Archive for the ‘Holiday’ Category


August 15, 2012

After leaving Koh Samui we got back on the train, via Bangkok and up into Laos. Here we got our first sight of the Mekong in the capital city Vientiane.

On the banks of the Mekong

Laos is a very beautiful country, the views of the jungle are spectacular along with brightly coloured temples and the people so very friendly.

Looking down on Luang Prabang

We moved north from Vientiane up to Vang Vieng. Here we hired a bike and got out to explore the surroundings. The area is full of caves, which made for some good underground exploring.

Impressive stalactites in one of the caves

We then moved further North up to Luang Prabang, the former capital. It had a very French feeling to it, both the architecture and the availability of baguettes and croissants! It rained a lot whilst we were here so we enrolled on a cooking course, which included a tour of the market and full day in the kitchen learning how to make some delicious Lao food.

Rustling up lunch

Luang Prabang has over 1000 Buddhist monks, so they make up a substantial part of the towns population. I had a great hour long chat with one of the younger ones. It was really interesting and he was keen to learn as much as possible about the western world.



August 7, 2012

We flew into Bangkok last week and spent a few days seeing the sights and getting back into the atmosphere of an Asian capital city. It was great, we visited a few temples, ate some street food, haggled with a  few tuk tuk drivers and generally enjoyed ourselves.

The view from the ‘Golden Mount’ temple

With it being the wet season, we invariably got rained on every now and again but were still able to get out and about.

Wat Arun, one of the larger more interesting temples

Just as we got settled in it was time to leave, we got on a sleeper train down south and a ferry out to the island of Koh Samui.

On the beach

We spent four days on the island, lounging around in the sunshine and learning how to scuba dive. It was amazing to see so many fish and colourful coral all in the same place.

Anemone, fish & divers

Under the sea

We completed 4 dives and both passed our PADI Open Water certificate.

A week in Val Sesia

June 24, 2012

I spent a week in June in the beautiful valley of Val Sesia. We were a bit late getting our act together and only organised it 2 weeks before we drove out, but it came together nicely and a great week was had. We arrived just in time to catch the end of the kayaking festival, it was great to see some of the events and catch up with old friends but did mean the camp site was a bit busy!

Andy Mason on the top drop of the Egua

The levels were good, varying from day to day due to the overnight rain, but we managed to paddle most of the classics.

Martin Linford on the Sorba Slides

It was nice to be back in a boat on beautifully clear rivers, enjoying tasty European food and drink with good friends.

Maddy in the Semenza’s top gorge

Devon & Cornwall

October 23, 2011

Maddy & I spent a week down in Devon and Cornwall, staying with friends and wild camping here and there. We had a great time and the weather was favourable throughout.

With the ponies on Exmoor

On the Torr

We went walking on Exmoor and Dartmooor and then explored the Cornish coast by bicycle (not recommended) and kayak.

Paddling out of Tintagel (Photo Maddy Boddy)

We set out from Trebarwith Strand, aiming for Boscastle. But due to the swell and Maddy’s stomach, we stopped at Tintagel for lunch before I paddled off to get the car.


Pastries for breakfast – Cheese for dinner

June 28, 2011

I’ve just come back from a week in L’Argentiere, reliving my student days exploring the Hautes Alps province of France and boating in the sunshine. This was my fourth trip to the area and I was still surprised by how much fun I had.

Part of the team on the banks of the Upper Ubaye

The Durance valley didnt have as much water in it as when I have been previously, but this was no bad thing as it forced us to explore some of the other offerings in the area. In my week I managed quite a few personal firsts, with the Fresquire section of the Ubaye and the Grand Canyon of the Verdon being the most memorable. Beth’s headcam footage of the Fresquire can be seen here.

Tom in the Styx, Verdon

It took us 7 hours to paddle the Verdon, with a 4 hour drive either side it was a full day, but most definitely worth the effort. With towering cliffs on either side and rapids that run through caves and underground its like nothing else I’ve ever paddled.

