Usk 2006

The Mighty Usk

by Sophie Stubbles


After arriving at the boathard for 6pm thinking that this would be a sensible time I was shocked to discover that we were actually ready to leave! Was this to be a trip which didn’t involve faff?! We arrived at our beautiful Welsh village destination at about 10pm. The hut was more of a church hall/women’s institute hideaway rather than the usual scout huts I had experienced on previous trips. It was even decorated with a chandelier!

Soon all peace in the tiny village was destroyed as we cracked out the booze and started the drinking games. It wasn’t a particularly heavy night for most although I do remember a certain person claiming in very slurred words that people had been drinking all of his rum!


A small group of select paddlers were up bright and early to test the waters for the rest if us, rather them than me as I would not have wanted to get up at 7!

After being told that the Usk was a nice easy beginner river I was shocked to see the raging torrent that awaited us! Luckily (for me anyway) it was deemed unsafe to paddle for beginners. We went to check out the Wye but this also had very high water levels.

We then had a very difficult decision to make…was it to be the tea shops of Brecon or a paddle on a canal? Surprisingly by the vast majority it was decided to paddle a canal. This proved to be just as flat and shallow as we thought it would be, however I was told that it’s all good practice. It was then straight to the Farmer’s Arms for some liquid refreshment before dinner.

After a couple of pints it was back to the hut for a lovely pan flavoured chicken korma, followed by rice-pan pudding and jam. Back to the pub after dinner for a few more drinks and some rather tasty mulled wine donated to us by the landlord. There was also some interesting live Welsh music. The rest of the night consisted of the usual drinking games, namely ring of fire, and then a reasonably early night (about 3am).

Note from the Ed:

And of course, I understand there were more of George’s wise words to be heard!:
George: That’s Ian.
Neil: I’m Neil.
George: Well that’s close enough, it’s Ian backwards.


After a small amount of faff (nothing more than expected) it was decided to split us up into two groups, sending the first group as guinea pigs to see if the river was suitable. A few swims occurred but nothing out of the ordinary so it was decided that the river was in fact suitable. The second part of the river had a few ledges which most of us walked. Only one group actually made it to the get out (well done to them!) the rest of us ended up blocking the drive way of a rather irate Welsh man. This was mainly to do with the lack of daylight left when we still had about 4km to paddle! After cheese and ham and chicken and beef sandwiches we emptied the hut and went on our way.

Despite the not so exciting paddling on the Saturday it was an awesome trip!

Rhossili Trip 2006

So, after 5 long hours on the mini bus, made worse my Jack and Simon’s attempt at singing, and some seriously scary driving from Laurent in a desperate attempt to reach the campsite before the gates were locked at midnight, we arrived in Rhossili. Greeted by the largest amount of Old’s I have ever seen and a mass of tents the weekend began.

Saturday morning and the weather was good, so some of us headed down to the beach for a surf while others went climbing….May I suggest to the fair haired among us (Steveo) that sun lotion is a particularly good idea when the sun is shining.

In the afternoon, Tim, George, Ham and myself went looking for driftwood in an attempt to find the biggest piece. Feeling fairly confident when we got back to the campsite with a tree strapped to the roof, we were somewhat put out by the return of a van full of wooden pallets. Never mind, there’s always next year I suppose.

Evening arrived and the bonfire got going. Evidently the biggest bonfire the local chavs have ever seen, (if you missed them, Welsh chavs are portrayed pretty damned closely by GLC). It was an interesting night, George balancing on top of a pole amidst cries of ‘Burn the witch!’, pocket rockets setting the dunes afire (and nearly me thank you…you’re lucky it bounced off me and into the fire, I’d rather not end up like Chardonnay from ‘Footballer’s Wives’), fire hurdling (Roch you’re a natural stunt man)…

As if that wasn’t the limit to the fun someone, three guesses who decided it would be an ‘awesome’ idea to get the RPM for some sand duning….(thank you Steve for returning it, at whatever time in the morning that may have been.) Highlights of the duning were Aidan hammering it and kind of landing on his head (which didn’t look comfortable), and five relatively drunk SUCCers riding it down together.

Sunday was pretty much the same as Saturday and surfing, climbing or walking was on the agenda. It seems that walking is a lot more perilous than I thought when Mr. Vian returned with pieces of shell in his foot.

