Twitchhiker | Paul Smith's travel tales from here and there

Twitchhiker Challenge Day 5 – Walk on Water, Hartlepool
21/08/2009, 20:26
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If I’ve learnt one thing from my time exploring North East England this week, it’s this: never trust a hamster. They loaf about in their glass spheres all day long, running around the dining room, making their contraptions look effortless in their operation. What these dirty cheats don’t tell you is that on any surface other than solid land, you’re going to end up on your backside more times than not. It’s all to do with coefficients of friction and fluid dynamics, that sort of thing – not that a hamster will ever tell you.

And so through the double whammy of a public vote on Twitter and the oodles of options to be found in the Adventure Generator, I was dispatched to Hartlepool for the final day of the Twitchhiker Challenge. There I joined instructors Adam and Carly at Walk on Water, where I was invited to step inside a giant clear beachball and throw myself into the Marina.

Twitchhiker - Walk on Water, Hartlepool

Adam compared the experience to riding a bike, partly because there’s a fear of losing your balance to overcome and partly because your movements quickly becomes intuitive. I described it as the simplest and funniest way of falling over. But once you learn how to move inside the ball – arms out, quick short steps – anybody can elegantly glide across the water, as majestic in their efforts as a swan.

Of course, there are exceptions:

Children pick up the knack very quickly, said Adam, because their centre of gravity is much lower. That would explain it – at 6′ 4″ I was bound to flail about like a newborn giraffe in a carrier bag. Well, that’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it.

There are photos from today’s challenge on Flickr, plus you can hear what the instructors had to say about Walking on Water on AudioBoo. And if you haven’t tried an activity from the Adventure Generator, take a look at the Visit North East England website, where you’ll also find details for accommodation and a calendar of events occurring in this rather fine corner of the country.