Sticking my oar in with a row on the glorious Welsh coast. My arms hurt a lot but I think I’m addicted.
I knew so little about rowing on the coast that when my wonderful friend Jill (of Jill and Sian go lagoon-hunting fame) suggested I come along to her Saturday session I thought she must mean kayaking. Instead, we rocked up at the Aberdovey Rowing Club and got to work carrying one of their beautiful Celtic longboats to the edge of the water.
I’d only rowed once, very briefly and badly, before, but Jill and her gang were incredibly patient and showed me how to sit, with my knees slightly bent, how to dip the oar into the water, sweep it back and pull it out again, which is no mean feat when you’re also trying to exactly copy the rower in front of you, and how to find a steady rhythm, as the cox counted us through the water. By the end of the first session I could just about look up (briefly) at the glorious blue sea, sunshiny sky and rugged Welsh coastline. But then I had to go right back to concentrating.
As well as being an incredible way to immerse yourself in the landscape, rowing is surprisingly calming – I felt like I’d gone into a wonderful zen mode where all that mattered was the clicking of oars in sync. Even the words used to measure out each stroke (catch, pull, feather, recover), sound like a mantra.
After two half-hour rows along the estuary I could barely lift up my arms and I was drenched to my knees from pushing the boat in and out of the water, but I was also very very happy. I was also very hungry, but luckily the lovely little town itself is well stocked with proper nice cafes to recover in.
I’m suddenly very envious of anyone lucky enough to live close enough to the sea and a friendly rowing club.