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A dutch woman in the Ardennes
Discoveries and hikes
Paddle-boarding on the Nisramont Lake
Paddle-boarding and a yoga class on the water
It’s officially been summer for two days and it certainly looks like it. Today the weather is lovely and I’m twitching with anticipation at the chance to finally travel to Nisramont for my first paddle-boarding lesson. My partner Cédric and I have been wanting to try this activity for a while. There are several places in the Ardennes where you can take lessons, we have chosen SUP (Stand-Up Paddle) Ardennen, in the province of Belgian Luxembourg. The countryside is remarkable here in the middle of the Deux Ourthes Nature Park. Walkers and hikers would love it here too (I didn’t try a walk here, but I’ll be back soon to do so!).
Everyone on the water
We had arranged to meet our paddle-boarding instructor Roelian at 1pm above the dam for our first lesson. Weare joined by a small group of Dutch people for the lesson. After making our introductions to the others, we each take a board and a paddle and walk along the path to the landing-stage.
SUP Ardennen offer several types of boards, some for one person, some tandem boards for two. Cool!
Kneeling on our boards we push off gently from the landing-stage. Some, including Cédric were already trying to stand up, so I had a go too and am very proud to say I succeeded!
As the action hots up, our boards come dangerously close to each other and then, in a dramatic moment, Cédric falls into the water! He says that, although it was a bit cold at first, overall it felt good.
From time to time we hear a splash, a shout and then gales of laughter. Oops! Someone’s fallen in!
Our first paddle-boarding lesson
When everyone is on their boards, the lesson begins. We lie on the boards on our stomachs as Roelian explains the basics: how to position ourselves and how to use the paddle.
Slowly we all manage to stand up on our boards. Of course, some fall in, but as the water isn’t too cold that doesn’t matter.
Then we set off paddling across the lake. It’s a lovely day and I feel lucky to be able to spend the afternoon on the water, in the midst of the countryside. From time to time, a few drops of water splash my legs, a pleasantly cooling sensation.
Yoga on the water
Half-way across the lake we are able to relax for a moment. SUP Ardennen offer various packages and ours includes a yoga class. As I already do yoga exercises, I’m curious to find out what they feel like on water! That was why I’d booked this package.
Each of us sits down on our boards and removes our life jackets and our leashes (the cord that attaches each person’s heel to their board), then we put the life jackets on the boards like a cushion and lie down on our backs. I Immediately feel more relaxed. I can feel the sunlight caressing my face and the wind makes my board drift a little. All I can hear are the birds singing in the forest far away. It feels so good to be completely disconnected from the present!
After spending a while concentrating on our breathing, we move into some more classic yoga positions. It isn’t as simple as it sounds on a board, even less so on a board floating on water. So I am not surprised, when attempting the tree position, that it doesn’t take me long to lose my balance and fall in. Brr! a bit cold!
I close my eyes and the sunlight caresses my face and all I can hear is the birds singing…
A beloved lake
We finish our yoga class and paddle on across the lake. By now there are a few more people on the water: people fishing from a small improvised boat and kayakers crossing our path. There is one other paddle-boarder but he looks like an expert! He scoffs at us by doing a handstand on his board without falling in! Wow! I’d like to be able to do that, but I’ve some work to do before I get there!
The two-hour lesson flies past too quickly. As we come back to the shore, I really don’t want to tear myself away from my new friend. But all good things must come to an end and the lesson is over.
However, when Roelian suggests that Cédric and I had a go on the tandem board we don’t hesitate and we are off again!
We set off on our own private escapade to conquer the lake. It isn’t as easy as we thought, we have to communicate well and synchronise our paddles. If one of us moves on the board, the other has to move too, and if one of us falls in, the other usually does too! It’s a great experience, but next time we will definitely opt for individual boards, as it will be better for our relationship!
We extend our enjoyable moment of relaxation (that was sporty despite everything) with a drink on the terrace of the bar at the foot of the dam. A welcome rest after all that lovely activity...
One thing is certain, this summer I will go paddle-boarding again!