Paddlesong

NEW DATES FOR 2012: JUNE 1st to 8th AT ADVENTURE CORNWALL
More details soon………

‘Everyone must believe in something. I believe I’ll go canoeing’.
Henry David Thoreau

‘There is nothing, absolutely nothing, half so much worth doing, as simply messing about in boats’.
Kenneth Grahame, “Wind in the Willows”

‘No water, no weather ever stopped the paddle or the song’.
French-Canadian Voyageur saying

Paddlesong combines guided canoeing and singing sessions, with delicious shared meals, luxury camping and free range fun.

We will spend the weekend on the water, paddling together and singing the perfect songs to accompany us. Instead of learning such songs out of context in an anonymous hall, Paddlesong gives you the real experience on a beautiful river. We’ll get inside the song and drift along, maybe imagining things from other perspectives, as a constant paddler or the songwriter might. We’ll play with the sounds that paddling inspires in us and be guided in improvisation, composing our own paddlesongs and singing together for the sheer enjoyment. There will be call and response from boat to boat, and parts that float between us.

In the evenings there will be a camp fire to gather round, with more singing and music, a nearby creekside pub, quiet corners to spend time on your own or a splendid hot tub to soak in under the stars. The evening makes for wonderful walking around the local area, with light nights close to midsummer solstice.

The course runs from Friday, 4pm to Monday 10am. To be fair to those who work Mon-Fri, the course is kept to the weekend times. For those who wish to extend their holiday, there are optional and free seaside and walking days guided by Mel on the Friday and Monday, with a solstice to see in on the way home.

Bookings will close at the end of May. There are only 8 places going on a first come first served basis. A non-refundable deposit of £100 will reserve your place. For a booking form email bristolferalchoir@gmail.com.

Itinerary:

Friday
Optional day at seaside
4pm onwards; Arrivals and hellos
5pm; First singing play session
6.30pm; Dinner
8pm; Free time, camp fire, night time walk.

Saturday
Breakfast
Morning: Outdoor song and play session in morning.
Afternoon: canoeing session (more singing!)
6.30pm; Dinner
8pm; Free time, camp fire, hot tub, pub….

Sunday
Breakfast
Whole day canoeing and singing, with packed lunch
6.30pm Dinner
8pm Free time, camp fire, hot tub, pub….

Monday
Breakfast
Departures by 10am.
Optional seaside & cliff walk.
Midsummer night’s dream on the way home.

Why paddle song?
Singing as you paddle is a global tradition, as old as canoeing itself. All those who need to follow rivers and put out to sea to survive understand the need for a song to lift the spirits. The unifying rhythm of the paddle, the pull of the water and voices joined in song links us across nations and cultures. Canoes were traditionally used for necessary journeys by aboriginal First Nations and the tradesmen ‘voyageurs’ in Canada after them, Amazon hunters in the rainforest, Pacific fisherman and shark spearers.

Luckily we don’t have the need to hunt, fur to trade or wars to fight. Yet canoeing with a group is a simple and satisfying pleasure, with the meditation of paddling along a shared journey, travelling at the pace of the river, drifting with the currents, getting closer to the elements and seeing nature from the river’s point of view. It brings a sense of peace yet also one of quiet exhilaration, with your whole body and senses engaged. The wildlife you experience is phenomenal. Further, on many parts of the river you are far away from roads and other human life, completely surrounded by the water, trees and hills.

Further FAQs
What will the songs be?
Paddlesongs? Think Amazons, celtic sailors, First Nation indians, sea shanties, hawaiian hulas, dragon boater, gig racers, whale riders, mermaids, mermen, nymphs and sirens….We will be singing songs from Cornwall, Brittany, Canada, Tahiti, Hawaii, Australia, native american first nations (Nootka, Chinook), the Amazon, China and more. Songs from a few miles down the road in sea shanty territory to the other side of the world. Who knew there so many songs for people in canoes? If you expand the search to people in boats, it’s overwhelming, with sea shanties just for starters.

The subjects of the songs vary. Some are simple rhythmic rounds, designed to keep you going as you paddle. Some dwell on what the paddlers have to look forward to when they finally arrive, the welcome home. Some dwell on the perils of the voyage; the rapids, the hostile territories, the mermaids, the sharks….Who knows, it might even be addictive!

Do I need to be a strong singer?
It helps if you enjoy singing, or want to enjoy it more! To paraphrase the african proverb….If you can talk you can sing, and if you can walk, you can, well…… paddle. Mel will lead fun physical warm ups each day, teach the songs at everyone’s pace and be on hand to help you take your singing further.

Do I need to know how to canoe? Will we be paddling on rapids? Will it be dangerous?
As we are not explicitly running a canoeing course, the paddle levels will be accessible to all. On the whole it will be easy calm waters and a lot of ‘messing about on the river’, paddling for enjoyment and adventure, not competition. We will explore hidden creeks and beaches. You need to be able to swim, however you will have a life jacket and all equipment provided for you.

Are the tutors professionals?
We will be taught and guided in our canoeing by Adventure Cornwall. Mel is a trained outdoor arts / voice tutor and Forest School Leader. All tutors are fully qualified with insurance and have a passion for what they teach. For further info see:
http://www.adventurecornwall.co.uk/canoeing.htm
http://melmccree.wordpress.com/
http://www.bristolferalchoir.org.uk/

What do I need to bring?
Adventure Cornwall will provide all the equipment for canoeing. Everything is included in the cost. We will send out a packing list after your confirmed booking.

What will the accommodation and facilities be like?
Check out the website to see the gorgeous Lombard Farm site! David Collin will give you a warm welcome and be available if you have any requests or queries. There will be other guests in the holiday accommodation around the farm.

Although we will be camping, there are 4 beds in a yurt, with futons and mattresses for your comfort. Yurt priority will be to those whose backs need it most. Alternatively there is a shared tipi, or camping space in your own tent.

What will the food be like?
Our own cook Eleanor will cook up delicious healthy locally-sourced feasts for us every evening and provide ingredients for our packed lunches. Breakfast is a DIY spread. We will take into account your dietary requirements.

What are the transport arrangements?
Car sharing will be available from Bristol and possibly elsewhere. The option of email sharing is on your booking form so you can easily arrange it.

And up on the hills against the sky, a fir tree rocking its lullabye, swings, swings, swings its emerald wings, swelling the song my paddle sings’.

(from the poem ‘The Song My Paddle Sings’, from an Iroquois woman writer E. Pauline Johnson (1861-1913))

‘What sets a canoeing expedition apart is that it purifies you more rapidly and inescapably than any other travel. Travel a thousand miles by train and you are a brute; pedal five hundred on a bicycle and you remain basically a bourgeois; paddle a hundred in a canoe and you are already a child of nature’.
Pierre Elliott Trudeau

‘One night a young amourous Sioux
Had a date with a maiden he knew
The coroner found
The couple had drowned
Making love in a leaky canioux’

See the home page for the rest of our current feral adventures in 2011!