We’ve decided on a change of scene for a few days. We’ve spent most of our Portugal trip so far around the coast and we wanted to head inland for something a bit different. We also wanted to head for a body of water that was a bit friendlier than the Atlantic.
Why do we need a friendly body of water? Well, D is the proud owner of a new kayak – a two-person kayak no less. I am not particularly comfortable on or in water, but realised that my choices were a) go out on the kayak with D or, b) not see him for hours at a time if we were near water. I do, however, draw the line at kayaking in the huge surf waves we’ve seen at the coast, so we headed for a campsite on an inland barragem, or reservoir for my first outing.
What a beautiful place. As usual, we were about the only people on the site so were able to pick a spot with a great view of the water. While we were eating breakfast on our first morning, D exclaimed ‘Oh, a wild boar’. Indeed – there was a wild boar trotting past outside the campsite fence. The fence we have to go outside to get to the pontoon for kayaking. Aren’t wild boar dangerous? Shouldn’t we check? D asked at reception and was assured that they were harmless and we had nothing to worry about. Excellent.
After practising getting the kayak off the roof of the van a couple of times (much easier than we thought), we headed off. I loved it – absolutely loved it. The weather was perfect and it was so peaceful on the water, although in summer it would be a different matter as it is a very popular spot for jetskis! It will take me a while to get the hang of paddling efficiently and it seems that my left arm is much stronger than my right – when paddling, I tend to go in big circles. To be fair, it is probably more accurate to say my right arm is weaker than my left – I’m not sure either of my arms could be called strong!
The best bit about the kayak is that there is space for a child – or, in our case, a dog! D took her out first to get the hang of things and we all then went out together. Uller just sat there and wondered what all the fuss was about, which is a pretty normal response for her.
The next day, I was pretty sore, but I think that was from carrying the kayak 150m or so through the campsite and then down steps to the pontoon – it felt particularly heavy carrying it back up after our paddle!
Later, D showed the photo of the boar to the receptionist. It turns out that she thought he was talking about seeing an Iberian pig, which is completely harmless. She had never seen the wild boar before and was quite apologetic about telling us that it was harmless!
After years without a surf-ski, it was time to get back on the water. As in recent years I’ve preferred body surfing than riding a hard skull-cracking craft in surf, I decided a flat-water kayak would be more useful. Surf-skis and flat-water kayaks are quite different beasts and have characteristics that suit their intended use. Surf-ski: fast, manoeuvrable, unstable, light and short so poor for long distance paddling. Flat-water kayak: do I have to do an opposite list now? You get the idea.
S has commented that I never want anything and rarely buy stuff. Well I do want stuff occasionally, it’s just that they are impossible or prohibitively expensive. Off the top of my head my list of stuff goes something like this: The Libertor from Blake’s 7 (spaceship with some clever fusion drive and a supercomputer called Zen on board), the troop transporting truck from the early scenes of Aliens (preferably driven by Sigourney Weaver), an SR71 Blackbird (cold war spy plane) or an immaculate black 1968 Citroën DS (with free workshop to keep her on the road for ever).
As a kayak is expensive, on my list of desirable things but not in the same league as say, an SR71 Blackbird, I was able to buy one! This has only been made possible by the generous birthday and Christmas money recently given by various members of family. So, much to S’s annoyance for me and my money hoarding, for once I’ve bought something within 6 months of receiving the money. Usually this type of decision and purchase takes me years. A big thank you to: Chris and Sue; Cathy and Andy; Banma; Brian and Chris; Frank, Anne and Tristan; Mum (thanks to my brother for delivering the money and not spending it on that other thing he was going to spend it on).
What beautiful photos. Were there loons on your Golden Pond?
Yes, but only briefly, and with a dog.
AUSSIE DAD AND JAN
Great-looking kayak. Scary-looking pig. The pond is blue. Uller appears to be in charge. I’d say that look conveys “Oi, Cameraman, a bit more effort in the paddling department please”. Apparently if you get charged by a wild boar, you have to punch it on the nose or poke your thumbs in its eyes to make it go away.