Tuesday, 28 September 2010


 Apologies for not posting for a while - I've been held up with the following things:

Surviving The Week of Death
Cambridge WCS is getting T-shirts
While my coach was on holiday he thought it would be funny to try and break us emotionally, physically and mentally with training camp volume + still having to do jobs n that. "The day my legs broke" was the Wednesday of this week, and it was concluded by one last final day of 120' running (the only crosstraining I could still do that would get my heartrate up...) + 60' free rate erg + weights. Good times :-) It is fair to say that during this time I became emotionally dependent on Pendulum's "Immersion". If that didn't exist I would probably be sitting in the corner of a boathouse right now just staring at an ergo and rocking.

Moving House
There is enough room to swing a cat, but not for a drying rack (or my bikes!!!). It will be interesting to see just how much my new housemates hate me when they find a couple of bikes in their kitchen (along with the huge quantities of oats all over the work surfaces and milk in the fridge). That and getting up at 6 every day? Oh yes, THEY ARE GOING TO LOVE ME.

The person who designed the house was either (a) on drugs when he did it or (b) a complete bastard intent on depriving me of coffee, as this is the trek I have to do to get to the kitchen:
Sorry about the colour - I suck using the flash this evening for some reason
 I also now live sandwiched in between two bakeries (gedditt?!?!?), which means I get tortured by the smell of chelsea buns from 6 in the morning to 6 at night. I'm hoping I get used to it....

Shaving my legs
I was becoming an embarrassment to my gender and I hate doing this so much it is worth a mention. (By the way, if you would like to experience great pain, apply liberal amounts of "Veet" to both open blisters on your hands and slider bites on the back of your legs.) I would like to take a moment to apologise to the other occupants of my house whose first experience of me as a housemate is me screaming curses at the top of my voice.

I really don't get why we womenkind have decided that we must all do this. I mean, no one cares about hairy arms do they? But the slightest bit of leg stubble and it's like you just drop-kicked a kitten over a fence or something. SOCIAL OSTRACISATION. It's the same result. It really pisses me off because I hatehatehate having to remember to do it regularly and buy razors and not cut myself doing it and it's SO POINTLESS.
I would just like to point out I HAVE NEVER DONE THIS AND NEVER INTEND TO. In fact, I lack the coordination to drop-kick anything - any attempt to would almost certainly end up with me kicking myself in the face and/or falling over. Kittens are safe from me.

So they are the reasons I have not written anything for a little bit. Excuses over - on with the post!

Now sorry if you were expecting something about rowing, but this has absolutely nothing to do with boats or rivers or ergos or weights or anything like that at all. No, instead, it is due to seeing this in the paper t'other day:

Now one of my friends from first year has just got engaged, so marriage etc. was on the brain. This advert just made me so incredibly SAD. Now I knew these rings were expensive, but looking them up, some of them are ~£9000.

Nine. Thousand. Pounds.

For what is a ring of shiny metal with some carbon crystal in it. For something that I would probably leave on a train or accidentally flush down the toilet OR DROP IN THE RIVER (yes, glasses, I haven't forgotten about you jumping off my face like that...) I think that's close to the amount of money I've earned in my entire life. That's a year's wages for a college bedder. You could put a deposit on house, nearly pay off all your tuition fees or buy a brand new Empacher, blades and a Belarussian lycra and pretend to be Ekaterina Karsten for that sort of money.

OK, I lied about including nothing about rowing. As well as operating my camera, I also suck at not mentioning rowing.
It's not just the fact that these things are so eye-wateringly expensive, it's also the fact there's a goddam iphone app for chosing one. I mean, if you were paying nine grand for something, you'd have thought you could have at least been arsed to go to the bloody shop to look at the damn thing. And when does "being in love" = "spending thousands on meaningless jewelery"? Fuck you Tiffany's. Don't try to tell me what love is.

And and AND apparently the average cost of a wedding is now £20000. "Wedding! I know! We'll throw money at it! That'll make it special! ^-^ ^-^"

*Hyperventilates* I should probably get off this subject before I do myself lasting damage.

