December 2017

This month I’ve been…

  • coxing again – for one day only!
  • learning some new skills in the gym, and…
  • injured.

It’s safe to say that December has been a bit of a tough month for me. It started alright, though, so let’s focus on that first…


On the 1st December I took part in a rowing event in Cambridge called The Fairbairn Cup. It’s primarily aimed at Oxbridge colleges and university crews but local clubs also take part, as do alumni crews. I was coxing one of my old college’s alumni boats. We weren’t treating it seriously at all and my crew was definitely ‘the old boys’, so it was a nice surprise to beat our other alumni crews and the current crews! In fairness, we did have the odd Olympian in there… More info here.



I also had some fun at gymnastics working on a couple of new skills. The main one I’ve been practising is a squat onto the low bar, then jumping to catch the high bar. I had expected this to be almost impossible because the only time I’d tried it before (a couple of months ago) I’d completely failed to be able to balance properly on the low bar. I’m still at such a basic level that I don’t swing to squat on the bar, but step there from a big block under the bar. Even with that, it’s tricky!

Anyway, I decided that it was time to learn. The balancing was the really difficult bit, because I’m so shaky and there is very little room for error. I started trying out on bars that were just a couple of inches off the ground, and faceplanted soooo many times! Gradually I got a bit better and, after hundreds of attempts, I was ready to try it out on the real thing. I needed lots of support to begin with but eventually I managed it on my own. That felt amazing!

Screen Shot 2017-12-04 at 20.06.13

Unfortunately, I then got a bit over-excited and tried a bit too hard. Because of the grip problems with my left hand, I can only ever keep a very loose grip with that hand so if my right hand hasn’t gripped something properly then there’s no way I can hang my weight off it. The result of this was pinging myself to the ground and landing on my neck, causing whiplash. I already have a lot of neck problems so this wasn’t a great addition but at least I already had lots of appointments booked in for it!

Injury and illness

Whiplash is a funny thing that I’ve never had before. You expect pain, stiffness, headaches and stuff – but I hadn’t expected cognitive symptoms too. For the first few weeks I really struggled with finding the right words, and I found it really hard to concentrate on anything. Going to choir and singing was almost a relief because, although it was hard to breathe and sing properly, it was nice to have the words provided for me!

Fortunately because it’s blurry you can’t quite tell how unflattering the cassock really is…

Healthwise, I have also been struggling generally in a variety of ways. I’m not able to train much at the moment which isn’t good for my mood or my sleep but I’m doing what I can. I don’t want to come here and whinge so instead you can read about it by clicking here and reading my Your Horse blog!


I haven’t been short of jokers this month even though I only trained for about a week, but sadly many of them aren’t from a great angle. To make up for the slightly lesser quality of joker, there are two of them! They’re both from me trying to learn to balance on a bar. In the first, I had just managed to whack my shin and was trying to keep the colourful language as quiet as possible. The second is a straightforward falling off!

See you next month. Hopefully I’ll be a bit more interesting in January!

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