Today we went to an overnighter at Paxmead which is on the river Thames. We set off very early (leaving Sophia’s home at 7.30am) we had no idea what to expect so were excited but a little nervous too.
After arriving at 9.00am we very quickly got changed then walked to “the shed” to choose a kayak, buoyancy aid and paddle which we had to carry on to some grass by the river next to a tow path, there were 13 Guides taking part in the day. Caroline the leader divided us into two groups: Tiger and Aine were in group 1 whilst Chloe and Sophia were in group 2.
Group 1 got on to the water whilst we watched, then it was our turn . We could see lots of reeds under the water and it was cold. Everyone managed to see a Heron but it looked like a statue at first so we were very surprised when it moved! Group 2 carried on their river trip going under a bridge before we stopped for a snack which we really liked as we were getting hungry. It was then time to paddle back to Paxmead so we could have our packed lunches. When Tiger tried to get out of the boat she fell in!
In the afternoon Caroline took us on another river trip, this time going in the other direction and in open canoes. We went past lot of lovely pretty houses, some fishermen and a large flock of parakeets. We were also taken to a lock and the weir where we would be going the next morning – it looked terrifying! We had been paddling for some time so we started to head back. When we arrived back at Paxmead we were asked if we wanted to play some games, but we choose not to as most of us were feeling cold and wet.
By Chloe and Sophia
After a fabulous hot shower to warm and clean me up after my river dousing we sat down to dinner which was a delicious home cooked hot lasagne (vegetarian for Sophia, Chloe, myself and another leader called Alice) followed by apple crumble with ice-cream. Bed followed fairly soon after as most were tired from the action packed trips.
During the night it poured and poured with rain but we were safe in bunk beds and quite honestly I slept through it all and only heard about it from Tina another of the leaders (who bravely does the finances for Southwater Guides canoeing – I think you are quite mad Tina!) Everyone worked really well as a team to get Sundays breakfast on the table, which was a selection including (of course) eggy bread. Then it was down to the river for 9am to venture down to the slalom course & I don’t mind admitting I was some what apprehensive…then we were off and all went well until Caroline paired us all up getting the experienced kayakers to teach us less adept kayakers various stokes. I got really very confused it has to be said but Katherine bravely continued patiently to try to improve my skills which appeared to be a lost cause quite frankly. We passed the island and continued to navigate down the river to the weir. I (and a few others I suspect) were hugely relieved to hear and see that the weir was vastly calmer than when we saw it on Saturday. Alan the coach sat us all down in the Shepperton slalom headquarters and gave us a training session before we headed back on to the water to try our skills. I was still a little concerned about understanding which direction I was meant to be travelling in between two white poles dangling over your head but it was a lot easier once we tried it out. We continued to practise the course before being timed three times. All too soon it was time to head back into the wind and going against the direction of the water but to all our amazement the entire group made it all the way back to Paxmead without being towed – quite an achievement.
There was a rush of activity to get cleaned and sorted, lunch made and eaten, everything packed up and Paxmead given a bit of a clean before parents arrived.
Thank you SO much Caroline, Alice, Paul, Tina and Helen we had a fabulous time and can’t wait to do it all again next year!