Another state school makes rowing history

Henley Regatta has only just started, but already the dramas are unfolding. One is the debut appearance of Montclair, a state school from New Jersey which has been making waves in the US rowing world by beating the daylights out of a succession of privileged (and quite possibly smug) private-school crews in super-expensive boats. Nothing…

C2 or RP3? Bring on the Putney guinea-pigs

For 10 hectic days last month I was down on the River Lot, 50 km south of Bergerac. This is the famously smooth, slow-flowing water on which so many of the world’s top rowers have honed their skills.  First stop was the La Base camp at Temple-sur-Lot, where crews from the French national squads and…

LOSBC hits the rocks

Bad news, to put it mildly, reached me yesterday from London. It seems that the London Oratory School has announced that it is shutting down its rowing programme. This will apparently involve winding up the LOSBC, laying off its staff, selling its assets, and using the proceeds to offset the school’s budget deficit. The school…

Subterranean Boathouse Blues

22 Feb 2017. Things had been going well. Too well. Something is about to go wrong, I thought as I set off on yet another 450-mile drive from London to Bergerac. However, the road to Portsmouth was clear, and there was no sign of German bombs or mines in the harbour (so on that score…

How to Become a Swami

Instead of returning as usual to the parental home for Christmas 2016, I dropped everything and went back to school. This was the Sivananda Yoga Teacher Training Course at Reith, near Kitzbühel – a famously demanding learning programme which begins every day at 5.30 am, continues until 10.00 pm., allows no meat, alcohol or coffee,…

Definitely not a swimming pool

The word has got around that we’re building a swimming pool underneath the house. Some passers-by asked me about it, and wanted to know why we didn’t put our pool in the garden like everyone else. I tried to explain that the noisy excavations now coming out towards the road were for dry boats rather than wet humans, but they look skeptical. All will become clear in due course, I assure them, dodging the issue.

Meanwhile, 9,250 km to the west…

I’m just back from a brief trip to NW California – San Francisco and the Napa Valley. Long enough to catch up with some friends, go on a 2-day cycling trip, drink some wine, and visit a Yoga retreat. Great scenery, with autumn colours still glowing, and miles of well-tended Sauvignon Blanc vines to remind us of the Dordogne.

Notes from a French building site

The new roof structure is mostly up, apart from the cladding panels which are due on site this week. The sequence below shows the progress made over a 16-day period last month, as seen from our neighbours’ house across the road.

We have lift-off

It takes a bit of nerve to strip the roof off one’s house in October. I’ve never previously tried it, and would not particularly recommend it as a way of calming the nerves. But in case you are considering it, I can report that it does not feel too bad if you have a Project Manager such as Didier Grandjean in charge of operations.

The 1860 Club

In August, just when most sensible people are escaping the heat and taking time off rowing training, I am poised to join the Sport Nautique de Bergerac (or SNB), which is not only one of France’s top rowing clubs, but is also conveniently close – just 1.2 km downstream from Allée Beau Rivage.