What do you normally do on a Thursday? For me it’s a run, dinner and the snuggle up on the couch. Nothing wrong with that, it’s lovely after a long day at the office. But sometimes you just want to do something a little different…
I am not overly spontaneous. I would like to be and therefore try to be, which I think stops it from being spontaneous. I mean you can’t plan spontaneity. Last Thursday something popped up in my Facebook feed. Kayaking beneath the stars. Sounded lovely! I was intrigued. Noticed that it was being organised by a local kayaking company. That very night! Why that night? Well there was no moon that night, perfect for star gazing. Texted the fiancé, he was game and I booked the remaining spots. Cormac kayaked for years in college; trick kayaking, surf kayaking, water polo kayaking… You name it, he’s probably done it (including breaking a bone in his hand while rafting in Wicklow). Me on the other hand, have been in boats loads of times but not kayaks and certainly not at night. I mean how would we see? Would I crash? What if I fell in? What if I got lost? Would I be provided with some sort of flare gun? I was worried that I had just been too spontaneous and was getting myself into something I could not handle.
But despite my nagging worries we went along and were quickly greeted by our guide for the evening, Mike. A super friendly guy who immediately made me feel at ease. The sky was clearing and the winds had died down. Mike was hopeful for the evening ahead. He seemed just as eager as the rest of us to get on the water. As soon as my arse was in the kayak I could see why. We started our trip paddling up the canal, under bridges, past sleeping boats and through a gushing lock. All in front of a backdrop of the setting sun. The sky changed from light blue, to lavender to a rich rich navy as the stars started to appear. The water lapped gently as I got used to a paddle that seemed so different to my usual rowing oars. Once we were out on the main river, darkness had truly set in and our second leg started under the guidance of Ballina/Killaloe’s evening light. Even at this point it seemed so peaceful, surrounded by an entire town but completely alone at the same time.
We kayaked out from the town into completely darkness, with only the stars and Mike’s little red light to guide us. It was so bizarre out there. As if in a dream, The air felt clear but looked soupy, the water would lap gently and then every so often a little wave would crash against you (softly buy you weren’t expecting it). You would turn your head in another direction and it would take a few moments for your eyes to adjust. But then you’d stop, get brave and lie back into your kayak and stare up into the abyss as Mike pointed out the Plough, Orion, the North Star and many more. The more you looked, the more stars you saw, no light pollution, not street lights, no single light from an upstairs window, not even a passing car disturbed our glorious view. This is what the trip was about, not about learning to kayak (which I tell ya, needs to be learned fast if you’re planning on doing it in the dark) but to be out on the water to see the stars. I don’t know why I was so worried.
After a long time gazing up the stars, drinking hot cocoa (with some added whiskey) and having a good laugh with my fellow kayakers we travelled back to town, through the overgrown canal that was like something out of Louisiana. Hanging vines, weeping willows, and various other greenery engulfed our group as we paddled back. Crashing (albeit very very slowly) into the bank or overhanging trees, peeking into the back gardens of what I can only guess are Killaloe’s elite, trying not lose sight of the little red light up ahead (which happened once and I freaked out but there was just a big branch in the way. This part was proper dark but it felt safe as I could hear the other boats. I knew I wasn’t lost. Soon our little town’s glow began to show and before we knew it we were in the middle of it all again.
It was 11 pm. Most of the town were tucked up on the couch or in their beds and were were still on the water. We scrambled ungracefully onto the bank, tidied away our boats and Mike asked us to tell our friends. So this is what I did….
( My Next Adventure was the company in charge of this trip, I must stress I was not asked to write a post for them. I saw the trip and wanted to try it out. These is my own thoughts on the evening. Honestly, I couldn’t recommend My Next Adventure more, it was truly a lovely evening, great for the soul, good for the heart, sore on the arms)
PS Apologies for no pictures, but my camera could NOT do the night justice.