life begins at 40

I am not sure what to say about it, the 40. Live at the beginning appears to be very slow, the days last for ever, and then as you get a bit busier, time starts to speed up, and you get a little more busy and the weeks, months and years are flying by. If you have an ace wife or someone in your live to remind you that your 40, its a milestone for sure, but I’m just to busy to appreciate it or perhaps understand what it means. Yeah, I am a little slower in the boat, heavier at times and certainly appear older if I dare look in the mirror, but I feel well 25 with a bunch of years experience. Alas I feel that this is perhaps a common story, until a surprise or two comes along to change everything.

My lady wife, surprised me with a party in Devon and another in Norway and then a weekend in the fjell too. A bunch of surprises, all great, none I expected, least was them waiting at Oslo Airport, I was dashing for the train to get home. Great skiing those days, a prefect time to consider what 40 means, and as you can see, it’s just a number, if you’re too busy to let it bother you…..


a wet winter, well not Really

OK, with a baby in the house, new events to run, I am a long long way be hide updating this blog. Especially at present I am considering this winter’s programme, so to talk about the last one seams odd. so in short 5 things from last winter:

  • The new yet oddly named BCU Advanced Water Endorsement, is actually really really good, and should be been what the old Level 4
  • The new Mamba 8.6 is ace, fast, easy and great to paddle, but I would say that after all the testing
  • In spite of the economic gloom, paddlers love coming to Devon for courses with Gene17, thankfully
  • We started a new event, the Rivers Source at the end of January, a coaching symposium with a river clean up, it was a great start and now I must make it happen all again this November. It’s an open source event, all are welcome to contribute
  • And it appears Devon is best for paddling in the summer, as the last 2 winters have been very inconsistence for rain and runoff. Below is some fun form last winter’s courses & events.

    BCU AWE Training
    Euthanaisa Falls 5 Star Assessment
    Boof clinic East Lyn
    River Dart clean up
    new Mamba fun on the Upper Dart

    Also we took over the running of the Sjoa Kayak Camp in Norway with Strie Strømmer, home of the Sjoa River Festival. Which gives Gene17 an offical summer home.

    Sjoa Kayak Camp grilling

    overland & the shortest of Days

    As I landed in Norway for the holidays, I was greeted with lots of early snow, great stuff, to get going on the nordic skis. For Satu & I, it was great to be back on the skis again. We had a big naming party for little one where the god parents got to be centre of attention, it was quite a cool informal evening. The Finnish in-laws were nervously waiting to hear what the name was, as is Finnish tradition, new born babies do not get a name until 3 months or so old, most certainly a custom from when high infant morality was common place, thankfully we have come a long way, yet the old customs still live on, which is rather good I feel. When speaking to Finland, we learnt of the poor, in fact no snow conditions, skiing at Christmas may not be an option.

    He’s my girls, nice hey, they are en route on the train from Oslo to Stockholm, easier than flying. We in fact left Lillehammer, for Stockholm, overnighted in the Swedish capital, and then took the ferry to Helsinki and train onwards to Tampere, it took a day and a half, we took, 2 roller bags and a pram and it was rather relaxing. International public transport nordic-style, on time, clean and easy, very nice indeed.

    When in Stockholm, we even took the transit system, baby and all to the Norrøna outlet, for some great margins. I really like the style, cut and clean functionality of the Norrøna gear, designed in Norway as well. I got a wonderful pac-lite jacket as above for UK rainy biking and a soft shell line up for nordic skiing, if only there was some snow to enjoy….

    We Christmas’ed at the in-laws, on the lake, which is nearly always frozen over by December, however not this year, no snow either. A rather mild affair, we even went sea kayaking on Christmas Day, which I have been recently informed is now called aqua-rambling, that does certainly frames the crowd of paddlers often out on the ocean’s quite well.

    Our non-nordic nordic Christmas thankfully took a turn into winter, with a trip further north, to enjoy the normal state of play, that is snow. New Year’s was taken with friends in Tahko near Kuopio, we hit the tracks and enjoyed the shortest days of the year with reasonable temperatures and smooth gliding, ohh and easy parenting. During our New Year celebrations, we had a few games, one was in teams of two, start your own fire, only using wood and a flint, the dry birch of the northern forest proved excellent, and both Satu and I had our fires roaring in minutes, whilst our baby enjoyed the fun from inside.

