Postcard from... Catskill


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The Independent Online

My summer bolt-hole from New York City is not the Hamptons – too fancy and congested – or even white-beach Fire Island which has no cars at all, but rather the Hudson Valley. The railway ride up the eastern shore of the Hudson River from Manhattan to Albany, more than two hours north, is one of the prettiest in the world.

For years, I have enjoyed the views of the river while almost never getting my toes wet. There has been the occasional invitation from friends with small motor boats and once I took a ferry to one of the island lighthouses. Otherwise the river and I were poorly acquainted.

That’s all changed now thanks to a recent purchase of two kayaks. These are not the sporting kind with waterproof skirts that keep the water out when you flip over in rapids. There are no rapids anywhere close and I am sure I couldn’t right the thing if I wanted to.

I have, however, had my first Hudson baptism. If there is a way to get into a kayak elegantly please let me know. It is especially hard when the wake from a passing boat triggers a fusillade of waves at the very moment one leg is in and the other is out. And so it was on Sunday. I mucked it up, tipped over backwards and swallowing a lung-full of finest Hudson brew before finally getting it right and paddling off, happy but wet.