On Sunday 10th May, Steve Dyer, Raymond Evans, Krisztina Jaksa, Jen Roberts, Penny Terry, Kate Wilkinson and Gwylim Williams set off from Lemington Spa to paddle 19 miles down the river to Stratford-Upon-Avon in support of the charity Guide Dogs for the Blind, an event organised annually by the Royal Leamington Spa Canoe Club and known as The DoggyPaddle.

There were several weirs on the way, some were paddleable, and others we had to portage. The first, at historic Warwick Castle, was one which we had to portage to protect the structure rather than ourselves. We paddled under the 'Danger - Weir' sign and made our way to the get out, stopping for a few pictures in front of the castle. It was an excellent chance to speak to some of the other paddlers and look at the variety of boats on the water including sea kayaks, K2s, Wavehoppers and open canoes, one of which had been decorated as a pirate boat, complete with rigging, Jolly Roger and pirate crew.

We were very lucky with the weather, and after a week of rain we had a beautifully sunny day. We all paddled in our t-shirts and hats and the sun warmed us as we made our way through Barford, Hampton Lucy, Charlecote Park and Manor, Alveston and Tiddington. The sun had also brought lots of midges out which gathered in huge swarms across the river. They seemed to be attracted to our bright sea kayaks and as a consequence more than one ended up in our mouths as we paddled along.

At the half way point we decided to have a picnic in the shade of a tree watched by cows in the distance. Jen fell asleep in the sun as everyone watched the other DoggyPaddlers go by, although we knew we would pass them again later in the day. We eventually moved on through more weirs and over deer traps as we made our way downstream. Our only incident was a swim from Raymond when trying to shoot one of the weirs. He sadly lost his hat, but was quickly dry and back in his boat.

We finally reached our destination of Stratford-upon-Avon after about five hours of paddling. We received our certificates for participating and had a celebratory photograph taken on the river. Our group came in the first third of the paddlers finishing, there were about 240 in total which was an excellent turnout and raised lots of money for the charity.

There is nothing quite so perfect on a sunny day as messing about in boats! Thanks to Kate and Gwyl for the ice creams while waiting for the shuttle which made a perfect end to a lovely day.

- Jen and Krisztina Jaksa