The Great Strontian Pig Chase. Volume Two - Rescues.

With the departure of their previous pair of pigs on their one-way trip to Mull, our crofter friends yesterday acquired two new pigs to rear.

As seems to be traditional, no sooner had they arrived than they escaped.

As we turned up to help, the first of the pair had already been caught. Agricultural college clearly teaches you how best to catch run-away pigs.

Regular readers might remember The Great Strontian Pig Chase in September 2010.  

Just as on that occasion, I had cleaned my car inside only days earlier. So there was no way this pesky porker was climbing inside.  

Fortunately, the van was close at hand.  But as of writing, the second pig is still at large.

Breathtaking Timelapse Film In Yosemite

To read about this epic piece of film making, check out Shawn Reeder's Vimeo page.  Below is what it says about this shoot.  

I am a destination visual artist who specializes in photography, timelapse cinematography, & filmmaking.  I love to travel, so if you have a project in some far flung location, lets talk.

Yosemite National Park, the High Sierra, and the Eastern Sierra are some of the most beautiful places on earth. Ever since I serendipitously won a trip to Yosemite when I was 18, the beautiful Range of Light has captured my heart and become my home. Nothing brings me more joy than to share this life changing beauty with others.

Ever since I became fascinated with timelapse photography almost 2 years ago, after seeing the work of Tom Lowe, I’ve wanted to do a piece on Yosemite and the Sierra. Now after almost 2 years of shooting, I'm thrilled to share. I hope you enjoy my vision of my home, the majestic Yosemite & Sierra. Best viewed Full Screen with Sound :)

If you would like to license any of my clips or hire me to shoot for you, please be in touch.
Web: shawnreeder.comEmail: shawn@shawnreeder.comFacebook:

Music licensed and used with permission by: shaunpaul.comComposition used: Sounds of Peace

Huge thanks to Kessler Crane and Lens Pro To Go. Without their help this piece would not have been nearly as good.

How Cool Are These Puffins?

I just love this photo - the puffin seems to be posing for Liz to take his picture.  Of course, after a winter in the north atlantic, we're no real challenge for these tiny, hardy birds.

We met hundreds on a leisurely three-day trip to the Treshnish Islands and Staffa this weekend as we made the most of the all too rare superb weather on Scotland's west coast.  I now have more photos of puffins than I know what to do with.  But despite bristling with cameras, my two favourites that I've posted here, we both taken on my iPhone.  We were that close...

Wow - That Was Some Wave!

This is the 'shelter' at Ardnamurchan Point, just below the lighthouse.  

Except it's not much of a shelter any more.  

Vandals did not venture to the most westerly point in the British mainland and do this damage.  

The extensive remodelling is courtesy of the storms we had last December.

There were two particularly ferocious series of blasts and here, on this exposed headland, the wind, sea and the debris they carried had an explosive impact on this little building.

Oh if you're wondering, the huge red cone on the roof is the old fog horn.  If you go there, take a look the the compressors which used to drive this thing.  Then cilimb the lighthouse where you'll find one of the last lighthouse keepers called Ian who gives a fascinating tour.

DVD review - This Is The Roll. Or is it?

If there’s one kayak technique we’d all like to improve, it’s our roll.  
So combine Justine Curgenven’s skills as a film maker, with the Greenland teaching skills of Cheri Perry and Turner Wilson, and you have a DVD which is going to sell very well.  

Real rolls you can use in real situations is the idea behind this DVD – so does it deliver?

Priced £19.99 and $29.99 the DVD is available from Cackle TV.

Cheri and Turner are renowned Greenland paddlers.  I’ve watched them work at a symposium on the Isle of Skye and recorded Podcasts with each where they explain their approach to rolling.  

This DVD is like having advanced, personal rolling tuition from Cheri and Turner.  It accurately captures the way they teach rolling, so it’s clear they are much more than presenters and have been involved throughout the shoot, scripting and edit. 

Whatever kayak you own, whatever paddle you use, the teaching method used by Cheri and Turner is Greenlandic.  Most pupils start in a tuliq with (eventually) a Greenland stick in their hands, so that’s what we see in the DVD.  Now, this might be an issue for some people, so I’ll come back to it later.

When I was struggling to learn to roll I went on a weekend course at Glenmore Lodge (that didn’t work for me) and watched C2C rolling DVDs (they didn’t work either).  If you’ve been down that route, then you’ll find this Greenlandic approach quite different.

Turner and Cheri emphasise what matters most is what your body is doing, not what you’re wearing or the type of paddle you have in your hand.  Get the roll Greenland style, and the technique will transfer, they say.

Of course, it’s impossible to learn a skill from just watching a DVD.  

So a good kayak coaching DVD has to give you the right amount of information, in the right format and sequence, for you to remember enough of what you've seen when you get on the water.  

When you need to progress, or review the material because something isn’t working as it should, come back and watch the DVD again.  

The producers should anticipate what you’ll need before you know you need it.

Sensibly, this production (aimed at beginners to more advanced rollers) doesn’t divert into the more esoteric of the 35 rolls in the Greenland competition, although Cheri hints we might see those in a “second DVD”.  

Instead, it concentrates on three rolls; the Standard Greenland Roll, Reverse Sweep, and Storm Roll.  (As an aside - a lot of people who’re interested in the more advanced rolls would benefit from watching this DVD because, if they can improve their body motion, then they'll find the esoteric rolls easier).

