19. Oct, 2018
19. Oct, 2018
26. Sep, 2018


 Having been a track runner for most of my life, why now Indoor Rowing? The simple answer is due to arthritis in my right knee caused by

-Initially inappropriate training shoes,

-Repetitive stress injuries and not appreciating the benefits of crosstraining in preventing them

-running too soon after injury

-too much training on roads...i.e. running facing oncoming traffic, forgetting the camber and how many miles got covered off balance with more stress on one leg than the other.

-Not listening to my body.

 Sounds familiar? Now north of 76, my choices of not just sport but competitive sport are very limited. My wife’s disability means that I cannot leave her alone in the house for any length of time. This rules out running (even if I could), cycling and trips to even the nearest gym/pool. True, I have my own backgarden shed/gym (see previous blogs) and I have used it for weight and boxing training but even a treadmill, static bike and rowing machine are solitary activities that cannot provide competition.

But hold yew hard, old paartner! (Norfolkese for wait a minute).

 My old rowing machine was about to give up the ghost. In seeking an updated replacement on the internet I came across Concept 2...a make of rower (or Ergometer) found in gyms and homes across the world. Boxes began to get ticked.

 Each machine is fitted with a computer that shows and records every aspect of a training session. These details can then be recorded on a Flash Card, transferred to a home computer and then uploaded to an online log. I bought one.

 Now for the clever bit…

 Because Indoor Rowing is subject to neither tide, climate nor weather the performances of individuals can be compared across the world. This enables international crews to be formed and to compete in virtual regattas. At the moment the annual “Fall Challenge” is in full cry. Hundreds of clubs enter worldwide to row the greatest number of metres, September 15-October 15, 2018. I am proud to belong to “The Ancient Mariners,” rowing in the boat “Tasmania.” Bring in mind that most of our members are in their seventies and eighties, we are currently fifth. My contribution is to row 10,000 metres per day for the duration of the competition.

 Finally, what benefits has the sport conferred?

Self respect.

At this moment I feel sufficiently fit, healthy and strong to care for my wife in the manner she needs and deserves.


I have lost weight sensibly at the rate of 1lb per week. Because rowing is a pushing and not a pulling sport (60% legs; 30% core; 10% arms), I have been able to safely develop muscles around my knees to the point I can now walk without pain. It has allowed me to get very fit but far from the dialy tiredness of running 7/7.

 Honest and open amateur competition.

I like the ranking system and enjoy being able to tackle distances from 100m to full Marathon unlike my running where I was firmly in the 200/400m bracket at the sharp end of competition.

 Membership of a strong international cameraderie

It is strong enough to get me out of my bed at six in the morning for the first of my two daily sessions rather than let my mates down. “Mates?” you might well say, “people you will never meet face to face. How can they be mates?”

 The answer is simple. They, like me, all row with Ulyssees (see previous blog)…Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'

We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

 Alternatively, as Queen put it…

We are the champions, my friend,

We keep on fighting to the end.”

 Anybody who shares that outlook regardless of colour, gender, sexuality, status, nationality, creed or age, is a mate of mine.


15. Sep, 2018

Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892), Poet Laureate, did not only write "The Charge of the Light Brigade" but a large body of other work that included a particular favourite of mine, "Ulysses". I first read it aged 16 for my "O" levels. I understood it but it did not resonate with me. Sixty years on, it an inspiration.


Ulysses a.k.a. Odysseus is one of literature's great heroes. In the Iliad, Homer depicts him as the King of Ithaca who leads a contingent in the great task force of Agamemnon sailing to Troy to reclaim Helen, the wife of Menelaus.

After a siege that dragged on for ten years, it was Odysseus who devised the ploy of the wooden horse. Containing Odysseus and his small task force it was left outside the gates of Troy as an apparent peace offering as the Greek task force sailed they did but only a short way round the coast. Once the Trojans had celebrated themselves stupid, by a quick overland yomp the Greek force presented itself once again outside the walled city. Odysseus and co then crept out of the horse and opened the gates....


