This weekend marked the last embers of my daughter’s summer holiday. I was keen that we finished on a high note and after a kayaking hiatus of many, many years, I picked up a shiny new sit on top (from Up n’Under on Cowbridge Road, Cardiff) with the main intention of using it as a vehicle to introduce Evelyn to even more of the great outdoors. We drove to Llangorse Lake in the beautiful Brecon Beacons and paddled gently under the shadow of Hay Bluff, with the imposing mass of Pen-Y-Fan and Corn Ddu standing stoically to the South West.
That morning, I’d been out on a wonderfully rolling single speed ride with a few close team mates. Drizzle swept across from the Bristol Channel, the clouds an ominous bank of battleship grey that threatened to harbour for the rest of the day (if not the remainder of the year). The Vale of Glamorgan is peppered with small climbs and short digs, the type that draws the sting and blunts the sword (if mixing metaphors). At a little shy of 4 hours, my legs knew they’d been put to good use. But with half a day remaining – the benefit of any early start – and the clouds dissipating what can you do?
The contrasting activities of high cadence and relaxed paddling made beautiful bedfellows. Evelyn relaxed in the front of the Kayak and tried to catch feathers drifting in our paddle strokes. I asked her what she liked the best. She replied ‘Being with you and looking at the birds Daddy’. A dual reminder that developing a healthy appreciation of the outdoors is one of the best gifts you can give a child and also that you never get this time back. In busy, work obsessed lives time flies breathlessly.
Yesterday’s activities undoubtedly had a precursor. On Saturday morning, sat at my computer swotting (a very dour paper on project management). ‘Ride somewhere far’ unexpectedly landed on my doormat. Crowd funded via kickstarter, the book was written to promote real world education and inspire aspirant cycle tourists, be it 12 months on the silk road or 2 hours around your town.
I’m a sucker for supporting this type of thing and forgotten that I’d placed an order. It’s an admirable little book, clearly written with a bona fide love of the bike and a true sense of wonder – motivating stuff, even for a dyed in the wool, needs little convincing, get-out-there-and-do-it advocate like me. Well done to both Claire Granger and Brandon Hill for making their vision reality. The next time I’m feeling short of energy and ideas, I know where to go for inspiration.
As a footnote to all of the above, to the cycling with mates, to the battering yourself on hills, to finding new courses within a stones throw of your house, to introducing the next generation of outdoors people (and future custodians of heritage) to exploration and activity – it’s always worth remembering that you can travel an awful long way without venturing too far.
With thanks to Jem for help with the camera work (and all the other stuff!) and Craig, John and Andy for the company on Sunday morning.