As part of Olliers’ ongoing Wellness programme, a group of us spent an afternoon recently messing about in boats. In these strange times, with all of us separated by more home working and Covid restrictions, opportunities for colleagues to get together, doing none work-related stuff, are particularly valuable.
We’ve had previous days out, enjoying trips to art galleries and RHS gardens, taking sedate woodland strolls, more strenuous walks in the Peak District and even a nerve-wracking afternoon swinging on a high ropes course. When someone suggested canoeing, colleagues jumped at the chance to try it.
So it was that we met at Trafford Water Park – a large lake adjacent to the M60 near Sale, where all sorts of water-based activities were on offer. Peak Activities are the company who provide equipment and tuition there and at a number of other venues around Greater Manchester. Happily, the day was relatively warm, for September, in the North of England. Some of us paddled around initially in canoes, but the stand-up paddleboards option – they’re basically a wide surfboard–shaped plank propelled with a single oar – proved particularly popular. The instructor gave us an assurance that there was little chance of even novices falling into the water off a paddleboard, and that assertion doubtless influenced many colleagues’ choice, in the hope of remaining dry. It proved to be true whilst one was squatting or kneeling on the thing, keeping the lowest possible centre of gravity, but fundamentally untrue once confidence grew and people started standing upright on them. The inevitable happened. Lots of people toppling off them into the water. We were all wearing lifejackets so we were safe, but chilly.
Once everyone had given up trying to remain dry, it was onto competitive raft–building .Wooden poles, plastic drums and ropes were provided. Inevitably it became boys’ team versus girls’ team, and inevitably also the girls were victorious in as much as their effort when launched stayed in one piece for a great deal longer than the boys’.
A quick spin around the lake in the high speed safety boat ended what was a thoroughly successful afternoon. After a hot drink and change into dry clothes, the consensus was that that it had been huge fun and we will try other water-based adventures next year, preferably on the hottest day of 2022.