Category Archives: Rowing

collegial catch-ups


Eating up big while catching up on big changes.

In the restructure, many lives were shaken almost as savagely as the organisation. Recently, I caught up on the “who’s doing what” status of the full workforce over a long lunch at what is deservedly a favourite place for business breakfasts and long weekend lunches. It would appear that almost all who wanted work have found it and a few have retired perhaps a little earlier than originally planned. The several who originally had travel planned will do that prior to job-hunting, so their long-term status is still uncertain.

YoungB is also finalising travel plans for the coming year. He was doing that with mates while simultaneously introducing them to the delights of an Asian eatery hitherto unknown to them. Over a long brunch elsewhere he commiserated with another friend about the after-effects of their recent vaccinations: both are feeling somewhat sore.

Although the temperatures are still too low for comfort and certainly for eating outside, the sunshine does help to make everything a little less gloomy and dismal. And when your brunch is so big it’s genuinely enough to feed a hungry rower, then all you need is another mug of coffee to help wash it all down.

May your coffee always be plentiful and at precisely the right temperature 🙂


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Posted by on August 27, 2019 in Food, Rowing, Travel


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but where do we belong?

It’s all right for him, he’s a coach.

YoungB has two part-time jobs, one as a barman, the other as a rowing coach: opposite ends of the day and entirely different skill sets.

Last weekend we had the opportunity to see him in action as a coach. Happily, his intermediate-level girls’ crew acquitted itself well, despite having been rowing as a crew for only a week. Dr B and I couldn’t really cheer. The best you could say of us is that we provided food and drinks for that particular coach. We couldn’t cheer for his old school – divided loyalties, given his new workplace is a competing school – and we couldn’t cheer for either of his old clubs – who’s there that we know any more? – so it was an odd sort of day. The weather was lovely – as you can see – and YoungB’s girls won their second race, so he had every reason to smile.

And was it good to be back among the rowing fraternity, even if we’re struggling to find our rightful niche? Oh, yeah. Rowing tragics, that’s us! And for good measure, I was very grateful to have my cooling neck bandanna with me because the sunshine was fierce. 🙂

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Posted by on February 9, 2017 in Rowing


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and then there’s this

Alternatively, I could just gallop around the soccer ground a few times while I'm waiting for the bus

Alternatively, I could just gallop around the soccer ground a few times while I’m waiting for the bus

You know how one careless remark can change everything? I think that happened the other day when Youngest Aunt casually mentioned this. It’s now firmly in our sights and I seem to have roped in a workmate and a couple of her friends as well! She’s a far more serious walker than I am, but has been having time away from it for health reasons so we are probably closer in fitness and ability now than we might once have been. We have a training plan of sorts, loosely titled “Camminiamo insieme” which means “Let’s walk together” – she and I share a love of Inspector Montalbano 🙂 – and will try to get out on longer walks with her friends on a semi-regular basis.

I understand about champions being made in winter – considering the amount of time I spend rubbing shoulders with Audax cyclists and rowers, how could I not? – and I appreciate that it’s a fantastic time of year to toughen up with lots of freezing-cold morning training sessions. Most of that assumes no employment or, if you have employment, getting up in the middle of the night to exercise, or that you have sufficient dedication to train all weekend and let the domestica go hang. I don’t, factually, meet any of those criteria though I could probably manage a couple of them at a time, every now and then. Despite the training plan, it’s my suspicion that that’s what will happen: it will all be fairly ad hoc with some adjustments around what training machines we have in the house and the occasional bit of organised chaos. So long as we get some very long training walks in prior to the Bloody Long Walk, I think we’ll be fine without necessarily doing the entire course beforehand.

But when will I manage to do any knitting??


