long winter, late Spring

Tamdam Open Boating on the Serpent Tail, River Dee

From Norway a short trip back to the UK to collect my car and hit the Dee River Festival with Paul “Cheesy” Robertson from Palm. On the Sunday we decided to go canoeing, that is in a canoe. The UK tradition for canoeing is to solo paddle a tandem boat, seams a lot of work. Smaller solo canoes are a rarity as is 2 paddlers in a canoe. Still we went for it. On the first little drop at Mile End Mill, we fell out, mainly due to the lack on consideration as to what the front guy needs to do whilst the back paddler is still at the lip of the drop. Paul landed hard on a brace, meaning myself in the back simply fell over whilst still at the top of the small drop. Lesson learnt, no bracing, keep it square and true. At Llangollen’s Town Falls, our wonderful plan of down the left went great, we had little water in the boat, and were online. A small flake at the bottom left was slightly too exposed to ride over so we were reflected right into the slot, still upright we sunk into the seam. Down deep, all square until the coming up, and the boat flipped as it resurfaced, the injustice of it all. Still we gathered it all up in spite of some rescue services trying to control the situation from a raft.

On our way back up the Llangollen canal, Paul and I talked through our improved knowledge of tandem canoeing as we needed a better strategy at the Serpent Tail rapid. We finally arrived and the circus was in town, this rapid was a popular spot on a Sunday afternoon for paddlers. Amongst the masses was famed open boater and author on the subject, Ray Goodwin, whose advise was not what I would of thought. Still we lined her up and ran her dry, the Serpent was sleeping. At the end of the descent, Ray proclaimed he’d hoped we’d taken his advise as it would of clearly lead to a swim! Cheeky, still the fine line was ours. All in all, great fun. Still one thing over the weekend pained me and that was the dump that is Mile End Mill. The slow demise over a long period of time of popular paddling spot in north Wales. There is of course nice people there trying to go good things, yet the general state of the place is terrible, with either demolition or massive capital investment the only solutions. I do hope sense and good fortunate soon change the current position.

trans-europe rocket ship with boats
Predel Pass March 2013

On the Monday after the weekend, across Europe I drove, a short coffee stop with Deb at Lee Valley near London to see this wonderful place and then Dover. My car was a little full of boats, yet the rocketship cruised onwards. Once at the alps, the volume of snow even on the valley floors was evidence for the long cold winter that has been just. Both the northern and eastern reaches have great snow, and the western and southern alps lots of late snow. For paddlers the coming season looks a plumb.

Valburna in Italy Nordic skiing
fresh snow on Soča

At the beginning of each paddling season, Gene17kayaking runs a staff training week, this is more for potential future staff who may come to work one day. From the UK tradition, with a large structure of awards is unfortunately no solid benchmark of paddling or coaching ability. There appears to be a willingness to just have enough experience to clear the hurdle of an award, yet the substance that underpins these standards is sound. Perhaps it’s the small range of rivers available, still keen as keen for paddling is evident in the UK. Alas I divest, the staff training week is always great fun, and this year we hit the ski hill, some of us went nordic skiing too over in Italy close to our base in Soča, Slovenia. After skiing we had a paddle too, the day was blue with cold and fresh snow lined the river.

Easter egg catching the train
Alpine Snow pack 2013

For Easter I went home, and took a fabulous looking italian easter egg too. True to form and in the best italian style, the egg’s chocolate with whole hazelnuts was delightful. During the weekend, we enjoyed easy delights and family time too. The little one now offering commands in both Finnish and Norwegian was in fine form. Thankfully she understands my English, but not a single word, well “bye bye” is the only one. We enjoyed some skiing with friends as conditions were amazing, the local paper’s front page on the Tuesday after, read “Good Bye to our Dream Easter“, it was great to be home. On the way back, a clear vista of the alps revealed the extent of the snow coverage, white down to the valley floors across the ridges, this is very unusual for late March, spring was very late to arrive. In Soča just before Easter, I had seen House Martin’s some of the first summer birds to arrive, and they were later than normal, few others were evident before Easter. There is a sense that spring runoff will be a long waiting game, even now little in the front ranges on both the north and south sides of the alps is moving……thankfully I will be going to Corsica, which has had the best snow pack is years……more of that later.

