Saturday, 23 August 2008


Since Peterborough regatta a couple of weeks ago, I have been officially 'resting'. As far as I can make out, resting seems to consist not only of not doing any weights and ergs, but also spending inordinate amounts of time on the sofa watching the Olympics, and over-consuming chocolate and alcohol.

I have tried to rest. I think I've mostly been successful. I have eaten quite a large amount of utter rubbish. I have watched bits of the Olympics. I've spent more time than usual sitting on the sofa, and far less time than usual in the gym or on the water.

I was going to do another half marathon erg over summer for a bit of fun. I haven't done a half marathon erg. I haven't even done half an hour. In fact, I haven't erged. I have gone a bit stir-crazy.

I haven't run further than five miles. I haven't even run up the stairs at work. I have run up a huge bill on my credit card through being forced to re-discover the concept of a social life, instead of spending evenings on the river or doing land training.

I haven't been completely successful at resting. See, by the time the afternoon comes around, and I haven't done much exercise for a few days, and am fidgety, and bad tempered, and the weather looks good, and I'm sitting in the office, on the 20th floor, with a view of the river... well, it's not surprising that heading out in a small boat is a pretty enticing prospect. It wouldn't have to be hard work, it'd be enough to go out for a paddle in the early evening sunshine...

I confess I have been out on the water a few times.

We took a couple of singles out last week. When my sculling buddy challenged me to a race, I succumbed. As we raced over only about 300m and, in particular, as I lost, I don't think it really counted as exercise.

We've also taken out the pair a few times. This is less like resting. For one thing, I can't really take it easy on the water if my partner isn't working equally lightly.(As we only have one blade each, we'd go round in circles if we didn't row with the same pressure). Also, as we're not yet absolutely completely fantastic, we're not doing much technical work and instead are putting in the miles until we've got the simple things right. Things like steering, getting into the boat, getting out of the boat, pushing off from the pontoon, landing back at the pontoon, spinning without capsizing, and lastly, rowing. We've quite a lot of work to do...

In the interests of getting a bit more practice at the simple things, we headed out this morning for a light paddle. It was all going absolutely to plan when we found ourselves upstream of Chiswick bridge, with a wide, flat and empty river ahead of us. The original plan for the return trip (paddling back with a few bursts of firm pressure in an otherwise light trip) got scotched as we succumbed to the urge to row the course for the Pairs Head (a time trial for doubles and pairs held in October), and test out whether I could still steer when moving with a bit of speed. We did a timed piece over the 4km course, instead of sticking with the original plan of paddling back with a few bursts of firm pressure in an otherwise light trip.

We had a lot more fun...

We rowed under Chiswick Bridge to the start of the course, reaching the dizzy heights of all of, ooh, about 26 strokes a minute. Quarter of an hour and probably the longest continuous stint of rowing we've done since March later (including a brief stoppage to avoid a double who'd put themselves in the middle of the river and on collision course with us), we'd passed under somewhere near the second lamppost on Hammersmith Bridge and finished the course. We were pretty pleased. I'd managed to steer an almost reasonable line. We'd done some decent rowing (mostly when I wasn't concentrating on not hitting other boats, occasional buoys or the ever-present banks), and we'd moved the boat at a reasonable speed. For our sixth outing as a pair, it felt like a good result, even if (as I realised about three kilometres in when various bits of body started complaining at the effort) it may not entirely have fulfilled the requirements of 'resting'...

Oh well.

It was fun...

Saturday, 16 August 2008


The season has ended, and with a good few months before I contemplate racing again, chocolate has once again entered my diet (along with beer, coffee, fry ups and biscuits (though most of these were enjoyed in a single day as I attempted to get myself through a two-day audit of our shiny new Environmental Management System with my sanity and sense of humour intact)).

My preferred 'session' chocolatier, Green and Blacks, are no doubt enjoying resurgent profits, and my waistline is blooming. It's difficult not to over-indulge slightly when there are so many delicious flavours to choose from. Maya Gold (the orange, slightly spicy one) is my favourite and, being organic and fair trade, I can kid myself it's not a hideously unethical purchase. I try not to think too hard about the food miles whilst chomping my way through a bar or two. I'm rather a fan of Green and Blacks and their butterscotch, raisin and hazelnut, cherry, almond, mint, ginger, milk, white, dark, etc. varieties of chocolate. Mind you, I was most perturbed to see a sign in the Whole Foods Market (posh food shop in Kensington) advertising a special offer on Green and Blacks Olives with Garlic.

Ugh. Olive and Garlic chocolate?? It'll never catch on, I thought, as I picked my way through the store to see in the flesh this chocolate chimera. I'm a veteran of bizarre food combinations, a victim of the so-wrong-yet-so-right mixture of free alcohol and people trying to sell delicious and flavoursome foods which is the Good Food Show. Garlic ice-cream? Yup, tried that. Grim. Not to be recommended. Garlic sausage and strawberry jam - tried that one too. (Not at the Good Food Show, I might add. This was a favourite sandwich combination of a former colleague. I forget his real name, but his nickname was Doom.) Anyhow, much searching later, I failed to find the olive and garlic Green and Blacks.

I was a little disappointed. I was rather looking forward to feeling justifiably outraged that a company I credit with having reasonable taste would generate such a foul and ultimately wrong flavour of chocolate. I therefore felt only slightly stupid to notice on my way out that the same sign stood next to a display not of chocolate, but of olives. But of course. Green and black olives with garlic.