Professionally I'm a SAP HR/Payroll expert with some Workday integration experience. This generally means I sit at a desk all day in a boring office, trying hard not to look out of the window or think too hard about my next adventure (HaHa! I'm just kidding boss...).
I am happily married and very proud of my two grown up kids. My son (who likes cars) works for Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains - the people behind Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas. My daughter has just completed her MPhil at Cambridge Uni, studying something serious.
Outside of the office, as well as being a super hero (of course), I'm a Sea Kayak Leader (possibly working towards my Advanced Sea Kayak leadership award - who knows). I love photography, technology and other interesting stuff. I also try to play both Classical and Electric Guitar (note: not at the same time), but I am totally rubbish at both! Here is a link to my photography page.
When I am not at sea, I live near Nottingham, which is obviously nowhere near the sea! The sea being about three hours away in any direction. Obviously this excludes the sea below Bridlington on the east coast, especially Cleethorpes/Skegness and further south, as this part of the British coast line isn't exactly the most inspiring coastline to kayak along. Besides which, the Skegness tattoo police will not let me enter the town, I am "tatt" free!
Living more or less in the middle of the country does have its benefits, as it means I can get to any coast to paddle (not Cleethorpes/Skegness) and I am not restricted to one particular area. I guess this why Nottingham is also home to two top sea kayak manufacturers: Valley and P&H. The downside to living near Nottingham, is the three hour plus drive home on a Sunday night, getting home late and sorting kit out, then being fresh was a daisy for work on Monday morning!
Nottingham does however have a White Water course, at the oddly named National Watersports Centre. Most people, including Nottingham folk are surprised to find Nottingham is Englands national centre for water-sports. Unsurprisingly, the facilities are generally under used. The White Water Course, aka "the concrete ditch" is where I use to regularly paddle in my playboat. One of the downsides to paddling the "Concrete Ditch" is that it is an off shoot from the River Trent and consequently the water quality is not always the best. Trent Belly is not uncommon for newbies paddling the Trent. I've had Leptospirosis/Wiels disease in 2014 and sepsis in 2018. After the sepsis episode, I gave up playboating in the Trent for health reasons. Amazingly my sickness record at work has improved dramatically, despite recovering from Sepsis in 2019. If and when I ever do playboat in rivers now, it has to be "cleaner" rivers.
I actually started kayaking when I was about 11 years old at the Riverside Centre in Oxford. The Riverside Centre being not far from where I grew up. At 15, I went to Scotland with my family for a holiday and took a bad swim at Grandtully, kayaking on the River Tay. I didn't kayak again after this until I was in my early forties.
What made me start kayaking again after all those years, was as a result of a scuba diving accident I suffered in the Caribbean. I had ruptured the round window of my middle ear, during a dive on a sunken cruise ship and was now totally deaf in my left ear. Having returned to the UK soon after the accident, the surgery to repair my round window was too late to save my hearing in my left ear. I remember the consultant telling me that if they had been able to operate within 5 days there was an 80% chance of me regaining my hearing. Between 5 and 14 days the odds went down to 20% and after 14 days pretty much nil. I was operated on day 10. After about three months following surgery I did start to regain some hearing in my left ear, but to this day it is mostly bass! I didn't stop scuba diving immediately after the accident, as I loved scuba diving. It was only when my right ear popped on me one night, in the same way my left ear had done, whilst returning to the surface that I actually thought I was totally deaf. It wasn't until I heard the reassuring bubbles escaping from my regulator that I realised this was not the case. A few days later, I decided I couldn't take the risk of losing both ears and decided to quit scuba diving for good. Not being able to dive and be in the water anymore, I needed to find another "wet" sport. Kayaking was the answer, besides I had the right facilities on my doorstep, the White Water course in Nottingham.
After stopping Scuba Diving, I did do a bit of long distance cycling. Having been a fan of the Tour de France, I was always curious as to how far I could ride a bike. In 2002 I found out and gained Super Randonneur award, a long distance cycling association award. A Super Randonneur award is for when you have completed rides of 200km, 300km, 400km and 600km all in the same season at Randonneur pace. Not only did I complete multiple rides of these distances in 2002, I also was always in the top six riders coming home. At the time I was cycling to work 20 miles a day and running 4 miles most lunchtimes, which did tend to help a bit.
I now have paddled many white water rivers here in the UK and abroad in both playboats and creek boats. But being restricted to weekend paddling was always problematic: it would rain during the week and by the time we'd get to the river at the weekend, the river would be empty again, not to mention some of the access issues you'd encounter.
I competed in the 2004 Peak UK challenge series and managed to get 18th place overall - the best scores from three out of the four events held during the year. This series consisted of an Extreme Slalom, Down River Race and Freestyle, all using only one boat. I competed using my playboat. The four events were held at the River Washburn, Holme Pierrepont, The Nene White Water course and The River Tryweryn. Great fun.
It was the Wet West Paddle Fest's river Morriston which got me into sea kayaking! Every year we would head up to Scotland for the fest, which generally always finished paddling the hardest river, the River Morriston on the last day. The River Morriston is not an easy river to paddle down. When paddling well, it was fantastic, I absolutely loved it. When paddling not so well and making small mistakes, the Morriston is an evil river waiting to punish you well and truly. In 2011, having on previous trips to the Morriston, dented a new boat, dislocated a finger and lost a paddle, I started to feel a little trepidation driving up to the river. In fact, the fear of impending doom started early in 2011, way, way too early, and well before driving up to Scotland. So much so, the night before we were due to paddle the river Morriston, I bottled out and booked a days sea kayaking instead with Sea Freedom Kayaking in Oban. By the end of the days sea kayaking, it didn't matter all the stick I got from my mates for not paddling the river, I was well and truly hooked on Sea Kayaking. And what a day it was too! Within five minutes of setting off, I'd seen two otters, a first for me; we were then followed around by a large male seal, who was obviously very interested in what we were doing; and on the return leg, downwind and with the swell, we surfed the waves. It was a super day out and better still I was still alive at the end of the day!
Well that's more or less my story.
If you fancy meeting up for a paddle, then please let me know.