Lower canyon boofin'
Adam on a swipe move

Just before the Mediterranean get away, we had 2 weeks of trips in Soča, this prefect river is the best classroom for whitewater kayaking in Europe. Why is it go good, well the clear and well defined white water features makes for recognising where to go and understanding the river easy to see, then the white water is made up on deep channels around large boulders, so if you fall in, you simply get flushed through without a scratch, and the pool drop nature of the terrain means it’s easily manageable to take on the rapids in a bite sized fashion. Plus the water is an amazing translucent blue and the nature and local people highly agreeable and welcoming. On many of the rapids, there are numerous free ride moves, and of course we love to hit them. It’s great fun getting the paddlers to try, and then nail these moves through coaching, ultimately its about understanding the white water better and where the energy in the river is and can be used. But hey that’s the work after all, and more on that soon, as the series of articles reviewing “Genes” will be added too soon.

the darkening days of Winter

first days out on the snow
Winter is a wonderland. Yes it is of course cold, and dark at times, but full of promise and adventure. For the little one, adventure starts early, as tradition in Norway, we got a pulk, a sledge you pull on skis, and in the pulk, goes the little one, a chariot to enjoy the winter passing by. From late November, its possible to get up on the fjell (mountainous plateau), just up the hill from Øyer, this winter early conditions were excellent and warm enough to enjoy being back on skis.

in the forest Chistmas tree cutting
Pulling the Christmas out from the forest
First Christmas Tree
One great thing about Norway at Christmas, is that you simply walk into the forest, cut your own tree down and bring it home. Local friends invited us to do just that, we dragged the kids into the whole adventure, and enjoyed Christmas rice porridge afterwards to get us into the festive spirit. The following morning, our little one, examined the new lounge furniture with amazement, and the whole festive season went well, with only a few of the tree decorations being removed, inspected and of course chewed!

Fresh snow at Kvitfjell
cafe at Kvitfjell West
Another great thing, about this past Christmas, I tried out snowboarding again and great news, my broken knee now works. February last year I also tried, but it did not feel right, so a programme of lots of biking last year, and hey, I am back in the game. I mean its not so prefect that I do not feel any pain, its that I can enjoy the slopes again, which is cool enough for me. The funny thing is though, is that I am likely to start alpine skiing at some point soon, may be next winter… On our door step is Hafjell, (a great bike park in the summer), and near by is Kvitfjell, a bigger hill, that has an annual Mens World Cup Downhill, plus a great cafe on it’s westside. Satu loves going there for some prawn sandwich which it appears is always sold out, well each time I’ve tried to order it for her, as they never have any left by the afternoon. We discovered great pesto spaghetti there, of which the little one is a huge fan. Funny what she likes, straight up cod liver oil, waving the bottle in her direction is a sure fired way of getting her out of the shower, also olives are devoured in abundance!! I am not sure what all this means about her eating habits, updates to come.

Happy to be back on the nordic skis
looking down from Nevefjell
After a short break from the snow for some work, more of that later, I was back on the fjell by late January, and as you can see, am happy to be gliding down the tracks. In living at a resort, there is a ski bus, and in the morning I can get up lift to Pellestova on top of the fjell, and ski all the way to Lillehammer via he saddle of Nevefjell, and then get the local bus home, a 3 hour round trip, of which 22km is on skis. Over the winter, I found the fastest route, and tried to go twice a week or so. The quickest I managed was 82mins for 22km, but there is a lot of downhill in that, still great fun rolling through the winter wonderland at speed.

coming down Midtfjell
sundown at the Birkebeiner stadium
All this by the way was a warm up for Sam and I to attempt the Birkebeiner trail, 54km from Rena in Norway’s east valley over 2 fjell to Lillehammer. On the day of reckoning, we took an early train from Lillehammer, via Hamar to Rena. In a local sports store we found out that the trail starts 3km out of town, but we could access the start, by walking to a local school, whose trails connect to the Birkebeiner, so that was another 4km. Eventually we started skiing, and the 18km near motorway sized trail going up the hill went on for 18km. On the long climb the snow conditions changed from blue to purple grip wax, and then back to blue again, so some re-waxing was needed. Once on top of the first fjell, we were battling a strong head wind, and heavy snow drifts on the track, clearly Sam commented we should of been coming from Lillehammer. We got to Kvarstad at the foot of the second fjell in 4 hours, which was less than half way, a lot slower than I thought we’d be. We fuelled up on brown cheese & jam, and climbed Midtfjell, from the top we could see Sjusjeon, and off we went, the pace quickened, as we knew from there it was pretty much all downhill to the Birkebeiner Stadium, the end of the race trail, but for us it was 2 more km to Lillehammer. We arrived into the stadium at sun down, I managed to capture Sam celebrating the finish line. 7 hours to do 60km, it was good fun, and now I know the demands of the trail, I am sure we can go faster, especially with no head wind to battle against. Note though the record time is 2 and half hours, that seams some what well beyind our reach, sub 5 hours may be….

