Canoeing in Bedford

I’m afraid that I am full of yet more nostalgic tales of my hometown and my antics there. Sadly a weekend of torrential rain, gloom and misery curtailed any attempts at outdoor activity this week. Plus I ended up doing a lot of sleeping and Wimbledon watching. Ahem.

One Easter holiday, my dad booked us all in for a day of canoeing along the River Ouse. Luckily for us, the day was cloudy, but the rain held back for once. We were going in two teams; my dad and I were to man one canoe, and my mum and brother were to go in the other. This turned out to be a very advantageous match for me as my dad and I turned into a canoeing super team. My mum and brother fared less well.

Dad and I set off at a good pace, keeping a nice straight line. We relaxed and watched the river banks pass us by. Canoeing along the river really offers you a great view, and it’s nice to be able to wave and shout, “Good morning!” at fellow river users. I felt like a real canoeing pro.

Sadly, our relaxing peace was somewhat shattered by squeals (my mum), grunts (my brother) and the sound of an out-of-control canoe careering into the river bank. My mum’s steering left a lot to be desired, and my brother’s paddling kept pulling the canoe into a curve so that they found it almost impossible to stay straight.

After bellowing (un)helpful advice in their general direction, we espoused the spirit of Top Gear and left them to it.

Eventually they regained control of their mischievous canoe and caught us up. My dad and I then encountered our own troubles, when a current dragged us violently into the path of a large swan.

Swans are indeed very beautiful, and I like looking at them cruising along the river as much as anyone else. But they are also very BIG, and when you are heading straight for a hissing, grumpy swan with absolutely no brakes, there is little time to admire their serene beauty. Fortunately we just missed it, although I only narrowly avoided having my arm swallowed whole by the offended bird.

After this, our journey went much more smoothly. We stopped for lunch on the river bank, and then Dad and I streaked ahead, powered on by cheese sandwiches. We had a bit of trouble when we had to carry our canoes over a locked gate in order to avoid a weir, but luckily a bit of brute force saved the day.

Still powered by our lunch, Dad and I raced on and reached the canoe centre in plenty of time to hand the canoe back. We then waited…and waited. Finally, we spotted my mum and brother’s canoe zig-zagging across the river in our direction. After much faffing, the canoe was eventually aligned with the dock and we were able to go home.

So, if you ever decide to give canoeing a go, take away these important lessons: always pick a good partner, avoid swans like the plague, and take a good lunch.

Hope you enjoyed the post!

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