"A word on the spot is worth a cartload of recollections"
James Maggs, Southwold diarist 1797-1890

Saturday, 31 July 2010

Rowing the North Atlantic

A British crew is a day away from breaking a century-old record for rowing 3,200 miles across the North Atlantic. They are currently 50 miles from their destination at the Isles of Scilly. They've been rowing for 44 days, having set off from New York on 17th June in a 23ft boat.

On the whole the weather has been kind to them, though on 30 June their log read "Had a very hairy night with at least three knock downs, more than a dozen swampings (difficult to keep count) and one capsize, and had to go in to survival mode to keep the boat upright. The seas were large, mainly five to seven metres, with the occasional huge 10-metre wave."

On July 16 it read: "Came off the sea anchor and have had a tough, tough, day, the seas have been pretty big and have been swamped several times and knocked down twice, we were hit by a huge breaker, a 10m wave. Mr Carroll went for a brief swim. We are longing to get back home to comfort, being dry and warm."

Mad as loons. Report here. Video clips from an earlier, aborted, start, here and here.

Update 1 August:
They're in. They met the Queen Mary 2 ocean liner halfway across, video here.

Monday, 26 July 2010

The Dunwich Dynamo

On Saturday evening Nick and I set off on our bikes from Hackney to ride the 120 miles to Dunwich on the Suffolk coast. Among the 1000 or so other cyclists departing in a long stream between 8 & 9pm was a man carrying a small dog in his front basket.

It was a mild night with a gentle following breeze. We saw some stars along the way but the full moon didn't rise. All the same for most of the ride we weren't in pitch darkness, something I was grateful for as I was using my weak-beam city lights. Nick of course had powerful twin-beam LEDs plus a helmet light. Riding in front of him when all 3 were on made me feel a bit like a rabbit caught in the beam of car headlights.

We missed the food stop at 55 miles so I had to resign myself to eating flapjacks and energy bars for the ride.

At 0230 at Coddenham I got off my bike and sat outside the old Crown Inn. Now a private house, in the last 15 years or so of the eighteenth century it was a coaching inn run by my great-great-great-great-great grandparents. After he died in 1802 she continued to run the place for another couple of decades.

After Coddenham I felt I was on home ground, which helped me cope with the increasing aches and pains. A few miles later I realised I was off-route when I found myself at Earl Soham, where my g-g-g grandfather was a (wind)miller in the 1850s. But I knew the route from there onwards.

The final miles were an endurance test, but I arrived at Dunwich beach at 0500 to find that the beach cafe was open, and selling beer. Bliss.

Update 30 July: good report on the Dynamo from Real Cycling

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Latitude 1, Brain Cells 0

Apart from a sharp shower on Saturday morning, the 3 days of the festival were blissfully warm and sunny. The standout act for me, by a long way, was The National who headlined on Friday and made my hair stand on end. They were bowled over by the reaction of the crowd and responded with a blistering set. Tom Jones gave a superb performance of songs from his Praise and Blame album on the main stage on Sunday afternoon, also loved by the crowd. Other standouts were the Supernovas and Kristin Hirsh.

The festival was as laid back and relaxing as ever, with it's old oak trees, lake and rolling parkland. I'll certainly be there again next year.

Friday, 16 July 2010

Friday, 2 July 2010