Just Waiting

Posted in Not Kayaking on July 26, 2011 by Jim Kennedy

With El Bebé now 12 days overdue, Rebecca is beyond fed up with the waiting.

Just Waiting

The hospital, too, has had enough and is ready to take steps. We go into the hospital Tuesday night and will emerge sometime around the weekend with an external baby.

Over the past few days to alleviate the tedium of sitting around, we have made a video. We are going to go offline a little while until we have some news to report, so in the meantime, you can watch this (it looks better in full screen)…

The song is Just Waiting from The Fall, from their criminally underrated Code Selfish album. This song has been my earworm for a fortnight now. OK, we have to go get a baby now. BRB.

Barcelona, and an announcement.

Posted in Not Kayaking on January 16, 2011 by Jim Kennedy

Warning: self-indulgent personal post ahead, almost nothing to do with kayaking…

Two months into 2010 and my Dad passed away; a few weeks later I lost my job. On the surface, not the greatest start to a year that I had already ear-marked as The Year of Great Change. Being single and with my 40th birthday looming large on the April horizon, it was time to take myself to the mountain, as it were, and have an aul think for myself. I resolved not to look for a new job until the end of the summer (hooray for redundancy money!) for fear of just rolling along into the next unsatisfying chapter. It was time to set aside the Manana Manana motto for a while and make some solid choices.

Moving on

So over the course of the spring and summer, lots happened – some great kayaking trips, a fantastic hiking week in Corsica, my sister got married, myself and Bex started going out, but mainly I was ruminating on what to do next with my life. In the end I decided that my long-postponed idea of moving away from Ireland had to happen this year or likely it never would happen. I fixed my sights on Barcelona or Grenoble, the latter for its proximity to the alps and its, you know, Frenchness. Barcelona was always the more likely outcome, given that it’s been on the top of my list of livable cities since I first backpacked through there 10 years ago. Every city I’ve been to since has been measured against Barcelona and found wanting. In September I started applying for jobs in Barcelona and by mid-November I was at a desk with this view out the window over Passeig de Gracia:

Passeig de Gracia

Bex, being the amazing girl that she is, announced that she would follow me out in a while. 2010 was drawing nicely to a close; I even managed to leave Ireland before the Nordic winter kicked in. I was pretty happy with the way things were starting out, for the first time in years I had laid out a plan, and carried it through. Then, the cosmos decided to have a bit of laugh at my self-congratulatory smugness. You can see where this is going, right? Oh, yeah. My plan for moving to Barcelona and changing my life was about to be taken in a direction I had not contemplated.

Bex goes to Tipidabo

I’m here two months, Bex gets here in about two weeks, and a little baby that we’re making will get here in July. 2011 is going to be so far above and beyond what I had hoped. That’s all I’m going to say for now, for fear of getting all incoherent and soppy.

I love you Bex, thanks for taking this big leap with me.

To celebrate, you should click on this link and listen to the Animal Collective song that’s been in my head for almost two months now:

Animal Collective – Baby Day

I’m off to Camp Nou to watch Barcelona, and put the kid on the waiting list for the youth academy. Watch out for a little Hiberno-Catalan kid on the left-wing about, say, 2030. Woo!

Snowboarding in the Trois Vallees

Posted in Not Kayaking on November 3, 2010 by Jim Kennedy

The Trois Vallees in the French Alps is the largest skiing area in the world. It comprises three valleys, as the name suggests, and a single ski pass covers you for all three. The three valleys – Courchevel, Meribel, and Val Thorens – all all connected by ski lifts and gondolas but it would take you half a day to work your way from one side to the other. Most days we tended to pick one valley and stay in it for the day. Over the course of a week you get to see all of it, more or less, but there are always more runs and off-piste areas to explore.

View over Meribel

This year we were based in the village of Meribel Village (which, confusingly, is not exactly the same place as Meribel). Meribel Village is a satellite village to the main centre of activity, either a short bus ride away or you can ski there via the Golf chairlift. The great advantage of not being in the main town is that there no queues at any time of day. Also, from our chalet to the chairlift was a walk of about 200 metres, with a rest stop on the way for the all-in-one bakery/coffee shop/pizzeria to stock up on a packed lunch.

