Something strange seemed to have happened this year at the campsite: had we unwittingly gatecrashed an ‘Austin Powers’ convention, or a shoot for ‘Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Handsaway’?

The whole place seemed full of ‘Mini Me’s: there was  Mini Charlie (That’s the other Charlie, obviously), Mini Kinells, (lots of), Mini Hudson, (ahhhhhhh, cute) and Mini Nick.  Or perhaps that wasn’t Mini Nick, it might have been Nick himself….except that  he wasn’t there this year.   Anyway, there must be some strange biological agent in the Cumbrian rain, I can’t see any other reason for this sudden arrival of new Club Junior Members.  (I hear that Gill has managed to snatch their pocket money off them to pay for their membership subs).  Looking to the future, let’s just hope that  HH hasn’t inherited too much of his parents’ rowing ‘skills’, and it might be of some consolation to him to know that bad technique can only be diligently acquired through training rather than passed on through the genes.  As to the initials HH, I can only conclude it stands for ‘Henley Hopeful’ although more likely it was cunningly chosen by Keith so that the Club’s monogrammed Helly Hansen waterproofs would suffice instead of having to pay extra to get the initials embroidered on rowing kit.

In balance to all these new arrivals, there were a few notable and sad absences this year, not least of which were Scooby and Bramble.  But at least the motorways ran freely without being littered with debris from broken down Camper Van,  or collisions as other drivers ‘rubbernecked’ the psychedelic sight (or indeed were distracted by a damsel in distress fluttering her eyelashes in search of rescue).  A further change in dynamics was the increased swing away from camping in favour of bed and breakfasting, previously frowned on as the preserve of the older and wiser members, but now acknowledged as the preserve of wiser members.  But no doubt those happy campers who were putting their tents up in the dark and the driving rain late on Friday evening really enjoyed the experience. Sorry I wasn’t there to help you, I was too busy sitting in my warm, snug and cosy bedroom watching TV and looking forward to the massive cooked breakfast that was about to be served up to me the following morning.

Somebody else was absent on the Friday evening, but not by choice:  earlier on in the day Dave had clearly decided that if he climbed a high enough mountain, he would be closer to the sun and thus could more easily top up his tan.  There were just a couple of flaws with this plan: first, that you rarely see the sun in Cumbria, and second, that you need to know your way to the top of the mountain and back.  But at least Dave had the sense to realise that what goes up, must come down, even if you end up in a pub full of red-necked locals who are giving you funny looks.  (Next time, Dave, don’t order Chardonnay in such a situation – Muscadet is much more acceptable).  I also can’t quite understand why Andrea allowed Dave to take a taxi home – surely they could have jogged/cycled/swam their way back and thus saved a £278 taxi ride?

On the water, a strong westerly wind made coaching difficult and restricted our outings somewhat, but once again the weekend was saved by the efforts of  Sandra’s Tim (AKA the ‘White Knight’), who kindly ‘agreed’ to act as helmsman when the weather had turned so stormy that all normal coxes had downed tools and gone home for the day.  Bravened by his success in coxing the Volga Longa (I won’t translate…) Tim’s imagination had already transported him back to the calm waters of the Venice Lagoon, and we were treated to a narration of his experiences in the warm sunny climes of the Mediterranean, jostling alongside gondolas and vaporettos whilst charming the beautiful Italian senoritas who had gathered to watch.  Sadly, it was not quite like that on Coniston Water, and the instruction to ‘keep close to the bank so you don’t get swamped’ was immediately ignored as he headed straight into the five foot swell in the centre of the lake.  Having eventually discovered how the steering working, Tim proceeded to put it to best use by driving us at warp speed towards a hired rowboat full of slightly bewildered tourists, only narrowly avoiding recreating that scene from ‘Spartacus’ when the slave galley is rammed amidships.

Supper in the Sailing Club was served to its normal high standard, thanks to our regular team of Chefs, and in the bar  Stewart managed to converse philosophically with a local lady from Lancashire, in spite of the trans-Pennine language barrier.  (Think ‘Last of the Summer Wine’ meets  ‘Corrie’).  Meanwhile, I would have liked to give Coniston ‘first timer’ Roraigh a mention but nobody can spell his name so that makes it very difficult.

Overall, an enjoyable weekend was had by all even if it was somewhat muted compared to previous years: no fights/drunkenness/stabbings/attempted drownings etc, but maybe that is no bad thing.  So let’s look forward to better weather next year, when we can once again glide over a flat calm lake and bask in the warm sunshine outside our well-stocked and dry tents.  Keep on Dreaming, and Keep on Rowing!