Bristol harbour morning paddle boarding

I did my usual bleary eyed glare at the bleeping iphone next to my head and gave myself a generous extra 15 minutes on the preset alarm time. It was 6:30am.

At 6:40am I remembered the early morning paddle boarding session I’d booked, weeks ago, started at 7:15 not 7:30 , so in 35 minutes time I had to be 25 minutes away my current cosey location.

I leapt out of bed and grabbed some jogging bottoms purchased ages ago feeling like a right goon due to their unflattering skin tight clinginess.

Feeling nervous about my little water based adventure I walked quickly down to the cottage inn on the harbourside, the quaint little pub I will one day drink at but for some reason haven’t yet.

The waters looked calm as I walked past, deadly , it was the temperature I was worried about. If I fell in the cold would accelerate my pulse, if my heart races too quickly without warming up will it trigger my Arrhythmia? Is that how my Arrhythmia works? I wasn’t sure but something like that couldn’t stop me, it would just be really unpleasant having a nasty irregular heartbeat while standing limply on a slippy board slowing dying from the cold……my thoughts were getting a tad dramatic. They wouldn’t let us go out on the water if it was dangerous.

I was making good time and could see the cottage inn around 7:06 with only 10 more minutes or so to walk, but I couldn’t see any boards laid outfront. I did make out two human figures sitting outside the pub and I very much doubted they were eager pub punters, maybe the session had been cancelled I thought? Cool! I could have a warming coffee back in the my flat safe in the knowledge I had tried to get to the session and that it had been cancelled due to no fault of my own. Brill!

At 7:15 I was there and the two figures I had seen were also there for the paddle boarding , a couple solicitors I would later find out. Quickly more people joined, then a white haired athletic chap appeared introducing himself as the paddle boarding instructor, we were just waiting for the cage to be opened by the harbour master. The cage being a lot larger than I expected housing boards and boats used by various groups on Bristol’s floating harbour.

Once we got access to ‘the cage’ from the master it was a short and unpleasant barefoot walk along prickly tarmac back to the water with board and oar in hand. A few people were already out on the waters drifting along, this helped me avoid any waterside procrastination and I was on my board and afloat in under 30 seconds, still feeling a little shaky on what must have been some of the calmest waters possible.

From there it was a very pleasant paddle past the grain barge, that wierd military looking ship, the cool pirate boat and the magnificent SS Great Britain then onward to the Arnolfini although most of the group including myself only made it just past the Lloyds ampitheatre.

Standing on that board is was easy to feel a little insignificant while atop the deep waters, the large boats, gentle giants, calmy snoozing against the floating harbour walls. It was perfectly calm a good example of nature and man meeting and working together, or maybe more accurately nature behaving more than normal.

I found myself at the back of the group for most of the session , unsure if it was my oar work but I didn’t really care. This was my second session, I was still feeling a little unbalanced but found myself looking around and appreciating the view far more than my first time. The sound of the oars dipping into the water, joggers passing by, the smell of grilled bacon wafting across the waters, getting up close to interesting boats and looking out to clifton then leigh wood while hearing some guy in a barge shout something about ‘ferrets’ at us with a widened grin on his face, that was odd but gave us something to laugh about.

My thoughts rested on my recent break-up (not entirely helped that my first sup session a few weeks back was with her) , the sadness I am feeling, the hope for the future, previous break-ups, why I miss her, what I will do to fix myself and of course having the odd moment of clarity when I could just appreciate the moment. A friend recently told me that movement helps process emotion, that’s why motion is in the word. Gentle exercise on water at that point was definitely what I needed.

We were out for around an hour , it felt great and a little short , a beautiful place to be of an early morning. It was such a desirable start to the day. Paddle boarding can put you in such a nice head space.

Why did I have to bring up the break-up on a post about paddle boarding? I guess I wanted to highlight how peaceful and cathartic paddle boarding can be in the morning, an early morning can be a good time to process some harsh thoughts.

So having written this it will be back onto the sup bristol website to book another session , most likely another morning one.

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