Spa Sweethearts go Paddle Boarding
9 of us met at the very cute Boroughbridge marina, on what felt like the hottest day since time began! Sam as usual encouraged us all to be early, and this gave us a really nice chance over a picnic in the sun (and seeking some shade by the end) to all chat and for some of us to get to know one another better. Our group included a couple of our newer members and it was lovely to reminisce on lots of the other out and about events that SSWI has organised over the years - it’s clear there is a definite appetite for another ‘weekend away’ or ‘Bushcraft night out’ type event. We’ll get our thinking caps on! 1pm came, and we’d refreshed ourselves with Lizzies enormous water melon so it was time to get checked in and settle the big issues on the table - WILL WE HAVE TO WEAR WETSUITS AS ITS SO HOT WE MIGHT EXPIRE! Our instructor Al probably didn’t know what hit him, as we descended on the little cabin and spotted all the equipment around (dreddes suits included). After a machine gun attack of questions we quickly realised that Al is a very laid back guy, and the ‘rules’ of paddle boarding mostly start and end with; wear your buoyancy aid, keep your ankle strap secured and have fun!!! Off we went to change, trying not to look too hard as Al started lining up the boards - this was it! the group assembled, and we discovered a lovely lady who made us up to 10 as a result of a birthday present that we were not 100% that she had asked for!! Of course, we gave her the SSWI recruitment schpeil Al brought a dry bag and carried anything like medications or emergency bits and bobs that we needed. Lizzie helpfully brought along a water proof phone case too - so there would be no chance that we’d be missing out on evidence of the impending activities! We had an introduction to our boards, and Al explained to us how to adjust the length of our paddles according to our height - we were starting to feel like pros now (though we were still dry and starting to get very hot!!). We watched as Al demonstrated the technique to go from kneeling on our boards (the position we would all start from) to standing if we wanted to once we were in the water. He also explained we had small cargo nets if we wanted to bring anything along, like a water bottle. We lined up and one by one launched into the river Ure getting our balance and making our first few strokes of our paddles (some quite quickly as there were a few small boats moving in and out of the harbour - you just can’t avoid traffic anywhere near Harrogate apparently!! Many of us took to our feet and got to grips with the standing up on the board, though there was no pressure to, and we could achieve the same speed continuing to kneel. Many of the group took off our shoes, utilising our cargo areas on the boards and enjoyed the freedom and feeling of being very close with nature. The route was peaceful, save for the odd passing kayak or canal barge, always with a friendly wave (or a bow wave depending on their speed!). We realised at this point just how lucky we were to have got the fantastic weather for this event. Al stopped from time to time and gave us pointers on technique and how to manoeuvre the board around really fluidly. Sam was first in the water (in a very unplanned manner!) but Al was very attentive to the whole group and was on hand to help anyone back onto their boards - the coolness of the water was very inviting and before long most of us had jumped in for a swim - Lizzie and Georgia even braved a climb up the river bank and used a rope swing to renter!! Al helped us organise ourselves into a line, so that the brave amongst us could run from one end of the lined up boards to the other (he did also say ‘and back’ but we couldn’t quite achieve that stability!!). It was very easy to see why the activity is becoming so popular, with both the tranquil moving through the water, as well as the fun that it’s possible to have on the board too!
We were then impressed with some on-board yoga poses from a few of the group before heading back down stream again. We saw some beautiful wildlife, loads of dragonflies and a few cute oyster catchers flying overhead too. The 3-hour session flew by, though we suspected there may be a sore muscle or two the next day, and one by one we made our way back to the shore. Once we landed and handed back our kit it was time to rehydrate and say goodbyes all in agreement that the day had been very successful, and a few of us already considering either another session or even buying a board themselves!