Escape to Islay

As if we haven’t had enough excellent trips by way of the Garnock Canoe Club this year, we’ve just come back from another one. We were in Islay over the weekend as guests of the very gracious (and environmentally upstanding) Dave and Emma of the Islay Canoe Club. Islay is much closer to us than Lewis, involving a mere 38 miles of driving and a quick hop on the Portavadie-Tarbert ferry followed by 2 hours on the Kennacraig-Port Askaig ferry. We’re practically neighbours!

Kintra on Islay

Kintra on Islay

On Friday evening, we all went for a stroll along the beautiful Kintra beach at sunset, accompanied by Sam and Bria, the springer spaniels. The weather forecast was predicting a day indoors on Saturday, although Richard confidently maintained that conditions would be fine. I know that Richard has some god-like abilities in relation to paddling, but I hadn’t realised that they extended to weather forecasting as well. After a morning of yoga class (during which I determined that I will never again be as flexible as my 10 and 15 year-old classmates), the weather did clear by Saturday afternoon. So off we popped for a few hours of playing in the surf at Traigh Bhan near Port Ellen. This was precisely the type of experience that I needed after my little capsizing episode in Lewis. Richard waded into the soup and taught me how to low brace properly, ensuring that I hip flicked as appropriate to prevent the kayak’s edge from being caught. The more I managed to stay upright, the more it seemed like fun. Next, Dave insisted that I try a little kayak rolling with his guidance. I had been observing Alan’s attempts where it seemed that he wasn’t entirely enjoying his salt-water nasal flushings and I therefore launched a vigorous protest that I wasn’t up for it. Dave seemed deaf to my pleadings. I then watched Kirsty executing a roll unassisted and, duly inspired, I succumbed on the grounds that I be allowed to use a nose clip. Of course, I couldn’t roll without Dave guiding the paddle as my brain engaged a brand new sensory assault (salt water, “stuff” in the water, gushing noises, and so on), but at the very least, it gave me an introduction to the whole rolling-in-the-sea experience. I am pleased to say that it wasn’t quite as horrific as I had anticipated, so there is hope.

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