26 August 2008

Award for a Job Well Done – Canyoning !

People often ask me to go canyoning but I refuse – here’s why.

A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to win a BT award. The award was actually the icing on the cake because all that year I’d worked in Paris, staying in a great hotel and eating wonderful food in restaurants all over that beautiful city. This annual award is a trip for you and your partner to some exotic place in the world with no expense spared. Previous trips had taken in Bali, a Kenyan safari, Las Vegas, San Francisco, so we eagerly awaited details of our trip.

A few days later the envelope arrived and I ripped it open to discover that we were going on a cruise……………… round Nice, Monte Carlo and Cannes ! Talk about a busman’s holiday ! Our disappointment was tempered by the fact that BT had chartered a huge yacht for the 24 BT award winners, their partners and corporate hangers on and the accompanying blurb made the yacht sound fantastic.

As I already lived in the area where the trip was to be based I advised BT not to make any travel arrangements for me or J and that we’d make our own way to Monaco having heard that people were to be bussed from Nice airport to the ship. I thought I’d be a bit flash and arranged for J and myself to travel there by helicopter at my own expense, only to find that everybody was ferried to Monaco by helicopter – BT was keeping that bit a secret !

On board, the yacht was terrific. Just big enough but not too big, and once I’d looked at the itinerary which comprised Nice, Cannes and Portofino I decided that I’d just spend all my time on board having a great time …..at the free bar ! The first night I stayed there until about 2am and retired to my cabin absolutely (ship) wrecked. J was already asleep and I was in a coma before you could say, ‘another G&T please’. After what seemed like minutes there was a loud banging on the cabin door. It was 8am and the organisers, whom I knew from other trips, wanted me to show the coach driver how to get to Pont du Loup and the stretch of the river Loup where they do canyoning. I protested but it did no good. There was a senior BT exec on board who wanted to go canyoning and I was the local – I knew where to go. As it happened, the coach driver knew exactly where to go, it was a ruse to fill the last place on the trip and as I was local they thought I could act as an unofficial tour guide. No chance. As soon as we were on the coach I was asleep.

It only took an hour to get to the river where we were all presented with wet suits. Now I always thought wet suits were called that because you could get wet in them – stupid – it’s because the last person to wear it has peed in it which is what you do to keep warm in the water ! That’s why it’s always wet inside - yuck ! Anyway, trying to get a wet suit on at the best of times is difficult. You should try it when you’re still drunk from the night before. Eventually with some help I got it on and we set off for the river. Down a steep, dangerous track, along some slippery rocks, over some dead trees and we were there – the first waterfall.

Now if anybody out there wants a cure for a hangover – here it is. Put on a peed-in wetsuit and then throw yourself off a waterfall into an absolutely freezing 15 foot deep pool, which, given that it was October meant the water must have been about 5 degrees. A strange sense of euphoria swept over my alcohol soaked body as I debated whether just to drown or float back to the surface. Needless to say, I floated back up where another 12 waterfalls awaited me.

That night as I regaled my ship-mates with my near-death experience I vowed never to do it again. Below is the web-site of the Canyoning company in case anybody reading this wants to try my hangover cure.


Here is the web-site for SeaDream II, the yacht BT chartered for us. And don’t say ‘no wonder BT’s charges are so high’ !!


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