pulling tne under. As tny btig attempts to escape its hopeless driver. Simon. smiling calmly. tells me to swim towards it. jutnp on front first and body surf down the last part of the rapid. By the time I reach the stagger masses at the bottom. I am exhilarated. Technical abilities tnay have gone out the window. but I’m learning to have fun with this baby.

2.45pm As I attempt to stay stationary and m)! drift down stream. I realise that. like sledging on water. the whole river bugging experience. while physically knackering. has an ethereal vibe to it. My bat wing arms ache (proper paddles are callously underrated) and my toes are numb. the blood circulation rationed by the tightness of the flippers. My fear. though. is slowly replaced by a feeling of awesome escapism. A stagger asks me about the magazine I work for. I’m overcome by a strange compulsion to lie. or more rudely. avoid the question. Here. two miles tip the River Tumtnell while bordering on totally inept at the task in hand I am free

of the Big Smoke. of the deadlines. of the monotony of

‘)-—5isms. Here. if my tired limbs could take me any distance. I would be in a watery version of The/mu and Inuise. the celluloid cops being my work deadlines and boo/.y lifestyle. A surreal sense of calm complements proceedings as walkers enjoy the view of us splashing around as they discover the surrounding area complete with trails and wildlife walks at their disposal.

3pm Scotland might be a water baby's playground but it's the backdrop that really hits the senses. Splashing

along to our penultimate rapid imagine an infant wobbling. struggling to stay up in a baby—walker the denseness of the shrubbery and flora catches the eye. 3.2pm The piece dc resistance. A two tier. 18 foot drop ~- grade four. I‘m told into the mystical Loch l‘ztskally'. Now I know it’s a given l‘ll fall in. I simply enjoy it. Arms flailing. grinning inanely. I almost make it in one piece as I fall to my fate. And then. suddenly without warning. l‘m under again. gasping for air. grabbing for the release handle on my belt. The feeling exceeds any fairground ride or watersports activity I’ve ever tried. I‘m hooked. 3.45pm The long walk home. I've always found it rather disturbing watching fellow journalists use their ‘(iet out of jail free~ card. But now. carrying my river bttg (easily two thirds my body weight) ten tninutes tip what can only be described as a painfully vertical embankment. I‘m almost tempted to play the haloed hack card. As the staggers march on. another notch on their macho man bedpost. it appears chivalry is dead. Smiley and sweaty. l realise it would be wrong for them to make it easy for me now.

4pm (‘ameron Dial. or Jaclyn Smith I atn not. .\'or a bona tide water goddess. But in terms of trying out a new armchair for size. I‘ll be spreading my (web) wings again. I think.

For more information contact Splash White Water Rafting on 01887 829706. A half day river- bugging trip costs £35.



W’09Il79."_€3ve’ dream . _ ._

I Get on your bike. Published in good time for summer and for cycling lovers everywhere, the backpack-friendly 25 Cycle Routes: Edinburgh and Lothian is a good read. From official cycle paths to abandoned railways and quiet country roads, it has all the best local routes covered. Better still, it has specially prepared colour route maps and photographs for the inexperienced navigator.

I Still on a literary vibe the Rough Guide posse are cashing in on the expansion of the EU. putting new destinations on the departure board. Estonia. Latvia and Lithuania have emerged strong from the Soviet empire in the early 903. The first edition of Rough Guide to the Baltic States is on sale now.

I The show may be over, but escaping the footie fever remains the pull from the STA camp. Sip cocktails on Copacabana Beach, sky dive over the Great Barrier Reef or chill out on a Thai beach with its imaginativer titled packages ranging from the Ultimate Rio Ferdinand Experience to the Chilled Out Michael Owen Experience. Other new-tangled plans from the STA mob include the launch of a brand new online shopping cart. Perks include access to special fares that are available to all (not just those under 26). It proves access to published fares, so you can access a global database, add an STA flight to your shopping cart and hold that flight until 5pm on the same day. Log on to www.statravel.co.uk


r-‘ 8‘.‘ .l.. ;‘ ‘iVl THE LIST 101