Wednesday, 19 July 2017

"Visitor rowing" in the Netherlands and the romance of the coxed single

We all like going on holiday. Fact. And we all love rowing. Fact. So rowing on holiday would be like chocolate chip ice cream in a chocolate-lined cone with a chocolate flake, right?

Yes, but how can it be done when you're somewhere that you got to by train? It's not like you can hire a sliding seat rowing boat like you can hire bikes in touristy destinations, is it?

Well, generally, no. But one Dutch rowing club has come up with a neatly-branded service that makes it all possible. Please give a huge cheer for Gastroeien.nl (trans "visitor rowing")!

Saturday, 15 July 2017

Because who wouldn't want to win a stork?

As far as I'm concerned, the Netherlands is marathon rowing heaven. I mean, they have an actual marathon CALENDAR, so many are the 50km+ events that take place each year. Compare that with the UK's single event of that distance... Occasionally I wonder about moving there just so I could take part in them all, but then I'd have nothing to look forward to afterwards (and recent political events have put paid to the idea unless I got on with it very quickly), so instead I'm working my way through their list at the rate of about one even a year. But how to choose which one to do next when you're feeling like a kid in a sweet shop?

Actually, the 54km Haegsche Bluf Marathon (trans "the Hague Bluff Marathon" - despite being almost unpronounceable, a lot of Dutch is quite easy to decipher in writing) was an easy pick for two reasons. First, most of my Dutch marathon rowing friends are members at De Laak, the club that organises it, but second, the prizes are STORKS! Soft toy ones, I hasten to add. And wearing club scarves too. Other events take note.

Friday, 9 June 2017

Venetian rowing and why it's like pushing a fridge


For those of us for whom rowing means heading forwards while going backwards, hanging off our blade handles and - above all - sitting DOWN, Venetian-style rowing is about as different as you can get whilst still being rowing. But for all that, the tiny taste I had of it in a RowVenice lesson was as delicious as a Cornetto (not provided).

There's nothing that quite makes a holiday like being able to row during it and even though my recent trip to Venice was for the purpose of taking part in the Vogalonga (literally, "long row"), I'd done that before so I really needed a different rowing fix and anyway I was dead keen on having a go at the Venetian-style stand up version.

Thursday, 25 May 2017

I-Spy on a Meander


Let's start with some definitions. "I-Spy" books were much loved by those of us who were kids in the 1970s - and probably by our parents too as they kept us vaguely occupied when on holiday. Each little booklet contained a list of things you might see (with a short, informative explanation), which you ticked off and got "points" for: in I-Spy Birds, for example, you got something like 5 points for a mallard but 50 for an osprey. You get the idea. Some were easier than others: the whole of I-Spy Churches could be completed on a single visit to York Minster, but I digress.

Once you'd amassed 1,500 points you could send off your book to Big Chief I-Spy at Wigwam-on-the-Green (why do I remember this stuff?) and it would come back with a stamp on it. Children were more easily pleased then.