We'd been canoeing for less than two weeks when I finally noticed the sticker on the side of the canoe giving us a firm safety warning. Even at that early stage, it was hilarious in the light of what we had already been through. However we agreed not to blog about it until we were safe from any canoe-related accidents. Having now been walking for nine days, I think we're probably safe canoe-wise.

My thoughts are in brackets.

Paddlesports can be very dangerous and physically demanding. (After 136 days canoeing across Europe I'd like to thank the Mad River Canoe co. for this accurate warning.)
The user of this product should understand that participating in paddlesports may involve serious injury or death. (Again, true. Not sure how many canoes have traversed Europe's biggest river shipping routes, been out at sea, carried across a firing range and dodged a few lorries though.)
Observe the following safety standards whenever using this product:
- Get paddlesports instruction from a licensed or certified instructor. (Jimmy spent a couple of weeks canoeing in Canada and likes to go for short paddles with friends and family. I spent 10 days, mostly hungover, having a go in his family canoe before we left. That's surely license to canoe for four and a half months.)
- Obtain certified first aid and rescue training and carry first aid and rescue equipment. (We do carry a first aid kit, and we did use it when I had that well known 'paddlesports' injury of watch-strap-sunburn. Also, when our cat jumped over board we both were prepared to go in after her if she couldn't swim.)
- Always wear a nationally-approved flotation device. (We did do this, just not on any thing that looked swimmable.)
- Always where a helmet when appropriate. (I'm currently sporting an Afro if that counts.)
- Dress appropriately for the weather conditions: cold water and/or cold weather can result in hypothermia. (I had to buy a rain coat in Austria - about 80 days in - because I hadn't seen the point in bringing one with me.)
- Check equipment prior to each use for signs of wear or fail. (We often compared who felt more tired.)
- Never paddle alone. (They probably forgot to add that it's ok if it would make a really good photo.)
- Do not paddle in flood conditions. (That rain which forced me to shell out on a rain coat also partially flooded the Danube. Safe to say, we were flying downstream.)
- Be aware of appropriate river water levels, tidal changes, dangerous currents and weather changes. (Erm unfortunately being at sea in mid -November probably falls under the dangerous currents label.)
- Scout unfamiliar waters: portage where appropriate. (Did this one: portaged through back gardens, under bridges, around hydroelectric power stations, over small mountains and for 50km along a Bulgarian a-road.)
- Do not exceed your paddling ability: be honest with yourself. (Speaking for myself, I can honestly say I was and still am shit at canoeing.)
- Consult your physician prior to beginning paddle training. (We did have a farewell party.)
- Follow manufacturer's recommendations for use of this product. (So we went and did something that has never been done before.)
- If additional outfitting is added to this craft, use manufacturer's approved materials only; do not impair entry or exit access. (We replaced the seats in a German campsite. Only thing was, after making a hash of it, the front seat survived for about 90 days being held in place by tape.)

And so on. (Don't worry Mum and Dad, my canoe days are over. Probably.)