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White Water Warriors!

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Remember me; I’m the unadventurous mum who went on a Family Adventure Holiday to Argelès sur Mer in the summer of 2014 and found her inner waterbabe. The one that was amazed at all the watersporting fun we had as a family. And, the one who came home a hero in her children’s eyes. Not only because we had just had the best holiday ever but my two were genuinely delighted to find out I wasn’t such a wimpy old bid that embarrassed them all the time.

I reckon the best holidays don’t need photographs and videos. You relive the best bits in your head all the time. And, one of the most magical days during our week in Argelès was when we went whitewater rafting. I get constant flashbacks to that sunny day when we wound our way up through the roads of the Pyrenees in the Voyager minibus, taking in the spectacular mountain views. But I also remember that my inner dialogue was going ten to the dozen. I was speculating hard about the outcome of the day: broken bones, bashed bits, kids going overboard and me looking like a complete idiot in a wet suit again. And, at the back of it all I was asking myself what kind of mother was I? I’d spent all these years protecting my children from danger and here I was letting them loose on white water rapids.

The next bit of the holiday plays like a film in my head – sunshine, exotic locations and me doing something dangerous and adventurous makes this happen. First, everyone had to get on their wetsuits, helmets and life jackets – safety was a priority. Fortunately, at this point, I was so concerned about the children’s well being and getting the right helmet for their head that I forgot to be worried about the other stuff. Suddenly, there was that ‘we’re all in this together’ feeling and I began to feel excited. 

Next we trooped off to the rafts. You have eight people on board each raft and we were lucky enough to have have Henri, a fully-trained guide, and Adam, one of Voyager’s own fully-qualified instructors, with us. We also had two little girls, my daughter Raphaela aged six and Mila who was just five at the time – remember that bit about ‘what kind of mother am I?’, well, amazingly that had gone by this time. All in all, there was plenty to feel nervous about but we had all the back-up we needed to feel reassured that we were in safe hands.

After a brief talk about safety and instructions about what to do we were off. Henri confidently stood at the back, shouting out over the roar of the water what to do next. Armed only with paddles, we were in charge of our own destiny – sort of, because everyone knows water is its own boss and white water has a mind of its own. And, it wasn’t long before we met our first flurry of white water and felt the thrill of a rocking raft and water in our faces. From there, our descent down the river went by in an exhilarating blur of whirling water, nose-dives into white bubbles, crashes into rocks, bashes into bridges and near misses with overhanging branches. Yet, never for a moment did it feel insanely dangerous. I looked around and everyone was wide-eyed, wet and wickedly happy. The little girls were giggling and delighted with themselves. 

Be assured – I was – that these were not high grade rapids. It was great to know that we were getting all the thrills of white-water rafting with our children but it was never going to get out of hand. The next bit of our adventure did promise some more dangerous rapids but these were for adults only. Miraculously, by this stage of the day, I’d become a fully-fledged white water warrior and I was gagging for grade 5 rapids.

Watching our children get off the rafts so we could continue down the river was a bit strange but all the adults wanted more adventure – and they got it! In actual fact, we probably didn’t exceed grade 4 but when we met our children at the other end we were welcomed like heroes. And, if you ask me the best moment of my holiday then here it comes: it was when my ten-year-old son Johnny looked at me with something resembling pride and said “Mum, you were brilliant.” It’s not something I expect to hear from him very often but I definitely heard it last summer on my holiday in Argelès Sur Mer.


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