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positively something or other

Monday mornings are usually fairly hard work, I admit. You’d think the weekend would have provided R and R and it generally provides at least a modicum of both of those. Sometimes the weekend has been busy yet there seems remarkably little to show for any of the busyness. So there I was on the bus one recent Monday morning, trying to cheer myself into a frame of mind that wouldn’t have me shedding tears if my computer looked at me sideways. I admired the last of the bottlebrush blossoms and all the greenness of the Botanic Gardens, admired the contrast between the architecture of the Wine Center and its neighbouring buildings and delighted in the splash of colour provided by a bougainvillea overhanging the top balcony of the Botanic Hotel.

I still wasn’t too sure about the sideways glances and how I might react to them, but I’d talked myself into a more cheerful frame of mind by the time I reached the office. And that’s where the truly positive bit happened: I was able to provide lots of helpful advice to a workmate whose son is a beginning rower. In a very strange twist of fate, there are three other rowing mums at work. Much as rowing is often seen as the domain of private schools, our kids all attended or, in her case, are attending, state schools. What’s more, we cover all three such institutions (and not to brag, it’s fitting that YoungB’s school has two representatives since it’s the one with the longest-running program). So that’s positively amazing all on its own.

Equally positively amazing is that we are now into November and Father Christmas is today making his annual journey to the Magic Cave where he’ll ensconce himself till Christmas Eve. In Bologna, YoungB is doing mid-semester exams whereas here the Wayville Showgrounds are hosting end-of-year deciders for his home university.

I must apologise for providing a sparse post with neither photos nor links, but we are presently computerless and this is being typed on a very old and correspondingly unreliable iPad. Fnigres corsesd that this works at all! And avagooday wherever you are, because that would be positively something, wouldn’t it?

Edited to add: I have no idea why that date is 20 October. I posted this on Saturday, 8 November 2014, the day of the Christmas Pageant. Perhaps my ancient iPad is so stuck in the past it couldn’t make the leap!!

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Posted by on October 20, 2014 in Musing, Rowing


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action photography

Netball action with percentage of rearguard action

Netball action with percentage of rearguard action

I reckon I’ve learnt how to take fairly good rowing photos by now. But netball? That’s a very different proposition. Eldest Niece and Youngest Niece were playing in their local association’s grand finals last weekend, so I made a day trip of it and went to cheer them. Of course I took my camera. I’m not sufficiently good at mathematical calculations to be able to tell you if netballers run faster than rowers row – that would depend on many factors – but I can tell you that their constantly changing direction of activity makes for tricky photographic work. The plane of movement is different. You often don’t see the ball but – again, if you were good with the maths – you could calculate where it is or where it’s been. There’s also the question of where you stand relative to the action.

You might think I have a pornographic penchant for photographing backsides, because that’s something you do quite a lot when you’re photographing rowers (if one crew is facing the right way, another is not, whether they’re actually rowing or merely carrying boats). Netballers are no different, because that’s the sort of game it is. Like hockey or soccer, half of one team is literally positioned in opposition to half of the other team at any one time.You know, I took hundreds of photos and I’m not really happy with any of them but I managed to capture some good action shots of the Nieces. That made it a worthwhile exercise. And the Niece who requested photos with no bums? Not likely! I did, however, try to make most of those belong to opposition players. 🙂

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Posted by on September 24, 2014 in Photography, Rowing


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the satisfaction of being a volunteer

Each bow carries a coloured number. Also, there are boat holders up on the pontoon, keeping things straight for the start.

Each bow carries a coloured number. Also, there are boat holders up on the pontoon, keeping things straight for the start.

Like any parent and anyone involved with kids and sport, I’ve volunteered to help out at all sorts of things over the years. You won’t be surprised to hear that I’ve just finished four days of heavy duty volunteering at the Australian Masters Rowing Championships, which were held at West Lakes last week. I was supervising the area allocating bow numbers, where our days started at least an hour before the day’s rowing and finished well after and, really, we just stayed in one spot all day with the occasional comfort break when there was a lull between bursts of frantic activity. Dr B came down to see us one afternoon and he thought we were busy. At that particular point, we were having a quiet moment where we could pretty much tick off numbers as they came back in and hand them out as required without too much delay.

