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Thread: Marauders meetbrecon & monmouth canal 8-10 sep

  1. #61

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    Thanks to Uncle Albert and all the crew who were present for this last weekend's paddle. Great paddles on a really pretty canal, great company & a really chilled out weekend.

  2. #62
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Exmouth, Devon, England
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    2,740

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    Indeed it was. Too short though!

    I made it home with 15 miles left in my fuel tank! It did mean I got home in time to help move things and pack away, have a bath and then fall asleep on the sofa.

    I'll post photos when I get back to a non-work computer that allows me access to social media.

    PS. Did you guys also notice the closed gates on the way out? I'm guessing it's because they let a cow and her calf roam about behind the farm - they were at the top gate when I left.

  3. #63
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Location
    London, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
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    300

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    Great weekend, many thanks to Dave for organising. Bernie & Chris good to meet you, hope we get to see you at a future meet soon.

    Cheers

    Stewart

  4. #64
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Byfleet Surrey.
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    36

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    Thank you Dave and everyone for a great weekend ,the cow and the calf were in the top Field and she chased a couple of walkers she was near Daves trailer and I was worried about the Skodl lol I told the Farmer 👨* he said he would sort it thanks again for a good weekend I think I could get used to alcohol free lager lol

  5. #65
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Mid-Wales
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    55

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    Many thanks to you Marauders for the welcome, the paddling, the paddling tips, the location and the conversations.

    A good time was had me, and, it seems, some others too.

    Cheers!

  6. #66
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
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    Exmouth, Devon, England
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    2,740

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    Whilst we wait for me to return home where I'll be able to post my photos, I thought I'd put my thoughts and memories down to give others the feel of the weekend and in the hope they'll be encouraged to join us next time.

    First off, there was no killing or plundering. Imagine my disappointment! :P These are the most peace-loving marauders I've encountered; not that I've encountered any before thank goodness.

    I had to work on Friday and left home around 5:30 thanks to the benefit of being able to work from home on Thursdays and Fridays. I'd packed as much as I thought I needed the night before and even got the canoe on the car at lunch time between showers.

    On the way up I endured reasonably heavy traffic that, in places, had me parked on the M5 North-bound. Things looked worse going South so I had to be grateful I was at least going the right way. I wasn't exactly rushing, but I was hoping to pitch my tent before it was dark. I also wasn't sure of the route and was relying on the navigation system whilst keeping my speed to a reasonable fuel consumption to avoid having to stop and fuel which would've added more time I didn't want to spend before pitching my tent. The SatNav took me down the wrong road, to a dead end because I entered the post code. I should've trusted my memory of which road to turn down from Google Streetview that I'd previewed earlier. A lesson for next time.

    I did eventually make it to the camp site after taking yet another wrong turn. I found reception and asked how to get to the top field. The farmers daughter didn't know about our arrangement but verified it with her dad on the phone before explaining the route through the farmyard to the top field. Sadly I didn't even manage that, turning right and into a caravan graveyard before finding the path between the buildings and out the back. By the time I arrived everyone was sitting around relaxing. I greeted all and was overloaded with names and faces in the dark making it almost impossible to tell who was who before I returned to my car and drove to the end of the row of campers to pitch my tent.

    It wasn't quite dark and I was able to get set up in the dusk once my eyes adjusted. My tent is also incredibly easy to set up so no concerns there. Given the weather I didn't bother with lines, just the pegs at the base of each rod.

    I went down to join the others and very quickly relaxed into the evening. The two beers I brought slipped down without warning and I decided to crack open the red wine I brought. I was accidentally sipping my way through that bottle more quickly than I thought and before I knew it I'd passed my limit. Things got a little vague after that. I think I said goodnight at some point and meandered up the slope to my tent before somehow making it through the three zips and into my sleeping bag. I don't recall trying to sleep, I only recall waking at 5am with a bladder the size of an udder! Fortunately nobody was about at that hour to witness a lone camper walking barefoot over to the hedge in fleece and pants.

    The morning was a relaxed affair, thank goodness; my body needed a detox. People were making coffees and breakfast in all shapes and tastes were being prepared. I had porridge whilst others had crumpets, a fry up and more. It was very relaxed and nobody felt they were holding up the show.

    There was word of a tool shop in town that fixed or cleaned up old tools and sold them, so that was considered worth a visit before the paddling would start. Some of us bundled into Martin's 4x4 to go into town and visit said shop. Being slightly early, we filled a small outdoor equipment shop and browsed their wares before Stuart/Steward bought a billy can and gas canister. We walked up the road and waited for the shop owner to arrive and open up. There was an interesting array of tools and we were allowed to browse the workshop as well where boxes of tools waited their turn for restoration and vices sat bolted to a bench ready for the next job. They have a forge, power hammer, various machines for stamping and grinding, sharpening saws, etc. Quite the entertaining layout for those of us interested in that sort of thing, but a very small selection of items on sale.

    We flowed down the hill back into town to visit a small craft display when the smell of freshly baked goods dragged us by the nose to a small bakery on the corner with the biggest cakes you've seen anywhere. They simply didn't have anything small. My porridge seemed woefully inadequate at dealing with the previous night's indulgence so I decided a pasty was necessary. Fortunately they were small because that was all I needed; it not only hit the spot, but the bulls eye. I was ready now for some paddling.

    Back in Martin's 4x4, we returned to camp where each of us started gathering things and preparing to gather canoes and gear for the great gate crossing. The gate between the field and the canal path was locked so each canoe had to be handled over the gate, often resting a for a moment whilst one bearer went through the walkers gate to pick it up again on the other side. Once one or two were over there were sufficient hands on both sides of the gate to transport the remainder over the gate with ease.

