Catherine and I set off across the great bulge of sand at Bantham, buffetted constantly by the wind, towards the pink boathouse - the start of our float down the River Avon to the sea. The sand blew in gusts and Jessie, Catherine's black labrador, ran hither and thither, whipped up by the elements. The river was a not-very-attractive shade of brown. But we got in, and were soon swept along by the outgoing current, in what we affectionately call "the Bantham Whoosh". However the wind soon started to affect the whoosh factor: it was whistling up the river and we were caught in the cross-fire of wind and current; our faces were whipped by the water and our progress towards the sea slowed.