To cut a long story short we paddled the Nene instead, I cannot help feeling I was robbed. But apparently Holme Pierrepont was washed out, and an executive decision was taken to paddle somewhere closer to holme. With the promise of moving water all the way, a rapid or two and a veritable selection box of new weirs to tackle, we set off towards Merry Tom with a eager sense of anticipation. The turn out was good, a five car job and after a slight misunderstanding about whether all the shuffles were back we paddled on.

The Nene was high but dropping fast, we got in just above a couple of nice surf waves, which proved a fine precursor of what was to come.
The water was moving steadily along which made it easier for the play boaters to get some form of forward motion. The river was narrow, with single file was the order of the day, one couldn‘t help but notice that we looked like a line of signets following Chris Mother Duck‘ Rance.
We hadn‘t been paddling long before we came to the first weir, nothing too fancy, a hard left leading into a slope dropping about 3 feet with plenty of waves for everyone waiting at the bottom. I went down it third, I think, to cry‘s of PUSH IT‘ PUSH IT IN‘ .Being new to this game and unfamiliar with the lingo, I was left to ponder what I was meant to be pushing, where I was meant to be pushing it and could I be arrested for this if the police found out. Everyone else got through without getting their helmets wet and had plenty of opportunity to practice that all important surfing technique. After a bit of coaxing we paddled on towards the next weir not half a mile down river, which I was told promises to be good‘ when we arrived, Chris the Storm got out to give it the once over from the bank. The resulting conversation went like this.

Chris Rance •What‘s it like•
Chris the Storm •Good•
Chris Rance •Is there a stopper on it•
Chris the Storm •Oh yes•
Chris Rance •Who‘s it going to play with•
Chris the Storm •Everybody•

My heart sank, as I feared would I. Not having ever been caught in a stopper it was something I was keen to avoid. The weir itself was a two step drop, first one about four feet the second about three with about 25 foot of rollout before you hit the stopper. Now bear in mind I was paddling a 14 foot boat that only left me 11 feet in which I could turn the boat round, and the fact that I‘m not actually that good, you can probably hazard a fair guess at who was the only one to get stuck in the stopper. But we set off again in search of the next hazard on which to place ourselves in mortal danger.
The next hazard, as it turned out, was a metal strainer, which didn‘t cause two many problems, we just got out and went around. The fun came getting back in. First of all Ben the attack launched himself from the strainer as a depth probe, followed by Duncan and Chris the Storm. Then in a scene reminiscent of Death wish‘, Colin could be seen crawling out along the top of a pipe some 10 feet above the water, just a few inches wide and in the middle of a gale dragging his Whip-it behind him. After some time spent balancing and preparing himself for it, he went

I would like to be the first to congratulate Colin on entering the Guinness Book of Records for The loudest noise made by anybody‘s face when hitting the water‘ a fine effort. Once we had all stopped laughing and regained our composure we drifted down stream for more merry tom foolery .
Then it stuck me, we had been paddling for two and a half hours and I was still dry. Obviously this thought came to Duncan at about the same time. Because thirty seconds later he nudged, rammed, barged and any other words I can think of to describe his low down, dirty, underhand push Gareth in to a strainer trick. So there I sat being strained, beginning to feel the whole horror of just what it must be like to be a leaf in a tea bag. This event perturbed me so much, that not only is it not an experience I wish to repeat, but I have just founded the ultra radical tea liberation front, anyone wishing to join should contact me.
Soon after that we stopped for lunch, and set off again down river for the final push towards the club house and warmth. And disappointingly it went off without much event until we got back to Avon sluice, where the water was tanking along at a fair old pace. Every one had a play on it, with varying levels of success some paddled away, some went to play with the plankton. With enders and cartwheels aplenty from Chris the Storm and Ben the Attak and a fantastic move from Chris the Supersport which involved paddling into the jet and then turning upside down and getting out of his boat, everyone went away happy.
Thank You to Alan A for organising the trip
A great time was had by all Blahdy Blahdy Blah.

Gareth Faulkner.