Two Races, Two Pots

With the start of Regatta season, Sons Ladies have been working extra hard on their starts and short fast pieces. A grueling rowing camp over Easter left us all a little worse for wear and blistered. Putting our newly refined skills to the test at Hammersmith Amateur Regatta we entered a coxed four and an eight, many of us rowing in both boats. With three heats for the 4+ and two for the 8+ we had a total of 5 races! Rowing against Team Kean, Kings College Wimbledon and Putney Town, we managed to walk through all the heats! Winning not only one, but two of our races! Two boats, tow pots (the winning trophy) Needless to say, we are all pretty stoked!

 

 

Learning to Row from Hammersmith to Henley

Having lived in Hammersmith for over 7 years the pubs along the Tideway gradually became somewhat of a happy place for me.  Watching the activity on the water with the sun shining and the idle chatter of happy people made it easy to enjoy. Seeing the crews improve, excel and race each other throughout the year struck a cord with my competitive streak.  So with a nudge from a few friends, I contacted the tideway rowing clubs asking if there was a learn to row group.

Along came Sons Men’s Captain and learn to row instructor, Sam!

6ft of muscle striding across the courtyard, perma-tan glowing and the air of confidence that only comes from knowing your stuff. 'This is going to be tough' I thought to myself, shaking his hand with all the ‘man strength’ I could muster. Needless to say I was committed! I felt both welcome and motivated the moment I stepped through the door, and let’s be honest, I wanted a perma-tan too!

So the course kicked off with a range of people of all ages, abilities, characters and fitness levels, learning this new sport at what felt like a rate of knots! It was great! We trained hard and learnt new calls, techniques and tips in every session. To my surprise our fitness and strength improved at an alarming rate, erg scores kept getting better and my love for the sport blossomed.

Then it happened! Two months in, I was approached by the Women’s Captain! Fresh faced from a morning on the river, guns out (now known as The Sons Guns!). Did I want to step up to the challenge, up my fitness and potentially seat race for the top boat?

Did I ever!!

Training went from a part of my life, to my entire life! I became a part of a crew that I would not only care for and respect, but would do anything for. I was lucky enough to get thrown into every boat available, for one to one training in an attempt to catch up on four years of experience. I found that all I wanted to do was get on the water, get in the gym and get better. I was blessed with a coach and team that would not only encourage and nurture that drive, but also temper it when needed!

Henley? Tell me more!

As a Christmas present I got to complete my first 2K! Not quite sure what I was in for, I rocked up blissfully ignorant of what was to come and managed to not only set my PB that took me 6 painful months to beat, but also, find that ‘wall’ everyone talks about…I think I will be seeing a lot of this particular wall! 

Do you want to race at Henley? …. I tell my friends I’ll see them in July.

We competed in every race we could, always learning how to work together as a team, finding out what we were good at together and how to get the most out of our seat, each other, and the boat. The bitterness of defeat tempered only by how much we had learned from each experience. With the support of the more experienced girls and their guidance and drive, it was easy to stay motivated and focus on the next challenge.

12 Weeks until Henley!

Along came Easter and a mini training camp. The seat racing started and the blisters got worse. The fear of leather hands slowly became a reality, and the sun came out.....ish. Finding new frustrations at every turn; desperately wanting to finesse those catches and get more power in the water, but not washing out or digging too deep … the list goes on. This made the start of summer both exhausting and a test of emotional endurance. I found a new wall, past the first one, waiting for me with open arms!

Not long until Henley!

Enter regatta season! 

Wow. What fun! Learning standing starts was hilarious! With only an evil laugh and a 'don't worry you will feel it!' from coach, this Mel became a rag doll!  We competed and did well at Hammersmith, Chiswick, Dorney, Nottingham and Twickenham, where I won my first ever pot! Definitely want more of those!!! #GlugGlug

Two weeks until Henley!!!!

Camp was off the chart! I had no idea what to expect, only that I would be returning to England a little broken! There was rather a lot of hard work, some serious eating of cucumber (don't ask), a few tears, more laughter than I can quantify, a grazed knee and an epic, unofficial win in the Bulgarian national championships. Oh, and it happened to be my Birthday, as you do! 

One week to Henley!

We were feeling strong and confident, We had trained all we could, given everything to rowing throughout the year, so all we had to do now was our best, everything we had, dig a little deeper for a little bit more … and a little bit more, and ... you know ... win!

Henley was amazing.

I have never experienced such raw power, energy and focus of so many women in such a tranquil space. The river is beautiful and it was calling to us!  We were so happy to finally be there!

Friday was a good day!  We smashed the time trials and stormed through the first heat making it to the Quarterfinals!  Saturday brought the race against Oxford City, a strong team with experience and the technique that comes with years of rowing. They had us by a length and a half but we fought them, and they earned it! I found some new walls in that race too!

