Thames Canoeing

Ally canoe

This weekend saw us take the Ally canoe for its first test trip on the Thames.

Driving to Weybridge, located on the Western edge of London, we ditched the car and got building. The Ally setup took 35mins, which was great considering the last time it took over 2 hours.

Ally canoe

Ally canoe

Paddling gently down the Thames for 3 hours, we crossed locks and enjoyed checking out the amazing collection of houses and boats on the banks.

Thames paddle

Ally canoe

Passing Hampton Court, we continued on to Surbiton and called it a day just as daylight began to fade. 

Ally canoe

30mins later, we had rinsed the kit and packed it all away into the giant canoe bag (still amazed that it’s actually possible to do that!). An Uber taxi brought us back to the car in Weybridge.

Ally canoe

An excellent day out and very happy with how the Ally performed on our 14km paddle.

Ally Canoe

With preparations in full flow for the Amazon 2015 expedition, the first essential piece of kit arrived last week.

Ally canoe

The Ally canoe is made in Norway and is a leading expedition canoe.

Its USP is that it can be packed away into a large canoe bag, transported as plane hold luggage and carried on your back (approx. 25kg) to remote expedition start points.

Ally canoe

It took me approx. 2 hours to set it up today, I’m aiming for 30 mins setup time in the future.

Safe to say my housemate is being very patient with the current setup in our living room!

Perfect Pyrenees

Camp fire

A last minute holiday decision saw us buy Stansted-Carcassonne Ryanair tickets. This proved to be an excellent plan of action.

Hire car, basic camping kit and topo hiking maps (bought in Stanfords) allowed us to explore the Ariegeoise National Park on the France-Spain border, 1.5 hours South-West of Carcassonne.

Forest campCamp fire

The first night we slept in the forest. The following day we were ready to begin our relaxed two day ascent of the stunning Pics Des Trois Seigneurs (2,200m), seen on the horizon in the photo below.

Pics Des Trois Seigneurs

A mountain lake, Etang Bleu, provided the perfect camp spot and an opportunity for cryotherapy on my dodgy left knee.


Etang Bleu campsite

With a high pressure system giving us blue skies above, we arose early and bimbled our way to the summit. Crazy nice views!


A brilliant, spontaneous holiday escape. This area is a must for mountain lovers looking for a taste of the Pyrenees on the cheap!


Survival Training

Survival training

Shelter building, fire lighting, cooking and night nav. This group of nine, inner-city, Year 8 students were challenged to the max with a survival night in mid October.

With long hours of darkness, a chilly breeze and damp ground, they performed excellently in tough conditions.

Survival Training

Teacher Chris having some well earnt down time. A roaring fire is a must for being comfortable in a cold, pitch black forest!

Forest Shelter

Wild horses

Wild horses, thick forests, open moorland… New Forest is a stunning location for a weekend escape.

Forest shelter

I was very proud of this monster lean to shelter! It took approx. 1 hour 15 to build. It didn’t rain, so the slightly dodgy fern roofing wasn’t put to the test over night.

Forest shelter

It was very satisfying to wake up with sunlight piercing through the wooden beams and ferns.

New Forest

Horses and deer could be heard throughout the night, munching on flora surrounding our den.

Forest cooking

A morning coffee and we were ready for the day. On our way out, we came across the beautiful sight below. Hundreds of spider webs coated in morning dew. It’s spider mating season, so having a dominant web is a must for attracting the females.

New forest spiders

Wild Cooking

Tupperware box with cotton wool and lighter, metal skewers and knife… your go to items for a delicious meal in the woods.

Wild cooking

This weekend was another Thames island mini-adventure (see previous post).

The objective… swimming back to the secret island and cooking up a storm!

During the walk in, we foraged for ripe corn in a field, later making for a tasty starter.

Wild cooking

Steak skewers, with tomatoes and mushrooms, acted as the main. To cook, simply plant the skewer in the ground by the fire or whittle yourself a little A-frame setup from green branches.

Wild cooking

A bacon sarnie breakfast provided a much needed morale boost before the swim out!

Wild cooking

Wild swim

Island Sleepover

Armed with canoe bags, sleeping kit, food, GPS and a vague plan, we drove out of London on Saturday evening, with the aim to locate and sleep on an island on the River Thames.


Ditching the car after a short drive West, we joined the beautiful Thames path.

Locating our island as darkness fell, we dived in, swam over and established camp for the night.

Thames swim

Wild swim

Steaks cooked with metal skewers and wooden A-frame over a small fire, made for a delicious supper.


Waking to the morning sounds of geese and ducks on the river, we arose sleepy after a night under the stars.

A breakfast of frankfurters and buns was rustled up on the fire and, after a short swim back to the opposite bank, we set off home. A super spontaneous and fun night!

Wild swim