lose someone to this horrible disease. This challenge is about celebrating life and to help fund a company who is doing an amazing job with battling the one thing that is taking life away from many families in this country. With our help through fund raising then one day we may be able to celebrate a 100% survival rate.
If you would like to donate to Cancer Research then please click on the following link:
Again, there are numerous ways to keep up-to-date with this challenge:
"...Life isn’t about getting and having, it’s about giving and being..."
Brownsea Island is located within Poole harbour on the south coast of England. It is one of only a few places to have a habitat of Red Squirrels and, because of this, is a protected nature reserve. It is owned and run by the National Trust and is visited by many thousands every year. I was lucky enough to be one of the few staying in a lodge on Brownsea Island for the weekend. A base in order to explore the Island in its day and night glory on foot and kayak. I have updated some photos below of the trip. If you like peace, tranquility, stunning vistas and being surrounded by wildlife then Brownsea is for you. Go visit, you will not be disappointed!
Click image to enlarge...
With 2014 nearing an end some would start to feel reflective over the previous 11-months. It is about now when each of us makes the decision as to whether we have completed what we set out to do after the clock struck midnight signifying the beginning of a new year, new beginning if you would like. Has the year been good to us or has it been a proper struggle? I decided that it takes far too much energy looking back and dissecting the decisions made and the route taken. It has happened, there is nothing we can do to change it and there is still plenty more time left in 2014 to fill up. As you are probably aware I am always interested in a challenge having successfully completed the National 3 Peaks over summer. That was, to date, one of the hardest challenges I have ever been involved in. Not only the physical challenge but the fact that we were up against the clock with so many variables that couldn’t be controlled: traffic, weather, rivers etc… etc… However, with sheer grit and determination it was conquered. That leaves December, what challenge could possibly be done this close to Christmas when most people are fighting over a super discounted television or sipping mulled wine in a nice toasty pub?
Introducing Walking Home With The Wounded’s: “Walking Home For Christmas”. The premise is simple… ditch your usual mode of transport for getting home; be it car, train, bike or bus and replace it with walking. Try and get as many people you know to join you and raise a bit of cash for charity whilst having a jolly on your way home. Spread the Christmas spirit because at the end of the day it is the season of good will.
I have committed myself to this challenge and will attempt to walk from Tooting [South West London] to Leamington Spa [Warwickshire] clocking up an astonishing 97.5 miles over 4 days. I plan on averaging 24 miles per day and hope to arrive on the evening of the 23rd December. Along the way I will be updating social media, trying to persuade friends and family to join me for smaller sections of the route and be trying to raise awareness for the charity. The route will be published shortly. Should I walk close to where you live then please do not hesitate to come and say hi. It would make my day!
I haven’t got a specific fundraising page for this challenge. Should you wish to donate to Walking With The Wounded then please follow this link:
Or, Should you wish to find out more about the charity:
Or, about the challenge itself:
I will be beginning this challenge at 8am on Saturday 20th December… Come and show your face and have a wander with me!
Merry Christmas to you all!