Messing about in boats

In 2014 as I was coming up to 80 I decided  it was a good moment to start rowing again.  My last serious rowing was 65 years ago when I reached the finals of the junior sculls at my school!  However I did cox the fourth and last boat of my college at Cambridge, so appropriately my debut at the local rowing club was as a cox of a senior citizens’ four.  I managed to steer them into the bank several times but otherwise it was fine except that I was never asked again, so I took to steering my own boat alternating that with going in pairs, with ladies who seemed to be spare like me.  Between the autumn of 2014 and 2015 I managed to get in about fifteen trips without serious incident, making my way the two miles to the boathouse on my electric bike or on foot.  My fellow rowers were very helpful in trying to prevent me from lifting weights which were too heavy for me.  Then there was a gap of about eight months while I dealt with various ailments until May of this year when I started again.  I teamed up with a fellow oldie whom I recruited but who had done rather better than I, being actually allowed at times to join the elite four.  We took two trips together, the first one going fine apart from the fact that again my steering wasn’t too good and we ran into several reed banks.  However the second was not so uneventful.  This time when we got on to the bank we managed to capsize the boat trying to extricate ourselves.  Fortunately the famous four were not too long in rowing our way, but then they had to go back to the boathouse to  launch the motor boat to come to our rescue.  This took a little while so that we had twenty minutes in a very cold river.  We managed to keep afloat by hanging on to the boat and treading water like mad, but we also managed to get close to freezing.  When we got ashore my friends in whose car I had come was able to drive me back home where  I was wrapped in dry towels.  Our lovely warden heard what had happened and immediately came rushing over and dialed 999 with the result that we very soon had a paramedic and two ambulance drivers dancing attendance.  They were all wonderfully helpful and sanguine about my foolishnessgave me oxygen, took various tests and most kindly stayed until my temperature and blood pressure had risen to normal limits and then I was sent to bed with a hot water bottle.  This put a rather inglorious end to my brief rowing career for good, as I was firmly told by all concerned.  All part of life’s rich tapestry, as they say, which in my case I recently described as a comedy of errors.


About lifestylertony

Married to Judith, two daughters, Susanna and Jessica, three grandchildren, Thomas, Harriet, twins aged 13 and Joel aged 9. Susanna is married to Jim and lives in Brighton. Jessica i married to Simon and lives in Birmingham. We live in Oundle. Recently started OTT, Oundle Transition Town. Chair of Lifestyle Movement. Invved with Little Gidding. Helped to found community there in 1973. Cooordinates Companions of Little Gidding.Wife Judith secretary of Friends of Little Gidding and founder of T.S.Eliot anuual festival.
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3 Responses to Messing about in boats

  1. clwilke says:

    I can imagine who “all concerned” were in ending your rowing career. I can hear her now! So glad all well that ends well.

  2. Michael says:

    I don’t recall; did you attend Magdalen College at Cambridge?

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