I must admit that when the Canoe Museum was picked as the venue for the first outing of the Parent’s group I was not particularly excited! However, I knew I would enjoy being with the other parents and heeding Vicky’s wise advice of “Always say yes to any invitation as you never know where it might lead or who you might meet” “Yes” I rsvped (I don’t think there is such a word, but you know what I mean!). After a dog walk and a cup of tea with Tracey, our organiser, we headed off to the museum and it was incredibly interesting. I had forgotten how fascinated I am by life in earlier times – this museum put me in mind of the Whaling museum in Eden on the far south coast of New South Wales when the children were small and Michael was doing a locum in the infamous Bega hospital (before the days of the Butcher of Bega). I loved the history of the native peoples, the variations in the canoes depending upon which area of Canada they came from, the extraordinary bark canoes, big ones for whaling and war, smaller ones for hunting, the tepee and then onto the traders and the amazing long journeys (paddling at an awesome 50 strokes a minute – think about that all you rowers out there!) they made with canoes filled with goods to be exchanged, having to haul both the canoe and the goods overland when the rapids were too hard to negotiate. As trading by canoe died out there was the development of canoeing as a pleasurable pastime – in fact before golf clubs were common there were many canoe clubs which were the hub of social interactions, I loved this quote from the nineteenth century and I am sure it still rings true today “time spent on an annual canoe trip could iron the wrinkles out of your soul”. Being English, I was particularly interested to see the unexpected “Royal” section of the museum with the three Royal canoes, one made as a wedding present for the Queen and Prince Philip, another for Diana and Charles and the third being Prince Andrew’s from his school days in Lakefield, he still returns most summers for a canoeing holiday. Tracey not only organised our outing but was also a mine of information. I could have stayed far longer than our allotted hour and a half and will definitely go back with Simon – I think he would love it, though he is not so keen to join me on a canoeing trip! I think he remembers my kayaking experience with him, I was the only one, in our group of six, to fall out of the kayak, not once, not even twice but three times into the cool, spring waters of Sydney harbour when Liz and I went to have a lesson to encourage our boys as they prepared for their Year 9 challenge, which seems so long ago now! I have rarely seen Simon laugh so much and he still laughs now, remembering his hopeless, hapless mother falling in again and again and again! Maybe canoeing is not such a good idea! Me still dreaming of canoeing off we went for a delicious lunch at the Planet Bakery. I think the Parents Group was such a great initiative – many thanks to Leah!
“There is always a smile when we see a canoe or kayak. They are inspiring. We see them in our journeys along the waterways of memory itself. There is beauty in a singing river and sadness in a September mist. In such company and feeling at home, no voyage is too long” Rick Beaver