Tuesday, 30 November 2010


And so it came to pass that I needed to transport my new blades from college to a boathouse on the Cam so they could get to Ely. I decided that walking was slow and boring, so at 0600 a couple of mornings ago I did this:

I was pleasantly surprised how easy this was. I didn't crash once! But anyway, the point is that this gave me a fucking great idea for a new sport.

Jousting. On a bike.

Or, cycling with a massive fuck-off spear.

I mean, I like bikes and I like weaponry. What could possibly go wrong?

LOOK HOW HAPPY THEY LOOK! Look at the JOY on their faces!

But yes, I think that would be awesome.

EDIT EDIT EDIT: Bike jousting exists! There's even a youtube video of it! :-D
Oh my god! :-D

ANYWAY, the other reason I was cycling round at 6 in the morning was because I said I'd sub into a couple of CUW outings in an eight. I mean, I can sweep OK, right? It'll be fun!

Problem 1) I had not swept since the boat race (end of march)
Problem 2) I have never rowed a stroke on bowside in my life. And I was on bowside. And they were doing pieces.

It was weird, I just felt so naked with only one blade.
I wasn't happy.
Things only got worse when we pushed off. I panicked, big time.
Yeaaaahhh. Definitely been in a 1x too long...
It's a bloody good job I wasn't in a IV or something because I probably would have capsized it trying to make a leap for the bank. So then we did the outing and I completely couldn't work out the feathering-on-the-wrong-side thing so I ended up (a) rowing like a complete tool (Catch? What's one of them?) and (b) rowing with square blades the entire time. I don't think the people sitting behind me weren't very amused, with it being about -6°C and me throwing litres of water at them every stroke. (Sorry guys). But it's OK, no one died.

In conclusion, I've decided that bowside is THE DARK SIDE and it's sick and wrong.

Sick and wrong.

And sorry CUW VIII for messing up your outing by being a tard.

Oh, as an aside, I like to get on my bike with a bit of a flourish, which is how later that morning I ended up kicking a very well dressed English-student type in the stomach with my walking boots. Oops.

But anyway ANYWAY. I'd like to now take the time to have a little bitch about the weather. Namely snow.

I am definitely getting old y'know, because the first thing I thought when I saw it was snowing was "Oh great. Fucking snow. Now it's going to take ages to get everywhere and I'm probably going to die on my bike". And the stupid cold. Yes, very much completely bored of winter and it's STUPID COLDNESS. That and the deluge of "Snow in Cambridge! :-D :-D" photo albums that suddenly clog up my newsfeed on facebook. Cambridge looks the fucking same every year when it snows i.e. it looks exactly like Cambridge with white stuff superimposed on top of it.

And yes, I am a complete miserable bastard. I also hate all the stupid Christmas music everywhere. Just GO AWAY. It's NOVEMBER.

In essence, my feelings are summed up by this (via Sarah Allen - cheers Sarah).

In fact, the only good thing that's cheered me up is The Fucking Weather. That site has actually been made for me I think.

Though, putting my grammar-nazi hat on:

 Oh, and you know what else pissed me off this week? Fucking Weetos.
Yeah, you just sit there looking all smug.
I thought I'd take advantage of the fact they were half price in Tesco to try them. I mean, chocolate cereal - how can you mess that up?


I swear they must be made of gravel or something because these things never go soggy. NEVER. Blurgh. What a waste of £1.24 that was. Especially as GOLDEN GRAHAMS were on offer too so I could've got those instead.

And you know what's worse, I had to eat the bastarding offensively crunchy cereal from this:
What's with stuff that does this? I KNOW it's a bowl because I am not a badgering retard. Why do you feel the need to write what it is on it? That's just some graphic designer who couldn't be arsed with making some nice swirly pattern or something so decided to insult my intelligence instead. Well THANK YOU VERY MUCH for bringing to my attention that fact that this bowl-like ceramic receptacle is, in fact, a bowl as I first suspected. I feel much better about myself knowing that I can identify simple kitchen utensils correctly.


