The water was drowning out my shouts of reassurance back to him as I paddled fiercely over to the bank to abandon my kayak on some rocks. Amazing how you never forget to pray in these situations, usually along the lines of "Oh God help!", which was the prayer on my lips at that moment. I stood on the rocks that led out over the river, I could see myself being washed over the weir if I didn't take care, the water in the middle was a couple of feet deep and a strong flow. My sons cries where getting more desperate as he was helpless to do anything, I yelled back, but again he couldn't hear me, no time to waste I got on all fours and clambered out across the slippery cold rocks. I inhaled hard as I entered the icy water, there seemed to be a ridge of rocks just where the water tipped over the edge, I managed to wedge my feet under it as I crawled up to my neck in water, holding on very tightly. I got to the middle where I could reach the end of my sons kayak, my mind was working fast, do I pull him up or give him a big shove down? I decided down, hubby and big son could drag him out quick if he capsized at the bottom.... It worked and he didn't capsize.... Feeling pretty shaky by the time I reached my kayak again, I dragged it over the rocks to the bottom of the weir, I didn't need the thrill of shooting it.
This river trip was in France on Haute-Saône Doubs a river that flowed through the eurocamp site at Bonnal. Very beautiful wooded area of Burgundy. All I can say is the French idea of a gentle family canoe trip down the river, didn't quite match mine. Our 'trip', or should I call it 'adventure' was a catalogue of trials; I had to rescue my youngest a number of time, from weirs, trapped under brambles upside down, difficult weirs where the only way to avoid them was dragging the canoes up slippery banks, my husband capsized in a really deep bit, lost his glasses and we ran out of crunchy bars.
After about five hours of paddling my youngest was getting tired, so he came along side me and held our kayaks close while I paddled us both, I started to teach him how to keep going when something is tough, I pin pointed a tree or bush up river from us and we made that our next goal to achieve. After seven hours and a final weir which I plainly refused to even go near, but the alternative was drag the canoes over a large mound of nettle strewn ground. I felt nettle stings were favourable to more traumatic child rescue missions. We were about to enter our kayaks again and I took one look at little son, his lips were turning blue... That's it I declared we are abandoning the kayaks and walking to warm up... After about a mile we found we were back at the campsite, we arrived at 7.30pm after leaving midday, just as the receptionist was locking the door of the camp office where we needed to return our paddles...needless to say, that evening we treated ourselves to delicious French cuisine at the local restaurant.
This all happened a couple of years ago, but I thought of it again as I have found myself talking to my boys in the last few days about 'mental strength'. Explaining to them how sometimes we want to give up in a moment of hardship, either physically or mental, but we have to stop and remember what we were trying to achieve when we started and ask ourselves do we still want that goal?
Both boys have ambitions for the future that will require significant strength of mind and body to achieve, they are quite determined and set on their ideas. So I am now using their aims as focus for motivation when they are struggling either with exam work for my eldest or exercise and self discipline for my youngest... It's that question we all have to ask ourselves..."Why get out of bed today?"
At our post 'kayak adventure' meal...
"We made it Mummy"
French food is good recovery food...