For those of you unfamiliar with rowing terminology, let me explain what I mean by bow numbers. Each boat carries a little colour-coded square with an alphanumeric code on it, to identify it by lane and correct race, which goes in a holder on the bow (I know, duh). There’s a set of numbers from A1 to A8 all the way through to Z1 to Z8 so, as you’d understand, in a day that has anything more than 26 races, and they all do, you go through the set of numbers more than once. Therefore, it’s important to get all the information correct AND to get the bow numbers back ASAP after races so they can be reissued for their next use. There is a system of fines for non-return of bow numbers, so I’ve spent four days reminding people that the club will cop a fine if they don’t get that bow number back in time, then further threatening them with removal of digits and limbs and calling in my Italian mate with the cement truck if they really don’t bring their bow numbers back in time. (Yeah, it has been that much fun.)

The weather was appalling the first two days but Saturday was not bad and Sunday was lovely, if a shade cool and perhaps occasionally windier than you might want. The race schedule was reinvented a few times which meant that there was a day where the alphabet began at O. Luckily, by that stage we were using a linked computer system, which expedited matters enormously (we’d previously had a manual system that kept being outsmarted by folk with smartphones). By and large, rowers are a fairly good-natured lot and they were patient through the trying part of getting the systems in synch. We made one mistake in handing out numbers, which we caught fairly promptly and notified to the referees, so no harm done. By the last day, as you’d hope, we had things running very smoothly and received many a word of thanks and congratulations for our efficiency. That’s always heartening. Bad weather can and does happen everywhere but if the event is well organised and runs smoothly in other respects, then you don’t feel quite so grumpy about what’s beyond your control.

As part of the packing up procedures, one of our admin/runner volunteers did a sweep of the boat park and nabbed a few bow numbers that had been overlooked and brought them in for us. Because there were so many composite crews, the chain of communication and responsibility was often a shade smudgy, with one club assuming another had done the right thing and nobody having actually managed it. It’s therefore truly astonishing that we managed to pull off what we were told was a first: that is, not lose any of our bow numbers. By that I mean that we had a full set of numbers at the end of the regatta and were only missing one from the spare set for which we really couldn’t account, because it didn’t appear on any list of lost numbers (truly, it was probably lost at sea on the day where conditions were so rough that a couple of bow numbers broke). I personally think the threat of the cement truck did the trick. 😉

It would really be remiss of me not to mention our young boat holders. They were all high-school kids and some of them probably in their early secondary years. They did a fantastic job. One lot received a thoroughly deserved standing ovation from the rowers when they finally staggered into the main pavilion at the end of the day when there’d been whitecaps on the water. They’re not that common a sight at West Lakes and those who’ve been around the place a lot longer than I have were saying they’d never seen such bad conditions there. Through all of that, two lots of kids were working hard on the pontoons to hold the boats. I heard that one of the girls was chucking up over the edge but, heck, the waves were breaking over the pontoon so you’d need to be a very seasoned sailor indeed not to be adversely affected. I hope they haven’t been put off by that, though I’m not sure I’d blame them if they were, because they are the sorts of people who will be the tireless volunteers of the future.

Lest you fear that there was a complete absence of knitting and things of that ilk, I’m pleased to report that I discovered that one of the other head honcho volunteer folk is a very serious knitter who makes lovely little scarves in yarn that’s a wool and silk blend, bespoke dyed by one of her friends in muted colours, and as soft and cosy as you could wish to have around your neck (I accept that my Ballarat scarf is a little on the scratchy side because of the metallic yarn). We swapped a few yarns – sorry, couldn’t resist – about our various knitting projects. During one of my short strolls around the place during a comfort break, I was complimented on that very same Ballarat scarf by one of the vendors (I resisted the merchandise). She said that the colours are lovely. So they are.

