Back on the Thames..

Chris Haynes and I got in a cab at 10am and headed to the start line at Greenwich.

I was fully dressed in waterproof trousers and boots and a cagoule, at odds with my former life paddle Lycra get up.

image image image imageAbout a hundred boats were in the race, of all descriptions and from all over the world. Most had at least 5 crew, ours ten, including me as the steerer and ten year old Leith as the ‘passenger’.

Three of the guys carried me down the very muddy slipway and wedged me into the rear of one of the hulls of our Bell Boat, so that I could reach the rudder – an oar stuck through a metal bracket

Our allotted start time of 1.30 came quickly, by then the incoming tide rising and filling the river really fast.

There were 4 boats in our category, paddling off hard from the gun. It was obvious that the enthusiastic pace wouldn’t be sustainable for 21 miles, and it wasn’t…

The ride through the whole of the london  riverscape was a trip everyone ought do, so much history on view, attached to the many iconic buildings.

The river was very rough from the presence of so many boats so it wasn’t an easy ride. I kept sliding down from half sitting to almost being flat. Getting back up involved letting go of the rudder and dragging myself up with both arms.

We won our category in a time of 2 hours 59, a Richmnd Club record no less.

The most emotional part for me was the sight of London Bridge Hospital, where, little more than a year ago, I lay in intensive care, emaciated, with weeping facial wounds, a tracheotomy in, being fed by a tube, virtually unable to move, having to be picked up by a hoist, in the depths of despair.

There is no way on God’s Earth that I would have even Imagined canoeing past  just 1 year later, in the company of friends, smiling all the way.

It does bring it home to me, how far I’ve come.

Thanks so much to Richard and Tim and Chris and everyone at Richmond who made it possible.

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