A little one needing help
families in a ski pulk caravan
3 papa's in pulk action
waffle house on Øyerfjellet
This winter we had many visitors, and its great to bring them out on the trails, especially when its a multi-family outting, as it appears to be a lot these days. Trying to get non-skiers or alpine skiers to attempt nordic skiing can be fun, its more like hiking come joking, with the downhill parts more exciting. Often you need to help the little guests out with a drag tow, or even lift them off the deck for the downhills. Timing with a group of little ones is everything, trying to get the most out of the skiing, is best when it’s nap time for them. We aim to hit a cafe or waffle house en route or at the end of the trail, there are many great trails and waffles to be had on Øyerfjellet.

packing the pulk for fjell tour
windy fjell tour at Espadalen
Beyond the nordic ski tracks the tradition is fjellskiing, that is touring on the open mountains on often un-tracked although normally marked trails. We have had a few attempts at this. Firstly you really need fjell skis, these are wider than nordic skis and have metal edges, plus more supportive boots, for longer down hill runs. It’s a beginners style of telemark skiing for the downs and walking/gliding on the flats and hiking with skins on the ups. It’s certainly more of an adventure than the classic cross country skiing, off piste as such, but not at my level out of bounds. Fjell skiing is a corner stone of nordic winter life, with weekend’s away common place, especially from mid to late winter once conditions are stable and slighter warmer. Easter is probably the most popular time for such fun in the hills. After Christmas we tried to reach an over night mountain cabin pulling the little one in the pulk, but the lack of trail markers and low visibility meant we turned back. More recently we tried again, but strong northerly winds had other plans, so we enjoyed fun in the trees to avoid being batted about on the fjell. At Easter, no doubt we’ll head up again on to the fjell, I am hoping we can have some more stable conditions this time, please.

5 Star Training East Lyn, low water January 2013

Lastly, I did do some work in January, it was cold and dry. After the wettest December on records, drier times were always going to come. I see that the end of the UK’s paddling winter, has been a barren affair too. It’s always difficult to work consistently on the natural rivers of Devon, happily it’s normally warmer there than else where in the UK, and easy access in and out for me. In January, we had a lot of work, it’s been Gene17’s second busiest winter with 140+ paddlers on 2 day courses. Although these UK paddlers are increasingly less likely to venture on to our trips products due to economic conditions and the weakening of the pound, but hey, we get a lot of others from elsewhere, thankfully.

Soon, I head south for the season, although a weekend in North Wales calls first……

indian summer and the Fall

Slovenian cheese & wine at Hisa Franko
Satu on Soca

Soča for a moment
We stole away from the northern summer, as the last of it fared in early September. Slovenia called, as I returned the Gene17 bus to its winter home, and hazy days in the Soča Valley. It’s always we love to go to Franko for wonderful food, these day sit’s lunches only as the little one needs to be in bed early enough. During Satu’s post-pregancy recovery, there has been little chance of paddling, as I have been at work, and sadly only after the baby arrived did we realise just how much paddling we used to do together, “GRAND PARENTS”. The Soča is wonderful, I love it, a steep sided valley, lush in nature, cool under the cover of the trees or on the river, great for out of the door paddling, biking, hiking & running, plus during the winter, Kanin the local ski hill is not far away too. Plus the local restaurants are excellent too, great slovene dishes, plus a fine influence of Italian food too.

Lisbon Tram
Heading back to the beach house

West coast Europe
We hit Portugal on our honeymoon back in 2007, it’s prefect beaches, easy culture and fine cafe’s make for a great holiday destination. This time we hit Lisbon, starting with a city break style. A windy city with lots of old finery, great buildings reflecting the imperial past, along side modern and sometimes run down structures, much like Italy. There is a crazed use of painted tiles to decorate the facades of buildings, these are often numerous paintings in blue on white background, yet make for detailed stories often biblically themed. Portugal, well much of the north is on granite, and the use of granite cobblestones is common place, still after numerous use in town & city centres, these become highly polished, which can make for interesting walking in summer sandals!!

