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Kayaking on Lough Gill (to a woodland screening of Jurassic Park!)

Tuesday 29 April 2014

(Scroll to the end of this post for my lyrics to the Jurassic Park theme) 

If you recall, the last time I was in a kayak, I ended up trapped underneath the water, my body slammed repeatedly into a sheer rock face (kind of). But, that brief encounter with death aside, I love kayaking. So I was dying to get out on the water with the new adventuring man about town, Barry Mottershead, who has just started Sligo Kayak Tours.

Luckily, his opening week coincided with the Rennafix Havin' A Laugh weekend, where you can cycle, hike or kayak to a secret location in the Sligo woods to eat BBQ, watch a movie and camp. Or not, if you're friends with a girl who is so opposed to camping she would rather hike in the pitch black to the car park at 3am.

So a few weekends ago, faced with a long stretch of glorious sunshine, we jumped aboard.

From the start point at Doorly Park, we paddled up the Garavogue river, passing crumbling old cottages, old stone mills and fairytale horses, who came down to the river to cool off. 

Photo: Barry Mottershead

I liked the river. It was calm, the paddling was nice and easy, and we could build up a bit of a pace without killing ourselves.

Then we reached the lake.

Lough Gill is a deceptive little fella. When you're looking at it from the road, it looks so calm and tranquil that you can often see the perfect reflection of a passing swan on the mirror-like waters. When you're kayaking on it, the waves are as high as your head.


Photo: Barry Mottershead

OK, it looks pretty calm there, I'll grant you that...

Photo: Barry Mottershead

There too... OK, so the waves may not have been THAT huge, in retrospect. But when you got to the middle of the lake, without the protection of the shore, it could get pretty tough going. Especially when your kayak inexplicably decides to go in the opposite direction to which you're aiming, leaving you stuck amongst the rocks of a completely different island to the one your group is heading towards. 

Barry came to my rescue, told me something about my rudder, and I was back on track. 

We made a pit stop at Beezy's Island, where Mrs Beezy lived alone, paddling into Sligo every Thursday, until the 1950s. Now, it's home to a few sheep, and the odd camper. 

And some visiting kayakers, too.

We'd been promised some tea and coffee, which I was absentmindedly looking forward to. I am, however, a bit of a coffee snob. I cannot stand instant coffee, and I am kind of pathetic in that I only ever really want frothy milk with it.

So imagine my surprise/delight when Barry pulled out the supplies he'd hidden in his kayak. Proper coffee. A CAFETIERE. A MILK FROTHER. Does it get any better??

He made us some lattes and handed out the homemade treats - organic honey and oat bars.


We knew that the rest of the journey would take around 90 minutes, so we headed back to the boats.

After my little personal diversion earlier, I wanted to make sure I knew the plan, as I seemed to be leading the pack. Instead of heading straight across the lake, we'd go in a straight line to the nearest bit of land, then hug the coastline to get a bit of protection as we made the final journey. I asked a couple of the other girls if this was right. They said it was, so I shipped out and made great time over to the coast.

However, when I looked back, I saw all the other bastards had headed in a completely different direction. And I, AGAIN, was in the wrong place. Barry had dutifully come out, probably expecting to have to rescue me again, and I found myself having to catch up with all the others.

It's at times like this I realise how competitive I can be. I didn't like being last. In fact, I hated being last. And dammit, I wasn't going to be last! I pulled out all the rage that I could muster, and powered my way to the front. (Mostly because the people at the front had stopped)

My own ineptitude aside, I had a whale of a time, and was thrilled when we pulled up onto the little beach, to a roaring bonfire.

But I was more excited about what was to come. There had been whispers on the water that the film screening was going to be Jurassic Park, and I was ridiculously giddy about it. Ridiculously! I had just been thinking that week how I really needed to re-watch it. So to see it on the 'big screen', projected in the darkened woodlands, would be perfect. When darkness came, much as it pained me to leave the fire, I was so happy to head up to the little makeshift cinema, snuggle up in some blankets (and scarves, and hats, and gloves, and ski hand warming pads) and sing the theme song as loudly as I could.

I also made up lyrics to the theme tune*, which is helpful when singing it, as the original composer made NO effort at all in this regard.

I really wanted to capture the above shot, and also the one with Jeff Goldblum while inexplicably shirtless, but I had to make do with just the one, before my fingers froze around my camera.

My goodness, this film stands the test of time. I was watching the Honest Trailer for it the other day (which inspired my desire to rewatch) and it says that the only technology that has aged is the computers ("Oh wow, an interactive CD-Rom!"). The CGI, the dinos, everything looks as good as it would do now, were it to be released again. Especially Jeff Goldblum shirtless. The only thing that added to the experience was the great outdoors - each time the trees shook in the wind, I could pretend that there was a dino just around the corner.

You can't get any better than that.

You can join Barry on the water for group or private tours. See his website for more...
You can keep up to date with all the Rennafix outings at their site too... 

*What's that? You want my lyrics to the Jurassic Park theme tune? Why, of course!

Dinosaurs are here,
Coming through the park,
Gonna eat you up in your sleep....

So you'd best not move,
Or they'll see you move,
And then come for you, so watch out...

Look at Goldblum's chest
Got it out again
Do not question it, drink it in!

It's Jurassic Paaaaark!

Sung to this tune (start at 2:35 for the above lyrics)...


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