Not Great Aunt Susie's sofa despite appearances to the contrary.

Not Great Aunt Susie’s sofa despite appearances to the contrary.

Besides knitting confreres (I spotted a few amongst the rowers, too), one of my bow number co-volunteers admired the above tote that I made from those samples of furnishing fabric given to me by an erstwhile colleague (I’d used the tote to tote my day’s supply of water bottles). She recognised it as a particular linen – apparently that furnishing fabric is distinctive – and congratulated me on how sturdy it was while reminding me that I’d pay a lot of money if I wanted to buy such a thing. She’s quite right. And while I suppose it might not be everyone’s idea of chic to cart around a bag made from fabric that’s recognisably the same as Great Aunt Susie’s sofa, I’m really pleased with mine (and couldn’t care less whether it’s chic or not). It works well and I know it’s much better made than any I’ve bought so far.

Have you been volunteering of late? f so, I certainly hope you’ve enjoyed yourself as much as I did.


Posted by on May 5, 2014 in Knitting, Rowing, Sewing


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opportunity for all

Fitness station or playground?

Fitness station or playground?

When we at Penrith and while there were no races of immediate interest to us, Dr B and I did a bit of walking. On the non-grandstand side of the course, there are a couple of fitness stations. Too good an opportunity to miss, you’d reckon? He thought so!

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Posted by on April 24, 2014 in Health, Rowing


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Croweaters but not Crows


Footy fans will recognise them as Crows colours. They're Croweaters, certainly!

Footy fans will recognise them as Crows colours. They’re Croweaters, certainly!

Variations of that image and others like it have been plastered all over the web, so I think it’s safe to assume I don’t need their individual permission. That’s near the end of the 2000-metre race so, if you think they’re looking a bit tired, you’re right.

In order for most of that to make sense, let me explain that by footy, I definitely mean Aussie Rules. The Crows are a South Australian footy team. And Croweaters is a term for South Australians. There. Has that helped? 🙂 That’s the official state uniform for South Aussie rowers.

(Also, apologies for the less than stellar image but they were rowing in the lane on the far side of the course. Even our 500 mm lens wasn’t doing much of a job at getting spectacular photos at that distance.)

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Posted by on April 23, 2014 in Rowing


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nah, I can’t knit in the dark

Colour at the regatta course even when the days were grey (and they frequently were)

Colour at the regatta course even when the days were grey (and they frequently were)

You know how I had knitting lined up for two days of travel? Great plan! Dr B decided we’d drive all night to meet a timetable deadline. Turned out he’d got it wrong but that didn’t matter. We’d driven all night and I can’t knit in the dark. Plan scuppered.

You know how I was going to deliver the beanie (produced during the two days of travel) directly to its recipient? Great plan! Sydney’s a big place and getting from one end of it to the other requires more than a little persistence. Turned out that even with the best will in the world, we couldn’t work out a suitable time and place to meet. And there was a singer with a sore throat in the mix. Plan scuppered.

Rowing? Yeah, that was great. We spent a lot of time travelling but we spent a lot of time watching some really exciting competition. To our considerable distress, there were no concession prices for parking or entry. No matter what time of day you turned up, you paid full price (which seemed to vary from day to day, depending on the nature of competition on offer; that is, you paid an arm and a leg on ordinary days but they threw in a couple of bits of your torso on the day of the Interstate Regatta and I dread to imagine what the World Cup finals would have required. We didn’t hang around to find out). That was a nasty surprise and, had we not travelled halfway across the country simply for the purpose of being there, would have been a considerable disincentive. We’d originally thought we’d park somewhere relatively nearby and walk, thus managing a good bit of daily exercise. Another great plan, don’t you think? I don’t want to sound like a wimp, but there was a lot of heavy rain. And sometimes YoungB needed a lift to and from his accommodation when there was nobody else around to provide it. We shut up and paid up, but that was another plan scuppered.