Oh yeah, and I've had about 3 weeks of continuous work-fail. All I need to do is find a function to fit the red curve, but the best I seem to do is this:

It's what the luminosity of a pre Main Sequence star of 8 solar masses does as you go backwards in time along its evolution, if anyone cares. (For the layman - what the brightness of the star does before it becomes a run-of-the-mill normal star like our sun. The kinks are from where nuclear fusion begins, stuff like that). But all you really need to know is that it's a STUPID WIGGLY LINE that is currently ruining my life.

And breathe.


Finally, to conclude this rather overly ranty post, I saw this in my kitchen:

That is a definite fail on the "Wheel of taste" right there. You really have to watch that trace amount of salt. I also love it when they give serving suggestions of really low-calorie foods with it covered in cheese. "Why don't you smother your 5 cal rice cake in Nutella? Or peanut butter? Or fucking lard? It'll taste better that way!"


And with that, good night.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Exclusive! I talk to the CUWBC President!

Get me! I'm doing an interview!

(Basically I asked Lizzie for some stupid questions to expand my very substandard F.A.Q. bit and she replied with questions AND answers, so I had to do virtually nothing! Woo!

Lizzie Polgreen - CUWBC President 2011

Bit of background: She's done a couple of boat races now (2009 - lightweights, 2010 - Blondie) and has returned this year as CUWBC President, bringing obligatory bad kit days with her. In her spare time, i.e. when she's not trying to organise a squad of 30 girls, she does a bit of electrical engineering. (She tried to explain her project to me - it was something about a radio link and a mother board and resistors and then I got lost.) She is the proud model of The Blondie Leggings in my leggings poll and a small portion of her rear end was once the 'featured photo' on the British Rowing website.
Fame! Glamour! CUWBC lycra!
She was also one of the first members of CUUBC (Cambridge University Upside-Down Boat Club), which is the most glorious of all the Cambridge University Sporting Clubs. Seriously, you don't NEED a Blue, if you're a member of this club. To join you simply need to have capsized your boat while racing as Cambridge University. Including wearing full on minty kit.

I managed this at St Neots a couple of years ago crashing into a stationary 8 on that stupid corner they have in the middle of their course. (I later caused MASSIVE CONTROVERSY in the ARA by just getting back into my boat, paddling to the start, starting the race again and winning and losing my Novice status. This apparently is BAD. Especially when you weren't even a novice in the first place because you won something in Ghent (in BELGIUM!?!?!) even though you'd have thought that didn't count, with it being in BELGIUM and all. Yeah. Some people weren't happy with me.... Oops. Sorry ARA.)

But yes, there's even a crest:
See what I did there? :-)
 Here's a nice picture of the first members of CUUBC.
Apologies to Matt Lawes for his very bad orange highlighter hair... :-s

I should really get on with this interview thingy though, sorry. STOP PISSING AROUND RAILTON.

Soooo, in no particular/logical order....

What was the most enjoyable race you've ever rowed in?
I was going to say mixed doubles with Ian Watson (the Downing college boatman), but it turns out rowing with someone a million times better than you is quite stressful because you know if it goes wrong it's entirely your fault. Also I kept hitting him in the face with waves of cam water due to my ...interesting... catch-and-over-reach technique when sculling.

So probably final of novice singles at Kingston, I raced while the band played "Play That Funky Music White Boy" (no, I'd not heard of it either...) and I got warned by the umpire "Cambridge! The river is straight!" and then when I got the boat out at the end found that the stern was full of water. And I won.

Best erg song ever?
"National Express" by Divine Comedy. Seriously. Hit that song on shuffle in the middle of the second 3 x 6k and life will just be magic again. (Seriously?!?!?!?!? I was not expecting that.... Pendulum all the way....)

I have cried in Ely because...
I lost my seat races and was made spare. Standard.

There's a reason many ex-CUWers own one of these

Queens Ergs score? 2:01 I've got a lot better since then, promise.

Training fuelled by: If I'm lightweighting then couscous. Don't ask.

Ok, you asked. I can't keep cereal in the house because I consider half a box to be a reasonable sized portion if I'm moderately hungry (join the club!), so cous cous is a good alternative. It's quick to make (pour water on it from the kettle and it's ready in the time it takes me to get lycra-d up) and I can't snack on it raw from the packet. If I'm not lightweighting CEREAL.

