Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Late in August I made a trip to Wales to hook up with the good folks from Sea Kayaking UK. After 36 hours of travel, with little to no sleep I arrived at Nigel
Dennis' house to be graciously greeted as an unexpected guests by the man himself. Nigel is the man behind NDK kayaks, an accomplished adventure and a renowned kayaker.

This was the bank holiday weekend in England and with staff rushing off to escape to parts unknown, the message about my arriving a day early got lost. Oh well not to worry a quick turn of the sheets and Nigel had a room ready for me. I was so zoned out from the flight, crying babies, sniffling adolescence and a very distracting cougar on the train ride up that I could have slept anywhere.

The next afternoon Nigel invited me along for a paddle with his daughter Elizabeth, Justine Curgvengen, Barry Shaw,
and Tom Thomas. Tom is the bloke on the About Us page on Sea Kayaking UK web page. His handsome features are unfortunately somewhat obscured by the history/information. We paddled from Port Dafach around to the sea wall at Holyhead. That's paddling through Pendwyn Mawr and the South and North Stacks. With little tidal stream running it was a perfect introduction to the area. Justin, Barry, and myself played in the surf off the Porth Ruffydd headland. Later I'd learn this was the fearsome Pendwyn Mawr, well ok not today.

I was kitted out in a Romany Surf. Here's a hint when doing your BCU assessments paddle one of these - it'll make you look good. Unless you break it. More about that later. I also chose to wear my dry suit. Bad mistake as the water was amazingly warm. As we paddled along the towering cliffs we stayed inshore. I contemplated slowing down to play in the rocks but was content to tag along. At the South stacks we split up. Barry and Justine went outside of the Stack to play in the tide race while we made our way through the multitude inside channels that separate the lighthouse islet from Holyhead. Soon we were in amongst some large and deep caves full of sleepy seals. The seals here have dog like faces and long necks. They spy hop like otters but don't bark like west coast harbour seals rather they moan.

Every time a seal was spotted some one would point it out, "look at the seal." To my Vancouver Island eyes a seal is a seal is a seal unless it's a sea lion or a whale. But what a great intro to the area. Along the shore there's a life time of rock gardens to play in. And when the tide and wind are racing off shore there's enough adventure to keep the most jaded entertained.

That evening Tom cracked open his laptop so Liz could download some music to her ipod. He has an amazing collection of music. I once worked for a national radio station with a huge music library to which this collection compared very favourably. Lots of rock , blues, jazz and reggae from the 30's on up.

It was a real joy watching the evening sun softly streaming through the window to illuminate this 16 year old girl. In a days time Liz would be off to Cambridge to school. A whole new chapter of her life opening up in front of her. In a few years my son will be doing the same. Throughout the evening Tom was letting Liz sample various artist from his playlists. She hated the teenage angst songs - no scars on her heart, but liked Dylan, almost all reggae which always brought a smile and even the Chieftans - very cool girl. While Liz listened Tom and myself took an introspective journey in an opposite direction to where Liz's life is taking her. We travelled back through our lives carried along with the music of our youth. I couldn't help but smile.

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