    No sooner had we headed back to brown snowless Tampere, than I headed back to Devon, 3 flights in one day, the first from Tampere to Copenhagen, was sporty, as we ferry glided on the glide path into Denmark, I could see the whole runway from the near of the plane, the big storms of near January were a foot, whilst en route west. I hopped to Amsterdam, and then a short hop to Exeter, not a bad route really. As soon as I landed, the rain greeted myself, and I knew for a few days at least the paddling would due very fine.

    Nick Horwood and Finn Burrows, had been filming in Norway last summer, and here’s their fine short movie Vaniljesaus. We played it at the Adventure Paddler’s weekend, and it went down a storm. With great short films like this and amazing paddling documentaries, it’s no wonder that the sale of hard media in the form of specialist DVDs is over. These days I wonder what to do next with Westgarth TV’s productions, either go towards crowd sourcing, for a limited release or make short pre-sponsored segments, either way, it’ll be tough to make an income from either approach. Downloading has killed the specialist film maker, whilst iTunes is a great model for those at the top of the pile, everyone else is left to wonder what if any is the solution, answers on a postcard, or in the comment box below…..

    At least now I am in the same yearn, and only 3 months, well may be 4 be hide blogging.


    5 minutes old

    That’s my new name, well at least to someone new anyway. In November our family of 2 became three, the addition arrived in the small hours of the morning after a protracted campaign, where my wife re-enforced that she is quite the tough being. All went well, and to be there, to witness the moment, after such an intense and lengthy 2 person show, for someone else to arrive is only something you’d best appreciate if you lived through it. No end of wordy descriptions could be used, yet in the end, after lots of effort someone absolutely new arrives into your life, and it is nothing short of amazing.

    4 days to go

    Here’s Satu, a few days before the occasion, the late autumn mist, the stillness reflects the days if not weeks of the same holding pattern, and then it’s all change at the Westgarth house. 

    We choose a finnish name that could not be anglicised, this was especially so, as she would have my rather english surname, and in a way is sounds a little like the phonic of my mother’s name Julie.

    So why Papa, and not as the english tradition of Dad. Well for myself, I’d not had a father present in my up bringing, so have little attachment to the term Dad, and Papa just sounds right for me, so Papa I will be.

    After the big arrival, we were of course slightly busy, still the time at the hospital as ever in Lillehammer was pleasant. The staff were always on hand to help coach us into being parents, yet the first night is always sleepless, any and all sounds are greeted with an urgent springing action to investigate the issue, which is often the baby breathing….it has the potential to be nerve wrecking. The proud day of heading home with the bundle of joy was well, a proud occasion, and of course the bed I built for her, has yet to be used, as she sleeps with us. And before you start offering advise, it appears that everyone has something to say on child rearing, so get in line, if you please.

    We soon were in a routine of watching the back issues of Glee, feeding, nappies and walking with the flash new pram. We went to the movies, and to the opening day of the local ski hill, live bands and all, plus visited friends, our baby it appears for now is a rather an easy baby, only time will tell….

    tick, tock, tick, tock, one more go around the Block

    Yeah, I know, I am slow and I am late, but it’s been a busy few months. And when I am busy with work and other matters, this blog certainly gets push away. Sorry for that, I will try harder this year. So I have had 2 entries part written for a while now, here’s the second, from the close of last summer…..

    Looking out to sea
    An indian summer has come and gone, and autumn here in Øyer is certainly apparent, grey skies, cool days and wet times. This far north, the leaves turn early, it’s a scene that it’s all shutting up for Winter, every day something changes, a slow orderly turning off of the summer fire. Since the image above taken in late August in Vesterålen, whilst whale watching, much has happened. But lets get to the just before the main event in November in this post.

    On the Soca

    In September, Satu & I headed to the house in Slovenia, it’s always great there, a prefect retreat. We went on a little road trip, as Satu was getting to the point of being a little too uncomfortable with the growing bump. Still we got to paddle on Soča a bunch, this year I was the porter carrying the boats out, and we enjoyed, the brilliance of this great river. We made a short road trip to Bled to cycle around the lake, to Bohinj for lake swimming and Piran to enjoy the sea. It was hot in Piran, a little too much for the wife, I needed to stand guard whilst she cooled off on the sea! What was really apparent it that Slovenia is a small just diverse country, and above all quite amazingly beautiful, not just the Soča Valley. Soon our road trip was over, and it was close to the no-flying time for Satu. I drop her off at Munich and I headed to KanuMesse, the annual paddlesports show.

