Diary of an Urban Grandad – Stan Cullimore’s Channel Kayaks Experience
Channel Kayaks recently had the pleasure of taking Stan Cullimore, journalist and resident urban grandad of the Bristol Post, out on one of our Avon Adventure Paddles, a 2 hour experience of all of the delights of some of the most beautiful stretches of the River Avon available. Take a look at what he had to say in his review for the Bristol Post below:
I’m always up for a challenge. Really, I am. Especially when it involves my grandkids. My favourite sort is a challenge that involves a test of skill, strength, and the chance to prove to the younger members of my family that there is still life in this urban grandad. To remind them that I’m not just a grumpy old man with a fondness for tea and biscuits. Mmm. Biscuits.
So when my wife recently suggested I should take some of our grandchildren out for a day of fun-filled family happiness, I agreed immediately. Only problem was, what can you do with a group that includes toddlers, teenagers, grownups and one grumpy old grandad? Something that will keep
them all happy and smiling for a whole day?
Luckily, help was as hand and easy to find. An old friend told me about Channel Kayaks. The clue is in the name. As you would expect, they specialise in doing stuff with kayaks. Fun stuff. One particular trip that they offer, the one that caught my eye on their website, was a day spent paddling down the River Avon. Looked like just the sort of thing my family would enjoy. So I booked nine of us in for the following week and when the time came, we drove off towards Saltford with a song in our hearts, a smile on our faces and some sugary snacks in our backpacks. And yes, there were biscuits, since you ask.
The way the day works is simple. You park up at Avon Valley Adventure and Wildlife Park, then jump in a taxi to head up river towards Bath. Once there, you climb into a bunch of kayaks and drift gently down-stream, doing a spot of paddling along the way. I knew I had hit the jackpot the moment the kids set eyes on the kayaks. Great success!
By the time they had all got their lifejackets on, they were already buzzing with excitement at the thought of spending a day on the river.
They were not disappointed. It’s a lovely stretch of countryside over there. Peaceful and pretty, with lots to see and enjoy. Who knew that Hallmark cards have a delightful Bath stone-fronted mansion as a head office? Not me. Until we drifted past their front lawn and disturbed a heron snoozing in the sunshine.
As the hours gently ticked on by, the adventures just kept on coming. All of us enjoyed getting out to help work our way through the three locks on the route, we also had a fab time spotting wildlife along the way. Highlights included some low flying cormorants and a clutch of kingfishers, skimming the water like bright sapphire arrows. At one point, we even came across a full-sized terrapin watching the world float on by from the comfort of a half sunken tree trunk. It really was a taste of nature heaven.
Talking of taste, we also took time to stop for a spot of refreshment every now and then. Which was most pleasing. Have to admit, the entire day was a rip roaring success. Everyone loved it.
When we got back to Avon Valley Country Park and it was time to leave the boats behind, a few of us decided to finish off with a river swim. Really was a perfect end to the watery part of our adventure.
After that, we had burgers and chips at the cafe before the kids went off to explore the rest of the park. Don’t know how they managed it. I was ready to drop. Would have been happy to just sit still and drink tea for the rest of the day. But somehow, the youngsters still had enough energy left to keep them racing around. Luckily, it turns out that there is a load of exciting stuff to do in the play barn next door to the cafe.
The kids soon found a collection of death slides, near vertical drops that no one with a brain should ever go near. The youngsters were soon slipping and sliding and whooping their way to happiness all over again. But it wasn’t for me. No, sirree. I like a challenge. Really I do. But there’s a limit. I had already proved to all concerned that there was still life in this urban grandad. So whilst the kids whizzed down the wooden walls of death, egging each other on to greater feats of foolishness, I took a secret pack of biscuits out of my backpack. Wanted to see if I could eat the entire pack before the kids came back and caught me.
Now that is the sort of challenge I can really get my teeth into. Mmm. Biscuits and kayaks, definitely a winning combo!