I have illustrated my feelings below, with two hypothetical men who want to marry me (I mean, there's 6 billion people in the world, so statisically there has to be someone out there. Even if I never meet them *deepdeepdarkfeardon'tgothereDON'TGOTHERE*, they must exist.)

Scenario 1
The fact that the ring was expensive would have to explained to me as I know sweet F.A. about jewelery.

 I do not see this working out well. The rest of the meal would be quite awkward for starters.

Scenario 2
We would then spend the rest of our lives together building models of siege engines. (The best I've managed so far is a 1.5 foot meccano trebuchet that fired damsons from my garden and a ballista I made after school with my Latin teacher that fired pencils. I was not a normal 15 year old girl.) And we'd blatently live in a thatched cottage with an "inventing shed" at the bottom of the garden, a model train that went round the house carrying things and a contraption that made coffee + porridge when you pulled a lever.

That, my friends, would be ACE.

Friday, 24 September 2010

The Crosstrainer

OK, so "crosstraining" appears quite a lot on my program and is pretty much always just cycling tbh. However, through a mixture of spending far too long on my bike the previous week and having to be at work at 8, I figured I'd head down to the college gym and use the cross trainer thing. You know, this:

To my surprise, despite having pretty much spent the last three years with a poster on it saying "Broken - Do not use" on it - IT WAS ACTUALLY IN FULL WORKING ORDER. This eliminated my original, premeditated excuse for just erging instead, so I felt obliged to use the damn thing. Curses.

So I started churning away. It seemed a little easy, so I took the tempo up a bit, and my feet promptly slipped out of the back, leaving me straddling the stupid machine while gripping on to the stupid move-y handles for dear life. I got back on, with only minimal swearing. Just teething problems with it, clearly. I am not a retard. I can completely operate this machine.

It happened again. FOR FUCK'S SAKE.

I resolved the problem by just whacking up the resistance and abandoning the arm bit. (That was just one step to far on the "coordination" front...)

It then occurred to me that I was turning into a middle aged woman (MAW). I mean, yoga? Using a CROSSTRAINER? Classic MAW activities. I'd soon have a son called Tarquin and be drinking Diet Coke in an office eating mini ryvitas for lunch! Crap!

Thankfully the crosstrainer is facing a mirror in Pembroke's gym, so I got a reality check. I've produced this for distinguishing me between your average MAW in Virgin Active and me:

Your average MAW while exercising

Me, at 0630 in the Pembroke gym

By "kick-ass trainers" I mean these.
I saw these across a crowded Sport's World store and it was love at first sight. Black, lime green and orange Asics? Seriously YES PLEASE. They have the great skill of clashing with every piece of kit I own (esp. the Cambridge blue and red CUW Blue Boat kit :->). They are the sort of trainers that go out tagging railway bridges and swearing at old ladies at bus stops in their down time, just for kicks.

I cannot explain why I spent half an hour on Paint drawing these.
So after watching myself attempting to use this stupid contraption for an hour I got off. I then had a really strong hit of post-exercise endorphins (not massive exhaustion - upsetting!), so put Lady Gaga's "Alejandro" on the mp3 player and danced around a bit (the gym was empty so what the hell....), making me late for work.* There was probably singing too.

*This actually happened.

The next day it was crosstraining again so I thought I'd do the same, remembering the excellent dancing incident. I lasted 5 mins of falling off and swearing before deciding to screw it and go for a run instead. I've come to the conclusion that the crosstrainer is just running for pussies anyway. So there.
Never again.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

The day my legs broke - an illustrated day in the life

We both hated a certain Mr Peter Lee at this point. Bad times.

(You can click for bigger-er...)
Grantchester has the highest density of Nobel Prize winners anywhere in the world. One of the many reasons that Cambridge is the best place eva. Like.