    Setting up at Kanu Messe 2011
    Deep in the Susna Canyon, north Norway

    This year’s event, had a bunch of new products that I have had a hand in developing, these included the new Spark FreeRide suit from Palm and the Mamba from Dagger. It’s always great to see the new products in their final version at the show, although for both I had been testing them for some time. The Spark Suit, I got the idea at the last KanuMesse, to have a light yet all around suit for paddling, but not a complete stiff dry suit with all the armour and the additional re-enforcements. Barney the designer at Palm came up with a great prototype, and for most of 2011 I had been testing away in Slovenia, Italy & Norway. Check out the image above taken by Benji deep in the Susna Canyon. Also Mark the designer at Dagger had been working on the medium Mamba for a while, and in early Spring I had been charging the first large boat, see Gene17’s wallpaper for that model, this was a great fast charger, although a little small. So for the northern Norway road trip had the second version, which was bigger all around, but in enlarging it, something of the great qualities of first version was lost. White water kayak design is never easy, a small adjustment here and there, makes a huge difference between success and not quite there. I was happy a third version was made, off the first version platform to ensure the final boat is good. I have had the Mamba 8.6 for a month now, and I like it a lot, very much my sole boat for the river these days. Great work guys, and thank you.

    Dave Carroll getting ready to throw for Gene Pool DVD

    After KanuMesse, Dave Carroll & Kim Sickerman, came to Slovenia, for some end of season paddling, happy days, as the cool evenings started to draw in. We got involved in the filming of the white water safety & rescue production, which I will release a kick-starter crowd funding campaign on at some point. Although it’s a real question of how to distribute it, DVD’s are a no, so to BluRay, all are too easy to copy, so I must find a solution, or perhaps direct sponsorship of chapters, either way Genotype 2 DVD cost £40,000 to make in terms of editing time and post-produciton, much of which has not been recovered. Specialist productions are difficult to justify at present.

    On the Øyerfjell

    Soon it was time to head to Norway for the main event of 2011, here is a shot from our last hiking trip on Øyerfjell before, 8th November, when my life, out lives changed. Until next time, here’s an interview I did for Unsponsored the paddler’s website and the ad Gene17 ran in the new 3rd edition of the South Alps Guide Book. An excellent new addition, with the proof reading for Piemonte by myself. It’s great to see that this area, which has become so so popular with paddler’s get the coverage in the english medium, just in time for this year’s Valsesia River Festival. Which I hope will be a popular event for Valsesia is one of a few spots acorss the Alps with snow this year.

    South Alps Guide Book 3rd edition

    Until the next post, life all change, I bid you farewell.

    nordcapp & Vesterålen

    Yeah, I know, I am slow and I am late, but it’s been a busy few months. And when I am busy with work and other matters, this blog certainly gets pushed away. Sorry for that, I will try harder this year. So I have had 2 entries part written for a while now, here’s the first, from the close of last Summer…..

    Looking out to sea
    An indian summer has come and gone, and autumn here in Øyer is certainly apparent, grey skies, cool days and wet times. This far north, the leaves turn early, it’s a scene about shutting up shop for winter, every day something changes, a slow orderly turning off from the Summer fire. Since the image above taken in late August in Vesterålen, whilst whale watching, much has happened. The last time I wrote on here, I was about to leave Trondheim, to head north to Nordcapp, and meet Satu who was closing down her work’s summer seasonal office. I had been north before, but in Canada, the tundra has a timeless & endless feel, the depth of field as you look across the vista, plays with you, and then you realise that there is so little in the fore and mid ground, it’s hard to know how far what you are seeing is away from you.

