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I guess it was inevitable. Having had a brief flirtation with some other sports a couple of years ago, I came back to rowing, my long-term love, and all was forgiven. But once you’ve strayed it’s bound to happen again, and sure enough it has. Before you look away in disgust, though, bear with me. My dalliance could even be good for my relationship with rowing – you know, keeping it fresh and all that – so keep reading.

So, what’s been going on? Well, in an act of insane generosity, GoPro – the people who make the deceptively small, hyper-cool action camera which is proving increasingly popular amongst rowers – invited me to watch the spectacular Nine Queens event for female freestyle skiers and snowboarders, which took place last week in Serfaus in Austria. Not only that, but they let me play with my very own GoPro Hero4 – and yes, there will be a review of it just for rowers coming soon, hopefully in a Certain Magazine you’re probably familiar with, once I’ve got the hang of it and taken it out on the river. It’s a seriously clever bit of kit – and I promise I’m not just saying that because GoPro were such amazing hosts. I can’t wait to do some filming on the river, even if it does reveal all the flaws in my technique. Like I said, it’ll be good for my rowing.

In the meantime, I thought I’d share four things I discovered on the mountain last week.

1. This occasional, friends-with-benefits thang I’ve had going on with skiing just isn’t working for me. I’ve only managed to sneak away for four days on the slopes in the last 10 years. Four days. So things have got to change. It’s time to commit. And if you take a look at some of the pictures taken last week, I think you might just understand a little why I’ve become so smitten again.

Got air... GoPro pic by Johannes Östergård

Got air…
GoPro pic by Johannes Östergård

GoPro pic by Johannes Östergård

GoPro pic by Johannes Östergård

 

Oh, you know, just hanging out with world champion freeskier, Kaya Turski... Pic by Kaya Turski (squeal!)

Oh, you know, just hanging out with world champion freeskier, Kaya Turski…
Pic by Kaya Turski (squeal!)

 

2. I need more yoga in my life. It puts me back together when my body’s all tense and twisted from rowing, hunching over a computer or skiing, and it settles my crazily busy mind. OK, so I won’t always be able to have the amazing Anna Langer teaching me on a glorious mountainside roof terrace, in the company of some of the world’s best freeskiers and snowboarders. But hey – even in the local village hall, it’ll meet the need.

This is how yoga should be done. If you don't happen to have a handy Alpine roof terrace, a village hall will do nicely. Photo courtesy of Anna Langer.

This is how yoga should be done. But a village hall will do nicely.
Photo courtesy of Anna Langer.

3. Freeskiers and snowboarders are some of the coolest, bravest, friendliest people you could hope to meet. So are rowers, obviously, but there’s something I have to tell you – and I’m sorry to be the one to break this to you. The snow fiends are way, WAY better at dancing than rowers. Just saying.

4. I’ve established that I am back in fine fettle after putting up with some pretty lousy health over the last few months. OK, so the early mornings, late nights and partying did finally break me, but I felt pretty strong on the slopes and even managed an outing on the river the day after I got back. Hurrah!

So, then. I’m going to try to strike a balance. The rowing is here to stay – that goes without saying – but there will have to be room in my life for some mountain time and a regular yoga session. That’s not too much to ask, is it?

If you want to know more, look out for my interview with the fabulous Jamie Anderson – first ever female slopestyle snowboarding Olympic gold medalist – coming soon in Snow magazine online, and for my GoPro review.

And finally… huge, grateful thanks to the brilliant team from GoPro for an action-packed couple of days, to the organisers of Nine Queens for a fantastic event, to the gorgeous Anna Kathalina for back-saving, blissful yoga, to the endlessly patient film-maker Johannes Östergård for great pictures and footage (and for not minding when I accidentally punched him twice in the face – whoops) – and of course to my new girl-crushes, Jamie Anderson and Kaya Turski, for being so lovely, helpful and generally awesome. Namaste.

 

 

 

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Running for rowing …

MCSBC logo

Just want to give a quick shout-out to the kids at Monmouth Comprehensive School Boat Club, who are raising money to support their club. We share a boat house with MCSBC and what a great bunch they are. OK, so quite a few of their parents are friends of mine, so I’m a touch biased, but seriously, they are fab. Great rowers, nice kids, and they don’t even mind when I yell at them when I’m coxing  on a Saturday morning (I dunno … perhaps they’re used to being shouted at? ;) )

Anyway,  on 21st March they are doing a half marathon. Some are running; others are cycling. Whatever they’re doing, it’s a heck of a long way and let’s face it, if they wanted to be runners they wouldn’t have joined the rowing club, so kudos to them.

