Thursday, October 23, 2008

To Wales and Back Again

The next day after my assessment I packed up some sea kit and headed south.  The plan was a good one...  I wanted to paddle with Kate Howell, Nigel Dennis, and maybe even Aled Williams while I was here in the UK.  The only problem was, they all live down in Wales, and I am six hours north in Scotland.  
Steve had a solution!  He would let me drive the green van AND pay for my fuel so long as I picked up two open boats that were waiting for him at Pyranha's HQ.  Well, the open boats got picked up, but I never got on the water.

The drive went well despite the weather.  It was dumping buckets and the wind was blowing the van all over the place.  I made good time and hit only  minor traffic on my way through Glasgow.  Before I knew it, I was winding my way through the confusing industrial park between Liverpool and Manchester.  Nestled deep inside the contorted park was Marine Village, the quaint little community that Pyranha calls home.  With some help from one of their truck drivers and a quick negotiation for some free bow/stern lines I was off..."But where to...?" I thought to myself.  Wales can be a tricky place to drive, and I hadn't a clue where I wanted to go.  I still had not heard from Kate Howell, I didn't know where to find good paddling, and Aled was not going to be available to chat until the next day.  Complicating things further was my lack of a cell or 'mobile' phone as they are called here.  

I started to head south, further into Wales, and kept checking in via pay phone to get in contact with Kate H.  When I finally did speak with her, she informed me that she had thrown out her back playboating and would not be joining me on the water.  There goes that option...and any chance 
 of a place to stay.  She had neglected to inform me that she had moved to South England and was another 4 hours beyond where I was.  Seeing as I was only a little over an hours drive from Holly Head (sea kayaking mecca and home of Nigel Dennis Kayaks).  I decided to drive out there and sleep in the van somewhere near the water, perhaps even at the NDK factory.  (of course I had no idea where that was).  This way I could wake up early and get on the water with SOMEONE...ANYONE?

The wind was fierce the whole drive down and it didn't stop once I pulled into Holly Head.  I woke up several times to the van swaying from side to side in the stiff crosswind.  The protective plastic wrap on the boats sounded like it was getting torn to bits.  The next morning I awoke to clear skies and a crisp cool breeze.  I was hopeful that I would be able to locate the NDK factory or the Anglesey Sea and Surf Center.  

                        High                                                                                                                        Low

After searching high and low and negotiating the narrow back streets I asked several locals to give me clear directions to the factory.  At least I could borrow a boat and go out for a couple hours on my own.  I soon became frustrated with my inability to locate anyone that looked like they were going paddling, or even find a boat to use.  My third attempt to locate the factory led to a freeway entrance towards home.  Considering it was raining like mad in Scotland, I felt like I was wasting my time here.  I would just have to catch up with Aled back at the paddle sports show in Perth, Scotland on Saturday instead, and get my salt water fix in Skye the following week.          

1 comment:

Jay said...

Ach, how frustrating! Sounds like you didn't even find a good pub in Wales :(