And did we win? No. South Australian rowers had some wins and YoungB’s club won a few medals during the National Championships. South Australia rowed to silver for both the King’s and Queen’s Cup competitions (the men’s and women’s eights) during the Interstate Regatta, much to the delight of the crews and their vociferous, if not numerous, supporters. Realistically, in YoungB’s case, his crew was up against it: considerably the youngest, certainly the least experienced and with not one national rep, former or present, in its ranks. The other crews, without exception, had at least one – if not two or three – rowers of that calibre in their boats. Our crew was outmatched. Nonetheless, they started well and held third for a little while but couldn’t maintain that rate. They picked up their pace toward the finish line and rowed the final 500 metres faster than they’d done the previous 500 metres. They weren’t so far behind as to be completely out of the race. We thought that was a commendable effort. YoungB reflected, quite rightly, that there’s no shame in coming last at that level of competition, though it’s a painful experience for all that. More plans scuppered? In that case, no.

And photos? Yeah, there were lots of those taken. And none of them yet edited.

I came home with two-thirds of a beanie – oh, yes, there were hours of daily travel during which I did knit! – and a completed Noro Silk Garden scarf and there’ll be photos of those when I get around to it. In the meantime, there are mitts to be completed and we’ve had funeral of an elderly family member and Nonna’s health is failing noticeably faster and YoungB is rushing towards the end of his first term and we have all sorts of things to sort out for his year in Italy. And, you know what? Plans for dealing with any of those are still haphazard. But we’ll get there, no matter which bits are scuppered along the way. Though it’s definitely a pity that I can’t knit in the dark because I could maybe bowl over a couple of birthday presents while everyone else is sleeping, instead of lying awake tossing and turning and worrying. Knitting would be much more productive.

Whatever your plans, I hope you manage to realise a few. I’m counting the scarf as a success, even if it wasn’t truly my intention to make it my travel knitting. As a very wise fellow rowing parent once remarked to me, you take your wins where you find them. Therefore, I’m calling that a win, whether or not it was my plan.


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YoungB came home with his state team polo top and hoodie today. Ooh, lovely. They do suit him.

I walked up a very steep hill yesterday, the sort where going down has to be taken very slowly for fear of falling. Oooh, my glutes are letting me know about it today!

And, ooooh, tomorrow YoungB turns 19 – I don’t believe it, but apparently it’s so – and on Friday he flies out to compete at Rowing National Championships, representing South Oz at the Interstate Regatta. Are we ready for this? Not really; but we’ll manage.

Sewing? None. Knitting? I’m getting my travelling projects lined up to take with me so that I can occupy myself usefully when I’m not driving during the two-day trip to Sydney. A beanie for a friend’s husband looks like being the ideal project: not complex but using a self-striping yarn that will keep things a bit interesting (and which I can deliver in person on arrival). Mitts also feature. But the Noro Silk Garden scarf that I still haven’t finished? No. I’m sure I’d finish it on the way, but that’s one I’ve discovered is better worked on when I can pay careful attention to it. Otherwise, I have a habit of losing slipped stitches and the edges are suddenly uneven. Knitting while travelling needs to be relatively simple. I’m sure there are plenty of knitters who work on immensely complex patterns while they’re travelling, but I personally find cables about as much complexity as I can deal with in a car. And I’ll be expected to converse.

Anything else? Organising photos I’d promised for an imminently forthcoming presentation night. The technology misbehaving didn’t help that, but at about 2 o’clock this morning, I called it quits and went to bed. As far as I can tell, the systems churned all night and delivered on the promise by this morning. Nothing I could include in the blog, of course!

So am I tired? Oooooh, don’t ask! But, ooooooh, it’s really all a bit exciting and we are buzzed. Hope you’re finding lots of ooooohsome things in your life, too!

PS: too tired to chase up links. Soz.


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