    In flew up to Alta, the near last town in Northern Norway. It’s an exciting approach to the runway. On the glide path, you are over fjell, just west in the fjord, is the town and the airstrip right by the shore all in sight off to the port side. Then the plane banks hard to the west, seemingly just above the mountain outcrops high above the town, and then decsends steeply, then steeper still, than any other glide path I have been on, exciting if you like that kinda thing. From Alta, a long bus ride over the tundra, with only a few trees along the valley floor, soon the barren vista of the Arctic north unfolded. The occasional reindeer gives an idea of perception, yet it’s simply vast, and a scene of timelessness. Dropping off a plateau, we headed north up the Porsanger Fjord to the northernly town of Honningsvåg. A small port, where the summer cruise ships stop off that also has a small university campus. During our time there, we visited Nordkapp at sunset, hiked a bunch, saw lots of reindeer and had near 30˚C blue bird days, more Mediterranean than Arctic. We soon took the Hurtigruten, part cruise ship come part ferry to the Harstad. This trip threads in and out of fjords and islands, stops off on the way, and offers amazing views.


    Walk down to a fjord

    boat in the fjord

    Once we arrived in Vesterålen, we hired a car and headed to Nyksund, and much revived fishing factory village on the Atlantic coast. Closed down and force-ably evacuated in the late 60’s as fishing boats became too big to take the processed fish. A while later the place was re-populated by Germans looking to escape the norm, they build up a community and there now are some excellent spots to stay and eat, it’s a kinda of end of world feel to it, plus great expresso too. Well you might as well be ready if it was indeed the end of the world.


    Nyksund harbour

    small boat heading out of Nyksund

    We’d come all the way here, as Satu, who runs her own blog, that she updates near daily, which is a little different to my approach, still she has a few bloggi friends, one of which is a Finnish fishermen who heads up a whale safari operation in the summer. So we jumped on board, and had a day out on the boat, searching for Sperm Whales. What a day, great fun, and once we found them, just amazing, in fact all of Vesterålen is like the poor relation to the Loforten islands, but no less spectacular. The Atlantic gulf stream makes land fall at Vesterålen, and the abundance of summer wild life high up in the arctic is simply, well just great. I am fully recommend a trip, exploring the area, get on the water too if you can, and eat some sushi, freshly landed fish washed in sea water is wonderful.

    Male sperm whale, blowing in Vesterålen

    A tourist delight, whale's fluke as he dives deep

    I promise to bring the next entry soon, although that is from early Autumn last year. Lots of cool images though. On Friday I head south to start the season, so I must clear a back log of things before I go………

    Knee Replacement At a Young Age: What to Expect….

    Given that last year I had my knee rebuilt and had to undergo some time in rehab, I had time to read up on these matters and find new friends on the internet. Here is an outline of what to expect if you have seriously damaged your knee:


    Knee Replacement At a Young Age: What to Expect
    –Philip J Reed, on behalf of St. Mary’s Regional Medical Center

    A knee replacement doesn’t discriminate by age. You may think that since you are only in your teens, 20’s or 30’s that you couldn’t ever possibly find yourself in the position of requiring a knee replacement, but you may be surprised. Even if you’re active and healthy and take excellent care of yourself, your knees may already be working their way to calling it quits.

    An active lifestyle doesn’t eliminate you from surgery, and in fact, depending on your preferred activities, you may actually be more at risk for a future knee replacement. If you find yourself in that position you can rest assured that advances in joint replacement and the technologies available at your joint replacement institute have come a long way.

    What happens during your actual surgery will depend on the damage to the joint. You may require a partial or even a full joint replacement which will mean removing the damaged areas and replacing them with a man made alternative.

    The procedure will obviously be handled by professionals, but the recovery is all up to you. Your local joint replacement institute will set you up with the proper resources that you will need for rehab and recovery but it’s up to you to do the actual work.

    Sticking to your prescribed exercises or rehab schedule is very important, as is making the most out of those activities. Though often exhausting and sometimes even painful, the regime is specifically set up with your quick recovery in mind.

    Understanding your limitations is also a key to successfully bouncing back after surgery. Pushing yourself is important, but don’t let the foolishness of youth make you push too hard. Taking on too much too soon will set your recovery back rather than let it move forward.

    People with an active lifestyle, particularly in youth, are statistically proven to more often than not have healthier lives. This doesn’t mean that you won’t ever face surgery, but it does usually mean that you will recover more quickly. Avoid additional frustration by making sure you follow you’re the rules of your aftercare and you’ll be up a moving again before you know it.