Talks, talks…

We are back home and trying too adjust to the normal life. Although I am not sure what is actually normal. To make transition easier we are trying to fit in as much paddling as possible. There is more about it on our SIXKNOTS blog.

But more importantly we are trying to organise few talks about our journey. We had our first talk  at CK/MER symposium in France several weeks ago.

Next talks are planed for first weekend in October in Burnham on Crouch and second weekend in October we are going to symposium in Falmouth.

We are also trying to do talk in Shadwell in near future and once the date will be set we will post more details here.

In the meantime you can watch our short video to know what to expect on our talk.

Advertisements

Home Sweet Home

It was 15th of August yesterday. Normal day, unimportant day in our lives. No one we know has a birthday, we did not marry that day. It’s not a national holiday or special day in our country, the weather was normal without extremes. Yet, this day managed to gain its importance.
Yesterday was the day when we came home. With all of our stuff from the circumnavigation, six IKEA bags, precisely, full of sand as we later discovered.

To complete the information I have to add the places where we stayed:
Alastair’s (our friend) – Blackheath, London
Ania’s (my colleague & friend), main bedroom – Stepney, London
Lucka, Terezka, Filip (Michal’s sister & Family) – Liberec, Czech Republic
My family’s cottage – Frenštát pod Rdhoštěm, Czech Republic
Klara & Otto (our friends) – Opava, Czech Republic
Lucka, Terezka, Filip (Michal’s sister & Family) – Liberec, Czech Republic
Ania’s (my colleague & friend), Ella’s bedroom – Stepney, London

And then we moved home!

20120816-064311.jpg

Today we’re off on holiday to France.

NUMBERS

We don’t know the exact distance of how many kilometres of miles, nautical or statute, we done. This wasn’t important to us. The track and goal were clear, to make a full circle, but if it is 200km more or less, really who cares. We had GPS, but only used it for crossings and in fog, it was switched on every hour or two, depending on our need.

We know that the full circle has taken us 119 from Gravesend to Gravesend.
The whole journey lasted for 122 days, exactly four months as we planned, from 1.04. to 31.07. 2012.

But there are few other interesting numbers and facts which I would like to share with everybody.

We had 94 paddling days.
We had 28 non paddling days, of which 26 were due to weather, 1 a mental rest (after our Lundy landing) and 1 in Gravesend as we were back too early.

We pitched tent and camped for most of the nights of which 7 were spent in 2 payed campsites.
We slept 28 nights under the roof:
2 in bothys
6 in hostel (Rubha Reid, Thurso, Cullen)
3 in B&B (Wick and Robin Hood’s Bay)
3 in Gravesend Sailing Club

14 at nice people houses:
3 at Howard & Gill’s in Brighton
1 at Mark and Sherril’s close to Portsmouth
4 at Barbara & Ian at Burton Bradstock
1 at Tanya & Andy’s (MidlifeKayak) in
1 at Steve’s at Aberporth
1 at Stuart and Kate’s at Easdale
2 at Finley and Linda’s at Aberdeen
1 at Tim’s close to Harwich

This trip was very liberating and brought us back to nature. We develop a need for one clear luxury, a fresh towel, so only took a shower if offered together with fresh towel.

All together we had showers on 16 different places around Britain.

We had a little competition here. Not between us, no. But it was showers against whisky bottles.

Sadly I have to say that the whiskey lost 14:16 for showers.
It may be due to us leaving unprepared and not having one till Brighton. On the other hand we had some very special stuff prepared by Zdislaw Dubinsky and carefully packed by his daughter Ania in handy containers of a size of double shot. We had one to two a day all the way till Brighton. Also the last bottle of whisky is not counted since it was bought in Walton-on-Ness as the very small bottle they make.

20120806-123213.jpg

Where food is concerned, the statistic is very simple. This trip wasn’t about cooking. So altogether we used only few ingredients.
For cooking it was salt, pasta, quick rice – Egg fried rice was very popular, kidney beans in chilli sauce, pesto, tomato sauce, coconut milk and green Thai paste, odd carrot or courgette and leek, chorizo.

For snacks we had wraps, cream cheese, various salamis and cheeses, ketchup, mustard and mayo and occasionally a cucumber or pepper.

30 packets of Czech soups, various flavours (all time favourite a Goulash soup).

We used 480 tea bags of Roibosh and 1,5 kilo of sugar.

Favourite power bars were: Mars, Chunky KitKat, Wagon Wheels, Can’t-remember-name- ones, and a selection of Czech favourite ones especially imported for this trip.

20120806-122400.jpg

Other nutrition was taken from local resources. But we discovered that mostly we ate steaks or sea food and vegetable.

And mustn’t forget the cakes and coffees.

I think these are the most important facts and statistics arising from this journey.

(written by Natalie)

LOOKING BACK

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.

The last paddle of the trip

Yesterday we paddled up the Thames to finish the journey.

Firstly we tried to keep up with the bigger guys.

20120801-081538.jpg

Then we approached the Barrier. Looks like they tried to shut it before we make it through, but we made it.

20120801-081637.jpg

20120801-081657.jpg

The cable they were pulling across the river on the day we were leaving and which delayed us by few hours is there as well.

20120801-081754.jpg

New cranes at Canary Wharf, scary the big buildings are coming closer and closer to us.

20120801-081835.jpg

They were also painting our bridge on that leaving weekend, not bad looking.

20120801-081909.jpg

Here, Michal is happy passing our local beach.

20120801-081944.jpg

We stopped in our local pub for last coffee of the trip since we were a bit early and the police came to check up on us and interview us. That famous we were.

20120801-082022.jpg

20120801-082043.jpg

There is a war ship at Greenwich which wasn’t there on our outbound journey.

20120801-082125.jpg

And then, we were there. Or here? Well, we arrived, landed, boats were taken up the stairs, done.
People from all over Britain came to greet us: JP and Beryl from Islington, Andrew from Hampton/Scotland, Mark from Dorset, Ann from Essex/Herdforshire border and few others who live locally, including the children and young people from Shadwell.

20120801-082210.jpg

The rest of the afternoon was spent sorting the kit, since later we won’t want to do it. Ann and JP kindly unpacked our boats and helped with washing all and drying. Then it was all about food and later more BBQ food.
Beryl and Sarah made cakes. Last cakes of the journey.

20120801-082249.jpg

20120801-082310.jpg

Alastair then took us to his home since ours is being rented out till the end of the month.

119 Days and the circle is drawn

Today we reached the sailing club in Gravesend. This is the place where we spent our first night at the beginning of our circumnavigation.

20120729-225753.jpg

20120729-225949.jpg

20120729-230008.jpg

When our boats were taken up on shore, we realised that we had done this before. It dawned on us, we have finished the circumnavigation of Britain.

20120729-230518.jpg

20120729-230547.jpg

20120729-230615.jpg

20120729-230644.jpg

However, we have yet to finish the journey. And that will be at Shadwell Basin on Tuesday.

20120729-230804.jpg

20120729-230826.jpg