1715 Porridge time! I believe porridge to be one of the world's best food stuffs. I therefore own enough oats to last me through a nuclear apocalypse.
I have two of these. That's 8kg of oats! From the excellent shop on Mill Road where you can weigh out your own herbs n spices n that :-)

I'm a little OCD and have a spoon that I only eat porridge with. It's just the right dimension y'know?
I am completely not crazy.

ManiaManiaMania. I do everything really fast. I will pay for this dearly in the morning.

So that's it. I have been reduced to a broken wreck and have taken to drawing pictures as solace.

And you know what? I FUCKING LOVE IT.

EDIT I would've done these on that magnificent program MS Paint, but that would have definitely lead me to completely trashing my laptop in a massive rage and the setting fire to the house or something. And it would have taken hours and I want to sleep. Hence I went for the exceptionally lo-tech option of drawing pictures then photographing them (the only scanner I have access to is (1) broken and (2) two miles away in college. And it's cold outside). 

Please don't judge me.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

The difference two hours makes

Exhibit 1: Me at 1700 today
Exhibit 2: Me at 1915 today

Always take a banana out with you when cycling kids.

This morning....

... I turned up in Ely to find this:

Happy Railton :-)

Monday, 20 September 2010

Classic Rower Symptoms

Let's be honest with ourselves here. Rowing is basically an illness. Energy levels, exhaustion, sanity and food bills are pushed to their maximum. A slight bit of insanity is not only tolerated but encouraged.

In the transition from "being on a break from rowing" (breaks being crap things that coaches make you do at the end of the season) , so from nearly being a normal person, to "rowing again" I noticed the following things which I think are classic symptoms of rowing illness:

1) An unofficial exclusion zone springs up around your laundry basket INTO WHICH NO HUMAN DARE TREAD. It has its own EU certified warning triangle above it. For this reason kit is generally thrown from a distance in its general direction. You can only bear to go near it to wash it when you're faced with the choice of either wearing that really horrible Godfrey one piece that has never fit properly or "recycle" an 18K lycra that is still just that little bit damp *shudder*. Double rations of washing powder are always used.

2) You listen to Pendulum for at least a couple of hours a day. (I found myself listening to Enya as in ENYA while not rowing this summer. Goddam ENYA. As in the Irish New Age-y one. This would never happen nowadays.)

3) Porridge and maltloaf become food groups in their own right. (Aside: is this not the best piece of kit EVER IN THE HISTORY OF THE WORLD? A complete win of a 21st birthday present that one).
Note the reflective I'm-not-getting-killed-while-cycling trim. Thumbs up!
 4) You instantly classify any music you hear into "great erg tunage" or "meh not great erg music". (c.f. #2)

5) You eat  meals straight from the saucepan, not out of trying to save on washing up, but because no bowl is big enough. (Actually, not strictly true. I own a fruit bowl now.)

6) You think that picking blisters is a socially acceptable activity. Especially in lectures. You also grade your calluses on how "good" they are getting. (I saw a great t-shirt for sale once which had a silhouette of some guys carrying an VIII and the caption "Real Men Have Callused Hands" on it. I regret not buying it as I can't find it anywhere anymore :-( Though I do expect wearing this would be a great man-repellent, which I could do without. Hmmm.)

7) Walking down stairs is really hard. You develop coping techniques such as using the bannister to do multiple stairs at once, or just half-falling every time. (Though one of my friends suggested to me yesterday of walking down backwards, which sounds sensible). I was working in a house this summer (as a bedder - woo yay) which had 5 floors. It was during that week that I developed a deep, deep irreversible hatred of Henry hoovers. Having to haul that smug little git with its stupid face and stupid hose ALWAYS IN THE WAY AND TRIPPING YOU UP around a house with many many tiny narrow windy staircases has left me a little bit scarred.

Die. Die in a fire.
8) The only mental arithmetic you can do is calculating splits. Get me to add up a list of numbers or do a subtraction or something.... not a chance (and I'm a goddam mathmo!), but what split is an x.xx 2K? Sorted.

