Sunday + Hot = River + Barbecue!

pic01085Dave and I woke a little late this Sunday morning after supervising some of the fast-developing kids on the late shift at the gymnastics centre. Woken by cheerful banter with Karen outside our window as Steve arrived with his two boys for some early training in our cabin, and Ryan’s father arrived with him at the same time. Ryan and Steve’s Chris would be staying with us all day, and I watched them running barefoot and shirtless across the yard followed (slightly more slowly!) by Steve. A hot and humid day, so an afternoon at the river seemed appropriate, whilst sweaty training needed to be done early whilst it was still a little cooler.

My son Leo, already there with Dave’s brother and his partner, calls the cabin ‘The Sweat Room’. All 3 boys are wildly enthusiastic about their fitness anyway, with Leo and Chris enjoying their all-over Welsh suntans after an extraordinary four weeks of sun over in the UK wearing next to nothing (or, quite often, nothing!) in the remote Welsh hills, just “being boys” – mud/dirt/river/wrestling/climbing trees… you get the idea. Meanwhile Ryan continued his fitness training here in TN.

Dave fetched me my morning ‘tonic’ following a trip to the bathroom – a shot glass (you can guess) ahead of our juice… stupid ritual ‘male bonding’ thing – and we went down to join them.


Steve busy doing his pull-ups (inspired by his sons and by us to recover his own fitness). Older son Billy (19yo bodybuilder) hefting heavy weights…


…and also carefully supervising the younger ones in their efforts – pre-pubescent boys have a tendency to want to lift heavier than they should, and he is ultra-careful with them. In fact, the boys were doing acro when we arrive: Leo (naked) on his bed of nails with Chris doing a headstand on his stomach and Ryan supported on his hands in a straddle lift. In a performance, Leo would also ‘enjoy’ having his mum running a flame over his feet, but not this morning: she is preparing food in the kitchen to take for a Barbie.

Dave’s daughter is out at the back, walking on her hands over various obstacles which include an area of broken glass. Yes, we’re a weird lot, really. Dave and I warm up and practice balance for a bit (got to make sure we can keep up with these young ‘uns!)…


…before hitting the weights ourselves for a while. Boys practice a little posing, encouraged by Billy (who is winning bodybuilding competitions), but they know really that they need strength and flexibility, not huge muscles, for what they want to do… acrobatic shows. But posing can be fun especially if the pictures look good:


(better without that tattoo, I think)



By 9.30 it was already getting very hot, and we all cooled off in our customary manner…


…the yard hosepipe!

Cover1 ThumbCover2 ThumbOur early adventures in this cabin, over ten years ago now, are described here, along with our discovery of gay love and our love of acrobatic performance, which has sustained us pretty much ever since along with a number of our great friends. Right now, our mission is moving much more towards training the next generation: our kids (yeah, gay dads!) and their friends, and youngsters at the gymnastics centre where we now spend many hours coaching.

Anyway, back to today. Rest of the morning spent loafing around the yard (“shorts on, boys, the neighbours can see!”) whilst Jaymee and the girls (her mum and Leo’s) spent a long time working on their fire-fakir routines behind the cabin where the neighbour’s can’t see.

But everyone was anticipating the cooling dip in the Clinch River.

cooling off 2

Quick bite of salad for all, then, and Pete and Ivo off to the gymnastics centre for their shift. The rest – the whole mega-family plus friends (two mums, two dads, two offspring plus Chris and Ryan) – into cars to Cody’s place (also introduced in the books). Cody lives a similarly ‘feral’ lifestyle in a house deep in the woods near to the river bank with his mate Adge, and has a superb swimming hole which we all regularly use. The barbecue was his idea, and being shirtless (or less!) in the shade under the trees in between dips was the perfect way to deal with the oppressive heat of the afternoon…


spdo_vish studios

Cody swims naked in the Clinch River every day of the year – it is a really quiet place disturbed only on Dec 26 by a traditional event of the High School swim team (also in the books!).



Cody enlisted help to prepare a fire for the barbie…

off with his head

What a fantastic way to spend our day off.

We all love the water, whether it be river…


… lake…




(yes, can combine that with a bit of stupid “fun” – suggest you don’t try what the guy on the left is doing)

…or pool…

swim or football

(choice of ‘swim or football there… and a “choice” ripped guy showing the sort of results that the boys are after with their light weights!)

We lost count of the number of burgers, sausage, etc consumed. More dips after, kids (and the two lesbian mums because they “do” fire anyway) jumping over the remains of the fire – all covered in smuts and ash – kids being kids.

Cover 3 ThumbAll good things come to an end. Just as in the books (interrupted, in our case, by a serious misadventure). We insisted that the boys clean up a little with a further dip before we could deliver Ryan and Chris back to their homes en route to ours. Fantastic Sunday, ending (inevitably!) in the shower…


And so, with the rest of the family in their beds, that just leaves me, crafting this little post for your enjoyment. I’ll end with one more ‘wet’ picture – a fantastic image, I think, which does huge credit to the photographer, whoever designed the lighting and, of course, the boy! Where would we all be without the fantastic people whose work gets posted on the web for all to enjoy?

Hope you enjoyed your weekend as much as we did!





About tonycavanagh

Born Northampton UK; school Oxford UK and Oak Ridge Tennessee, where I met my wonderful partner Dave, also from UK. Oak Ridge is our main training base for acrobatics and circus stuff, but we also established a base in Wales (UK) to serve us when we are working in Europe. Our 'story', of finding gay love, learning the acrobatics trade and then of how we got shot at during our show (and worse was to follow - just to prove that the risks of being an acrobat are not always the most obvious ones!) are now available in my three books 'Loving the Boy', 'The Power of Love' and 'Against All Odds'. Links available on most blog posts. Actually, waiting for the imminent arrival of the first printed copies was far scarier than anything we do in performance. A fourth book - not about us but exploring the sadness of a gay Native American boy denied his true identity - is currently with an agent for evaluation. watch for 'Let The Future Find Me' in due time. And now to book five... another boy, another quest... seems its always boys...
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