Hope you’re all enjoying the summer. As British people we have to mention that the weather isn’t great but, as usual, rather unpredictable and a little disappointing. Don’t let this bother you, spend lots of time outside because it’s still better than what the winter has to offer us.
All the schools have broken up now and the kids are off. I reminisce about my school holidays, when we are young six weeks seems like a lifetime. Can you imagine having six or eight weeks off work in the summer now as an adult, that would be amazing (I guess teachers get this well-deserved break every year) and if your retired then enjoy it, you deserve it. I remember counting down the number of sleeps until we broke up from school, saying that I still count the number of sleeps until a holiday now.
It’s good to get away in the summer if you can but I find in July and August in the Med and Canaries are generally packed full of tourists with busy beaches and inflated prices. I usually opt for a holiday before the summer around May or try to pick up a bargain in September when most resorts are winding down.
A good alternative is to find new things to do locally; I’m a big fan of supporting your local area in any way possible. I support the local butcher, fishmonger and green grocer instead of the supermarket, because if we don’t these trades and amenities will die off. I also try to look for new activities in the area and become involved where possible, especially if it’s a new start up or charity that needs some momentum.
Before starting work at QVC I was back packing across Indonesia when I noticed the emergence of a new water sport. All the locals were doing it and it was really making waves (literally) across all the islands – it was called stand up paddle or SUP. It looks a little like surfing sometimes because you can catch waves and the board is like a giant surfboard but it’s also akin to kayaking too, only standing. I watched the locals perfecting their techniques for hours carving up the waves morning and evening. So I plucked up the courage on the island of Nusa Lembongan and headed to the rental shack only to be told that the swell was way too high for a beginner and sensibly the owner refused to rent me the equipment. After that my opportunity was missed because I headed to Thailand where the SUP trend hadn’t hit yet and I couldn’t find any equipment.
Whilst out walking Teddy by the river recently I was delighted (and surprised) because I noticed a group of stand up paddlers making their way down the Thames. Thankfully they came for a rest on the river bank where I made some enquires and arrangements to go out the next morning with a friend. As I was walking away pleased with my plans, the woman in charge, Kiki offered me the parting words of come prepared to get wet; in other words you’re likely to fall in!
I rocked up the next morning in some old clothes, grabbed a board from Kiki’s van and descended on the river. Getting the board into the river in bare feet was a little tricky, not to mention cold (even in our summer) but I eventually managed it. At first I was a little wobbly – the advice is to stay on your knees until you feel stable but I progressed onto my feet in no time. I really got the hang of it and it felt like a good work out for my core and upper body. We travelled down steam for around two to three miles then stopped at the pub for a refreshment before paddling back upstream. I didn’t fall in but the nature of the activity means you do end up pretty soaked. What struck me was the different perspective that being on the river gives you, looking back at the shore allows you to see things differently. It was really peaceful and didn’t feel like being in London at all. Kiki told me she has friends whose dogs go with them on the back of their boards and it made me wonder if Ted and I may do a tandem SUP at some point!
I’m not sure I will be heading out for SUP every day but I really did enjoy the two hour experience, it was very different, challenging and rewarding.
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I’d highly recommend you have a look at what is going on locally to you as you may be pleasantly surprised. Not everybody has the privilege of a river nearby but see what you can find near you in the way of social clubs or activities from litter collecting and chess to mountaineering and volunteering, there’s something out there for everyone and it open doors to new experiences and meeting new people.