We opted not to hire a car, and went for the public transport options to travel to the beach, and then up to Porto. It was easy with the little one, in fact easier than a car, less stress and although slower, some how the pace was prefect for the baby. The first beach we hit was in Ericeira, Satu went to surf school, and I enjoyed long board sessions. Through Satu’s blog, she won several vouchers for apartment accommodation from Wimdu, so we used a few of them, apartments in Lisbon, Ericeira & Porto, a great way to find alternative accommodation to hotels and the alike. From Ericeira, we got the train via Lisbon to Porto, and back down to Aveiro, after a Travel Blogger’s conference, Satu was keen to enjoy. The little one and I, got to enjoy some long walks through Porto, a city on a steep hill with great views. I managed to rediscover Pastéis de nata, a Portuguese custard tart, which are simply delicious and an ideal snack with coffee. After Porto, we went to Aveiro, just south for more beach time, and some beach and boardwalk surfin’. I managed to enjoy sessions in a Watertech Fly kayak on dumping surf, and the little one got told off for eating sand. Her expression is as many are during these times, priceless.

Not allowed to eat sand!

Sjoa & Soča again
Sjoa Kayak Camp in autumn
Autumn working in Soca on leadership courses.
White water coach training on Soca

After KanuMesse in Germany, and home for a few weeks, a bit of autumn walking, biking and went to close down the Sjoa Kayak Camp for the winter. I had a run on a very low Åmot Canyon, which was more like steep creeking on pool drop white water, than the big volume fun run, a totally new river for me at that level. Sjoa is sandwiched between Jotunheimen & Rondane National Parks, which a mountain plateau’s, so the weather is a lot cooler than just south in Lillehammer, where I spend a lot of time these days. The autumn colours were in full effect, and the empty camp looked very lonely, quietened down for the winter blank to come.

After Norway, it was Slovenia again, this time for work, the river leader programmes run on the Soča, are popular, and its a prefect place to push and test paddlers, coaching there is great. A week later I ran a white water coach course, our first there, and the river shaped up again to be excellent for such learning. My time in Slovenia is these days always shorter than the years before, so it’s a little rush in and out situation, still I got to test a Specialized Enduro bike, and enjoyed it, so ordered one for 2013……

Ireland and one year old
Cliffs of Moher
Surfin in Lahinch
Someone's learning to walk

Weddings, yes weddings, I am at that age where all around are enjoying their big weekends, and Ireland is becoming a popular destinations for us to hit for friend’s weddings. We managed to bang a camper-van from a friend and did a little road trip, enjoyed Country Clare and Mayo, Satu enjoyed the surf, which after Portugal must of been a little cooler in the water. The great thing about Ireland, is that it is not far to go before the landscape changes, and there is some great pub or beautiful spot to enjoy. And the people, my fathers descendence are rather friendly and open, which when growing up on the neighbouring island, where a lot of folk are fearfully of anything usual, as the recent politics easily indicates, is quite an odd situation.

Time rolled on, well raced on, and before time, the little one, was one. Above she encounters her first candle on her birthday and hopefully learnt an important lesson to do with flames, and was all about trying to walk. She started to move around from 6 months, but the walking took 6 months more, but now she runs everywhere. Its pure amazement to watch this whole process, and it continues everyday, sheer joy.

A Devonshire autumn
Upper East Lyn's triple drop
Crux 1 on the East Lyn Gorge

During the autumn, I head back to Devon for coaching work, most of it is BCU qualification training and assessments, which are all the rage in the UK for paddlers. They are excellent stand alone courses, yet the entry barriers to get on courses is a little brain numbing at times, where its all about the correct admin, and very little to do with ability, and as such there is often lots of clerical astute people, with no enough river under their boat. Frustrating to watch people leap frog from one assessment to the next training, where for the main part paddlers need experience, and that means the right experience, most of the time, this is can be with solid coaching, and not qualification training. This situation is reflected throughout the whole system, where the qualification you hold is the measure of the paddler you are. The whole system needs a step change, rationalisation and the administrative processes wholesale change. Don’t get me wrong, the wheels in the system work well, its the mechanism of the machine I question. Still on the water, watching paddlers, guiding their learning is what I do, and its great fun and Devon in autumn is always a rewarding home form home to enjoy.