Favourite kit: Genuinely, the piece I'd be most upset if I lost, is my Downing College JL unisuit. Bet you didn't expect that? But a close second is the thermal socks with frog faces on the toes. (Not the blondie leggings :-( :-(    )

CUUBC Entry Requirement: Molesey regatta IM3 singles. I decided it was best to demonstrate my beautiful ability to rotate around the longitudinal axis whilst I was ahead, so the crowd got the best view of it.

Best Coxing Call: "Put their dreams on your footplate and CRUSH THEM!"

Preferred drawing/writing tool: A bright yellow plastic propelling pencil. Because having a pencil sharpener is too much hassle, but I'm too cheap to buy a proper mechanical pencil.

Thing that annoys me: People SINGING in the electronics lab. Someone whistled and hummed The Birdy Song for a solid hour in there the other day.

Engineers, uurgh.

(You've never been to the maths department, have you?)

If you weren't a rower...? 
 I would be a better accordion player. And able to use the command line on Linux.

Top life tip: Wear a bike helmet. Seriously.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

The madness ends

Some major news guys: I've decided to give up the whole GB trialling thing.

Judge me for being a massive quitter if you must.
Well, I suppose I am.
Basically I realised that I wasn't willing to sacrifice everything chasing the Olympic dream. I honestly believe that if you're going to get to the top of your field (sporting or otherwise), you've got to be willing to risk everything to do it.

Over the summer I read a biography of the Scottish cyclist Robert Millar (only English speaker to ever win the King of the Mountains competition in the Tour de France). His philosophy was you must set yourself up so you give yourself no option of failure. In his case this meant giving up his job in the UK, selling everything and moving to France to train with the best in the world and turn pro. If he failed, he would have nothing.
Now this is going to sound really fucking pathetic, but I love Astro too much to fuck it up for rowing. Over the course of the term I realised that Astronomy is not just something that kept me in Cambridge and able to row but REALLY FUCKING AWESOME and I want to be good at it. Not just 'scrap a pass' but be bloody good. Sure, I could've fitted in trialling for the U23s this year with Part III Astro, but next year...? I'd really like a PhD and if I had to move to Reading to train full time I wouldn't have been willing to give it up.

Therefore, am I really dedicated enough to go all the way? No.

This, combined with the fact that for the past four months I've woken up hating myself for not being faster, fitter, stronger, BETTER AT ROWING. I mean, I can put up with the loneliness, the being antisocial, the never going home and seeing my family, the being fucking miserable and doubting yourself all the time. Just MTFU and erg. But when you're doubting if you're truely, deep down, dedicated enough and whether you can actually make it? Quite frankly, what's the point?

I used to love rowing, but trialling sucked the joy out of it and made me hate myself. Life is too fucking short not to be happy in your own skin if you can do something about it.

So I did something about it.

It's a shame I decided on a 3.5 hour and £60 train journey to Newcastle for an U23 weekend, but that's life I suppose.
Fuck you, train ticket. FUCK YOU and your expensive orange-outlined papery smug face.
 I've decided to keep rowing (obviously - my idea of a great day is one with 18K and weights in it, and some habits you're just not going to be able to break), but for now on to just row for the fucking JOY of it. That's the reason I took it up in the first place, because it was fun and I was good at it and I loved how alive you felt when you took the last stroke of a race and you felt like you were hanging over the abyss and staring death in the face it hurt so much. The insanity of the last 100m when the red buoys come but never seem to end. That is what living is.

So judge me if you will for lowering my ambitions, but I aimed high and wasn't good enough. I'll also never see the point of doing a half arsed job of something (or two at the same time, as I've been doing). I've got to experience some amazing stuff along the way, such as racing Katherine Grainger in my semi at final trials (she beat my by c.40s I think) and having Anna Watkins tell me I need to wear more kit. And I've meet no end of brilliant, crazy people, because rowers, after all are flipping awesome people.

I'll still write this blog (I love doing this - it's great!) and I'll still row and be angry at stuff all the time. Just without the self loathing. And you'll have to do without the "Boston Part II" post I'm afraid.