Beth about to drop into the first cave, Verdon

Later in the week there was a bit of rain and we headed to the Guil valley and had fun on the two upper sections and the classic middle.

Katie on the middle Guil’s staircase

Before I knew it, it was time to drive home. 2769 miles is a lot of driving for a weeks holiday, but I’d do it again any time.

A week in the Highlands

May 13, 2011

I’ve spent a week up in the Scottish highlands enjoying the weather. The sun was shining and at least the dam controlled rivers had water in them. The Garry and the Meig both providing some entertainment.

Beth playing on the Garry

Darragh on the Meig

Other than that we went on a few walks, explored the upper Roy valley, climbed Ben Nevis, had a wander around and float on Loch Etive and cycled some of the Nevis range Witches Trails. A busy fun filled week without one drop of rain!

Maddy and I on the summit of Ben Nevis

Dinner by Loch Etive


April 11, 2011

Maddy and I escaped the cold and miserable UK for a weekend in the Greek sunshine. We had three nights in Athens and managed to see the main sights and had a really enjoyable weekend.

The changing of the guard at the tomb of the unknown soldier

When we arrived there were strikes on the metro, meaning it was hard to get around, but also there was a dearth of tourists. The strikes only lasted one day and we were soon able to get around the city with ease.

Maddy and I at Temple of the Olympian Zeus, with the Parthenon in the background

A highlight for me was the Panathenaic stadium, its an amazing feat of engineering that you can get up close with, sit in the seats and run a lap of the track.

The Panathenaic stadium

And before we knew it, it was time to go home

Traffic passing the Arch of Hadrian

A weekend in Dublin

December 22, 2010

The snow is back. Airports around the UK are cancelling flights and we’re booked to go to Dublin for the weekend. We travelled to Manchester and joined the other passengers uncertain as to whether we would get away, and as it was only for a weekend whether it was worth the hassle. Well I’m glad to say it was.

Leaving snowy Manchester behind

We arrived around Midday, giving us about 30 hours to explore the city, go out for dinner and then fly home again!

The Millennium Spire as seen from the banks of the Liffey

Samuel Beckett Bridge


September 5, 2010

On the way back to Tokyo we paddled two short sections of grade 2/3 on the Tamagawa and Arakawa before arriving in the bright and crowded city at around 7pm.

Tokyo street scene

First thing in the morning we headed up to the top of the Mori tower in the Roppongi Hills district of Tokyo. The top two floors contain an art museum with a couple of crazy installations, but the main draw was the viewing platform on the roof. From here we had impressive 360 degree views of the city.

View from the top of the Mori tower, looking past the Tokyo tower and out over Tokyo Bay

On the technology front the activities included visiting the Sony building to play with the latest gadgets on offer and wandering around the enormous electric city in Akihabara.

Paul playing with a HD video camera at the Sony centre

Our final evening in Japan saw us wandering around the bright lights before enjoying a beer and some more sushi.

Maddy and I amongst Tokyo’s bright lights (Photo Paul Smith)

We got up very early the next day (4am) to visit the fish market and see some of the impressively large tuna butchered and sold. The market was huge, with every type of fish and sea creature imaginable available to buy.

Fresh tuna

Nazagawa Gorge

September 2, 2010

The Nazagawa gorge is an amazing feat of nature just a few hours drive from Tokyo. From the car park on the 140 highway we walked 4km along a jungle track up the valley, passing tens of beautiful falls.

Walking in (Photo Paul Smith)

We put on at the top and paddled as many of the falls as we could.

Paul on the top set of drops

Me on one of the falls (Photo Paul Smith)

Beth on one of the falls (Photo Paul Smith)

It was an amazing adventure in an awesome location. Unfortunately the river flattens out and is interspersed with large weirs later on, meaning after we took out we still had to walk 2km back down the track to the car.