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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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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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do cups runneth over?

At the interstate regatta, at least as far as YoungB was concerned, the singles competition was important – he didn’t progress to finals but was pleased to have improved his time by about 30 seconds since our state championships – but the main game was the lightweight men’s IV, in preparation for the Penrith Cup competition that will take place during National Championships later this month. How did they fare? They missed out on a podium finish but, all in all, their coach was very pleased. They didn’t – and, indeed, don’t – have the same amount of race experience, and certainly none against that level of competition, as the other crews on the course, most of which contained national-level athletes. Even so, they were in third place right up to the 1500 metre mark (I was following it in real time on the computer and cheering loudly all the while). They placed fifth by about half a canvas. You can imagine that they were a little crushed after having started so well, but they’ve had that experience now and know what to expect for Nationals and the Cup in March. They’ll be out for blood, I expect; and the reputation of the state will be at stake.

As to jungle parties? I don’t know why I do it to myself, really, but I stayed up most of the Friday night sewing! Having the house to myself meant that I could but it hadn’t been my intention to do so. I went to bed a few times, but my mind was racing along at light speed, trying to solve problems. And when I found a solution, I had to implement it at once. My mantra, however, irrespective of problem or solution nutted out, was, “This is a $6 fancy dress costume, not couture sewing,” that being the fabric cost, not the value of time invested.

Of course I had equipment problems. My overlocker decided to throw in the towel. I must have lost nearly an hour doing a complete re-thread or three, but in the end I decided that more time spent there would be truly wasted and did most of the work on my sewing machine. It doesn’t take much longer to do that, I suppose, but the seams aren’t finished neatly (I could have taken extra time to do tidy seam finishes but that didn’t feature in my plan; that would rank as couture), and because of overlocking problems the side seams pull slightly. Neither is a major concern for a wear-once garment, I assure you; although it’s sufficiently well hemmed and put together that I could drag it out for a family dinner if I so chose. Or possibly a rowing presentation night.

Because I was travelling to the party with Youngest Aunt and Uncle, I had to meet their departure timetable (my own would have allowed me a bit more sleep, I think). Youngest Aunt had said they planned to go as Tarzan and Jane – at which, Dr B had suggested that I should, therefore, go as the monkey; he lives, though I don’t know why! – but in the end Youngest Aunt wore a leopard-print dress she’d had in her wardrobe from years ago and Youngest Uncle added a jungle-themed T-shirt – genuinely from Botswana – to his shorts and they were suitably attired. Youngest Aunt and I reckoned we almost matched, except that I’d spent some considerable time getting my hair to a state where lavish application of product would ensure that I could rightly consider myself the Wild Woman from Borneo. (It was what we were told when we were kids and we hadn’t brushed our hair, so I thought it would be both sufficiently jungly and reasonably achievable.)

Sorry to say, there are no photos of me and my outfit. I’ve sent out an SOS to other family photographers and while I’m hopeful of getting something at some point, I haven’t so far had any donations to the case. It’s true that the dress on its own is not terribly exciting or appealing, although the funnel neckline is rather fetching. I like that little piece of silliness. And I confess to having gone back and sewn the side seams so that they don’t pull quite so much. I mean, I know myself well enough to know that I’ll wear it again, no matter that it started life as a fancy dress outfit.

There’s been a lot more rowing. The state squad for Nationals has been announced, and YoungB has held his seat for the Lightweight Men’s IV. It’s the first time in seven years that our state has sent a crew for Penrith Cup comps, we’re told, so that’s exciting in itself (if they weren’t up to scratch, they wouldn’t have been given the nod). There was a presentation evening with wine and cheese sort of stuff (hence my suggestion that the leopard-skin dress might be all right; but Dr B insisted that wouldn’t be necessary because they’re rowers not ponces). What was nominally the last of the Schools regattas before Head of the River was lengthened by inclusion of competition for the remaining state championship races, those held over from the extremely hot second day of state champs (you know, when it was generally reckoned rowers were wimps, however sensible). We had a country regatta in the meantime there, and YoungB always enjoys those (we do, too) because they have a completely different atmosphere. He raced hard and was exhausted by the end of the day.

We had an OS friend staying with us – herself a former rower, so she’s always good value for YoungB because they can talk tech and be on precisely the same page; I understand a bit more than Dr B because I’ve done some rowing, but I can’t give advice from a position of expertise – and that’s been a lot of fun in all sorts of ways (including some long lunches at local eateries). We’ve all exercised together and learnt a few new tricks to keep the weight loss going. There have also been employment-related interviews of various sorts. In a word, we seem to have been doing a fair bit of rushing about and it’s sobering to realise that autumn is officially here and uni term has already begun. (YoungB probably feels as if he hasn’t had quite the break many of his mates have enjoyed because of the intense chemistry summer school he was obliged to complete and the amount of rowing training he’s been doing.)