So thank you Sons for one hell of an epic year learning to row from Hammersmith to Henley, and of course, for the perma-tan.

Brooklands Farm, Jersey

On my regular visits back to the Island of Jersey, Brooklands Farm is often my first stop.

Owned and run by ‘Farmer’ Jon and his fabulous long suffering wife, Jenny Hackett, Brooklands if a self made, self sustained, traditional Jersey farm. Running now for over 20 years, Brooklands is one of Jerseys most loved Genuine Jersey farm food and butcher businesses. With over 100 piggies from a variety of rare breeds including Oxford Sandys and Blacks, and we can’t forget Galaxy, the farm goat who single-handed, staves off illness and sickness on the farm (according to jersey farm history).

On arrival Jon he instantly took us to se the farm and meet the pigs where we were dutifully introduced us to his knew PR manager, Del Boy.  Del Boy was the runt of the most recent litter and would have otherwise met his maker had John not nurtured and hand fed him, raising the little trotter to full health. One of the sweetest little pigs I have ever seen, Del Boy has quickly established his celebrity status on the Island with his own fan base at the local school. Move over Cavill, there is a new face in town!

With sausages to die for and a pâté I could happily drown in, Jon welcomes me into his office otherwise known as the kitchen, where the flavour magic happens, to share some family secrets surrounding the ingredients that go into Brooklands Sausages. I managed to find out and try the latest batch out of the oven. A new sausage called Liberation which is gluten free and 98% meat, with just a hint of nutmeg, coriander and ginger. This sausage can be found in the Liberation group pub restaurants around the Island.  The sales pitch worked! I had dinner sorted for the next week with pork pies, Jamaican beef patties, beef burgers, sausages, bacon and of course, some pate.

For more information on Brooklands Farm and their organic, home made produce please follow them on Facebook or contact Farmer Jon Directly.

London Shoot Fighters

Training with London Shoot Fighters was one of the most intense and entertaining journeys of my time in the Martial Arts.

The energy in the room was palpable. As you walked in and you knew from the get go that whatever the skill level, these people were serious. I enjoyed shooting for them, when guest trainers and MMA / BJJ experts came in to provide an alternative viewpoint it was fantastic to see how everyone jumped at the chance to learn and develop.

While I was training at LSF, there were only three women in what was very much a man’s world.  It was extremely empowering being trained as one of the men and managing to holding your own, especially with no gender allowances given by the coaches. As a result, photographing Michelle, who was at that point the female face of the gym, was a fantastic opportunity that I wasn't going to turn down.

I enjoy shooting sports that I know, constantly striving to capture the moment that those on the other side of the lens are trying to master.

 

Renatus Personal Training

I was approached by Renatus Personal Training founder, Daniel Smith to create some images for their new website.

Working with real people in real training situations, we were looking to create a range of images that the average person could relate to. We shot in Holland park with a mixture of natural and flash photography. The shoot was an interesting learning curve, but proved to be great fun. We were looking for wider thinner shots for use on banners and headers as opposed to more compact generic images. Focusing on people that actually trained with Daniel and Darren gave the images a real /personal touch that I really enjoyed shooting.

Renatus are London based and work with all range of abilities and fitness levels. To find out more and see the images live, please visit their website, www.renatuspersonaltraining.com

Snowmen

As it's usually the time of year that we see snow (forget your White Christmas!) I thought I would share a collection of Snowmen I photographed the last time it snowed, and settled enoughto make them.

I love the expressions and arm gestures that emerge when you get them all together. A little person that someone built, full of love and laughter and joy, left to carry out its existence until the warmth sends it back to the earth.

I was going to give them names, but I will leave that to you...

Borough Market

One of my favorite areas of London is Borough market. There is always something new to see, learn or taste. The people are open and friendly and eager to talk about their produce and the history of their stall. I love people and getting to know them, finding out a little more about what makes them tick and what drives them. It’s one of the joys of life and Borough Market provides that in droves.

As a visual artist, I love lines and connections, things that join items together, be it similarities in shape, colour or size. I find myself taking a lot of photographs of collections of objects or the order and connection of lines.

I gave myself an objective to make this trip different, however, it was not to be! With a few snaps of the surrounding area, the people in it and the time and effort each customer puts into each purchase, (which you may see pop up in other food related blogs) I soon found myself shooting the vast quantities of luscious sumptuous veggies and fruits.  

Frankie Davies at the Blue Note Bar

It was a fantastic evening listening Frankie Davies and her lovely ladies play at the blue note Bar in Jersey. Back in her home town, she was in her element and some of her earliest supporters gained some one on one time with the songstress.

It was a fantastic gig to photograph as both Frankie and the audience were having fun and enjoying the evening. I took the opportunity to play a little with the zoom and enjoyed the easy atmosphere of the event. With black ceilings and little room to work with, using flash was tricky so I worked with a little fill in flash and bounced off the (music covered) walls.