With Troy destroyed, Odysseus and the rest of the fleet sailed for home, but so began what was to be a ten year voyage before he and his crew were to get there thanks to wind, tide and the enmity of the gods.

When he finally did return he found his kingdom left to rack and ruin and infested with suitors for his faithful wife's hand. He made small shrift of that lot in a particularly violent "cleansing of the stables" and settled down to restore his kingdom and rule in peace.

In Tennyson's poem, however, Ulysses is portrayed not as the all-conquering mature hero {"The Sacker of Cities) but in old age bored and burdened by a routine that is stifling still-burning ambition. Hands up all of you who have not been there!
If you never read another poem, please go the extra mile to read and understand this one., especially its last six lines…

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven,
that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,

Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.”

(Yeah. Bring it on!

DTF 2018)






Please do yourself a favour and take time out to study and think about this ...)

It little profits that an idle king,
By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
Unequal laws unto a savage race,
That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy'd
Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when
Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
Vext the dim sea: I am become a name;
For always roaming with a hungry heart
Much have I seen and known; cities of men
And manners, climates, councils, governments,
Myself not least, but honour'd of them all;
And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
I am a part of all that I have met;
Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades
For ever and forever when I move.
How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
As tho' to breathe were life! Life piled on life
Were all too little, and of one to me
Little remains: but every hour is saved
From that eternal silence, something more,
A bringer of new things; and vile it were
For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.

This is my son, mine own Telemachus,
To whom I leave the sceptre and the isle,—
Well-loved of me, discerning to fulfil
This labour, by slow prudence to make mild
A rugged people, and thro' soft degrees
Subdue them to the useful and the good.
Most blameless is he, centred in the sphere
Of common duties, decent not to fail
In offices of tenderness, and pay
Meet adoration to my household gods,
When I am gone. He works his work, I mine.

There lies the port; the vessel puffs her sail:
There gloom the dark, broad seas. My mariners,
Souls that have toil'd, and wrought, and thought with me—
That ever with a frolic welcome took
The thunder and the sunshine, and opposed
Free hearts, free foreheads—you and I are old;
Old age hath yet his honour and his toil;
Death closes all: but something ere the end,
Some work of noble note, may yet be done,
Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.
The lights begin to twinkle from the rocks:
The long day wanes: the slow moon climbs: the deep
Moans round with many voices. Come, my friends,
'T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

10. Sep, 2018


Exiting a hotel lift with our medium-sized suitcase, a 40 year old so TOLD me of his intention.  To my surprise I felt a sudden surge of anger.  I told him in no uncertain terms that "I could manage very well on my own,  thank you,"   it taking real self control not to add "you patronising git."

It was not until later that the reason for my anger dawned on me.  I had been OUTED  as being old  and so been introduced to my first whiff of Ageism..

Not so long ago I read of a Polish migrant having been beaten up by a bunch of drunken English patriots. Later in court he swore he had not known them while his assailants admitted they had not known him.  From the witness box the Polish gentleman perceptively  said that it was "if he, as an individual had become a nation!"  i.e. had been seen as the sole target for all the real or imagined prejudices against the entire Polish nation.  He had been seen as a stereotype.

Now substitute for "Pole"... "Woman", "Black", Jew, "Muslim", "LGBT". "76 year old pensioner." Apart from having been TOLD what I would do, I had been clocked as old and this had brought a series of knee-jerk assumptions   concerning physical and mental deficiency.

Ironically,  my would-be saviour was sweating profusely having waddled all of ten metres to the lift from the bar while the object of his pity had only six days before, rowed a half marathon in under one hour fifty minutes. 
Doubtless he meant well and yes, I should have been more charitable but if you do feel  the need to offer such  help, please don't make assumptions,  always ASK and never tell. We do have our pride, you know and as Seneca sugggested, "Before you judge, investigate!"