Winter training

A few years ago, I was a regular competitive Angler. I would spend my days on the banks of a river, canal or lake, come rain or shine. Back then people used to tell me I was crazy. That I should spend my days in the warmth and get a new hobby.

These days, I spend my time ON a river, canal or lake. It’s progression, but definitely in the wrong direction! As a rower, we go out in all weathers. Well, nearly all. We don’t go out in electrical storms or when the river is completely iced over!

Yesterday, I was due to train with Huntingdon Ladies as they’ve asked me to fill in for an injury ahead of their Cambridge Winter League race next week. When we got to the boat club, it was -8c and the river was 90% frozen, so we didn’t go out.

Apparently it was -10c in St Neots yesterday at 8.30am and yet the open water swimmers still went out! With the water temperature at 1c, I think they take the prize for being the craziest!

This morning it was a balmy -1c when I arrived at St Neots. We have a Ladies 8 preparing for a number of Head races coming up. The first, the Head of the Trent (6K) is just a fortnight away and they were in need of a cox. Yes, I volunteered.

Luckily with plenty of layers on, it was just my toes and face which felt it most keenly. It was a brilliant outing but with a small amount of ice navigation required. Staying away from the edge, I managed to navigate the boat through the open, clear water but by 10am, the ice was breaking away from the edges.

When we turned near the club house for the first time, there was a strange sound. As we stopped, we realised the sound was coming from the mass of ice next to us. I can only describe the sound as magical. I’ve never heard anything like it before, but as the ice broke up and gently brushed against the block next to it, it seemed to sing.

We’re one of the only clubs near by with a river that isn’t frozen so we’ve had Peterborough and Star Rowing Clubs training this weekend. During the second turn, one of the other crews out shouted to us to stop. I halted the crew and asked what the problem was and they shouted simply, ‘ice’.

We drifted and there was the familiar clunk as we hit the side of a drifting plate of ice. Our coach on the safety launch pulled back and helped to guide us out.

A small amount of careful navigation later and we were clear. As we travelled down the river, there were only one or two plates of ice, but I could see from the thickness that we wouldn’t want to hit them!

Nice cup of warm coffee, boiling hot shower and lots of layers to now warm my poor cold bones.

Here’s to warming up! Summer training can’t come soon enough.

Looking back to look forward

A few years ago I made the decision to leave broadcast. I’d been working in and around broadcasters since I was 16.

I remember my first job. I was answering the telephones for Sue and Pete Wilson on BBC Radio Gloucestershire. The work was fun, chatting to the regular callers and ensuring the phones were answered as promptly and politely as possible. I was just shadowing to start with, but soon I was on my own when the guy I’d been working with, Matt Peacock, moved on to present his own show in the morning.

I had the time of my life at the Radio Station. I put in a lot of hours and listened to everything that went on, learning the ropes and taking up every opportunity to try something new. I moved on to present Sport Bulletins, to help out when the Sport team of Paul Furley and Ian Randall weren’t in and I loved it.

Even better was my stint co-presenting the Summer Saturday Sport show with Richard Atkins. I provided the bulk of the Sport input, including securing an interview with the Minardi F1 team boss Paul Stoddart. Sadly it was the day both cars fell out of the 107% rule and he spent the afternoon with the Stewards!

Over time, my career moved on and with stints at BBC World Service (working for grey bars – 24 hour news) and both Audio and Newsroom Playout project teams, I found myself wondering about the world outside the newsroom.

I don’t regret taking time out. Working as a software developer in Gloucestershire was good, but I must admit I don’t miss the peak time rush of Flamingo Flowers. Working in Despatch over Valentines Peak to help the team get the pallets on to vehicles and out the door was actually a lot of fun, but don’t tell them that.

Around 19 months ago, I got the opportunity to move back into London and back into broadcast. You may have heard of Bloomberg. A Financial and Television company which broadcasts 24/7, with shows out of the US, UK and Asia. As a Broadcast Engineer it’s been almost perfect. My colleagues have been amazing and are some of the smartest people I’ve ever met.

This week, I resigned.

So what now? Well, it’s time to take a step back into software development but within Broadcast. And sport. Time will tell on the detail but needless to say, I am very excited about the coming months!

Sadly it does mean that I won’t be taking part in the Arch to Arc cycle challenge for Help the Hospices. I plan on taking part in one of their other events, but not this one.

One thing you’ll notice missing from this blog, is my time at University. I did go. Part time, for 2 weeks. I quit after I got a job travelling with the BBC as part of the training team for their digital audio playout system.

Everything I know now, has been through hardwork, determination and passion. I wouldn’t mind attending a course as you always pick up new ideas, but for me, I wouldn’t change a thing about how I got where I am now. I’ve met too many wonderful people and have too many great stories to ever want to change that.