Author Archives: Sarah Horton

Inner workings

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Another post in Sarah’s sea kayaking adventure. In which she explores her ‘worry mind’ but gets out on the sea in Liverpool Bay and around Anglesey anyway. She says, “It’s a lesson in life, as an evolving human. And I am immensely grateful for that.”

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It’s been two months since my last report of my kayaking activities – with James in Anglesey in the Menai Straits and up to North Stack. However, this doesn’t mean I’ve not been getting out on the water. In April I had a trip up to Anglesey, with a group from the Liverpool Canoe Club, and we did the classic north coast trip to the brickworks at Porth Wen.

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April 2017, Liverpool Canoe Club at Port Wen.

This was one of the first sea trips I did, that was last May on my beginners course – my post here.

Now, my lovely yellow boat and I are getting to really know each other.

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North coast of Anglesey and my boat.

But I have also been having regular weekly sessions with my new coach, Mark Mason. Mark runs Venture-7 with his partner Helen Mason – they are both passionate sea kayakers and coaches. This has been a great find for me, as they are local and I am able to have regular sessions, closer to home.

As a novice/improver kayaker, the things that I most need are time on the water, and guidance, so that I can build up my confidence. Continue reading

Sarah goes sea kayaking: North Stack, Anglesey

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These days I am a kayaking widower. Long evenings by myself here, muttering to no one about empty homes, while Sarah and her yellow boat are off on their adventures. Here’s one that includes kayaking bravely around some coastal cliffs I get dizzy just standing on!

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It’s been a busy time for me and my kayak. No sooner have I washed my muddy boat from the trip to the Marshlands, I am out again mid-week in New Brighton Marina with Mark Mason, a local coach who runs Venture 7. I am then off to Anglesey for my regular two days with James Stevenson of Adventure Elements.

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I’ve booked these days for a Monday and Tuesday in early March, it feels special to treat myself to coaching on two weekdays. Me and James meet at Waitrose in Menai Bridge (Editor’s note: A leading sea kayakers rendezvous location) and discuss plans for our two days – first day will be mostly technique, and then a trip on the second day.

We begin day one launching at the slipway in the Menai Straits. Continue reading

Sarah goes sea kayaking: The Marshlands, by boat

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In which brave Sarah goes out into the more than choppy waters of the Dee Estuary and the boundaries of her comfort zone are well and truly pushed.

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December 2016. The Shining Shore, Dee sailing club slipway visible in the distance.

One of my favourite places in the whole world is ‘The Shining Shore’ – the shining waters and mudflats of the Dee Estuary. Me and Ronnie have walked all along this shore, from Parkgate to West Kirby, and have a default walk which starts at Thurstaston, goes inland  through lanes and woodland, and emerges on the beach and the cliffs at Thurstaston for the last stretch. We’ve done it so many times in the last six years I feel I could probably do it blindfold. We also walk further up the shore, further inland where the marsh is gradually encroaching, and we call that part ‘The Marshlands’. And yet each time we walk here there is always something to see – wildflowers, the change in the light, the birds in the estuary…. Here’s a selection of photographs of this part of the world from the last five years.

Over the years we’ve observed the cliffs erode, the marsh becoming larger. And the tidal flow in and out of the cut through the marsh. During our years of walking I didn’t imagine that I would enter the marsh through this cut. But this weekend I did. Continue reading

Ten years

Ten years ago today Sarah and I got up worried and early to begin one of the longest days of our lives. We travelled to the Royal Hospital here in Liverpool, to the Rapid Diagnosis Clinic, to find out what we found out.

And ten years later part of me finds it hard to travel back to what Sarah has written here. But most of me is immensely relieved, and grateful, that she is alive to write it. And that the years have in no way dimmed her fire and passion for our National Health Service, or her determination to keep it safe from officious predators, as you’ll see when you read on.

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22nd February 2007

This is me on the 22nd of February 2007. It is the day after I was diagnosed with breast cancer, age 43.

So today, the 21st of February 2017, marks ten years from that diagnosis. There is no whoop of delight, no fist pumps here. No, this is not a celebration. It is a mere observation of a fact, a fact that I am still here to observe. And of all the questions I asked that day ten years ago during the hours in the hospital, the main question, the one I remember the most, was when I said, ‘Will I die?’

But thanks to modern medicine and surgery, some great doctors and surgeons, a hefty dose of luck and some of my own tenacity, I did not die of breast cancer. At least, I haven’t so far. Continue reading

Sarah’s Significant Adventure: Out to sea in her own kayak

 

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Over this past year I’ve learned a great deal about sea kayaking. Without of course putting myself to the trouble of going out on the open water, or any water. No, my strenuous tasks have been to listen to Sarah talking about her developing enthusiasm (she even does the tide plans for these trips now) and to write these introductions to her beautiful collection of blog posts about her sea kayaking adventure. This time she’s got her very own boat. That was always going to happen wasn’t it?

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It’s the first weekend of 2017, and I’m off to North Wales for my first sea trip of the year. It’s been a very windy first week to the year, too windy to be out in the sea on a kayak, but the weather forecast for the weekend is good, calmer, with windy weather arriving the following week. So we are in a lull between fronts. Lucky.

And this is a very significant trip for me, as it’s the first sea trip I’ll be making, in my own kayak.

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Here is ‘my’ kayak which arrived at our home last October, and has now safely got it’s own storage place near to the docks – I am very grateful to Dan who has helped me with that.

Owning a 15 foot long boat poses some complications – like where to keep it (although it did neatly fit in our hall from front door to kitchen for a while), and how to carry it. Continue reading

Perfect Days on The Gower: With Sarah, Gemma & Sammy the Dog

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In which Sarah returns to western Britain. This time to the Gower Peninsula – without a kayak but with two friends. Sort of like “The Famous Three in the South Wales Adventure.” 

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I’m very drawn to peninsulas. The magical combination of sky, sea and land. The ‘big sky’ effect of peninsula. The Gower is easily reached by train from Liverpool, change once at Crewe, arrive Swansea and local buses to Oxwich. I arrive in Swansea as the day is drawing to a close and take a taxi the rest of the way so I can enjoy the last light at my destination.

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Oxwich Bay. It is a stunning beach, eerie in the half light.

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I have arrived just as high tide has turned.

Continue reading

Sea kayaking – six months in

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In which Sarah Horton reflects on her much beloved adventure on the waters of Western Britain. And reports in on this week’s experiences back round Anglesey once again.

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I am now used to paddling ‘home and away’ as much of my kayaking experience this year has been on the sea, in Anglesey and Cornwall, but also closer to home here in Liverpool, in the docks.

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And although this can’t match the adventure and challenge of the sea, I find great pleasure in observing the familiar from a completely different angle.

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This year I decided to ‘learn to sea kayak’ after seeing these kayaks in summer 2013 from the cliffs near South Stack on Anglesey.

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How long did I imagine it would be before I did anything quite so exciting? I had no idea, so when I first got into a kayak this year, on the 11th of May 2016, little did I know I was beginning such an amazing adventure.

As in all adventures, highs, lows and frustrations have followed. Continue reading