Friday, 30 May 2008

The end before the end...

Between midday Sat 24th and 4pm Wed 28th the three of us covered 50 miles. EVERY single person that we met said that we were mad to be rowing against the flow - especially considering the current river conditions.

On the Wednesday we'd been up at 7.30am and managed to cover our planned 10 miles ahead of schedule. Our intention was to carry on rowing for a couple more hours and cover the 4 miles to Goring where we'd have approximately 29 miles left to Oxford and 3 days to do it in. Luck was not on our side however and as we went through Whitchurch Lock at Pangbourne the lock keeper changed his lock from a Yellow Warning to a Red Warning. Although the Environment Agency / Lock Keepers cannot legally stop you from using the locks in these conditions the advise is to stay off the river.

We'd managed to make it through three days of Yellow warnings which were extremely hard work but achievable. The three of us were adamant that we could make it but we knew that we had to call the owner of the boat to advise him of the strong stream conditions and get his blessing to take his pride and joy through these locks. Unfortunately, Tom was not happy for us to continue with it on red warnings so the decision was no longer in our hands. Two hours later and we were unloading Rosalind and and arranging our lift home.

It was an emotionally end to a truly tough 5 days. Although we didn't make it to Oxford we experienced physical and mental highs and lows and a lot of lessons were learnt none of which the three of us would have missed for the world. Perhaps Pangbourne is the best place to finish - afterall, it was here that Jerome K Jerome and his crew decided to throw in the towel on his famous trip.

Don't be fooled by the weather now. The Thames is very slow to react and is still rising and swelling from the heavy rain we had earlier in the week.

If you haven't already sponsored us and would like to make a donation to the Bipolar Charity please see:

For those of you that have a good knowledge of the river this is what the EA Floodline Recorded Information line is saying now;

"Red warning board notifying strong stream conditions at all locks between Clifton and Whitchurch (We'd need to navigate 6 of these locks) and Sonning and Marlow locks inclusive. Also red at Old Windsor and Chertsey Locks. All river users are advised from navigating the river in all vessels. Yellow waring boards are displayed at all other locks from Saint Johns to Teddington."

James, Doyle and Swaff

Friday, 23 May 2008

Its gonna rain and then rain some more...

Okay, this is it then. The day before launch. I woke at 6am and couldn't get back to sleep as I was too excited. It's a bit like the feeling you have at Christmas time! 

Doyle and Swaff will be here in a couple of hours and we're heading out to get some last minute shopping.

If recent weather reports are to be believed then we'll be buying some waterproof clothing today. Online reports suggest that it's going to rain on Saturday, Sunday and then all the way through till Wednesday. I haven't found any reports stretching further ahead than this but hopefully there'll be some sun at some point!

Really it should be no surprise to learn that it's going to rain - after all, last year was rained off, and this year the trip coincides with England playing cricket as well as a Bank Holiday Monday. What chance of fine weather did we ever have?!?

Sunday, 18 May 2008

The actual boat...

Well, it could be the actual boat. If we don't get this one then we'll be having one very very similar. Apparently this is the four man - all I can say is the Victorians must have been a lot smaller than us if we're meant to sleep on this for a week!

We managed to get out on the water for twenty minutes or so which was good enough to get more of a feel for what we'll have to do next week. I think the locks could be interesting!

The Crew...

With less than a week to go till launch today will be the first time that we see the actual camping skiff that we'll be rowing. I'll let you all know later how it goes with our 5th training session (When I say training what I really mean is..)

Monday, 5 May 2008

Training - Session Four - Our Moment of Realisation!

When I say training what I really mean is...

With only three more weekends left until we start our 100 mile voyage down the Thames the three of us thought it would be a good idea to get out in a rowing boat together for the first time!

Confidence levels were high as we approached the Thames at Henley. The river looked calm and, at first glance, almost without flow. We didn't remain confident for long.

We started off rowing against the flow with Swaff and I taking up the oars. After fifteen minutes we turned downstream and rowed on for a further twenty or so minutes. We then moored up and took a five minute breather and recorded this video, our first moment of realisation...

We had only hired the boat for an hour so it was now time to let Doyle have a taste of the rowing. This is when we had our second moment of realisation...

Saturday, 26 April 2008

Song suggestions wanted for this blog...

If you fancy listening to some music whilst reading this blog I've added this clever application at the very bottom of this page which allows you to listen to some music as chosen by yours truly.

So far I've added;

STAY by Lisa Loeb
RAINDROPS by Ben Folds Five
ANYWAY by Dynamite Hack

I've also added some others as suggested by readers of the blog. If you fancy making a suggestion then Click here to leave your song suggestion(s) and comments They can be funny, serious, ironic or otherwise.

Sunday, 6 April 2008

A reminder of the charity we're raising money for...

Hi All,

We're doing this trip for The MDF Bipolar Organisation ( ). I'm sure many of you are unsure what Bipolar / Manic depression is so here's a short video of what those diagnosed with MDF have to say about it;

Sunday, 23 March 2008

The original 'Three Men'

- from left to right Carl Hentscel (Harris), George Wingrave (George) and Jerome K. Jerome (J).