Friday, 6 July 2007

Thames River conditions and strong stream warnings.

Red warning boards notifying strong stream conditions are being displayed at Boseney (Oxford), Clifton, and Whitchurch. Advised ALL river vessels to refrain from navigation on reaches adjacent to these locks.

We'd have to pass through all of these and when taking advise from the pros one lock keeper described us doing thr trip in these river conditions as a suicide mission. Hmmm.

Yellow warning boards are being displayed at St Johns to Boveney, Penton Hook, Chertsey, Shepperton, Teddington. Unpowered vessels are advised to refrain from navigation in the reaches above these locks.

A different lock keeper to the one above said that we'd be fighting the river all the way. Imagine 100 metres of the Thames narrowing down to go under a bridge or around a sharpe corner or worst still through a lock. Like when you put you finger over the end of a garden hose the pressure created at these 'pinch points' would be immense.

It's looking like this trip is going to have to be re-scheduled. Sorry all.

P.S. Please be aware of river conditions by calling 0845 988 1188 when prompted press 1 followed by quick dial 011131 for strong stream conditions - this will give you info on the area that we area covering.

Saturday, 2 June 2007

Training - Session Three

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

Picture the scene. Three burley men (okay, two and me!), fighting our way through Readings May Bank Holiday traffic to get to a duck race in Henley. This is normal behaviour apparently!!

After stopping off at McDonalds we soon realised that we had cut it a bit fine and may not make the start of the race. The plastic ducks would not be happy. We consoled ourselves by texting a local radio station and demanding they play 'Rock The Boat' in our honour.

As we pulled into the Henley car park we could hear the race officials starting the race. We only had the one thing to do that day and we managed to miss the 2pm start of that. We even watched Mighty Ducks as motivation. Maybe next year eh guys!

After a go on the coconut shires (I won - everyone else missed), Doyle had a game of 'chip a golf ball into a net' and when handed the teddy he'd won he announced loudly that it was all for Swaff - bless. Swaff then managed to 'win' a toy of his own by throwing a golf ball into a tin bucket from 2 foot away - apparently it took a lot more skill than I've given him credit.

After the obligatory ice cream (I wonder if Swaff will demand ice cream when its raining on the boat?) we decided to have a look around the rowing museum for inspiration. We found some inspirational outfits (this is canal clobber though so wont match our straw boaters) and had a game of giant snakes and ladders whilst all the children and their parents looked on in complete bemusement and a hint of fear. The photo below is meant to be me celebrating my win although I'm clearly not looking convinced. Truth is this was the fourth attempt and shortly prior to Swaffs fat fingers hitting the shutters my arms were in the air along with the giant die. Some images are best left alone.

We then found the ultimate training tool - check out this video and try not to snigger in a pre-pubescent child like manner... go on, I challenge you...

Here's some random pics taken on the day:

Monday, 28 May 2007

Sponsorship Update - £500 Target hit!

Due to some AMAZING fund raising from you all and especially by my Sis (Caroline - thank you x) and her friends, and also some very generous donations from the likes of Doyle’s sister (Erin - you're a star) and Sarah and her parents and EVERYONE else we have just broken the £500 target. To keep momentum going I have consequently raised the target to £750 - if we hit that £1000 will become our goal.
A big THANKYOU to all of you that have donated and forwarded the link to our sites - please keep the word moving and hopefully £1000 will soon become achievable.
James x

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Birthday Boy Conquers Pop-Up Pirate


On Friday, 25th May 2007, Doyle Webb became one of the only people in the entire world to complete the popular kids game Pop-Up Pirate. The game, designed for ages 4 - 6 years, is said to be notoriously challenging but none the less Mr Webb, of Salisbury, Wiltshire, re-wrote the record books whilst celebrating his 27th birthday.

Afterwards Doyle was heard to say; "That was the best thing I've ever done in my life, I don't think anyone will ever do that again"


Training - Session Two

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

I drove the sixty odd miles to Salisbury on Saturday morning - I'd promised to get to Doyles and Jims (AKA: Swaff) for around 10am so I got there about 12 instead. I hate mornings. As it happened the boys had been out the night before and were still feeling the affects of their sillyness. Anyone whose ever been out on the town with these two will know exactly what I mean... They are VERY silly indeed!!

