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A new challenge for 2021: kayaking on Scotland’s lochs

Do you have any fears that you haven’t been able to get past? Has your attitude to your fears changed since having your brain injury? Have you embraced new challenges that the old you would never have done?

This year I’m taking on a challenge that before my accident I would never have dreamt of doing. Like, ever!

My fear of drowning

I’ve been living with my brain injury post-concussion syndrome for 3 years now and have always been scared of deep water and drowning since I was a kid. Mum and Dad did their best to try to help me get past the fear, and I did go to swimming lessons as an adult, but I still didn’t get over the fear.

My life changed overnight when I sustained my brain injury. I had to let go of my old life and start to work on the new me, AJ v2.0

Life is much more in the slow lane now and I’ve found new things to enjoy like colouring books and puzzles.

Did I ever think kayaking would be part of my new life? Did I hell haha! But when JP told me he was buying a kayak and pitched it as a way to wild camp in places I wouldn’t be able to get to on foot with my mobility, I didn’t write it off straight away. Well I did laugh at first when he asked if he could ever get me on a boat!

I knew it wasn’t going to be easy to get over my fear. But now that we’re in the 4th year of my brain injury recovery, it felt like the right time to take on a new challenge for 2021.

And so the Gumotex Solar inflatable kayak came into my life.

A red Gumotex Solar inflatable kayak at Forfar Loch

 

Kayaking on the Gumotex Solar at Forfar Loch

Last weekend we took the Gumotex Solar on it’s first outing to Forfar Loch.

Watch my video below to witness the highs, lows and laughter on my first kayaking experience.

 

 

I was really nervous about getting into it, and as you can tell from the video, my nerves come out as laughter haha!

We had a good laugh together, figured out that we didn’t actually know how to paddle and that the strongest person (JP) should sit in the back to paddle. So after a wee bite to eat we switched places and went out to kayak on Forfar Loch again.

Anne Johnston and JP Bell kayaking on a red Gumotex Solar inflatable kayak on Forfar Loch

After a while I was able to relax, I took a deep breath and I realised just how tense I had been. But after getting over my fears that the kayak might tip over, sending me flying into the loch, we spent time just floating around, chilling and listening to nature.

 

Anne Johnston paddling on Forfar Loch in a red Gumotex Solar inflatable kayak

Anne Johnston wearing a yellow beanie and red life jacket on Forfar Loch

I’m not quite sure what I expected from an inflatable kayak, maybe something around the sturdiness of a lilo, but the Gumotex Solar was way better than that. It felt sturdy, there was plenty room for me to stretch my legs out and there’s lots of space to put our drybags.

I never expected that I would find the experience of kayaking quite so relaxing and that I would actually want to go out on it again. But there is something about floating around on the kayak on a calm day and listening to the birds that makes me want to experience more of it. And what feels good for the soul is good for the brain!

JP Bell kayaking on Forfar loch on a red Gumotex Solar inflatable kayak

Anne Johnston in a red Gumotex Solar inflatable kayak on Forfar Loch

 

Kayaking adventures to look forward to

Once lockdown restrictions are lifted and we can travel out of our counties, we’re planning on taking the kayak on our adventures.

I used to hillwalk before my accident and I know that hillwalking is not going to happen for me any time soon but having this kayak is really going to open up new adventures that we can enjoy together.

Anne Johnston and JP Bell kayaking on Forfar Loch

We like to holiday in the North West Highlands of Scotland and we’re planning on kayaking on Scotland’s lochs so that we can wild-camp, avoiding horrendous midge bite season of course! I’ve already had hundreds of midge bites all over my face and body and I’m not in a hurry to do that again haha! And we have friends with kayaks too so it will be fun to hang out with them.

We’re definitely going to have to read up on our paddling technique but I’m sure we’ll soon get the hang of it and look forward to more fun adventures in 2021!

After all, we’re only here for a short time so we might as well fill it with fun times!

 

Over to you, warriors!

What goals or challenges do you have for 2021? Have you conquered any fears since sustaining your brain injury?

Pop into the comments below. I’d love to hear from you!

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Keep sparkling one day at a time!

Much love and healing vibes,

AJ x