The gear is smelly and damp, (but that never mattered before) , the wind is piling waves onto Portobello beach, (that very definitely did matter before, but not today).
We got round Ireland, amazing!!! In good spirits and good order and inevitably now things change. A driving sense of purpose has been replaced by a deep sense of satisfaction but also of slight loss!
I’m so glad to see my family who I’ve missed hugely, and am truly relieved that we managed the trip without mishap. In that sense I know we each are glad it’s all over, but of course it leaves a gap.
I don’t think any of us will ever be able to thank you all properly for so much interest, unconditional support and generosity. That’s arrived in so many forms-donating (and WHAT a total!) enthusing, offering help and advice, gentle mockery or sheer old fashioned good will. I’ve really appreciated it all, and the little glimpse into each other’s circles of friends, family and paddling contacts is hugely uplifting. What a pool of decency there is out there!
The fund raising has been humbling, this kind of money saves lives. We saw first hand how well the RNLI use their resources and talents in their communities, and MSF are world renowned for making superb use of their resources and the massive good will they attract through their inspiring work.
The Irish coast is remarkable, with seascapes to beat anything I’ve seen. Scotland is a world class sea kayaking location but Ireland adds another facet. That really is high praise ‘cos Scotland is special. The Irish people are truly amazing, we have not had anything other than unbelievably generous help and positive encounters, not one single hassle or bit of unpleasantness, full stop. A significant factor is that there are strong coastal communities right the way round. Wherever it was needed we found a pier (built by Nimmo!) and we almost never had to fight our way ashore through surf. This inhabited solitude also meant great phone reception and masses of PUBS!!
Irish paddlers are a strong connected network of individuals working unselfishly for each other and have a formidable bush telegraph! We got round because of good advice and unstintingly shared local knowledge.
I’ll finish with the men in the other 2 boats. 2 months is a long time to be together, with a gruelling grind of pressure, discomfort, uncertainty and effort facing you most of the time. Well before we started, Rob and Ritchie committed totally to the trip preparation. During the trip it is so important that all keep each other going, and I could not have asked for better drive yet wise restraint. And, yes, we disagreed at times, surprisingly few times I have to say, but these were honestly and openly aired and resolved and moved on from without rancour. I could not have had better commitment and companionship, but it also needs nerve and skill, at any time you’re just one breaking wave from disaster.
In this sport a calm head and measured judgement in a rough sea is vital, these 2 were highly skilled at sitting comfortably in gnarly conditions, showing real tenacity in long hard days and an ability to get up and on without a murmur.
We are incredibly lucky to have had this experience, a major part of it has been the ability to share it via these blogs and in the contacts which have flowed from this.
We’ll take a few days to get back into whatever passes for normal, (BORIS? really?) and then we’ll make plans for a talk/slide show etc. But not today, this is the day for saying thank you to you all and you’ll never know (till you paddle Eire for yourself) how much your support did for us.