    There was a larger selection of white canoes than I'm used to. Martin's was apparently white once but is now beige. We had one yellow SOT, one green open, my mottled red and black, and then the white canoes. We headed East on the brown water. My theory being that the number of hire boats (longboats) being hired and travelling up and down the canal stirs the silt so regularly that it never settles. I'd be interested to know if there's another reason the water is so brown.

    We paddled from bridge 112 at Park Farm past Herons Rest Marina all the way down past "Castle Narrowboats" to stop just after going under the A4077 and have lunch at the "Bridgend Inn". I enjoyed sharing a cheese and onion sandwich and chips 'n cheese with Dave who'd suggested sharing - an excellent idea! Given my love of onion, the cheese and (very generous) onion sandwich was lovely. Whilst most enjoyed a pint, I decided my body needed a tea. I do love a cup of tea with a sandwich, but otherwise will always choose coffee over tea.

    On the way there we stopped once and Martin tried my Mega after I offered anyone a go in it. Martin standing about a foot taller than me and with a chest probably twice my own, found the little canoe somewhat "twitchy" by the look of it. I'll let him give his own account of what he thought of it.

    For those interested, it's 2.77 miles there, and almost the same back.

    After returning, it was still light and I had not had enough paddling so I continued on past Beacon Park Boats to bridge 115 (just under a mile). I returned and busied myself cutting wood from the fallen tree (with the farmers permission) and preparing the fire for the night.

    Being the sort that doesn't get out enough, these are highlights for me, not chores. Sawing wood, chopping it, preparing the fire; they're all a delight that I relish when I get the opportunity. If there were gyms where I could cut and split logs, I'd be there every evening after work.

    Everyone was off to the pub and they seemed sorry for me not joining them. I didn't have time to fully explain that there are pubs wherever I go in the UK, not many places I can sit outside in the fresh air with a glowing fire and a mug of ... Ribena.

    Sitting in my chair, fire lit and my drink beside me, I wallowed in the glow of the fire and the coming night that slowly revealed the starts above me. Not a sound was heard for ages. Every now and then I heard a movement and wondered whether the ex-SAS visitor who'd spoken to Dave earlier might be trying to surprise me.

    Gone for far longer than expected, I eventually gave in and went to get crisps (a complete no-no on my current diet, but the diet was off the books for this weekend). Sitting alone in the dark, fire crackling away, drinking my Ribena and eating crisps, the only thing that could've made it better would've been my wife and maybe my kids there to enjoy it with me. But I like my own company so I just let all my worries drift off into the night, switching my view from the fire to the stars, amazed at how clear the milky way was without any light pollution besides that from the fire.

    The lads all returned later to join me at the fire and we shared stories and banter until around 1am when we started drifting back to our sleeping arrangements.

    I woke the next morning at 5am again. Bruised on both hips from the failed mattress and hard ground below it. I don't think my toes got even remotely warm the entire night. I had slept with my wool hat and fleece on with my coat over my legs in a vain and futile attempt to get warm in the night. Rising to visit the facilities and returning for a coffee made me feel alive again. The sausage meat and eggs got me ready for paddling. With so many of us doing different things, it took a while to get our collective selves into gear.

    I was starting to feel the pressure of needing to be home in time to fulfil my promise to help empty the trailer for my wife's Yellow pages (which she distributes).

    We paddled West this day, from bridge 112 of course to bridge 121 this time, a distance of 2.48 miles (4km). It was on the bridge some had snacks and some lunches. I certainly didn't need any more food after the large dinner and breakfast. Once back on the water, I felt the need to work myself; to dig in and paddle with gusto. I have noticed this whilst dieting for the past few months; if I eat a lot I find I have a surplus of energy and it felt so good to be able to use it and enjoy my canoe "coming alive" under the power I was applying.

    Upon my return I put my BA and paddle in the car, my canoe on the roof ready for the trip home and returned to find I was still alone so I checked the coals were cold enough to handle and set about returning the grass to the fire pit. I was in the process of doing that when I heard familiar voices from the canal through the hedge. I quickly finished what I was doing and walked up to help carry canoes over the gate.

    After carrying Chris' (Bearbait) canoe back to his car I started saying my farewells before returning to my car for the long drive home.

    Tired but nourished, body and soul, I returned home in time to help prepare the trailer before sinking into a hot bath. I pretty much knew it was all over at that point; I had PJs on after the bath and went to lie on the sofa where I promptly fell asleep before dinner. Not long after dinner I retired to my soft bed and warm duvet. I slept like a log.

  7. #67
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Surrey
    Posts
    20,044

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    Glad you all had a good event. Sounds like it was a little less moist than my trip over the Irish Sea...
    Covering as many malmiles as possible before being distracted by the pub!

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

  8. #68
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    London
    Posts
    810

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    Enjoyed your write up Bernie.

    Did you not bother with a sleeping bag or duvet?

  9. #69
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Exmouth, Devon, England
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    2,740

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    Quote Originally Posted by kmac View Post
    Enjoyed your write up Bernie.

    Did you not bother with a sleeping bag or duvet?
    I had a sleeping bag, but that wasn't quite enough that night. Maybe it's getting old... or I am!

  10. #70
    Join Date
    Aug 2010
    Location
    Exmouth, Devon, England
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    2,740

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    Here we go, the overdue and long awaited photos. See if you can tie them up with the written version...
















































  11. #71
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Location
    London
    Posts
    810

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    Some nice pics Bernie. Wish I could have made this!! And you had some sunshine too

  12. #72
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
    Location
    Surrey
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    Looks like a lovely camp spot!
    Covering as many malmiles as possible before being distracted by the pub!

    Paddle Points - where to paddle

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