So after a few years of employment I decided it was time to retire from the norm for a while, I’ve moved back into my van (Big Red) and I’m ready to live day by day chasing the life I used to have of kayaking every day, travelling and meeting new people along the way.

After what I would call a ‘sedentary’ lifestyle while having to work, it was time to get fit, strong and feel my groove back on the water. This for me involves more than just getting nice lines, it means controlling my thoughts on the river and being a well rounded paddler. For those who don’t know me I’m what my friends call me ‘a land beater’ when it comes to hiking into a river or portaging I’m not the fastest or most confident. So this trip to the European Alps would involve plenty of kayaking and living life in the beautiful outdoors. 

The first stop on my trip was to Valsesia, with the devastating news of hearing that my good friend Bren passed away mere hours before we were due to meet up presented huge challenges for the whole kayaking community and all of us in Valsesia. Together we got through the first few hard days and respected the fact that each of us would deal with this differently. For me, that meant getting the feeling back of my boat on the water. Valsesia would be the best place for this for me. It was not without tough moments on the water with conflicting thoughts, but I was back on the water and in the flow. A few weeks before I set off on my trip, Palm had suggested I do a video series of my summer trips and I decided to place my focus on that – being around good people and trying to have good times on the water. Check out episode one of my new series ‘Coffee with Chips’ for more of what we got up to.

Paddling a new river always lends itself to a fun challenge whether you’re getting shown down a river or working your way down with your crew that haven’t paddled the river either. For me this is one of my favourite things to challenge myself with, the feeling of success when you get to the bottom of a new section of river is immense and the adventure involved with the process. That’s exactly what we go up to on the Ayasse river in the far west of Italy. Other than watching copious videos in my adolescence of the river we were all new to the river, a rare thing with the popular alpine runs. But we had a great crew and worked together to help each other out and have an enjoyable experience whilst doing something new and challenging.

After an exciting (but long) day out at the Ayasse, there were still some amazing friends of mine in the Valsesia valley and it was great to link up with some of them around the Valsesia river festival and afterwards to get on the river and get together. It was great to see so many smiley faces from fellow Brits out enjoying new rivers together. For me, Valsesia part two shows the hype and joy of spending time with friends on the water doing something we’re all passionate about.

Oetz has been a massive part of my kayaking journey, after learning how to paddle in the flat lands of Bedford, England and dabbling in white water across the UK I first got to taste big white water in this place, with friends who still live there and shred the rivers of the area. Since Brexit it’s made it a lot harder to work and stay for months on end in this beautiful area of the world. But I’m grateful I did spend so much of my early twenties out in this valley paddling every day and loving every moment out there. The week I got to spend here was magical I met up and lived with John and Huw (the other two Pistyll crew) and lived the simple life of FIFA, BBQs, G&Ts and kayaking. Apart from my first few days when it was snowing still, it ended up with beautiful sunny laps and lifestyle. 

Now obviously this isn’t possible without the immense support of my freelance media clients and Palm Equipment. All your support goes 100% on getting me to the river each and every day!