Weekend of bonding, banter and briefing
01 Jul 2011
With the start of the expedition little more than a month away we all convened in London for a final get together and crew briefing – the last time all of us would be together before Resolute. However before the serious stuff we had some last minute bonding to do – and a last opportunity to find out exactly who our crew mates really are! To help with this we were joined by some of our ‘other halves’ as we hit the bright lights of Clapham, sadly without our leader but under strict instructions to have a drink on him (at our expense obviously)…which we duly did. The script for the evening was fairly predictable given the amount of testoserone in attendance, as we hit the steak house followed by the pub…and finally one of the less salubrious establishments frequented only by those who can’t get in anywhere else. Anyway a good night was had by all and, whilst The Clapham Grand was calling, we agreed to knock it on the head in preparation for the day ahead – equipped with a bit more ammunition about each other which will almost certainly come in handy during the expedition!
The next day, complete with cloudy heads and in some cases body thermostat problems, it was off to Mark D and Helene’s new residence for a full on day of Arctic planning. Where last night was all about the banter today was about making sure, as a crew, we were 100% ready for the expedition. We were joined by a number of the extended expedition crew, namely Justin Holt, Tony Woodford and later in the day Rod Macrae – each and every one playing an integral part to the success of the expedition.
The session kicked off with Jock taking us through the bible, otherwise known as the main planning/strategy document. In true Jock fashion no stone was left unturned as we ploughed through everything from the logistics, clothing, route planning and our on board duties to the expedition and each other. A long and intense session but we were rewarded by Helene’s freshly baked cake…an admirable substitute for Mrs D’s cooking!
With bellies full and minds recharged we welcomed Jim McNeil, aka The Ice Warrior, to go through the expedition’s risk assessment. Jim challenged us with various ‘potential’ scenarios, from the dangers of drifting ice to the challenges posed by the remoteness of our location, likely weather systems and on board safety routines – all scenarios you don’t want to think about but need careful consideration. Not the most uplifting of sessions but almost certainly one of the most valuable.
Having bid Jim farewell Rod, our Comms/PR/all-round Arctic expedition guru, took the final session taking us through the processes that were in place to keep everyone up to date with our Arctic antics as well as the crisis management plans – not that we’ll have any need for that…obviously.
6 ½ hours after starting and, having missed the hottest day of the year, we were finished and our last weekend as a team had come to a close. All in all a very productive weekend both for crew morale but also confidence, and for Mark B an expensive one as he missed his flight back home to Scotland.
The clock is ticking…3 weeks to go and counting.
A quart into a pint pot
07 Jun 2010
I don’t often get a free weekend with my busy schedule and when I do the old saying ‘trying to get a quart into a pint pot’ comes to mind.
Saturday began at 7am on the rowing ergo, keeping my training going. By 9am I was helping clear out the garden shed at the club – rat droppings and all!
The afternoon was more pleasurable with a trip to the Derby and Tattenham Corner. I’m not a betting man, I only bet once a year at Ascot, but I love the atmosphere of the races. So I was delighted to stand among the thronging crowds in shorts and t shirt and watch Sir Michael Stoute’s horse ‘Workforce’ come home in a record time.
The evening in contrast saw me donning my tuxedo for a friend’s 50th birthday party on Henley-on-Thames until 1am.
I was up at 6am on Sunday morning and heading for Dorney Lake with trailer to pick up a new German rowing eight my club had just bought from Cambridge. Once home a quick trip to the local car boot fair turned up a bargain. A copy of Sir Matthew Pinsent’s book ‘A lifetime in a Race’ was only 5 pence – I thought it might come in handy. Always a Scot!
Then it was on to the local Highland Games at Richmond, organised by the London Scottish Rugby Club. I was particularly enthralled to see Gregor Edmondson, Scottish World Champion, tossing the sheaf. Now that is a real skill.
A quick bout of rowing in my crew at 4pm and then finally home exhausted!
That's the spirit
02 Jun 2010
A day in the life 19 May 2010
Training started early out on the river. I’m starting to get in shape for the Henley Regatta which takes place at the end of June.
By mid morning I’ve finished my training and it’s down to business dealing with copious enquiries around the Row to the Pole expedition. I’m resolving crew positions and organising the camera boat which will be filming our attempt to be the first ever crew to reach the earth’s Magnetic North Pole by rowing boat.
Midday saw me heading off to one of my favourite events, the London Wine and Spirit Trade Fair. I’ve attended this event for the last 20 years and always enjoy finding something new to try. In the end though I always end up with a glass of single malt in my hand, sometimes the old favourites are the best.