Finally, to conclude this exceptionally unfunny post, I'd like to wish Vicky Meyer-Laker, Erica Bodman and Frankie Sanjana (and countless others) the very best this season, and all the success in the world to Ben Hicks and Charlotte Drury of team Cambridge :-) Smash it in the face, guys.

And Peter Lee, sorry for being a massive quitter but I bet you'll never have another athlete who makes t-shirts celebrating your training program.
Yes I fucking did.
EDIT: There's moral to this story. If you're not happy, do something about it people. Lonely? Ask someone out for a drink. Someone pissing you off? Confront them and try and get it sorted. Massively stressed? Get someone to give you a goddam hug and HAVE A CUP OF TEA.

Take the plunge :-)

EDIT EDIT: Sorry for sounding like a self help book. Normal service (i.e. ranting) will resume later this week.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

More rants from IoERC

Firstly, great excitement (N.B. read the previous post first if you haven't already, or this will make no sense...)
Thank you NobleMarine for including blades in the value of my boat (and for Alison for pointing out this fact in last the post's comments). Just need to wait and see if they accept my claim...

I worked out that one new set of blades = 71 hours cleaning toilets last summer, hence the overwhelming relief that I will (hopefully) only have to pay my insurance excess.

It turns out that one little crash = £50 excess + c. 4hours T-cutting to get the 5m long OXFORD BLUE COLOURED scratch out of my boat (it would just have to be that colour wouldn't it?) + having to use said Oxford coloured blades as mine are a bit unusable now + epic hand shredding due to evil Stampfli orange grips of death. (Though let it be known I am very grateful for using said Oxford-y blades - thanks Andrea!)

Annndd breathe.

I did slightly scare the guy who crashed into me by mentioning the word "castration" in conjunction with the phrase "If you ever fucking touch my boat again" and "with a rusty spoon". Not necessarily in that order. (We're on good terms now though, I just had The Fucking Rage on Sunday. My swear tally took a bit of a hit...)

So yes, that's that cleared up. But I will miss you minty-blades-with-Durham-colour-coming-through-underneath :-(
We've been through a lot together :-(

But anyway. You will be pleased to know that I survived the date t'other day. I think. Well, I don't think I fucked up that much...Maybe.

I figured I was onto a winner when this happened:
Seriously. Exact words.
Just have to wait and see what happens on that front I suppose...


1) Fishermen

I do not understand this sport at all. So, you're going to get up at 5am to sit under an umbrella for very many hours staring at a piece of wire dangling in the water? And then probably not catch anything. And then if you do catch anything, you take a photo of it and throw it back in.

You do know you can buy fish from Sainsbury's right?

The reason they're really pissing me off at the moment is that they keep telling me to move out of the way while I'm sculling along.
OK, I don't swear at them. Unless they swear at me first.

I mean, you've got nothing to do except WATCH YOUR PIECE OF WIRE. I cannot see where I'm going, and even if I did turn round at exactly the right point, I'm not going to see you decked out in camoflage gear (don't understand this either - you're fishing, not bloody Bear Grylls) or your fucking INVISIBLE piece of wire. The river is straight. You can see me coming from miles away. Don't get pissy with me if I row into your line because it's your bloody fault. And no, I'm not going to row on the other side of the river to be hit by novices/cruisers/CUBC.


Rage. Rageragerage.

2) Buckaroo

OK, who leaves a game of Buckaroo in the computer room where I need to work? Seriously?

3) Filofax refills

I had to pay £4.50 for this:

*Random subject change*

Oh, I realised the other day that I'd been walking past this every time I went to an Astrofluids lecture.

Yes, that is Steven Hawking floating around in zero gravity. A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.

I'm also starting to get funny looks for taking photos of bits of the maths department. This is some PhD's office:

That is a serious Diet Coke addiction right there. The tall bit is at least 6 cans deep...

Ooo ooo ooo *random subject change 2*

So I decided to cycle out to Ely this morning, which I haven't done for a while. (It took me back to my CUWBC-overtraining-like-a-mental days. Pleasing. I've got my best scars and near-death experiences on that 19 mile route.... )

But anyway, with the infallible reasoning that it's OK to listen to music (in one ear...) while cycling in the dark because you can always see what's coming (even from behind you), I decided to whack on some Schubert*. For a change. I mean, you can get a little bored of Pendulum/Prodigy/random trance after a while.