Simon Westgarth's 2012 Movember entry

Nothing more to say….a one off Movember, ever again.

a summer long Forgotten

Looking down on to fjord land when hiking near Valldal, Norway

So the last time I updated my blog here was June 2012, after a great Valsesia season in Italy. That’s some time ago, and its pretty truth to course, that if I am very busy, the first thing I do not do is update my blog. So sorry, but with a small one in the house, and working away a lot, my life is busy. Still for 2013, I am going to try and do a monthly update as normal, and have far less time of internet kayaking forums and facebook groups. I will try, after all I must.

The long road north to Norway from the alps is never short of a 2 days affair, where the tip of the European mainland is but the half way point to my summer’s fable paddling home, Sjoa.

On Holiday
After spring comes summer, and every summer since 1995 has been spent in Norway, 2012 was no exception. Originally I came for work, later just for the paddling, and these days both, yet it was always for the love of wide open prefect outdoor adventures. In early June, with another family we headed to the west coast, rented a cabin (hytter) in Valldal, and enjoyed hiking, biking, playboating and lazy evenings too. In Valldal, the fjell reaches high above the fjords, making for spectacular scenery, and as you can see, even the sheep enjoy their place in perfection. En route to Valldal we stopped off at Geiranger Fjord, check out the tiny cruise ships in the fjord 2000m or so below.

On holiday, it’s great I get to enjoy time, in fact all day with the little one, and had some great times, especially as she has starting to crawl and everyday some personality started to reveal itself. Sharing a cabin with friends, meant we were able to enjoy midnight surfing on the middle Valldøla with the unseasonal high water levels, whilst the little one was safely under a watchful eye. These sessions were a highlight for my wife, who had missed her playboat for the last year or so…..

One thing I do like, is the use of modern and original ideas in buildings to be found in Norway. These little turns of art are not everywhere, but often used in wonderful places, below are some hand rails on a walkway at a waterfall spot along the golden route of the west coast of Norway.

West coast Norway in fjord land

Baby times in the summer

Satu midnight surfin'


Man at work

During July & August is peak season in Norway, and last year we had 10 weeks of work in Sjoa and beyond. I love paddling in Norway and of course love working on the rivers there. After all I have been coming every year since 1996, and now I am in Norway for more time in the year than any where else. Within the work, there is a lot of tactical information plus increasingly so more biomechanics of movement, especially with simple strokes like a forward stroke. It’s often the case that most paddlers use little of their core strength to drive the boat forward and as a result try to make their arms do more work instead. This in the end leads to an odd paddling style, that eventually gets challenged either by injury or repeated mishaps. When coaching moves like a boof, I look at core strength and biomechanics to ensure paddler gets the most from their paddle blade.

Part of the job is to give near prefect demos, I have always felt its the job to the coach to lead by example, its the easiest way. Even when the white water gets steeper and harder, the demo needs to keep coming. Sometimes it’s hard after giving lots of feedback to then step to the plate and fire a solid line of what you wish the paddlers to do, but clear focus is important and so is a great demo. Last year we ran to road trips to Valldal, taking in some of the great rivers en route, a prefect slice of Norway’s best white water, it’s great to work this way.

man at work
Setting the demo at Ula, the crowd await
Upper Valldøla exit drop
Passing by Geirangerfjord

Sjoa River Festival
During the middle of the summer, I get to run the Sjoa River Festival with the boys of Strie Strømmer and the guys that work for Gene17, July 2012 was another vintage occasion, with high water and great flows. So much so we needed to move a few races, such as the Ulla Extreme not including the waterfall at the end and the Sweet Rumble yet again was on the Riksanlegget Slalom course at the Sjoa Kayak Camp. High water kept the crowds down last summer, with less Norwegians than before, still great fun for those that attended.

Sadly just before the festival, news reached us that we lost a paddler on the Lower Jori river whom was due to attend the event. Hans from Belgium, was one of 4 paddlers to die on the rivers of Norway that summer. It reads like a tough stat to swallow, and it is. The guys involved on the Lower Jori that day, had an even tougher day. High water in Norway seldom looks like glacial silt runs of the alps, or flood waters of temperate forests. High water in Norway is often clear and clean looking, yet powerful and unforgiving. I wish I could say more on the matter, but each case was unique with the one trend appearing to be that these accidents happened within days of these paddlers arriving into Norway. Whether that has any bearing on a single incident, is unknown, but Norway is known for its power and clean whitewater, slides and drops, and in this relentless playground, incidents can easily become accidents that may not end well. Play safe, and as safe as you can.

