Ca thing the water bug
Anna Millar tries out the latest adventure sport from New Zealand and, after much watery exhilaration, finds herself smitten.
1pm 1 always wanted to be a (‘harlie‘s Angel. l)riying north from my digs through l’itlochry. Motown classics playing on the stereo. I can‘t help btit replay the moment when (‘ameron l)ia/. comes out of the water chilled out. black zipped wetsuit gleaming in the summer sun. not a care in the world. Then a well-timed jolt back to reality. ()utside the dream machine (and a million miles from my celluloid fantasy)
families and tourists hustle. hoyering around the multitude of
tartan shops that line l’itlochry‘s main street. A few minutes‘ driye away. the l-‘estiyal Theatre stands proud. a spectacle in itself. liamed as the ‘Theatre on the llills‘. it oyerlooks my host for the day. the Riyer Tummel.
1.15pm Heading towards the hanks of the riyer. I consider that the Kiwis haye a lot to answer for. llaying brought us the wonders of bungee jumping. the latest New Zealand export. riyer bugging. hits Scotland‘s shores. lissentially it‘s floating inflatable armchair meets white water raft. l)ecked out in flippers. helmet. wetsuit. buoyancy aid. booties and special webbed gloyes. (these are your paddles and help you with steering) -— after learning a few basic skills ~ the hugger is being able to run the rapids. catch eddies. surf standing wayes and pirouette like the proyerbial fairy elephant. Suddenly. I‘m feeling slightly neryous.
1.45pm The stag weekenders arriye (the actiyity has been a massiye hit with stag and hen parties): eight of them ‘— l)esperate Dan meets the Likely Lads. llaying been boo/ing the night away in lidinburgh the night before they haye that predictably cocky look about them. Hopping about on one foot putting on my right llipper. I make Waynetta Slob look classy. bttt I‘m prepared to giye these London Suits a run for
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their money. My instructor Lynn assures me that a stag party is a sttre lire way of making the tnost noyice of water babies look like a pro.
2pm Ten minutes into the water. I realise Lynn had sadly oyer-estimated my nautical capabilities. Sitting in the bug on terra lirma had been one thing: nayigating it on water is a whole different beast. Staying upright is a painfully difficult task in itself. After practicing capsi/ing. turns are next on the list. My body seems determined to lean into the swell. begging the bug to go belly tip. lt proyes good practice for the rapids later. ‘Kick your feet and push the water to the left with your left web hand.~ shouts another instructor Simon. clearly unaware that with wayes approaching and ten fellow buggers bobbing nearby. it‘s about as easy as asking me to pat my head and rub my stomach simultaneously.
2.30pm Three rapids later. [We rather spectacularly spin cycled down each one. unfortunately not actually finishing tip in the bug. at the bottom. on any of the occasions. ‘You‘re doing well.’ a stagger tells tne. Later I learn he's a lawyer. which is no surprise: the man clearly lies for a liying. ‘Thanksf l mumble. as l drag myself belly first. legs akitnbo. back onto the raft.
2.40pm I approach the next rapid. not-so-temptingly referred to as the Xig '/.ag. with the look of a woman possessed. This one will not beat the. Initially like a dodgem ride. this is about total body control. To get the full impact. you lime to paddle into the break: it's about the timing of your fall. ‘Watch out for the black hole under the first drop.‘ shouts Lynn. moments before I go under. Suddenly I understand the importance of the helmet as my body catapults from one rock to another.
Playing silly buggers in Pitlochry. River bugging is the latest sporting attempt to get us out of the pub and into the chilly water.