Here’s what they have to say about the fundraiser: “We are the only Comprehensive School Rowing Club in Wales and were the only ones to attend the National Schools and National Championships Regatta in which we did quite well. The money also allows us to keep the fees low so that money is not a restriction when joining our rowing club.”

Can’t really think of a better reason to support them. So if you happen to have a spare fiver that you found in your pocket or down the back of the sofa, it would be great to send it their way. Here’s the JustGiving page: https://www.justgiving.com/monmouthboatclub/

 

 

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Cox wrapped up against the winter weather

Why so serious? Staying warm is no laughing matter.

Damn, but it’s cold out there. Heck, it’s even snowing inside – just look at the photo. And since I’m on coxing duties until my rib finally heals, and good winter coxing gear is essential, I’m seriously interested in how to keep warm in the ninth seat. Continue Reading »

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CoolingGel30gArnicareBath&MassageBalm

 

It’s silly, but as soon as I see my first snowdrop, I convince myself that it’s Spring time and confidently expect the temperatures to rise immediately. And of course they don’t. This morning the countryside was covered in a thick layer of hoar frost and it’s distinctly parky out there still. All of which means that we are still deep into winter training which, as any fule kno, is hard on the body and harder on the skin. Continue Reading »

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I’ve been feeling pretty RARRRR! about sport the last few days. First there was the awesomely fantastic This Girl Can campaign launched by Sport England, designed to encourage women to get involved in sport. If you haven’t seen it, check out their video (and even if you have seen it, it definitely bears a second (and third, fourth, fifth) viewing).

Continue Reading »

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Sick teddy

New year, new you?

So, how are you all? Raring to go and feeling tip top and well rested after Christmas? Hmmmm.

I can’t say my new year has got off to the spiffing, sparkling start I’d have liked it to. Still coughing from a cold that began five weeks ago, I’ve managed to revive an old rib injury (sustained, improbably, at a village ceilidh some years ago – seriously, folk dancing is dangerous in the wrong hands). All this, coupled with a handful of other festive ailments and an exhaustion that won’t go away, is telling me one thing. I’m massively run down and I need to rest. Continue Reading »

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It’s customary at this time of year to look back on the last 12 months and reflect. There’s a lot about 2014, though, that I’d prefer to forget. As many of you know, it’s been a difficult year for me, with illness in the family that has kept me off the river more than I’d like. I’m not alone in this, I know – both amongst my shipmates and my friends at large there have been some tough times this year.

So rather than looking back (though I can’t resist a brief recollection of my first pot, which was a joyful and long overdue highlight), I’m looking forward to 2015. Looking forward to good health, lots of time on the river, rather less time on the erg (some things never change), some wins, a lot of laughs and, above all, plenty of time in the company of my excellent rowing mates, who have seen each other through the best and the worst of times.

Wishing you all a very happy Christmas, an excellent new year and a peaceful and healthy 2015.

Jo rowing her half marathon at Ilkley Bandstand

Jo rowing her half marathon at Ilkley Bandstand

You don’t have to read much of this blog to know that my relationship with the erg is less love-hate and more hate-hate. I erg only because I have to. Which is why when I heard about Jo Moseley’s rowing machine challenge I was beyond impressed.

Jo’s mum died of cancer (lymphoma) on 21st December 2013, and her dad has also suffered from cancer. Both received invaluable help from the wonderful Macmillan nurses. So Jo, who’s about to turn 50, was amongst the many who wanted to do something to thank Macmillan for their help. Continue Reading »

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BL Awards Highly Commended Blog Badge foil copy

We’ve all entered races we knew we had no chance of winning. When you find yourself against a boat made up of people half your age and twice your height, when you’re in a scratch crew that can’t even begin to sit the boat, when your opponents steam past in the warm-up looking slick and strong… All you can do is dig deep and row your heart out, hoping that at least you can console yourself with aching legs and the knowledge you tried your hardest. Continue Reading »

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So, I’ve covered the juniors and the women, and now it’s time for the men. I don’t know about you, but when it comes to Christmas shopping I find the men in my life impossible to buy for. Craft fairs and cute little local shops get the girls sorted by mid-November, but however good my intentions there’s always a last-minute dash to find something for the guys.

Happily, if the man in your life happens to be a rower that makes the whole thing easier. Here are five great gifts for the male rower in your life.

Christmas gifts for male rowers Continue Reading »

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