Surf was much better on Monday morning and some of us headed down to the beach to take advantage. For those of you who weren’t there, you missed Jack attempting to play in Simons boat and some amazing duo action (I don’t think it was designed to take the weight of both George and Jack, who spent more time in the water than the boat.)

After a surprisingly little amount of faff we bid farewell to Rhosilli by flinging a tub of butter across the campsite by a very rustic see saw.

Scotland 2006

(Taken from Mouthfuls Summer 06)

Scotland Easter 2006

“What’s pink and white and brown all over?……………………. Battenturd!”

–George Mortimer 25.03.2006

The eternal quote from Mr Mortimer set the tone for the week as we stood around in a Morrison’s car park waiting for Tim Ripper to finish his business.

The night drive had gone without incident but fortunately plenty of shenanigans in motorway traffic jams involving window wiper lifting and Dickie hanging out of the van door in a true action man stylee.

The first river to be conquered was the Spean Gorge. A low water level and the warm sun were just what was needed for an easy first day. The only mentionable points were the Head-banger (Witch’s Cauldron) and the constriction with it’s horrible portage, oh and of course the miserable git at the end who came and took photo’s of the nasty ‘Solent University’ kayakers getting changed near his house (Good call Danny).

The Epic – Roy (Upper and ½ Gorge)

The pre-paddle activity for the day was snow-

boating but with an absence of snow and no sign of the shuttle, we did it anyway. A mighty hill + Robson NRG + Roland = An awesomely funny video

With the dent popped out of Roland’s boat and the shuttle returned we set out. The upper section was a good bouncy grade 3 with Serpents Tail catching a lot of people out and dumping them in a big hole. The rest of the section went smoothly… the calm before the storm.

The gorge section started with a long inspection of a relatively easy rapid, and then a portage of the “Grade 5-it’s gunna-kill-you-huge-undercut”. 50 metres downstream disaster struck in the form of a rather large hole resulting in numerous swims and a spectacular injury to Georges head. The group lead by James, on the sighting of frantic arm waving and carnage made a near vertical exit from the Gorge and went to investigate. The situation we were greeted by was that of 3 swims, 3 lost boats, 2 lost paddles and the group being separated by a large gash. We trundled down the river and by a stroke of luck we spotted Matt’s boat pinned by a large tree just above a small rapid section. A rescue effort ensued whilst Tim and Martin walked out to fetch the transport.

The boat was rescued and people ferried from one side to the other. Then it was only left to walk out up a very steep hill! Thanks to Nottingham Trent University must be issued at this point as they gave Tim and Martin a lift to get the Van and also found and rescued the remaining equipment.

“One up the bum, no harm done” – Group

Day 3 – The Orchy

Some great rapids, a fast and fun playwave, an example of how not to run safety on a rapid from another University and some exciting jumps off a rock wall into a Grade 6 rapid sums up the Orchy.

The evenings entertainment was a viewing of Shrek 2, German pornography, lots of Vodka and Irn-Bru and the Ten rotation challenge (Ten rotations followed by a challenge) in which in short was drunk people spinning round until very dizzy and then trying to run in a straight line in a confined space. Tim Ripper’s attempt guaranteed him a place in the Ten Rotation Hall of Fame (Good work Timmy).

The Next day offered some respite to anyone in need with the choice of a tinkle down the lower Roy or a high water run down the Spean gorge.

The lower Roy was unbelievably dull so will not be mentioned here. The more enthusiastic group of ‘messers’ set off to the Spean Gorge where they met another paddler who was described as “Straight out of the 80’s” and whose kit looked like it came from the depths of our very own kit shed. The river was run, smiles ensued and all was fine. So off to the café they went where they had a moment of clarity and realised there was time to run another river. The obvious choice was to return to the Roy Gorge and salvage some pride. Little is known of what happened here but what we do know is that Danny said it was one of the best rivers he had ever run and in honour of it his first child will be named ‘Roy Gorgina,’ so my guess is that it wasn’t too bad!