So I was just making my way out of Cottenham when the E flat piano trio** came on, a lonely barn owl flew past, there was a tailwind AND I FELT LIKE A GOD.

It was a beautiful moment.

I then got cut up by a truck.

But for a moment there was perfection on the Twenty Pence Road. And it was good.

Thought I'd share.

*Get a 16 year-old Railton to learn to play some Schubert and she'll be obsessed for life.

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Tales from the Isle of Ely Rowing Club

ROWERS OF BRITAIN. The 'Peter Lee Seasonal Barometer' has changed to winter!

Peter Lee, complete with coaching advice. Oh my god! We could make Peter Lee action figures! In summer and winter versions! With a string pull thing for coaching wisdom snipets!

I thought you should be informed. There were a few intermediate days where he wore a hat + shorts, but now the change is complete. Winter is offically here.

Anyway, here are few unrelated snipets from the great IoERC.

Why you should not take the piss when I'm carrying a long object

The piss-taking, in good humour obviously (like the poking), was probably either about (a) how short my arms are (standard - one of my nicknames is "Stumpy" FFS) or (b) about how much I swear. Which reminds me - I'll put up a photo of the swear chart we've got going for Movember when I rememebr to take my camera to the gym. I am proud to say that I WIN AT SWEARING. My tally box is essentially just shaded in now. (And before you accuse me of coach-abuse, it was very light, ironic poking. I'll have you know that Peter loves coaching me.  I don't piss him off at all. Honest.)

What happens when you live in a room that's colder than outside

You have to wear a hoody in bed (as well as a duvet + woolen blanket + quilt + bloody flannel pyjamas). As a result, I wake up with my hair doing flipping weird things, like all the strands facing forwards.
All hair problems can be sorted with a really excellent hat. I mean, even hat-hair is >> Justin Bieber hair.
Oooo ooooo! Do you remember that hat I went on about in the PLSB post? The one that my mum gave me after my siblings laughed at her when she wore it? Well, the other day, my mum (who reads this blog* - hi mum!) bloody well text me and ASKED FOR IT BACK. I mean, just because that hat is now FAMOUS.

*She said of it: "I like it, apart from all the swearing". But it's all swearing! I don't get it!

Blunt and to the point, I thought.

She's definitely never getting it back.


Waiting for trains at Ely station. 

 Because I randomly had my camera on me. No other reason.
Sarah was cold. Or more accurately, 'really fucking cold'. Note the hat that is much better than mine.

THE HAT and THE LEGGINGS in beautiful synergy, modelled by my good self.  I had also been to Tesco and impulse bought a 'Shaun the Sheep' shower thingy. Because I am badass like that.

Yeah, don't mess with me. I have sheep-related shower items.

*Not shown*: My completely soaking wet leg from where I stepped inbetween my boat and the landing stage. There was a lot of swearing.
Shopping in Cambridge on a Saturday, or "Xtreme Slow Pedestrian Rage"

OK, so this has nothing to do with the IoERC. But then nor does my hair.

So, some background. By some small large miracle, I managed to get someone to go on a date with me.

*Pause to let this sink in*

I KNOW! They weren't even drunk! (They also don't know this blog exists, which probably helped.)
 But anyway, this lead to me looking in my wardrobe and realising I have absolutely nothing to wear. Nothing. As in nothing at all.
 This is mainly due to my giving away of all of my smart clothes to my little sister at the end of the summer because my arms don't fit in them anymore :-( She did really well. And now I have no clothes apart from slighty nerdy rowing t shirts and hoodies. And lycra.

But not even I would wear those leggings to a posh restaurant. I have standards* me.

*For certain values of "standards"

ANYWAY, so I found myself in the position that I had to go into town on a Saturday and I had buy something or I was going to have to turn up in a bloody Pembroke longsleeve or something.

This was bad. Very bad. The world and his wife apparently go shopping in Cambridge on a saturday afternoon, and they don't like walking quickly.

