On Friday morning 12th September 2014, after a night of minimal winks and maximum anticipation, my brother, Chris, and I made our way to CYE sailing center in Chidham West Sussex, for the inaugural Adventure D kayaking weekend! The two day event in impossibly beautiful surroundings, would see eight fabulous people with diabetes, including Claire Pesterfield, a type one herself and diabetes specialist nurse to boot, along with a team of volunteers and instructors, take the attendees from 'never been in a kayak' to having advanced skills and being equipped with the knowledge of how to kayak safely.
As the group started to arrive, any fears or nerves we had about the weekend slipped away as the smiling, keen faces of the fabulous group getting to know one another showed us that this was going to be a great weekend. The weather was idyllic, the harbour was still and the gentle murmur or friendships being made set the relaxed pace for the weekend. We settled after our carb-counted meal and learned from Claire how we might adapt insulin and food intake for the water-based sessions the next day.
Saturday saw the group take to the water, starting off in practically unsinkable 'sit-on-top' kayaks, to learn about strokes, boats and safety. Throughout the day were relaxed but regular breaks to allow for blood testing and tweaks to insulin or carb intakes here and there, and grow in confidence on the water. The sessions ended with games - transforming the once-cautious sit-on-top users to competitive kayakers, losing any inhibitions they had in order to smash the other team out of the game, all the while donning fully-fledged Pyranha kayaks, and pulling out some professional moves in order to win the ball, catch the 'robber', or make it through the finish line first. The laughter resounded through the harbour we called our own. Watching from the sidelines, this was the Adventure D dream come true, playing out in front of us.
After a delicious home-prepared and carb-counted curry, the group made for the local pub to share a drink with their new-found friends and to re-tell their favourite moments of the day. It was without doubt one of my favourite moments of the weekend; watching budding kayakers become friends and for some of the group, mix with fellow people with diabetes for the very first time.
Sunday saw the group of kayakers, now confident on the water and ready to put their new-found diabetes knowledge to the test, take to the water, keen and excited. As we journeyed through Chichester harbour to the beautiful sights of Bosham, the instructors gushed about what a delight it was to teach this group. The Adventure D group.
As the Sunday came to a close and the Adventurers told us how they wanted to buy kayaks, had grown in confidence or didn't want to go home, we knew they had enjoyed it as much as we had. Every. Single. Moment.
When I think about the first time I tried kayaking, a smile creeps across my face, and I can almost feel the warmth of the sun and the spray of the saltwater on my skin. It was a clear day in late summer, there was no wind to speak of and the water in the harbour glistened as the rays bounced off the gentle undulating waves as the water ebbed and flowed. That day was good. This weekend, was perfect.
Thank you to the wonderful people who joined us for the weekend, and made the event such a success. Here are your best bits :)