I had so much fun outdoors this weekend that I didn’t tell anyone about it. Imagine that! The moment was way more important to me than broadcasting about it. Yes, I know it should be, but if we are honest with ourselves, it isn’t alway, is it?
Now this is not some holier-than-thou lecture on how you too should not shout about the the things you do. That is not what I mean. After all, I posted on Instagram after I returned, I have written this blog post and made a video (see below), but at the time I was tempted to post images on Instagram then I just couldn’t be bothered. And it is this apathy which makes me most happy.
Hoarwithy to Symonds Yat
I spent Friday and Saturday canoeing down the Wye with my 7 year old daughter, from Hoarwithy to Symonds Yat. It is the first time either of us has done this kind of trip and to share this adventure together was the sort of experience that makes me go all mushy and emotional.
We hired a canoe from Canoe the Wye in Symnonds Yat and started our trip from Hoarwithy. It is the first time I have done a multi-day trip in a canoe and this felt like the perfect introduction. the Wye flows more than waters of the River Ouse on which we normally paddle, but my only concern was how Emma would respond to prolonged periods in the confines of a canoe. it turns out to be the perfect forum for a chatterbox and I was the “captive" audience.
For any novice contemplating this trip I would highly recommend it. There are no hazards that should cause great concern, beyond a few strong currents, and there are plenty of places to stop for a break. We paddled 18km on day one and another 22km on day two, neither of which was a particularly long day and both sections leave you time to linger. Having said this, if I were to do a longer trip with Emma, I would probably look to slightly shorten the days and build in some more sign-seeing activities.
We were up early on Friday and drove down to the Gloucestershire / Herefordshire border. We launched excitedly and then remarkably spent the day without encountering a single human being on the river, aside from a few slumbering anglers along the bank.
Instead our the hours were filled with birdlife. Along with the hundreds of Mute Swans (with cygnets) and Canada Goose we also had the pleasure of spotting Kingfishers, Common Sandpiper, Sand Martins, Little Egrets and perhaps a Peregrine Falcon (we are pretty sure we heard it).
Given the scarcity of other people I was hoping to catch a glimpse of an otter but I suppose we were out on the water in the fullness of day and it was a long shot.
We broke our journey by camping at the White Lion in Ross on Wye, which I can happily recommend. Located on the water it allows you to drag you canoe out and pitch between pub and river.
The weekend before Emma and I had endured a terrible night’s sleep camping on the coast so it was a pleasure for normal business to resume. Pleasantly wearied by the day’s toils we both slept like logs, briefly awoken in the middle of the night as the drunk fishermen who were camped next to us debated loudly whether they should go out in search of more drink and more fun. They did and presumably they found both as I never heard them return.
As a parent almost every day throws up a precious moment but this was truly one of the best weekends of my life. I think it is what they mean by "quality time”. In terms of the sort of adventures we go on, this was a step further. Whilst I think I did most of the physical effort, I could always rely on Emma to help when needed - it turns out it helps for her to imagine she is in a Dragon Boat race.
The moment was way more important to me than broadcasting about it.
I am not going to pretend I did not look at my phone for two days. I have, after all used it (and other devices) to make a video of the trip which in itself can be a pretty annoying and selfish thing to do in the company of others. But on the Friday evening as we sat in the pub garden, I chose to watch the river, enjoy a beer, to do some puzzles, to chat and to not to share the cool and fun thing I was doing.
I don’t use social media much so this can seem a small thing. It is also fair to say that there aren't many people who care about what I am doing. This blog is after all a small (albeit important) part of my life. It is not my livelihood so there is no burning need for me to promote myself through social media channels.
However, it is the fact that the moment was way more important to me than broadcasting about it which pleases me. Yes, I know it should be but if we are honest with ourselves, it isn’t alway is it? At least, my vanity often get’s the better of me and hijacks what I am doing. Not this time, this was very liberating and relaxing moment.
I suppose I can see a future in which I completely abandon social media and, however silly it sounds, this felt like maybe a first step in the direction.