Each roll is broken down into a series of learning points that ought to be mastered before progressing.  

Turner and Cheri show each in action, talk us through the learning process step by step, then introduce students so we can see non-experts getting to grips with the process.  

After that, there’s a ‘Troubleshooting’ section where common (and less common) mistakes are identified and remedies suggested.  

It’s all filmed from every conceivable angle; shore, on the water, under the water and even in a back garden where Cheri uses a skin-less kayak so you can see how her legs are working underneath the deck.  

Freeze frames with graphics emphasise key points, and there are subtitles in French, Spanish and Italian.  So you could learn a language too.

The underwater pictures really stand out.  Justine shot some of these using scuba gear and she told me it was tricky, “not being used to it and with a strong-ish current that kept dragging me along the bottom away from where I wanted to stand ... kicking up dirt etc.” 

At other times the air tanks were abandoned for a simpler system.  

“The underwater shots of Turner in the brown tuliq with the brown boat were done with a mask and a tow belt filled with rocks in a clear, cold lake on Vancouver island. I'd take a deep breath, sink, point the camera and T would perform.”

But please - don’t try to watch the whole thing in one sitting.  

There’s just too much information and your head will explode.  

It is probably best watched in pairs, so you can study a section together then immediately practice what you’ve seen.  As well as keeping you safe, your partner will be better placed to identify what any mistakes you’re making, so you can return to the DVD to study the Troubleshooting sections.  I suspect each copy of this DVD will be watched many, many times.

The strength of this Greenland teaching technique presents a slight difficulty for the DVD viewer who only uses a Euro-blade.  

They’re required to do some mental gymnastics; they must watch people in tuliqs with Greenland sticks, then ‘translate’ the teaching they’ve seen to something that will work with the equipment they use.

Because in a DVD which runs for more than 2hours 30 minutes, barely 13 minutes are devoted to teaching with Euro-blades, and most of that is just voice-over not actual to-camera teaching.  

Some viewers won’t like this, because they don’t have a Greenland stick and can’t immediately put into practice exactly what they’ve seen on screen.  

Yet that misses the point of this Greenlandic approach which is more about your body and less about what’s in your hands.

For those who have a good basic roll but want to be able to roll in trickier sea conditions, the Storm Roll and Reverse Sweep sections make excellent viewing. 
“We are marketing the DVD as showing people rolls that they can use in real situations to prevent a swim”, says Justine. 

So just be clear - This is not just the roll - This Is The Roll as taught by two world renowned Greenland paddlers, Cheri and Turner.  It clearly says on the cover “Greenland Rolling”, and that is exactly what you get in spades.  It will surely sell well.

Amazing Video Camera At Inexpensive Price

If things look too good to be true they usually are.  I sure want to know more about this camera.

£500 of Kayak Kit For An E-mail. Possibly.

Reed Chillcheater will give away two complete sets of paddling gear worth over £500 and all you have to do enter this comppetition is send them an email.

Closing date 31st May.  Full rules and conditions are on their website.

Re-Creating Original St Kilda Crossing

Forty seven years after Anne and Hamish Gow made the first crossing to St Kilda by sea kayak, a team from the Stornoway Canoe Club plan to re-create the orginal crossing for a TV programme.

A local boat builder will build a replica double kayak, assisted by Duncan Winning, who is advising on original design plans.

The clothing has to look authentic and, at the same time, be safe. Reed Chillcheater are tackling that end of things.

It won't be a husband and wife team in the double kayak, it'll be two women.  Dolina Swanson and Christine Stewart hope they'll be the first all female double crew to cross to St Kilda.

No doubt the TV programme will use Hamish's original cine footage which also features in Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown Volume 2 and, more extenstively, in Hamish's Kayaking Films.

The original footage had been drawn to my attention by Mike Sullivan, who is coordinating this project.  Mike also features in our DVD - he's one of the Stornoway club playing on Loch Seaforth in the last coaching session (he does a pop-out in his son's kayak).

The attempted crossing will be filmed by MacTV for the BBC Alba programme 'Trusadh', in which Mike and (I think!) one of the other paddlers featured earlier this year.  Here's their Facebook page.

Best Sea Kayaking Film 2012 Winner Logo

This rather nice logo arrived yesterday.

According to the Reel Paddle Film Festival organisers, there is much higher demand this year for the 'tour' of winning films.  Which means a lot more people watching the cut-down version of Sea Kayak with Gordon Brown.

I'm told Janice get's a good laugh when she is volunteered to capsize (again) and Gordon's swim-ashore and swim-out to re-enter his kayak provokes lots of hooting, whooping and cheering.

The only confirmed Winner's World Tour booking in the UK that I know about is Liverpool Canoe Club later this year.

If you've booked the tour, for your club or symposium, (costs about £600) please let me know and I'll see if I can get you some sort of 'extra'.

My First Cycle Training Camp

Photo: Train in Spain
Looking back, I feel somewhat stupid.  

I booked a place on a cycle training camp with Train In Spain and, only as departure date drew close, did I realise I had little idea of what I'd do during the week.  

Other than ride my bike, of course.  However, it proved to be a superb six days. 

I learnt a lot, improved my cycling, enjoyed some fantastic countryside and spent time with like-minded people.  

(Incidentally, I paid full price and have receive no form of payment).

Before the camp, I was certain about four things.