Time spent in the company of my family, means everything to me. I especially love the rare days when we get to have an adventure together since uproarious moments are guaranteed when the Andrews family come out to play. 

By Julie Andrews. Photos by Nigel Andrews

Arriving at Wimbleball Lake, we were shown to our respective changing rooms. The accessible toilet and shower room, were spacious and well equipped, which was good. I had my suspicions that I might be in need of a warming shower later on. Following a short briefing we were kitted out with life jackets, then headed down to the water’s edge. The track down was long and rough but with my hubby’s muscles to rely on, away we went.

Transferring onto the kayak, with its stern on dry land, was easy enough. Being balance-challenged at the best of times, I was apprehensive of the ‘sit on top’ kayaks, but with deep set grooves to secure bottom and feet into, once launched into the water, the kayak felt steady.


When it comes to sports and games, we are a fiercely competitive bunch and as I sat there waiting for the splash off, I was secretly smug at having Super-Nigel as my secret weapon.

How wrong was I!? Moving away from the edge, we comically flew into rowing overdrive. With heads down and determination fierce, our oars were on fire. It was thrilling to be in the water, competing with our boys, well at least it would have been, if Nigel and I could have worked out how to stop going round in circles. Of course, the lads were brilliant rowers and were already half way across the lake. Unfortunately, it soon became clear, that even together, Nigel and I were paddle poor.

This was funny at first, but when we realised the boys had stopped to watch our pathetic attempts, heated marital discussions ensued over exactly who was to blame for our ridiculous lack of rhythm. Laughing, the boys hollered for Nigel to stop over-rowing and let me take the lead. Of course, they were right, which was delicious, but I dared not let it show, for, sat behind me, was one disgruntled, blustery husband and there was nothing between me and a potential dunking in the icy waters.

We did improve – and even started going in a straight direction during further races. We never won, or even touched a finish post, but the adrenaline rush on the way, was epic. We did enjoy one monumental leading moment though. There we were, heads down, in full grunt-blustering rowing, when boisterous shrieks erupted from behind. Thinking it was distraction tactics and not daring to ruin our first real triumph of the day, we sped on.


Taking a sneaky peak back, we saw that Dan was in the water.  Assuming he’d fallen in, we stopped. Eventually, he did manage to get back on, but Darren was thrown off in the process. As fast as one got on, the other would ping right off again. We were in hysterics. With both of them flapping about on the kayak, like slippery seals on a seesaw, I was laughing so hard, I flew backwards. There I stayed, looking like a flapping duck as I tried desperately hard to keep my balance, until my splutterings abated.

Apparently, Dan hadn’t even fallen in.  He had merely decided to take a dip to cool down.  It took a while, before any of us could stop laughing long enough to get going after that.

Eventually Dan suggested we swap partners. ‘Shotgun Dad?!’ cried Darren, obviously not really believing it had been Nigel at fault in our kayak after all.

Expecting a double man overboard situation I started giggling. However, Nigel and Dan managed to negotiate the change-over with minimal fuss and turbulence.

Obviously, the second their rear ends hit plastic, a new race was on, a mark was set and splashdown commenced. At first I rowed my oars like a desperate man digging for treasure. “Mum! Mum! Calm down, you have me with you now, just take it gently.” “Sorry Dan,” I hollered, slowing my oars. “I’m used to your dad going at it hammer and tongs.” And sure enough, as we looked round, there was Nigel, giving it large with his oars.

In a spin 

The race started off well but soon, the all too familiar spinning in circles started occurring and Darren and Nigel were floundering. Desperately trying not to snigger, I determinedly kept rowing, until we’d won! Leaving the struggling pair behind, Dan and I went off on a jaunt of our own. Heading for a faraway bridge, we chatted and laughed all the way. The scenery was stunning and kayaking was a breeze as we rowed now with ease. However, it didn’t take long before our efforts caught up with us and hunger began to nudge – and the bridge became too much of a distant goal. It was definitely time to head back.

On our return, as we drew level with Darren and Nigel, instantaneously, a race began, for the final 30 feet. With a clashing of oars, we fought to push one another’s kayaks aside, rowdily rowing straight to the jetty. Well at least Dan and I did.

If staff hadn’t come to help drag their kayak to shore, Nigel and Darren, would probably have been drifting in circles, well into the night.

When a day ends, with your family smelling like pondweed and your sides aching from laughter, you know, it has been a day well lived.

Wimbleball hosts year round water sports.

The  land surrounding it offers miles of accessible footpaths and all-terrain mobility scooters are available for hire. Most of the facilities are accessible, both on and off the water.

Wimbleball Lake,  
near Dulverton, Somerset,  
TA22 9NU. 
Telephone: 01398 371460 / 01398 371522