Sunday, 27 April 2014

Open Canoe Training

Yesterday, I went to Yalding in Kent to attend a one star open canoe training day. Organised and administered by Kent Canoes.

The backdrop to booking myself on the basic one star canoe course is that I'm off to Sweden canoeing for a week. I thought it prudent to get the fundamentals like strokes, capsize drill, etc before going!

The day started off quite grey and drizzly, but on arrival at Yalding the weather started to improve. The course was loaded to eight people. I'm unsure if the loading of the course was done in any particular way but the students really fell into two distinct age groups young and old and everyone mixed very well.

Our instructor Stuart was a really experienced and knowledgeable instructor with a great sense of humour ensuring that his teaching came over in a relaxed and informative way. This helped relax the students for the rest of the day.

Having being given the on land essential knowledge we partnered up and launched our canoes. The day was spent paddling, stopping and being taught the lessons on how to perform different strokes to achieve certain manoeuvres. We pulled out on the bank and stopped for lunch at the sluice lock on the River Medway a lovely spot, although the picture may not reflect it at the tie up.

In the afternoon we did some single paddling and then people changed position in the canoes. On the return leg we came down the canoe sluice some better than others.... We practised skills that had been taught in the morning along with new paddling techniques.

The final act of the day was the capsize drills. Which I have to say went very well from all the crews. Thank heavens that the sun came out to warm us up.

Everyone who attended the one star day course passed. One of the most enjoyable days out that I have had for a long time. This was mainly down to Stuart with his relaxed style of instruction and friendly approach to us all.

For me the one day course has given me exactly what I hoped it would. It has provided me with the basic skills to enable  me to operate another form of transport confidentially and safely.

With the years beginning to take its toll on the old knees and legs the carrying of large packs is getting less attractive to me. The ability to get into the countryside and enjoy the outdoor life for more than a day is something that I want to continue to do. The use of a canoe to haul all the gear is very appealing to me, one that may well be the way ahead.

I would not hesitate to use Kent Canoes again for any additional or refresher training again.

Thanks for reading.


Friday, 25 April 2014

The Morning Walk.

When not at work whether that be a holiday or weekend I generally walk part of the Saxon Shore way on the White Cliffs.

I thought I would post a few pictures of my morning walk with Pants. A very misty start to the day but eventually it started to burn away, brightening up as we went.

Rape Seed
We have to cross fields that the public have access along to get to the cliffs. I just love the sight of the yellow rape seed in articular when placed against a blue sky.

Taken a couple of days prior today's walk.
Generally always windy on the cliffs. Its just whether its warm or cool!

Looking back towards Folkestone
We follow the meandering footpath along the edge of the cliff.
The simple Gorse bush but lovely when in blossom.

The walk generally takes me just under two hours about 6 miles in total. I always carry my daysack which weighs 11kgs just to help with the fitness. I walk on average 20 min miles nice and relaxed. I noticed an abundance of Slugs and Snails today whilst out, more than normal. Playing hopscotch trying to not step on the shells of the snails.

Beauty in the eye of the beholder!

Sometimes, I seem to take pictures of random things because I just like the look,shape or textures.The tops of wooden posts in the ground that have rotted away are a haven for seeds to grow. I took a picture of one post top, I just liked the shapes and texture of.

On the way back coming along a rural road I came along some Wasp Galls. I picked a few not really sure what to do with them. I remembered I had read an article on a blog some where that showed you how to make Pike / Perch bob floats out of Wasp Galls. So I may have a bash at making some floats,when I can find that site,watch this space.

Wasp Galls.
Well that's about it for today. I'm off tomorrow for some basic open canoe training should be fun in the rain. A bit of education so as not to embarrass myself when we canoe in Sweden.

Thanks for reading.


Thursday, 24 April 2014

Saxon Shore Short Walk Out.

This will be a picture heavy blog today. I booked a coupe of nights away at Kingsdown Scout Camping Centre a few weeks ago just to get some walking in and have a short break. The site is midway between Dover and Deal and has quick access to the Saxon Shore way. Having walked a lot of this area before it was just nice to be out.