Day 5 – Falls of Lora

An early start was needed to catch the tide and the awesome wave which it brought. As the tide falls, the entire content of Loch Etive tries to do the same and piles under a bridge to form a massive surging wave. The long arm of the law appears to reach to every part of this country, including the stanchions of Connel Bridge. With the police banning us from using this usual photographer’s hotspot there wasn’t really any point in enduring the massive beatings following the wave. A few people endured some trashings for the adrenaline rush of the wave, and it wouldn’t be nice to name and shame the young red Riot Air paddler who parted company with his boat. Most people had some old-skool fun on the small wave ‘round the side, with paddle spins and guitar playing being the hottest moves on show.

Day 6 – Ben Nevis and River Etive

With the weather looking stunning for Scotland at Easter (i.e. slightly less cloud than usual), some of the group decided to attempt the mighty Ben Nevis. This merry band of intrepid explorers set off in earnest with promises to be back by 1pm to go paddling. As they struggled on upwards, this time was moved to 2pm. Then 3pm. By this stage they were sliding along through ankle-deep snow. Upon reaching the summit, Dickie decided that the only thing left to do was to get naked, so strip off all his clothes he did. Photos can be supplied on request, for all those that are interested in what the fuss is about. Meanwhile, the rest of the party decided to go and paddle the Etive. When the weary mountaineers arrived they found the paddlers approximately 20 yards downriver from the get-in, with one boat recirculation at the bottom of Triple 2, having already rescued Mr Hill, whose ‘deck popped, forcing him to swim’. When everyone (boats included) was safe back on the side it was decided to abandon the idea of paddling the rest of the river. Lots of fun was had running Triple 3, with different challenges: how deep can you go; run it backwards and a hammer to finish the day.

Day 7 – No Etive

After packing up the huts, we said goodbye to Roy Bridge and headed south. We stopped to look at the Etive but it was still too high. After lots of faffing about who was to be in which car, we left Scotland behind and trundled on down the M6.

Notable sightings:

  • Pyranha Truck
  • Rolls Royce Phantom
  • Huge dump truck

And so we managed to survive Scotland, ( quite amazing considering we didn’t go to the pub once the whole time we were there! I know, it’s unbelieveable…). Big thank you to Danny for all his effort running the joint, and also to the river leaders, van and car drivers – we couldn’t have done it without you.

National Student Rodeo 2006

Taken from Mouthfuls Summer 06

National Student Rodeo 2006

Steve had driven all day from Scotland and he wanted to paddle – paddle he was going to!

The van screeched to a halt in the car park at HPP and a quick run into the office told us we had half an hour left before the course closed. Cue the most faff-free unloading of the van ever known. The secret to this involves opening the back doors of the van and allowing everything to flow out. This was followed by high-speed faff-free changing and we were onto the water in five minutes.

Our brief assessment of the course, each of us planning our tactics for the following day, left us feeling refreshed and ready. Being highly sensible students we opted to set up the tents early in the evening. This sensibility also led us to phone the other half of SUCC’s rodeo squad, on their way from Southampton, and inform them that the rodeo was again cancelled due to more flooding, but that they should really come for the party anyway. I don’t know the rest of the story, but I hear there was some serious consideration given to turning back early…

Now feeling quite hungry, we decided the six of us needed to go find some food. Problem: a Ford Transit van only has 3 seats. Solution: there’s plenty of space in the back, plenty of boats to sit on, and a bottle of vodka and coke to pass the time.

Friday night’s antics can best be summed up as follows:

Steve + Alcohol + Minibus = …(Get someone who was there to describe it if you really want to know, it wasn’t pretty).

Saturday morning was taken up by the Extreme Slalom, in which everyone paddled down the course, attempted to stay upright on top wave, hit a ball hanging over the water, pulled some old skool tricks and tried to splat a ‘rock’. As far as I can remember, everyone paddled well, the only note being that there is video with sound clip evidence that Dickie’s Mum can surf better than Mr Leyland. No comment.

Saturday afternoon was the heats for each category. A lot of effort and some enthusiastic paddling went on. Cat and Beth both made it to the Women’s Expert Finals, and well done to Helen R for making it to the Women’s Expert! Tony, Eric and Chris all made it to the Men’s Intermediate Final, despite both Tony and Eric not actually being students (and being under strict instructions NOT to get in to any finals as they had no student ID!). Steveo powered through to the Men’s Novice Finals.