More rowing and more jobs to apply for and more rushing about all over the place have all taken their toll on our patience and energy. YoungB was the other night ready for bed when he came home at about 7 o’clock (that was quietly reminiscent of a time when he was small and did actually fall asleep at the table).  Dr B and I are barely managing to put our feet one after the other. Oh, yeah, I think our cups runneth over all right, but with exhaustion rather than elation. Having said that, it was very heartening to see the state crews announced and officially presented to their adoring fans (parents, for the most part!) and not a little exciting to realise that YoungB can now claim to have been a team-mate with some of our local Olympians, who are also getting a (or in their case, another) state zootie.

On a positive and non-rowing-related note, the Maine Morning Mitts finally reached their intended recipient – ahead of her needing them, she assures me; I’ve needed some plenty of times already but it is probably the case that we keep much earlier hours – and she loves them and seems to think they were a lot of hard work. I have no intention of disillusioning her on that score. 😉

I’ve also sewn up half a dozen or so lavender bags for Nonna. I don’t know where hers disappear to, but no matter how many I send, she never seems to have any, whether I make them with loops to hang in the wardrobe or simply ones that she can throw into the drawers where she stores her undies. Still, that’s little enough effort and I try to make a couple extra – I did – so that I replenish our own stocks, which tend to dwindle because I have a terrible habit of taking them to give to other people.

If this has been a little more all over the place than usual, it’s a fair reflection of the way things are. Messy but busy. Whatever your place looks like, I hope you’ve been able to get lots of knitting and sewing done and that, if you, too, are involved with sporting folk, you’ve thoroughly enjoyed cheering their participation and saluting their achievements. Now I’d better get back to work or the house will probably fall apart around us!

PS: I’m not at my usual computer and I haven’t been able to scavenge any appropriate photos. 😦

 
 

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physically here but mentally elsewhere

We waved YoungB off this morning, en route to state championship competition. It’s a big regatta and the line-up of competitors contains some Olympic luminaries. This will be competition at a level YoungB hasn’t hitherto encountered on quite this scale and at a fantastic venue. Of course he competed at national championships when they were held here a few years ago and you might expect that he’ll be up against some of the same competitors again this time (because they’ll still be in the same age category as he is). Of course he rowed at Uni Games last year, and the competition there was one of those unpredictable and exciting things that comes from knowing that, in any of your races, you could be up against an Olympian. Gulp.

He’s a touch tense, he admitted, but like all the athletes who get to this level, he’s put in a lot of hours of hard work to win his seat in the boat. He’s fit and his technique is good, thanks to the combination of dedication and excellent coaching. We’re keeping our fnigres corsesd for him so if I don’t get back to posting for a day or so, well, you won’t be surprised – in the sense that I know I’m erratic at the best of times! – but for once you might reckon that I have other, perhaps more important things, on my mind.

As to jungles and big cats? Yeah, I haven’t given up on that but time is ticking away. I’ll have some uninterrupted time tomorrow and that’s when I plan to put my head down and whip up something for the party. I’ll let you know about that in due course.

In the meantime, if you’re anywhere near any of the flooding and extreme weather anywhere in the world, do take care, won’t you? I could keep my fnigres corsesd for you on that account, but I doubt if would be any more effective than it’s likely to be on YoungB’s behalf.

 

 
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Posted by on February 13, 2014 in Rowing, Sewing

 

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not in the zone

Oftentimes, when YoungB rows 16 or 20 or so Km at training, Dr B cycles (usually about 50 Km but sometimes a little less) and I walk. Depending on my energy levels, I can manage anything from about 8 Km to 12 Km (generally not more because of time constraints; and sometimes it’s as short as 4 Km if we’re really tight for time). Today I just couldn’t get things working. I was tired. I was feeling off colour (possibly from having eaten too close to going out) and generally I struggled to hit my stride and rhythm.

I managed to walk 10 Km in the time it took me on Monday to walk 12 Km (wearing my backpack today but not on Monday; so I like to think today’s walk was better in terms of resistance training). It’s still a respectable sort of distance, I know, but it seemed like very hard work. Dr B is quite convinced that I don’t work hard enough, no mater how far or how fast I walk. Therefore, in order to keep an eye on how hard I’m really working (or, as he believes, not working), he’s fixed up an old heart rate monitor for which we now need to find the operating manual. Groan. Just another piece of technology for me to have trouble with!

 
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Posted by on January 10, 2014 in Cycling, Health, Rowing

 

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