Wednesday, 31 May 2023
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Windsor Paddle

The CrewOn the 7th October we all received an email looking for paddlers for a 
new and exciting event. It was advertised as a 'fun paddle' which should ‘be an hour before stopping at the pub for lunch and paddling back.' This email was from Laura Mole who was conveniently absent on the actual day (friends birthdays and injured backs are not an excuse!) Safe to say no one really knew what to expect and what the day would bring.
The day started with Lovely Brian cancelling his plans and saving the day by towing the boat to Runnymede. By 10:45, everyone else had arrived and were layering and juicing up ready for the days paddle. The call came to stand to the left or the right to seat the boat, followed by an exasperated shout of "can you all stand still; it's very hard to pair you up when the paddlers are moving." It was good to see an almost full boat + radio, leaving a spare seat at the back for several bags, boxes, and tops.
Off we go.


As we paddled around the first bend of the river Brian uplifted the whole boat by switching on some Marvin Gaye - Sexual Healing. Safe to say we may have got some dodgy looks from the fishermen on the bank.As we paddled along the river past Wraysbury, we came across a strange man lurking in the bushes with his dog, he claimed to not be in the boat because he has to go to work later - cheap excuse. After 30 mins or so of paddling we got to Old Windsor Lock. Dom heroically jumped out to the work the lock, and after several runs to each end of the lock the water level eventually started moving. 

We got to the Romney Lock and got some words of encouragement from a friendly lock keeper who just so happened to know Dave Randall.We got to Windsor and moored up by Eton Bridge, we dropped off  Malcolm, Pete, Andy, Pam, and Evie to hand out flyers while the rest of us paddled up and down.  We then decided to paddle down a bit further to Windsor leisure centre to hand out more flyers. Cheryl, Helen, Debbie, Pete, Malcolm, Rosie, Andy, and I all jumped out either to run to the loo or to stick flyers  on cars. We all got back to the boat once we had finished, but where was Pete? After a while he appeared, walking with a faster pace than usual. He had been cornered by the car park attendants who had told him  to take all the flyers off the cars in case people take them off the windscreens, throw them on the ground and somebody slips over. They said we could be fined £1000. After figuring out that there was only Les and Robs contact details on the flyers, the committee members in the boat decided the best decision was to away! After paddling quite fast back to Eton Bridge we went to the bank again, this time dropping off Andy and I to hand out flyers. We Windsor Lockalso acquired a new member of the boat, James K, who had met us after he finished work. Poor James was handing out flyers for 5 minutes when he was approached by a man who worked for the boat trips company. He demanded to know who James was working for and moaned that we were taking away his business. He ranted that the company pays a lot of money for this area of the bank for their cruises and we shouldn't be mooring up here. Although I didn't know that 'mooring up' meant holding onto the bank for a few minutes while a few people jumped out. Once James had relayed this information to us and we were all back in the boat, we did the only thing we could have done in that away!

We started the long paddle back to where we started, powered on by Kiss fm blaring out, through the first lock, through the second lock, manned by Dom and Amy who both had far too much energy as skipped hand  in hand along the bank. As we neared the Harvester where we planned to stop, Malcolm said the  words we were all dreading "the weather is turning, we're going to paddle through to the end"  Once Evie and Mary had jumped out and gone inside the pub into the warm, the rest of us soldiered on.  After the gruelling paddle to the end, A Deserved Drinkcarrying extra weight as James had hitched a ride, we managed to make it to the Wraysbury clubhouse with a last push to the end. Safe to say that last push finished Lovely Brian off as he could barely talk afterwards, and I bet he wasn't the only one.  For Andy and Julia, this was their first long distance paddle and they did amazingly well for two people who have only ever paddled around the lake. Andy was even on his wrong side throughout, a feat that some  seasoned Hurricanes paddlers would have struggled with......not Pete, who was also on his wrong side.

Rosie did well on the drum too, barely stopping and keeping in time for the whole paddle. Great practise for Henley in a few weeks.Once we had dried off and warmed up the majority of the team heading to the pub to recover.
Apparently we paddled an estimated 24km, almost the time equivalent of a Great River Race so everyone in the boat should be proud of themselves. Let's just hope we have some interest from the people who 
have slipped over on our flyers and the onlookers from the bank.This event is a great lesson to us all; never trust a 'nice' email from Laura Mole.

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