Thursday, October 2, 2008


My first Days

I left for Scotland in the mid afternoon on the last day of September with my "wind surfer" in tow.   As many may know, kayaks are no longer permitted on most airlines. With some effort, and help from Nick, I made my way through the airport to find the nicest, most likely ticket agent to take pity on me. 

The ticket counter was open with no line at all. I left my "wind surfer" and largest bag back near the periphery as to not overwhelm my target.  Sarah, the nice girl at the counter turned out to be the perfect choice!  She had a girl next door quality complete with a cheery smile and an attitude to match.  I began the process by excitedly telling her I had never been to Europe, and that I was looking forward to taking my "wind surfer" all over the countryside.  It seemed to be working well until she pulled out a tape measure.  She must have measure the length two or three times.  Pretending to be un-aware of what she was doing I strolled over and presumptively asked, "Where I should take it to get it checked into security?"  

She replied, "Unless I can find a loop-hole, your wind surfer isn't going anywhere."  With a look that combined surprise and great worry I exclaimed, "Oh no...really?!?!  I'll do what ever you need me to."  She returned to her computer and after a few tense moments of whispers and quiet chatting she said..."That will be $100 dollars."  It was then I knew it was a go.  She warned me that it may not make it back to the states, and if anyone asks...It's exactly 114 inches long.  wink wink.  

photo by Steve Macdonald

Over ten hours and two planes later I was cruising through the rolling hills north of Edinburgh.  Stewart, a good friend of Steve's, gave me a lift to Beyond Adventures.   Once there, I had the pleasure of meeting four out of Steve and Rachel's five delightful children, and sat down to my first meal in Scotland...Bangers and Mash!

"Grand Tully" pronounced 'Grantly'
Preparing to put on in the middle section of the rapids

Jon starting things off

Laura zipping across the current above "Boat Breaker" rock.

Nathan, who is typically a kayaker, is gettin' it done in the open boat

 I was just there to observe, but I couldn't let Nathan and Laura have ALL the fun.  Steve and I hopped in for a bit while the sun was still shinning.  This was great training grounds for paddlers of all skill levels.  You can start off at the bottom playing in mild current or just pull the permanent gates into position for a quick slalom session up above.  To top it off, it's a quick 10 minute drive from Steve's place.   

Getting back to my open boating roots    photo by Steve Macdonald

Steve Macdonald, making it look easy

It was a great way to start my month in Scotland.  I met alot of great people, and enjoyed seeing other people coach for a change.  It was a good preparation for my coach level III assessment coming up in a couple weeks.  

Laura and Jon discuss some finer details while Nathan contemplates his next move

Jon points them in the right direction

Steve and Rich have a chat to discuss the plan for the afternoon.

The second half of the session belonged to Rich.  He did a great job coaching Laura and Nathan.  They were really primed  after there time with Jon and ready to step it up a bit.  Rich was able to coax some great stuff from them.  He also reminded us to never take ourselves, or what we do too seriously.  You have to remember this is supposed to be FUN!  

Rich does his best impression of an English canoeist 

I finished off my day by helping Dan, one of Steve's employees, to run the kid's after school club session.  It was nearly dark by the time we got there, so I didn't have time to document the experience with pictures, but Dan and I had a great time with the kids.  Too bad we didn't have this sort of thing in the states when I was a lad.   


Thomas B said...

Bangers and mash eh? Well you know Scotland has never been known for it's culinary delights Paul, and for godsakes stay away from the deep fried Mars bars (they do exist). Having said that you have been emailing me at my "chipbutty" email address. Of course chip butties originate from south of the border from where you are, and if you don't know what a chip butty is you will soon enough :-)

Enjoy your stay. It's beautiful country over there. Good to see you you wingle-wangled your way to getting the kayak on the plane. Nice one.

Paul Kuthe said...

Chipbutty eh? Thanks for the advice!

Jay said...

Actually the deep fried Snickers bars are great. Just don't have one before or after a lengthly visit to the Scotch Malt Whisky Society. Trust me on that one. And do remember - Indian food can be great in Scotland. It got me through grad school in Edinburgh. That said, the steak pies at many local pubs can be excellent. Or not. Get local advice before ordering one.