Gene17 Ula Extreme Race 2012
Heavy traffic on the Sweet BoaterX 2012
Introducing the Palm throwbag Olympics to Sjoa
Benji excited to finish the Palm Throwbag Olympics

Hunderfossen Fun Park
Towards the close of the summer, we got to enjoy a day out at the Hunderfossen Fun Park, a local spot for us, opposite the Hafjell Bike Park. An amusement park, but Norway style, some great folklore rides and sights, open air theatre and of course farm yard attractions. I was very surprised how good it was, although having to pay for parking at an out of town place, plus gate entry seamed a little rude, even if they are only open for s short summer season.
Hunderfossen Adventure Park's big Troll

PS, as you can see, I am trying to catch up, the rest soon, I promise.

a change of Pace

autumn sun

Yeah, yeah, yeah it’s been an age. so for the next weeks, I will bring this blog up to date from June this past summer to now. Actually for 2013, it’s less forums & facebook, more writing for me, a change of tract.

bella Italia

Campertogno at night

The years come and go, and the perfection of what is Valsesia in Italy just keeps on giving. It’s simply an amazing spot to hang out, enjoy and go paddling. This year, I was there for 6 weeks, we had lots of work with paddlers coming in from all around the world and also ran the second Valsesia River Festival at the end of the stay. Asides the work though, is the destination, there are few places I enjoy so immensely than my time in Campertogno in Valsesia. The range of food, selection of dishes at the restaurant and the sublime air of mountain living. Whilst my hosts, have become old friends, where the conversation can range from Berlusconi’s famed bunga bunga parties to local fine wines to building model airplanes, yet always the culture observations of people visiting from across Europe and beyond provide insight and enlightenment, of where we are all very different yet mostly the same. This year we had a big amount of work with Gene17kayaking, our biggest year to date, and of course, there is great enjoyment and wonderment coaching paddlers to run slides, drops and the alike, plus show the very best of Valsesia to all the visiting paddlers.

After several weeks of trips we headed straight on into the Valsesia River Festival. This event we run, and is very much based on the highly successful Sjoa River Festival in Norway, which has just completed it’s 16th edition this summer. The event is a grassroots whitewater gathering, with clinics, competitions and entertainment laid on. This year we added the Palm Throwbag Olympics, which was over ran with keen rescue rangers trying to win a Palm Amp or Luna PFD. PLus we placed the Sesia Alpin Sprint at centre stage for the racing, with over 70 racers, gunning for the action on the 3 km boulder garden of Class 3/4 rapids. The Team race provides a lot of entertainment itself, and Gene17’s guys made for some great images….. Also we bought in Ies of Fokiwa fame to fire up the crowd and start the party, following on with DJ’s. Great stuff and a wonderful festival. We’ll do it all again next year, although I may urgently need my 3rd lesson of Italian Politics.

Sesia Alpin Sprint 2012 Team Race
party time

My time in Valsesia was a personal highlight too. This year, the new Mamba has bought a new weapon to the river, and I like the way she moves, faster, cleaner and easier to paddle, which is of course what progress in design should be about, well at least at this point in time. Great works guys, thank you.

Gronda kicker


I headed down to Slovenia ahead of the family to hoover the cob webs off the walls and warm the place up. In Soča, there had been no ryan nor snow all winter, and the peaks were grey, not their normal white in late winter. The situation for the season looked poor. It was warm in the valley, the spring flowers were out, but for a moment, as the lack of water turned them from bright delight into faded blooms. The work situation in Slovenia also reflected the spring flowers, it appears that the expanded competition for kayak trips there, has speed the work around a little thinly. Still we had work, which was great, and also time to enjoy as well. One such time was to go to Venice, where a beach day was a first for a little one, plus great food in Italia as always.

I do like to start the season in Slovenia, its warm there early and you wake up to the season after a long winter’s break in the snow of the north. With Satu pregnant last year, she was happy to be in a boat again. After a Soča warm up we went on a road trip to Plattling, where hearty Bavarian beer and great bread always making car camping a treat. Park’n’play was great with the little one, she even got to watch her mom on the wave.

After a slice of Germany, we went back to Soča, and enjoyed a visit to Hiša Franko near Kobarid, a wonderful place, lots of great food and wine to enjoy. We were lucky one lunch time, as they were closed, so we said hello to a friend in the kitchen and then we were treated to an amazing mussel & wild asparagus risotto, with great cheese to follow, the good life is always at Ana & Valter’s.