How. Can. People. Walk. So. Fucking. Slowly? Any slower and they'd be growing roots. I mean, I need to get something now. WHY ARE YOU IN MY WAY??? I resorted to putting some really aggressive music on my mp3 and just going for it.
Yes, apparently clothes shops don't sell good clothes anymore. I mean, you'd have thought it would have been piss easy to find a nice shirt wouldn't you? But noooooooooo. Let's make life as difficult as possible for Anna by only stocking stupid cardigans. I DON'T WANT A CARDIGAN. I WANT A SHIRT. WHY DO YOU HAVE NO SHIRTS? Sort it out clothes shops. Sell stuff other than cardigans please, for fucksake.

 Of all the people I walked into as they suddenly stopped to point at some bloody shiny phone or something, the woman who stopped to stroke a pair of boots was my particular favourite. And by favourite, I mean  the one I wanted to kill the most.
FFS. They're made of leather. Get over it.
The next time I have to go shopping on a Saturday afternoon you'll hear about it on the national news, because I will have gone postal on the entire population of the Grand Arcade. 

But anyway, I did eventually get something. It took years off my life, but I got something. So now at least I don't have to turn up in my "I survived Peter Lee's Week of Death" t-shirt.

I'm sorry, but how awesome is this?  (The week of death is mentioned here and here). I even made one for Peter, but he refuses to wear it "Because it's not true" :-(  In the background - my homemade quilt my grandma made me :-D Grandmothers FTW!

Anyway, I'll let you know how much I screw up said date through social ineptitude/swearing too much.

Finally, and this is important.

 If you own a boat and blades, make sure you remember to insure your blades too.

Seriously, go and update your insurance policy now. NOW.

I've basically had a little crash which resulted with my blade hitting the other boat's rigger and completely fucking it up. (Photo to follow). I now need to find a strokeside, big blade + vortex edge Concept 2 scull from somewhere or I need to buy two new blades. OH CRAP. (If anyone out there knows of spares then please, for the love of god email me).  Because I am a twat I only insured my boat and speedcoach, completely forgetting about the blades thing. BECAUSE I AM A TWAT.

EDIT: Here you go:
Hmm. Would you race with these? It's pretty deep...

Here is a photo of a misty Ely. WITH CATHEDRAL.And loads of nettles :-(

Please don't make the same mistake! Blades are expensive!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

World champs 4 - Epilogue

So, to sum up my expectionally biased view of the World Champs:

Favourite race: The women's pair final. Fuck yes!
 Best final sprint: Alan Campbell in the M1x final. (It's no wonder he can barely stand afterwards...)
You really have to watch the video if you haven't already...
 Best world domination: The Grainger - Watkins' mega-double.
Sorry, another photo of them. Because they are awesome.
 Best victory celebration: The Annie Vernon roar upon becoming World Champion

Best facial hair:  Eric Murray of the seemingly unbeatable Kiwi 2-
Best sunglasses: Alan Campell, hands down.
And check out these from the World Cup in Bled:
Best romantic moment (really!)
This one needs a bit of explanation. One of the girls in the silver-medal winning LTAMix4+
(which I completely forgot to talk about - mainly because their finals were earlier on in the week when I was having a MASSIVE WORK CRISIS, so a belated huge congratulations to them). But yes. Story. Kate's boyfriend, unbeknown to her, flew out to New Zealand to watch her race (and win) as a surprise (so already winning big man points there) and then AND THEN proposed to her. But it gets better! He did it in an amazingly awesome way:
Top man! That is going to take some beating! Rather hilariously, when I asked her if I could write about this in my blog, she said, and I quote:

"I'm so happy my fiance hasn't seen your blog, else I'd probably have ended up with a trebuchet!"

AHAHAHAHAHA! I'm not sure how he would have produced a trebuchet from a hot spring though, so he was probably good to stick with the ring. (If you've no idea why I'm talking about siege weapons all of a sudden, you need to read this. You'll get to it after a bit of ranting...) A silver medal in the Worlds and an engagement - I think that counts as a pretty fucking awesome week.

So from beating the world at rowing, to epic Oakleys, to romantic proposals by hot springs, there is naught more to say then:

Good night!