I’ve added some photos of this trip over on the gallery.

Grand Canyon of the Colorado

Posted in Kayaking on September 3, 2010 by Jim Kennedy

In January 2009, we ticked a major box on the kayaking hitlist – the Grand Canyon of the Colorado in Arizona. From top to bottom, the trip is about 225 miles and took us 15 days and 15 cold, cold nights. For this self-supported trip, the crew comprised fifteen hardy souls in a flotilla of four 16-foot rafts and four kayaks, carrying everything we needed for food, clothes, and shelter.

The canyon itself is, you know, deep, and the river is, eh, big. It pushes along at about six miles an hour so manning the oars isn’t the ordeal you might expect, particularly with so many people to rotate on the oars.

If you’re thinking of going you need to get a permit through the lottery system (the ‘waiting list’ system has been scrapped) and get a local rafting company to sort the logistics for you. We heartily recommend Brady at Moenkopi who made the whole thing hassle-free. All we really had to do was get to Las Vegas (Vegas, baby!) and cruise on up to Flagstaff.

Continue reading

Tap tap, is this thing on?

Posted in Not Kayaking on September 2, 2010 by Jim Kennedy

I always hoped I wouldn’t be one of those guys with a post on my blog saying that I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while but that I’m back now. You know the kind of post, where the guy vanishes for ages to twitter or apathy or whatever but then comes crawling back, all apology-offering and firm of resolution to post more regularly.

Well, in a continuing series of disappointments, I am now that guy. Not only that, but I’m quoting myself too:

I’m sorry I haven’t posted in a while . . . I’m back now. I vanished for ages to twitter or apathy or whatever but now I’ve come crawling back. I offer my apologies and firmly resolve to post more regularly.

Isn’t that just pathetic?

Anyway, I’ve been having fun since I last posted and have plenty to report – kayaking and hiking in Corsica (two different trips), snowboarding in France, and kayaking in the French Alps. Tomorrow I’ll post on a rafting trip on the Grand Canyon of the Colorado in the states. When I say tomorrow, I don’t mean in the manana sense, I mean real-life tomorrow. I have it written and everything. Other than that I’m adding a photo gallery and generally tidying up around here.

I’m on twitter these days too, by the way. Take your opportunity to berate me here.

Pamplona 2008

Posted in Not Kayaking on July 3, 2009 by Jim Kennedy

I’d been to Pamplona for the encierro – the running of the bulls – twice before, but it still scares the bejaysus out of me. People keep asking me about it, and the same questions keep coming up. For such a famous festival, there’s a lot of misinformation out there. First of all, here are the answers to the questions frequently asked of me:

  • No, it’s got nothing to do with tomatoes. That’s somewhere else and it’s just a bunch of people throwing tomatoes at each other for half an hour. Leave me alone about the tomatoes.
  • Yes, it’s incredibly stupid to put yourself in harm’s way like that. What’s your point?
  • The bulls run through the streets early in the morning; they die in the evening at the bull fight. It goes on for a week, so it’s a new set of bulls every morning.
  • No, bullfighting is not very sporting. Nobody ever said it was.
  • No, I don’t know why every New Zealander in Europe under the age of 30 is there. It must be a visa obligation.
  • No, it’s not as dangerous as you heard – the last guy to get killed by a bull there was in 1995.

If you go there yourself, it won’t be very long before some local explains to you that only the foreigners get injured in the run. This is nonsense – statistically, Basques are just as likely to get injured as anyone else, despite what they will tell you. Seriously, what? You think because you grew up Basque, you’re genetically better at running away from large animals than I am?

Continue reading

Daithí Power – married man, creekboater

Posted in Not Kayaking on October 4, 2008 by Jim Kennedy

Life’s an incremental process…

…but sometimes you get two increments in the one day.

Congratulations to Daithí and Fiona. Nobody else could hope to keep up with either of them, so they’re a pair that deserve each other.