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A woman who took up paddleboarding to become more independent said it also helped her “fall in love” with her hometown again.
Melanie Miller discovered a passion for kayaking in 2018 but moved on to paddleboarding because the inflatable equipment was easier to transport and gave her more freedom.
She said it has also helped her see Harwich in Essex from a “different perspective”, taking photos of the things she sees from the water.
“I love capturing what I see and the paddleboard makes it even better. It makes you see things differently.
“I’ve lived here for 23 years and it’s made me completely fall in love with Harwich all over again.”
The 47-year-old said going kayaking in Devon with her husband, Richard, made them realise they could do the same back home.
But she said she was reliant on him to put the kayak on the roof of their van – prompting her to give paddleboarding a go instead.
She said not only did the inflatable paddleboard make things “easier and quicker” but the surroundings looked different depending on whether she was standing up or sitting down.
The mother-of-two said it was “amazing” to take photographs around the Dovercourt lighthouses.
The two iron-framed towers off the Essex coast, believed to be unique examples of 19th Century prefabricated lighthouses, are a “well-regarded” feature of the deep water harbour and were added to Historic England’s
At Risk Register in October.
“I’ve seen a million pictures of those lighthouses taken from the beach and they all merge into one, but to take photos from the other side has been lovely and refreshing,” she said.
The former Office for National Statistics (ONS) worker said a recent highlight was paddling the nine miles (14km) from Wrabness – one of her favourite places – back home, describing the journey as “amazing”.
She said she “didn’t want to get off the water”, passing Wrabness Woods, Haltermann Carless refinery, Harwich International port, Bathside Bay and Gas House Creek to Ha’penny Pier, where her husband was waiting for her.
The hobby has also seen Mrs Miller make new friends through the East of England Paddlesports Facebook group.
“You can get out and get away from it all and it’s nice to have other people that share your interests. I’ve never felt happier with my life than I have at the moment.”
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East of England Paddlesports said it had seen its membership increase to almost 5,000 people compared to 1,500 a year ago.
It said although anyone was able to buy a board and use it, they advised newcomers to have lessons before venturing out and to learn about river licences and safety precautions.