On Thursday evening, Jack, Jamie, Vanessa, and I got in the car and headed down south to the illustrious Cheshire. Having spent the night at my house, and witnessing Jamie getting a Mawwdach-esque beatdown from my mother we headed off bright and early Friday morning to the Dee.

Vanessa, being reasonably new to kayaking and being a virgin to our high quality banterfest trips was our main consideration when choosing rivers. There was also a severe lack of water to consider.

We got onto the Dee at a 9 on the gauge and headed down to Serpents' tail. I was in my demo Stomper (THANKS ROHO !!). I ran it quite a few times down both lines with no problems. I have not however got to the Jamie/Jack level of hitting all the eddies on the lead in. Meh.. oh well. Vanessa got down Serpents' tail, and then swam in an eddy :P Typical. There was another little fiasco which involved Vanessa temporarily losing her paddles, but everything came together and Vanessa was a star for continuously trying/not complaining.

The rest of the river was pretty cool - I practiced my surfing (I am getting there), I practiced hitting eddies, and paddling in a straight line (always important :)). At the end we ran Town Falls with resounding success.. ok.. that is a lie. Vanessa did not hit her line and ended up with a little scratch on her chin but as far as I am concerned, that is simply because Jack picked a bad line ;)

After quite a bit of faff, an hour in Cotswolds looking at sleeping bags that we did not own, and some awesome food in Betws-y-coed we headed to the get off of the infamous Fairy Glen to kip in the layby with a beer or four and some lambrini (classy group). We were met by Mute and Franca, and the festivities commenced. I vaguely remember being chased down the road by Matt and Jack wielding lighters excaliming "Burn the witch!". Dont ask.

We got up at 8.30am - a little later than Matt's overly ambitious 6.30, and headed to Swallow Falls. We were met by a lovely couple who were very polite and helpful. Unfortunately an evil heathen came along and said something about access but I was not really listening because he looked like an idiot. In the end we walked away from running the falls such that we could keep up the good reputation of kayakers.
We then headed over to the big T, Where we had an hour or two on the upper graveyard before running Vanessa down the lower section. I hit every eddy that I tried to hit at least once :) Next time i want to hit every eddy every time.
I also ran NRA wave and Chapel falls for the first time. I made the mistake of following Matt (on his instruction) down NRA, and then missing his line - i ended up hitting a nice boof line instead :P. Note to self - pick and follow own lines as I tend not to f**k up my own lines.

On the lower section Vanessa did really well. There was only one swim, and she ran Bala Mill well - I was impressed.

After some chips we got in the car and headed back to Leeds. Jack and I navigated home with no problems, and no wrong turns. Turns out we are exceptionally good navigators who are unappreciated due a lack of confidence in ones own abilities. We got back home in time for a few hours sleep before heading out on the club trip...

The boys (& Vanessa) being generally great.

The club trip was a beginner/intermediate trip to the Lune. We had about 18 people, and it turned out to be an awesome trip (apart from my shock absorber on my car disintegrating). On a personal level, i once again aimed to hit eddies on the way down. I did - hitting near enough every eddy I tried to hit. A few little panics in micro eddies saw me back in the flow quite quickly, but I now know what I need to work on. Magnetic rock turned out to be particularly underwhelming - well trying to spot the huge rock that scared the living daylights out of me a year previously, I actually hit the magnetic rock and curled around it pondering as to why it had attained the status of 'rapid'.
All the people in our group put in an awesome effort, and did really well. Particular props to Aidan and Paddy who did not swim, and styled some lines. Zero probs to Jamie for pushing Sean in and making him swim :) I hear the other group did really well too - notably Becky.

LUUCC styling the Lune.

Arriving home we headed for a nice curry at 7 Spices, and then retired for a well deserved early night. Overall it was an incredible weekend in all respects. As Jamie noted however, it would be good to get back running some limit pushing stuff. Beth will be back in the world after NSR, so I imagine/hope we will be hitting some decent runs in the near future. Dart?!

As regards my quest to find a boat. The Stomper is in my opinion way better than the Burn, but in my non-technical lingo is quite slow, and likes to turn for absolutely no reason. By the end of the weekend I felt at one with the Stomper (how sad), but I don't know if it is for me. I really like the Liquidlogic outfitting, so after I have tried a Mamba I may try the remix, diesel, jefe and the like.