Maldives Rowing Volunteer
Here are all the legendary swimmers of the Indian Ocean - just keep swimming!!
I went to India, or more specifically Kerala, for a two and a bit week holiday over Christmas and New Year. Being a country with a multitude of religions, languages, traditions and their own unique style of doing things it was certainly set to be a very different festive period! I spent a brilliant time with both Hari and Jeeja’s family and Shiji and Babu’s family enjoying some excellent home cooking and a fully packed schedule. Then it was off to Kochi for the famous Kochi New Year Carnival, Munnar for the tea estates (mmmm) and Periyar Nature Reserve for, sadly no tigers, but elephants, mad drivers and bison. The need to see mountains was fully appeased by the time I left and returned to sea level and the Maldives!

I actually landed in Male on a sunny day – usually it’s pouring with rain whenever I turn up. The colour of the sea is what you notice first and realise that not only had you forgotten how blue it really is but also before I left I’d gotten so used to it after four months it no longer surprised me. Nice to have the awe refreshed!

So what does the New Year hold for rowing in Addu? Well the first bit of news is that a shelter was built by the council for the boats in the Power House compound. This has done an admirable job of keeping everything dry and dirt free. The coaching launch is going to need a very good scrubbing – its ability to grow a prolific and thick beard very rapidly would make most men extremely jealous - if it wasn’t green and intermingled with sizeable barnacles. Currently, I think the bottom must be more weed than boat!

I returned to the Education Unit to be met with the fantastic news that (without any effort on my part) a rowing competition had been inserted into the year plan for the schools! So July the 14th is the date for all your calendars with hopefully a smaller one in March just to keep everyone’s competitive juices flowing! Swimming is also high on everyone’s agenda and I’m waiting for the schools to get back to me with how many students are interested in continuing rowing, starting rowing and learning to swim. This will hopefully enable me to put a schedule together that, with the help of the now dab hand rowing coaches and some soon to be recruited swimming coaches, should cater for all.......!

Talking of coaches there are plans afoot between RAM, the Maldives National Olympic Committee, FISA and the IOC for an official to be sent to the Maldives as one of the Olympic Solidarity Coaching Courses the NOC hold each year. This is to train a load of rowing coaches and provide them with an internationally recognised qualification. This would certainly be a great boost to the establishment of the sport in the country and carry us further towards our goal of having clubs operated at the local level.

Unbeknownst to the students as yet, all coaches are agreed that our first priority this year is fitness – so we are devising a ‘boot campesque’ style of training for the first few weeks involving running, swimming and if we can gather enough bikes together cycling. I’m hoping this will culminate in a mini team triathlon competition. So as you can see lots of ideas in the air for 2012, just going through the planning stage which for impatient people like me is soul destroying – I just want to get started.....

Wishing you all the best for 2012!

X Tash    

P.S. All swimmers passed their swim tests and are bugging to know when the next course starts...

Hello and a happy new year to you, I hope that although 2012 is only a baby, it has been good so far.   I am sorry that is has been so quiet on the blog front (I seem to always start off my blogs this way), however I have been having a brilliantly cold and grey time back in the UK.  Yes that is snow you can see on the hills in the photo, sadly that is the closest we got whilst up in Scotland for a brilliant family Christmas.

Christmas Day and almost falling in the Loch!
Lots of British countryside to make me feel like I am truly back home, having visited my parents on the south coast, my sister in North Yorks, friends in Henley and my brother in Manchester all before heading further north for Christmas in Scotland.  Much eating, drinking and party games (including hilarious granny musical chairs and generations of Dad dancing in musical statues, all on video) made a Christmas nudging into the top 5 of all time!

Arriving back in the UK and seeing friends and family has made me so grateful for the things I missed whilst away and made me quite definite in my mind that I wanted to remain in the UK, however  Christmas is never a good time to make proper decisions as my mind is fuddled by warm (mainly TV induced) memories, shouting children and possibly a bit of alcohol.  I have come a full circle and am planning to return to the Maldives in the not too distant future to push on with the rowing project.

Following Christmas in Scotland I headed off to the Isle of Man (I did say I had been getting around a bit) to see my best friend of many, many years, Polly, for a bit of windswept walking action and yet more tip top eating.  I have seen a lot of windy hills and cold looking sheep over the past few weeks.  There is something about being brought up on a island that drags you back, I have ended up in the Maldives and Polly on the Isle of Man, different yet equally mad islands!

Not quite the Maldives anymore
A relaxing and refreshing New Year and sadly I did not take my swimmers so I could not participate in the New Years Day swim on the beach (what a blow of misfortune), I did feel shown up by all the people who did take a dip.  No photos as no one deserves to have a picture taken of them in a swimsuit in the freezing cold on Jan 1st, NOBODY looks good in those conditions.  I did manage to see a solitary seal and not break anything playing Just Dance 3 in a tiny sitting room, so a successful trip all round.  Anyhow onwards to the future, I have just found out that sadly that the Westminster School trip to Hulhumale will not being happening in February, so it will mean that I will have to get the boat house sorted out without a team of helpers, sad times! I am back in life planning mode and will get back to you when ll details (every single one) of life have been sorted out!



Mean and moody shot of Calf Sound on the Isle of Man