Finally there was the King and Queen of the Wave events, where they all piled onto the Top Wave together and the last remaining paddler won! Eric and Beth were representing Southampton. Eric made the mistake of being first on (and hence first pushed off) the wave, while Beth bullied her way to the top and won herself a sparkly tiara as Queen of the Wave 2006!

We might have appeared to do alright on the water, but it was at the bar that SUCC members really showed what they were made of. We are now officially the best university drinking club in the country, and we think probably in the world seeing as teams would have been welcome from worldwide just they chose not to compete! Mr O’Connell kept up his high standards of entertainment as a turtle, and I believe still has possession of the legendary ‘buff’.

Sunday morning started much the same way as Saturday morning – dragging Steve out of bed. It was duo-day! We entered at least four teams, with quite a few comedy events including “Team Tiny’s” attempt at a duo-loop and the Steve & Dickie’s non-roll! Rich and I got into the heats where we proved we could roll…and that’s about it.

Steve seemed to excel under the aufluence of incohol and pulled all his tricks out of the bag to gain second in the Men’s Novice event! In the Women’s, Beth came 8 and Cat managed an excellent 4 overall. As a club, Southampton just missed a mention in the speeches at the end with a totally acceptable 4 . Go us! Thanks to everyone who came along, we all had an awesome event and I’m looking forward to next year already!

(Oh, we finished off the trip with a stop at a classy Nottingham kebab joint, highly recommended by Mr Harvey himself. Call him for directions if you’re ever in the area.)

Christmas Dart 2005

Taken from mouthfuls christmas 2005

The Dart December 2005

What happened on the Dart Trip Steveo? Dart would be telling!

It only works if you say it in a dodgy West Country accent. Ask George to oblige if you’re struggling to get it.

Friday, Boat Hard, Boats in van. This time though, the Van is to be driven by me. After much arguing with Stu, Martin and everyone else in the Minibus, it was agreed I was allowed to keep my tape adapter. By agreed, I mean I dictated the result, despite claims that my sole passenger, George, should be entertainment enough.

Driving conditions were interesting; Me and George were constantly surprised just what high crosswinds can do to the direction a long wheel base, hi-cube transit (read giant sail) is traveling in. Ironically, after my victory with the tape adapter, it started playing up mid journey. George felt the best chance of fixing it involved holding out in the wind and rain for half a minute. We were both surprised when this didn’t fix it. Honest.

Much dodgy local radio later and we arrived at the hut, and had time to make it to the pub for last orders, bonus! Many paddling tales were told by those who had paddled the Dart during the day, exciting those yet to paddle with stories of lots of water! Except George, who spent most of the time exercising his wrist with the Gyroscope (that thing that looked like an Ariel liqui-tab). He has a weak wrist apparently.

On returning to the hut, much drinking took place, and of course the odd couple of drinking games. The return of some old favourites – Deutsches Erotica, and the learning of some new – Knob, Plonker, Bollocks. It was shortly after these that George demonstrated his ability to entertain the masses. I don’t fully remember the events leading to it, but me and George agreed that I would attempt to eat 3 dry wheat bisks in a minute (like Weetabix, only cheaper) if he managed to do so successfully, which he was adamant was not a problem. For those who haven’t seen the video, George did not complete the challenge, he just ended up spilling wheat bisk all over the floor. You spill it, you snort it George. He did indeed, and I quote “Hoover it like a Bitch”. Georges hoovering skills impressed Tony, who then proceeded to drop his trousers and mount George. Whatever floats your boat. (Oooh you little tease—Tony (probably)).

At midnight, the celebration of Mikey Wannabs birthday took place. Myself and Danny prepared a suitable beverage for Mr.B, containing a bunch of alcoholic things, some Pepsi and Paprika. After much singing of the classics “Happy Birthday”, “Why was he born so beautiful?” and “Mike is the captain of our ship” he still hadn’t downed the pint. So we sang them all again and he did it. He claims it was quite nice, but that he really didn’t want another, thanks all the same.

