Monday, 28 December 2009

Land lubber

Hoy from the Ring of Brodgar.
With significant amounts of help I stumbled around the icy ancient monument hoping I wouldn't have to explain myself in the casualty department later. One of the attractions of being in the outdoors (tenuous link to kayaking there) in Orkney is the big skyscapes.
At this time of year they are brief but can be dramatic.

Saturday, 26 December 2009

Weather window

The view from Aikerness on a cold but beautiful Boxing Day walk/physio session.

This was GB's classroom earlier in the year.
Eynhallow is on the horizon.

Hopefully next time I'm out there I can test out my Christmas present and publish the results here.
I think I may need a little help from a northern geophysicist (or should that be geo-physician?).

Monday, 21 December 2009

Winter training

Despite having had a broken ankle I have resumed my regular swimming routine. In fact as soon as the cast was off I was back in the pool. My turnip shaped (and coloured) foot became a sight pool staff became innured to. To begin with just getting to the edge of the pool was tough and a journey fraught with hazards. However after dragging myself painully around on dry land it was a liberation to be immersed and unable to fall over or lose balance with unthinkable consequences. For weeks now I have been able to swim faster than I can walk. In fact in 20minutes I swim about 1km, I just couldn't walk that far in any amount of time.

This winter swimming training is motivated by a desire to keep up strength and stamina needed for kayaking, and I do it every winter never mind the state of my bones. What has been interesting to me has been how my swimming fitness has been improved by my ankle fracture. Naturally more inclined to pull than kick, this has been magnified by ankle pain.

As the weeks go by I kick more easily and am returning to a more balanced stroke. I am convinced that swimming in a technically correct way will enhance paddling. Body rotation, reach and catch are all mirrored in swimming. Feel for the water is developed. Breathing is balanced and rythmical. Transfer of energy is a continuous process. Turning involves changing direction in the most energy efficient way.

I think next season I might include some coastal swims.
Just as well I know some friendly kayakers.

In fact I might just swim past here, 'the whalebone' at Birasy, a few metres from where I broke my ankle. Should I have taken it as a sign?!

Friday, 18 December 2009

Its a head game.

Our pool session was cancelled tonight due to snow.
I was going to practice rolls, again, never quite convinced it will work when I need it to,
and it seems like a good use of warm water.
Back in March this was cold.
I am well known for my cold averse tendencies so never mind the sea state, it has to work in any weather.

Monday, 14 December 2009


I was reunited with my Isel at the pool this week.

Working up from hand rolls in pool boats to rolls in the Isel, in my own time, it was a very 'chilled' session in the best possible way.

Sitting in the Isel again after three months put a smile on my face.

So familiar, so an old friend not seen in a while, but it seems like no time at all.

Something else blue and comfortable put a smile on a Northern kayakers face too.

Monday, 7 December 2009


The last coached session before Christmas.
Me and my Cyprus hit the water.

So I padded out the ankle with neoprene and jammed it in a pool boat (uncomfortable at the best of times) and demonstrated. I snuck in a couple of hand rolls just to check the laws of physics had not been tampered with while I have been absent.

Everyone has made great progress.

Saturday, 5 December 2009

The boat grotto

Still high and dry but beautifully lit during an annual Christmas light check.