HAMPSHIRE: Kayaking

kayaking with ff lr

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By Tim Saunders

In our attempt to embrace this new covid way of life Caroline and I have revisited the days when we used to kayak before the children arrived on the scene. If we’re honest it’s a fair bit earlier than we had anticipated doing this but we’ve had a little time to warm to the idea. During those home schooling days we had chance to plan what we would do with the little kiddiwinkles during their holidays and so we purchased a second tandem kayak, roof rack and j-bars that allow us to strap these two enormous pieces of plastic to the roof of my tiny little 18 year old Ford Fiesta but as you can see from the photos, it works. It’s not as easy as it looks though, be warned. Firstly fitting the roof rack yourself is difficult and a small fortune can be spent on this apparatus if you’re not careful. Then fitting the actual kayaks can be an absolute nightmare. But teamwork, a little chair and a mini stepladder achieves success. Caroline and I have learnt masses about correctly fitting the roof rack and j-bars and of course lifting the kayaks and fitting them in the correct way. It’s frightening to think that if they are not fitted correctly they could simply slide off the roof. There are stories of this happening.

And so after much care we all drive to Alverstoke in Hampshire with the children holding the oars in the middle of the car. Oh it’s good fun. Driving sensibly we arrive at our destination and then unload. Unloading such a tall load is a bit of a worry for us but we soon realise that if we roll them over the j-bars that is the easiest way of getting them off. Prior to this we were trying to lift them off, which was ridiculous.

It takes about half an hour to load and another half to unload and prepare ourselves for our adventure. We have to fit fabric seats front and back in each for that extra comfort and then carry them to the shore. I fit my Akaso Brave 7 LE waterproof camera to the carrying handle on the front of the kayak, which acts as a steady tripod for me to take photos and videos, easily pressing the photo or video buttons on the remote wrist strap. Great. The children clamber in. Caroline sits at the back of the new one with Heidi in the front while I sit in the back of our 15 year old one, which is great for its age. Henry sits in front of me and holds a strap for added safety. Harriett sits in front of him. The children all have life jackets. I push the girls off in theirs and then push my own one into the water and push off with the oars. Being on the water on a lovely day takes some beating. The children quickly take to it and Heidi and Harriett are doing their fair share of rowing. We go up and down the lake and it doesn’t take us long to work up an appetite. Fortunately, we packed a lot of food and make our way over to the other side where we park up and have a little picnic, looking at all the other paddle boarders and kayakers. It’s not long before we want to get back on the water so push off and must go up and down that lake 14 times. There is a current because the water comes in from the ocean so it’s challenging and a little choppy. We spend four very happy hours there and then we all agree that it’s time to go home and have an ice lolly.

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