Having set the Vango Hydra up and sorted out the sleeping bag it was time to see who was on the campsite.

I was expecting the site to be chocker but to my amazement there where only two other small tents pitched, lovey and quiet.

This is the second time I have visited this site and the views to France on a good clear day are spectacular, by night the french street lights are visible. The ablutions are clean, tidy and the showers run hot what more can you ask for £9 a night, high season. A simplex padlocked gate allows you access to the foreshore.

Having arrived in the early afternoon, I pitched and went out for a walk towards St Margrets Bay. The weather was wonderfully warm with a hint of a cooling breeze.

Enjoying my walk I decided to wander up to the obelisk, not having visited before. A well kept monument to the Dover Patrol .  A nice little tea shop is just before the monument, although I didn't go in there is plenty of outdoor seating.

I eventually turned around just short of St Margret's Bay and returned back along the cliffs toward the campsite.

On the homeward leg the views back along the coastline to Deal and beyond were beautiful. The photographs do not really show it though.

Having worked up a thirst...the only way to quench it was with a nice cool beer. Half a mile past the campsite there are two nice pubs. I chose the Zetland Arms for my quaff of local ale.

And a jolly good pint they sell as well. Back to the site I went for my evening meal, shower then read and went to bed, Deal in the morning. It rained quite heavily overnight and the re-waterproofing of the Vango worked a treat with the rain beading of the flysheet, so Fabsil Gold works just fine.

The strangest things!
Nice views of working boats on the way into Deal.

The weather stayed warm with hazy sunshine but occasionally the sun broke through making it very warm. Having arrived in Deal I walked to the end of the sea wall and turned around. Calling in at a lovely old Inn the Kings Head (George III) to taste the local beer.

I stopped for a fish and chip lunch and meandered my way back to the site. Deal, Kingsdown & Walmer has some lovely old houses. I could not resist taking some photographs of these wonderful houses.


I did comment earlier that there where two public houses near the campsite. So here is the second the Rising Sun.

Despite the three public houses in the blog I only had two glasses of ale. I am so pleased that we are still holding onto the tradition of public houses serving local beers. Especially as so many are closing down. I can certainly recommend the ones I stopped at.

This short break has certainly recharged my batteries and set me up for my trip to Sweden next month.

Thank you for reading.




Sunday, 6 April 2014

To Dye For

Having recently purchased an old desert camouflage smock I decided that the pattern was not for me. I thought that it needed a bit of change so dyeing it another colour was the way ahead.

Having completed a bit of research and having dyed a swedish army snow smock and a military jacket before I chose washing machine dylon. I used a forest green before which had turned out well but on the jacket you could still see the pattern. So this time a really dark colour was in order.

Having weighed the smock which came in at around 1.2kgs two packets of dye and salt where required. A bit of a long process having to apply the dye in one wash, followed by another with washing powder remove the jacket, then one more wash to clean the machine. However, the smock came out really well the velcro and stitching did not dye but the buttons took on a nice tinge.

I actually quiet like the two tone type look. The military pattern has disappeared in the dyeing process a  good result.

Having mentioned that I had bought and dyed a swedish army snow smock forest green. I decided that it was time to try and waterproof it. The fabsil gold waterproofer that I had purchased for the tent after reading the instructions seemed suitable!

Swedish Army Snow Smock

The smock is super large but that's no problem better to big than small and can be adjusted with internal waist pulls.

I had an old spray bottle in the shed unused and chose to fill the bottle and spray the fabsil onto the garment it was super absorbent and used all bit a tiny drop of the waterproofer. It is a bit smelly at the moment but that should disappear with time, hopefully though it will repel a shower.

The one litre can of fabsil also covered my old friend the karrimor hot earth 60 litre daysack which I have owned for many years.

So from that one tin of fabsil purchased I have done quite well, tent,daysack and smock. So fingers crossed that it does what it says on the tin I'm sure it will.

Two pieces of clothing finished for my trip to Sweden.

Thanks for reading.