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Happy New Year to those who missed the Pie & Peas!

My tenth New Year Days Paddle and still the same age old problems. Turned up to find the Quigley’s bright and raring to go. Ok I lied Jess & Molly it took some motivating to smile, and Wild boy in the office with his head in his hands moaning about being awake until 5 this morning. I had no sympathy, as I was still a bit sensitive from the eve’s celebrations.

We had 18 paddlers this year that braved the unusually warm weather. The usual chaos of getting organised took place and we were ready to go at 10.30, and then another paddler turned up, I say guess who but you all know its Laurence, so it was 10.45 before we set off (it never changes).

There was a frisson of excitement as we prepared for the paddle – the shivers were not just the cold, not just the shakes from New Years Eve over indulgence, but were the heightened awareness that one of us would be the First Swimmer of 2008. There were obvious contenders, the early bookies favourite was the Chair himself, able to swim in any and all conditions. There was good money for Rob A whose recent difficulties with his roll combined with a compulsion to stick his boat into anything watery made him vulnerable. There was even a dark horse – Alex, a mate of John Elvidge’s – had he been brought along to be the sacrificial lamb? There was some money for a Stopford to be first, a combination of there being a few to choose from and wishful thinking. Or maybe the prize would go to a rank outsider, how about one of the two Tom’s taking a swim or even Matt, not looking his sharpest after a heavy night. Would our first swimmer be female – on past form neither Mandy or Anita could be discounted.

Setting off from Hebden Bridge added a mile or so of paddling. As soon as we got on it is straight over a strange weir, but it passed with out incident, yawn. On we went on medium levels. I created the usual anarchy, the odd nudge or push to get try and get a swimmer but to no avail. I even shared my sweets out, must have been the season of goodwill. We got all the way to Brierley Weir and still no swimmers, “What’s going on” I was asking myself.

First Swimmer of 2008 . . .

As sure as butter will melt when warmed Quigley obliged and swam in the eddy line. Not being one to sit back I thought it important to encourage the Chairman to try the same move and he too ended up being the Jellyfish, it’s traditional for the Chair to swim. It must be great to be one of the first swimmers of 2008.

We continued down to the infamous V Shaped weir. I must be getting slicker as I had organised safety cover, but we never needed it but that is a credit to those who paddled took their roles seriously, for 10 minutes. On we went, we played on the Tenterfields weir. The group split up here as some had to get back (or was it ‘I am not going in that suckie drop’?) Boycie had to be rescued by Ian Stoppy, how embarrassing being rescued by a longhaired teenager.

We made it back to the course, played a while and got off. I DID NOT SWIM, a first in 10 years, come on!!!!

We all got changed and continued the usual insults at each other and went up stairs for Pie & Peas plus drink prepared by Big Wata Gal, Debbie & Moly, Chief Assistant, for which many of us say a big thank you, it was delicious. To every who paddled well done it was a great trip and to everyone else you missed out and join us next year.

John Stopford & Mark Limmer