When we were leaving on this journey we did not know what to expect. The whole distance to do was scary. The thought of four months doing that was overwhelming.
The first week was as expected, hard. Then we slowly got into it, established the routine of the days. We started to be more comfortable being in the environment you are in when on long term kayaking journey. A real break through came once we finished Lyme Bay. By that time we experienced about everything we could: good, bad weather, good and bad nights out in the tent, tiredness, pain, sunny kayaking days, head wind, long portages, broken equipment, every day packing, not making progress and finally making progress.
Slowly our expectation got shaped. Slowly we realised what we really wanted to do and can do. The motivation to handle the whole thing was clearer.
Of course we wanted to finish where we started, but we also had smaller goals. I wanted to make it as far as past the Land’s End, it seemed far enough, and just hoped for the cafe at Cape Wrath. Michal just hoped that once we get into it, we would make progress without hoping to get “at least somewhere”.
But as I said, suddenly we really started to enjoy ourselves. We got to grips with the blog writing. Started to meet more and more people. And people became the essential part of our journey. Every comment, every text message, every email had its importance. We knew that people are watching us, showing interest, reading our blog. We wanted to have the blog interactive, but firstly we thought about it as being interactive for readers. It changed greatly to being interactive for us, too. Sometimes I would think about an article and picture one or the other name I knew from the comments, and thought of what would they say, would they like it, would they add something and so on.
With just the two of us all the time, and we are well used to that and no, we don’t have to talk to each other for hours, having others involved in the journey was great. It also gave us new topics for conversations, hope your ears didn’t burn too much.
I said the motivation became clearer. It changed as the trip progressed. When we set off we had a goal for every day, but soon we realised that not always we could keep up with it. It started to put strain on the feeling of well being. While I enjoyed that we were off the water and was satisfied with distance we made, Michal was fretting that we should have been somewhere else. Fortunately this lasted him only few days. Then we decided to just “enjoy it” with few goals along the way, without which we wouldn’t finish. So it was North Cornwall by the end of May (didn’t), Scotland on 1st of June (better than expected), Aberdeen by 1st of July (almost), home(we didn’t know).
This approach gave us time and flexibility. But then it was time to finish. Once we reached English Coast, we were on a last stretch. Then, waking up on Holly Island, that morning I decided it was time to go home. We checked the distance and divided it by days left to a date. And this was what guided our paddling for the next days. It all changed to be distance driven. Making it satisfied us, not reaching it didn’t. We had three days to spare if paddling according to target. We used two, and were nervous. The days were easy, get up, pack, paddle, don’t stop at places, paddle until possible (tide, wind, light, strength), check tomorrow’s distance and weather, sleep. What, where and when we ate wasn’t important as long as we were not hungry and had enough energy.
I am glad we experienced this approach, too. It was satisfying seeing the progress and nearing of the goal. But we wouldn’t be able to keep it up during the whole trip.
The trip lasted four months which is a very long time. It wasn’t possible to have only one focus, to paddle. It was important to have a life as well. Britain is not a deserted place in the middle of nowhere and it would be very hard to pretend it was and to ignore all the stuff civilisation brings. For us it wasn’t the need to have bed or shower, luxury entertainment or TV, it was to use the environment and enjoy what’s offered, coffee, local fresh catch in a restaurant, sightseeing and local history. But of course if someone did offer a bed or fresh towel and shower, we were always ready to be guests.