Saturday morning and many people arose very early to go and paddle the Upper Dart. Many people stayed in bed and had a bacon sandwich instead, me included. Minimal faff (maybe, I can’t remember) later and we were at the get in, kitted up and ready to paddle. Some pre-paddling shenanigans took place, involving much bundling and chest jumping. All good fun! The loop was running at a decent (it looked good to me anyway!) level, and everyone enjoyed seeing the Dart a little fuller than it had been 2 weeks previous.

Off the water, some free cheesy chips were enjoyed by a lucky few, courtesy of the man in the Dart café. However, the main culinary excitement was to come later, Christmas dinner! Back at the hut, the festive spirit was high. Mark had managed to bodge the broken tape adapter to work in the hut, so that Christmas tunes filled the air! The traditional festive meal was served, club spag bol, and crackers were pulled. The same five jokes were told many a time, people donned colourful paper hats and no end of fun was had with crap plastic toys! All was followed by Christmas pudding. Alas, Brandy had been deemed “too expensive”, so some Vodka was scrounged and Mike Buntons pudding was set alight in honour of his growing old!

Off to the pub for some beer, crisps and chat. Which lead to Danny and some chums agreeing to paddle the loop in the dark. After I’d had a couple of pints, it sounded like an awesome plan, I’ve always wanted to sellotape glowsticks to myself and go down a river. However, on departing the pub, Me, Dr.Nick and Seb all agreed it was much colder and darker outside the pub, and probably not ideal paddling conditions. Instead, we returned to the hut and commenced the consumption.

Oh! What consumption it was. I don’t fully remember the night, and anything from here on in might be more speculation/retelling/Chinese whispers than the rest of my reports. It all started with a game of Ring of Fire, as all good evenings do. The cards were written on the whiteboard to prevent disagreement, although they were made up because we couldn’t remember them all. Oh well, you can’t win them all. It is at this point my memory is a little hazy. By all accounts of those sleeping, both in the hut and neighboring villages, I was quite a loud chairman. However, in my defense, the Bunton Brothers did need controlling. A game of categories lead to Tony Bunton (From hereon to be called MR.BUNTON SENIOR) claiming American was a language, and Mike Bunton (From hereon to be called MR BUNTON JUNIOR) backing him up. After much arguing, and shouting on my half, the monsieurs Bunton had racked up approximately 20 fingers each. It was agreed for MR BUNTON SENIOR that a Stella bottle full of an Amaretto/Tequila combo was an acceptable substitute. He necked it, and looked much worse the wear for having done it. Respect. I can’t remember what MR BUNTON JUNIOR did, but I think it’s fair to say he was probably battered anyway. Any accusation that I got away with claiming “Antipodean” as a language can be combated by the fact I drank a triple Tequila to leave the table, despite being the chairman.

Beyond this, I know that Tim C downed a pint in record time, and that I did a Tequila suicide as did Tim C, because I have video evidence. I also know, that I attempted to recreate Machustard. I’m not quite sure what this years ingredients were, but they most definitely did not include Mini Cheddars and Stickle Bricks. Brown sauce, lager and plain crisps have been speculated as their replacements. It was tasty enough, but more fun was had flinging it, which I know occurred because of the state my jumper and the floor was in. Me and Mr.Casalis also incurred injurychasing Stu (probably being a juvenile delinquent again), which lead to cut knees. Which we both poured vinegar in to, in return for cheese on toast. I can only assume it was worth it.

After the events of Saturday night, I felt surprisingly well on Sunday morning. Some major faff this morning, I believe attributed to MR BUNTON JUNIOR having the keys on him to the hut, preventing us from locking up. Note – if you are trusted with the keys, it is in your best interests to remember you have them! The river was still at a good level, and the day was sunny. Ideal conditions for Team Fun! Myself, Dr.Nick, Seb, Tom W and Laura all jumped off of a cliff in to the unseasonably warm Dart (I may have been wearing a Beer Thermal. Oh, no I remember, it was just a pair of board shorts.). The seal launch was enjoyed by a few, and Holne bridge offered another jumping point. Most notable jumps included Seb, who got a nosebleed, making him look double hard, and George, who rotated during freefall, landing on his front. For those who can’t see the immediate problem with this, his reaction was a high pitched “My balls!”.

A smooth departure from the get out, and everyone was home in good time. Another trip enjoyed by all, touted by some as “the best trip I’ve ever been on, in the world, ever”.