Something draws us to vessels and water- Life on water is how we discover our family values and the strength of our character. Our next mother-daughter adventure known as 'Pirates of the canals IV' finds us in Scotland paddling across the famous Great Glen Way.
We enlist the help of Mancunian friend; Doug. Many of our winter weekends are spent in his garden shed building a canoe from scrap wood. A photographer and DoE instructor we share the same passion for the outdoors and carpentry work. Planks from a broken bed and disposed skirting boards from a 250 year old church were used to make the vessel. By upcycling there was no need to use fresh raw materials, thus helping conserve the limited resources. We faced some challenges; a cold and damp day when the glue wouldn't set, a wrongly stapled seat, where the straps had to be re-done and we fitted and twisted 360 wires only to remove them the following weekend.
Little-Lobster and Doug's granddaughter, Autumn, helped us build Icarus. Three generations working together, a beautiful process that brought us joy, a sense of achievement and accomplishment. Reminding us to put love in all that we do.
We named our vessel 'Icarus', inspired by the ancient Greek tale when father and son seeking exile crafted wings from feathers and wax. Despite his father's warnings, Icarus flew too close to the sun, the wax melted and he fell into the sea and drowned. The moral of the story as I see it is to live life with ambition, not greed, nor fear. To not suppress risks but to use a little common sense.
We wondered where to take Icarus on its first adventure. A Scottish friend and outdoors fanatic, Andrew, said in no uncertain terms: 'Addi, you're an honorary Scots. There's no doubt you must paddle across the Great Glen Way.' Forming a plan is that simple, really.- Airing our thoughts with like-minded friends and keeping an open mind, asking ourselves 'Why not?'.
On the 20th August we will paddle from Fort William to Inverness (The Great Glen Way), stop for an ice-cream and paddle back again, in total 120 miles. We will enter and exit the water dozens of times to negotiate the various locks and to spend the night. Self-supported, carrying all our provisions including enough food to last the whole journey. On a windy day, an umbrella will serve as sail to help 'catch' the wind and propel us forward. Little-Lobster will take on this important role while I steer the direction with the paddle.
The tent stays home. We'll sleep in hammocks strung between trees on the waterside, using mosquito nets against the mossies.
This summer our teeny dog, Little-Miss-Shadow will join us. A notorious pirate, ready for battle in whatever form it may come. Her fearsome presence will scare off 'Nessie' when we paddle across Loch Ness.
During our paddling adventure, we will share with the public what 'Invasive Species' is and how we can all help prevent their spread. This resulted from a presentation I gave at the Water@Leeds conference (University of Leeds) last year, inviting collaborations that impact major water issues. We are delighted to be part of the 10th Water@Leeds Anniversary helping showcase its world-leading research with major impact on our society.
Undoubtedly paddling such a distance via different waterways, to be challenged by the elements, to survive the Scottish summer weather, ticks and midges will not be easy. At times the wind will be a cruel enemy with its headwinds pushing us backwards and fatigue will soon kick in. But we believe this physical and mental challenge will be for a worthy cause.
Our adventure is a chance to see the world from the water, to gain perspective, an opportunity to reflect on what is of true value. To ask ourselves how do we protect our environment?
We will live on the water for 10 days, seeing it in all its abundance and beauty, for the great pleasure it brings to so many. However 785 million people in the world – one in ten – do not have access to clean water close to their home. We would like to raise money to enable Water Aid to dig wells, install toilets and tap stands so others have access to clean water every day.
This is the start of a life-changing experience.