Influencer. It’s a funny term isn’t it? I always feel a little strange when people refer to me as an influencer because realistically, I have very little influence over anyone. My children choose to ignore me, the dog appears to have her own agenda and my husband is, of course, selectively deaf. And yet, I review things and give my opinion on them. Usually with the rest of the family but on Saturday, I headed to Inspire2Adventure in Monmouth and embarked on a review all on my own.
Inspire2Adventure arrange outdoor activities in the Forest of Dean, Wye Valley, Gloucestershire and Monmouthshire. For land lovers, there’s mountain biking, climbing, rock climbing, abseiling and high rope courses. On the water, there’s kayaking, canoeing, gorge walking and stand-up paddle boarding (SUP).
All activities take place in glorious surroundings, easily accessible from main roads. The river Wye meanders gently through the countryside, the perfect location for drifting serenely along on an SUP.
A stand up paddle boarding lesson with Inspire2Adventure
On Saturday I was invited, along with a group of bloggers, to have a SUP lesson with Inspire2Adventure. On arrival, there was plenty of space to park in a field near to the river Wye. After a quick safety briefing, putting on a life jacket and pumping up the inflatable SUPS (including the enormous one that holds up to eight people), we were off.
A few months ago, my husband and I hired a SUP at a campsite in Pembrokeshire. I had visions of smoothly standing up and floating around the bay with my well-behaved dog on the front. Of course, that’s not what happened. Instead, the dog danced around like a wild thing on the SUP and I repeatedly fell off.
Luckily, the river Wye was notably more calm than the sea and the Inspire2Adventure instructors were on hand to show us the ropes. We started by kneeling on the SUP and learning the basics. It started on land with how to hold the paddle, how long the paddle needed to be and where to stand on the board. On the water, we learnt steering left and right and turning on the spot.
Soon, it was time to put our new skills to the test when standing up. First, we set our paddles to the correct length and lay them in front of us. Next, it was time to get to our toes and finally stand up. It turns out paddling is like riding a bike, with the board becoming more stable as you go a little faster. Surprisingly, I managed to stay upright without falling in the river at all.
The Inspire2Adventure Mega SUP
After mastering the individual paddle board, it was time for my go on the Mega SUP. Along with four others, we swapped boards in the middle of the river and climbed onto the gigantic SUP.
This one was incredibly stable and relatively easy to manoeuvre, with the person at the back taking charge of steering. To turn in a circle, people on one side paddle forwards whilst those on the other side paddle backwards.
SUP lessons at Inspire2Adventure start at age 8, because it would be difficult for younger children to manage the boards. There were a couple of little ones in our group who did find it quite difficult on individual boards, but they clearly really enjoyed it. I’d definitely take my two as soon as they’re old enough and it would be great fun to take the mega SUP out as a family.
When advertising backfires
So, back to the post title. You’re probably wondering why I referenced advertising backfiring, and here’s the thing. My husband has been trying to talk me into buying a SUP for a while now. He thinks we’d get a lot of use out of one because we can use it on lakes and rivers as well as the sea.
I’ve pushed back against it though, because we really don’t need one. But on Saturday, my guard was down. I loved my lesson and felt like I’d got the hang of it a lot better than I did when we hired one. So by the end of Saturday, we were the proud owners of an inflatable SUP.
If you are considering learning to use a SUP, or embarking on any other adventures, I can highly recommend Inspire2Adventure. Our lesson was informal and incredibly enjoyable. And yet, I felt like I learned enough skills to master the basics of using a SUP. I’ve already started looking on their website to decide what adventures we can embark on next. Gorge walking anyone?