From their house we headed straight to the New Forrest so that we could pick up the bikes that we'd hired. By mistake we parked behind a pub and what with it being a nice sunny day and us all being hungry burgers and beverages were soon ordered. By the time we actually got to the bike hire place it was nearly 2 O'Clock so the kind lady behing the counter suggested that we try the 9 mile ride and shoved an A5 paper map into Swaffs hand. None of us had ridden a bike in over 10 years so 9 miles seemed, at the time, fine. (If I'm honest it sounded like touture - a couple of laps around the pub car park was more in line with my thinking!).

Suprisingly, we soon got into the swing of things and were shifting up and down through the gears like Mary Poppins as we whizzed past fields of cows and ponies.

Doyle and Swaff had already spotted on the map that there was a tea room on route which meant that ice cream was on Swaffs mind from early doors! Every time we go out he demands ice cream - and then he wonders why he's only allowed to play in goal?

Here's a few photos from the day...

Tuesday, 22 May 2007

Your rowing in what?

A Victorian camping Skiff... everyone asks the same questions; Whats that? What's it look like? How big is it?

To be honest the three of us don't really know the answers either. In fact the only one we've seen in person was in a musuem and we're all hoping that ours is bigger as we've got to sleep on the damn thing for eight days!!

Oh, and we've seen them online from the place where we're hiring them (

Here's a few pics that we've collected...

Monday, 21 May 2007

Training Day - Session One

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

So, we thought it would be a good idea to lose our water virginity. Trouble was Victorian Skiffs are hard to come by and it turns out pretty damn expensive to hire, so we opted for the next best thing... a Canadian Canoe. Through efficient time management at work (in other words he pretended to be working whilst doing this) Jim (AKA: Swaff) managed to find a place to hire a Canadian Canoe on the Kennet & Avon Canal near Bath.

After passing Little Baby Jesus’ house (that’s a whole other story!) and stopping off at a burger van for a breakfast baguette we turned up at the bike shop where they hired Canoes. We were all hung over - not just a little but a lot - so when we saw the tiny green canoe that was meant to hold our collective weight of nearly 50 stone we nearly bottled it.

Doyle tentatively climbed aboard (bet that’s the first time Doyle’s been described as doing anything tentatively!) closely followed by Swaff and I. We only had two oars so the plan was to take it in turns and just see how far we could get.

The hardest thing about Canadian canoes is keeping them in a straight line - one person paddles on one side and the other on the reverse side. If you're both the same power and keeping in time with a good rythm you go straight... we rarely went straight.

After what felt like hours but was more like 20mins Swaff noticed a small child with an ice cream and consequently spent the next hour demanding we find the vendor.

Luck eventually smiled kindly on his wishes when we moored up (crashed into the stone wall exhausted) and noticed a small hand painted sign pointing to some garden tea rooms. Being the civilised trio that we are we instantly recognised this as just our kind of place. After openly being mugged of £15 we were handed a small pot of tea and 3 bowls of ice cream. Not only that but the owners of the tea room had deemed it okay for their two young children to run around the garden naked. Struggling to know where to look I buried my head in my 'River Thames & Southern Waterways' book and carefully calculated that we'd managed nearly 3 miles in 2 hours. If we had twice as many oars (as we would in a Skiff) then by these calculations we'd surely cover 8 miles in 2 hours. Of course, when we row from London - Oxford we'll be fighting against the flow - but the Thames cant be that fast can it? (Answers below please!)

After tea we went back to the canoe and decided that one more mile was in order before we turned around thus making the total miles covered a rather satisfying eight.

Here's a few pics I took on my camera phone...

Swaff does have eyes he just thinks his eyelids don’t get enough attention:

Ice cream and naked children all round... (does that sound a bit TOO weird?!)

Pointing to Narnia, or at least to the Tea Room...

Friday, 18 May 2007

Now open for sponsorship...

With just under 2 months to go untill the big week our training regime is really beginning to kick in. Rumour has it Doyle and Jim are now under 18 stone so they're clearly taking things seriously! Me being the professional athlete that I am I've started my training tentatively by only smoking a packet of Marlborough Lights a day as opposed to the usual two.

It's even been suggested that athletes such as ourselves should be able to do London - Oxford and back again within the 8 days... it's out there boys!!!

We have decided to try and raise some money for The Manic Depression Fellowship helps people with bipolar disorder regain control of their illness and gives them practical tools to rebuild their lives. This is done by offering information on treatments, research, new therapies; local support via a network of self help groups, and access to training courses in self help techniques.

If you would like to sponsor us online please click HERE