9) You have those mornings where you wake up and it's dark and you are so incredibly tired that you cannot think straight but you know you have to GO ROWING so you blunder round and round your room at some ungodly hour trying to find pieces of kit YOU KNOW you left neatly somewhere but some complete bastard has obviously moved and COFFEE you need COFFEE so you go and make coffee wearing a onepiece, sports bra and a single sock and OH MY GOD IS THAT THE TIME HOW IS THAT THE TIME must get the train COFFEE COFFEE DRINK THE COFFEE train kit train train WAIT WHERE ARE MY OAKLEYS OAKLEYS WHERE ARE YOOOOUUUU I don't care if it's still dark I want my sunglasses where are they shit shit train train run for the bastarding train.

And somehow you always get to training on time. I am pretty certain I am not the only one who has mornings like this.

10) You think that flat water with that little bit of mist on top first thing in the morning is the best thing in the world.
In fact, I'm pretty sure number 10 *defines* you as a rower. You will never, ever be able to see a nice bit of sheltered river or lake and not think how great rowing on it would be as long as you live. I promise.

Getting to Ely and seeing that? Ooooohhhh yes. Day made.

P.S. EDIT Links fixed in first post and photos reattached in the second - teething problems! There's also a fourth post (which kinda duplicates with the "Cereal" one in places - a case of crossed wires, sorry) here.

Sunday, 19 September 2010


I made the classic mistake the other day of going to the supermarket hungry. As everyone knows, this is asking for trouble. However, as a rower, this is not just a bad idea but a VERY BAD IDEA.

Now, I knew I was hungry (obviously), so I took the precaution of making a shopping list before hand to stop me buying 5kg slabs of bacon, giant battenberg cake or something else similarly stupid:

I figured this was foolproof.

I returned home with this, and only this:

I mean, seriously.

Also, there are only baskets in the Cambridge Sainsbury's, meaning I was walking round the store balancing a stack of cereal boxes that was taller than my head with one hand while carrying a basket full of apples with the other. This is a great way of attracting attention to yourself. I recommend it.

In my defence, there were lots of half price offers (£1.23 for 600g of Cheerios? Yes please!) And I was being indecisive. Veeeeerrrrrrrrrryyyy indecisive.

Making it home with my purchases (a road bike + many boxes = fun times!), I was disappointed to find out that Shredded Wheat no longer declare “Bet you can't eat three!” on their packaging. This upset me as I always could (easily) eat three and then could feel a little smug for a while feeling like I'd outwitted the people at Nestl√© or something. Screw you Shredded Wheat.

Also, due to there being NO BASICS BRANFLAKES I now have Chris Hoy staring at me, telepathically telling me to STOP WHATEVER YOU'RE DOING, GET ON A TURBOTRAINER AND PEDALPEDALPEDAL. Brilliant. Not only can I not outwit Shredded Wheat any more but I feel guilty eating branflakes because at that precise moment in time I'm not exerting myself in any way. That is why you should buy own brand stuff. Cut out all of this nonsense. Though Chris Hoy's thighs are fantastic and should be worshipped:

(via cyclingweekly.co.uk )
So I now have 4.7kg, or 16500kcal of cereal (which using a rough 1000kcal=18K) makes it enough to row about 300K. Woo! Oh and 37 apples, which won't get me very far at all but are tasty. Go me.

Ooo ooo ooo! Before I forget, this really freaked me out. I've recently watched "A Beautiful Mind" (about the mathematician John Nash who was plagued by paranoid schizophrenia), so, with paranoia at the forefront of my mind, imagine my horror upon opening one of the packets of branflakes and seeing this:
What. The. FUCK?!?!?!?!?
I have made myself a tin foil hat and am considering boycotting Kellogg's cereal as they are clearly using satellites to monitor my every move.

I'll be in the cupboard under the stairs if anyone wants me.


This blog was born of doing a book review, of all things. (The three posts can be found here, here and finally, here).  Such is my tendacy to digress, they had very little to do with the matter in hand, i.e. reviewing "Yoga for Rowers", and instead were just me ranting about stuff. 

I then realised that I really enjoyed ranting about stuff.

And so this I made this blog. For the ranting.