www.nicolabaird.com for more info about books and blogs).
"Is this a Dagger I see before me?" Admittedly Shakespeare dreamt this line up first - but that pesky "dagger" is the second thing I notice on this blustery April morning down by the reservoir. The first is an extremely tall, dripping man who has just tipped out of his Dagger kayak. I have a nasty feeling that I will be the second one in the water despite there being no current, or sizeable waves.
"It's my fault, I was racing," smirks the tall man. He doesn't seem to mind at all. Perhaps the reason you go out in a kayak is to have a dip-in-the-water adventure. That's certainly the impression I get from the promo videos of whitewater rafting featured on the Dagger manufacturer's website offering a nail-biting trip to Norway.
Even if you aren't that keen on water it's still an absorbing pleasure to hang around by the river bank, or even take a trip down a river. I've got plans to do this with the Canoe Man in Norfolk - I want to be in the river with an otter - soon. But over the years have had fun joining an organised kayak trip (just me and a 6 and 8 year old) down the tidal River Tamar and also being expertly captained by my friend Hannah along the early, shallow part of the River Severn in Powys. My claim to fame remains an early morning paddle around Sydney harbour guided by the wonderful Patrick from Natural Wanders. (see pix above in ocean racing kayaks)
Every river is going to be different - and yet offer some of the same emotional release, adrenalin buzz, relaxation and the ability to creep up on the wildlife (or in Oz, real estate) - wherever you go in the world so it feels like a wise skill to be able to paddle (even if I still daren't try the capsize test). That's why I've joined a canoe club at my nearest big water, a lovely local reservoir that seems to attract the sun. Actually the whole family has joined - even though under 18s go out in boats on different days to the adults - and I hope it will provide plenty of anecdotes.
These may not be as glam as the stories from the whitewater crazies in Norway, but definitely will give us all a new skill plus the opportunity to tell tales of dunkings, dead dogs, herons fishing by the standpipe, baby-crazed swans, flats overlooking the reservoir being sunny Sunday polished (oh you can see a lot from the water!), trees coming into bud and cormorants drying their wings on the old oak tree.
What a result from travel that's less than 10 minutes from my own home.
Over to you
Which river trips in a kayak do you recommend? Especially if the trips include children...