GB Senior Women Training in Malmo, Sweden, May 2005

Better late than never!!
I don’t really know what I was expecting when I managed to join you all in Malmo, but I suppose I should have known – and it was certainly a weekend to remember from start to finish.
The Maggie Mobile set off from Worcester at 2a.m. Friday with 5 onboard, and with the 3 Milo girls on the back seat it was anything but a quiet trip down to Gatwick. We only nearly took a detour once (is this a record?), and with Jenny not flashing her boobs, plastic or otherwise, we arrived at Gatwick with plenty of time to spare. At check in, we met a lovely couple, the young lady giving her partner a surprise birthday trip away. He didn’t know his destination, and us 5 were nearly bursting with excitement about our trip, and had to fight hard not to give the game away. Our gossip had dwindled by this time, but was soon resurrected with the arrival of Emma. Our little group was now complete – we had our bright and fresh young leader looking after her “care in the community “old biddies.
The flight was non-eventful, with the Captain obviously giving the game away to our romantic couple when he mentioned our destination several times during the journey. Idiot!! I even managed to get on the ‘plane without hyperventilating, and didn’t spend the entire flight gripping the arms of either my seats or my neighbours. Good, eh?
We decided to spend a few hours in Copenhagen, so took a train into the City, almost leaving someone’s suitcase on the platform along the way. Unfortunately, once there, we didn’t quite get our act together, and failed to do the City justice. Maggie hired a bike with no brakes, and the rest of us dined in a typical Danish eatery …MacDonald’s. Exhaustion had set in now, and we decided to make our way to Malmo and the hotel. You excelled yourself, Anna. What a great hotel in a great location and within hobbling distance of the station. I don’t know about the others, but Maggie and I pushed out a few zzz’s before meeting in the foyer to go for the meal. Reunions with others that had arrived were very emotional for me. And then…there they were….Chief and Rambo seemingly trying to drink Sweden dry – nice to see normality and nothing has changed in my absence.
The meal was great, company wonderful, Guinness ok-ish, dancing…well the B.A. lot kept that side of things going. Were most people jet lagged?!! I left early-ish, only to encounter more reunions on arrival back at the hotel. What a great finish to a long day.
Breakfast time Saturday morning and oh, the faces on some! Dehydration was clearly an issue – what we needed was gallons of water and a damn good training session to blow the cobwebs away. Pausing only to buy a bowser of water and a crate of bananas we made our way to Malmo Canoe Club. (Sarah needed to retrieve her paddle from the shop, which she had left behind for the second time that morning – I see the beginnings of a nickname here, girls.) We went to the park via Goose Poo Park, where we dodged and swerved to avoid the dreaded sticky foot.
The Club is fantastic – don’t we all wish we had one? Oh, ok, everybody but Milo and Worcester has one….but this one has a sauna!! A few of the girls had a bash at this after the training session – one of whom might wish to remain nameless, but she was so cold she went in in her thermals. It was an honour for me to be given a seat on your boat ladies, as I thought I was going to run alongside videoing you all. Ahem. It was great to be back paddling with you all again, and the difference was there to feel. Hard work (individual and team) is obviously paying off. You may not notice it, but I noticed it and it felt g-o-o-d. However, honoured though I was, the seats were a bit cramped at the bank, cramping Val’s style. Emma and I didn’t really want to (!) but we volunteered to transfer to Malmo’s boat who were training along side us for the morning, and had loads of empty seats at the back. A feeling of dread set in when they said we weren’t to sit at the back but at number 3. Very generous hosts, Anna. By this time the Malmo rain was drenching everybody, but spirits were high. I should just add that we were paddling on Malmo’s very interesting network of canals, with bends of almost 90° handled magnificently by Maggie. The right stroke of the Malmo crew turned to Emma and me and told us that their rate was a little faster than the Senior Ladies rate. “No problem,” we said, grinning inanely, “bring it on”, we said sticking our thumbs up. We were by now practicing race starts against each other, so Emma and I had to adjust ourselves to 4 strong, 12 fast and 20 bam bam. Oh my life! A faster rate? That was the understatement of the last century. Damn near left my paddle and specs behind, but we kept up and held our own. Emma was ready to faint, as thinking she would be drumming she had layered up. After a few practice starts, the boats then went on to race each other. This time for Emma and me it was not 20 bam bam after the start, but something that sounded like “Schiss and der….” which I think means s*@t off the shovel. So shovel s*@t we did. I had the bright idea to look across at you ladies to see what you look like in race mode (probably a mistake at the rate we were pushing), but when I did, my goodness was I moved. Girls, you choked me up and made the hair on the back of my neck stand on end. You looked stunning (paddling, not hair and make-up, unlike that kayaker we saw!) looking strong and wanting the race, and keeping up with the Malmo Muscle (yes, I do include Emma and me in that description). You didn’t look too bad either, Chief. Unlike in the past when 500 metres have let us down through lack of stamina, this time the grit was there and you were pulling back stroke by stroke. I would kill (my area manager) to be there with you.
After lunch, the sun shone on the righteous. It also shone on us as we went back out for the 2nd session- this time with Emma in her rightful position, and me in mine as ballast at the back. It was very interesting being able to sit and watch. A few handbags, a few timing problems, sometimes messy water and sometimes no leaning out, but looking strong all the same. So just think how much stronger you will be come August. I truly believe you have now, more than at any time, got what it takes to get to those major finals. Continue pushing hard in your individual training – I am. I can now raise a Guinness and a pickled egg at the same time. The German senior ladies look just like the Malmo crew with their muscles and hairy upper lips, so you know you’ve got it in you to give them a run for their deutschmarks.
With a bit of persuasion from the old gels, Anna managed to book us all into the same unsuspecting restaurant for our evening meal – poor Antonio didn’t realise what had hit him. It’s a shame we couldn’t all be at the same table, but the “big” table had great fun trying to guess the new guys’ birth signs, and failing miserably. We also regaled each other with amusing anecdotes. If you haven’t heard them they’re well worth listening to – something about Jenny Taylor shopping in Tesco wearing drag and one blue shoe and one black shoe, then going home in her MG with no exhaust to cook pancakes. Oh yes, Rosie Lea also read Nettie’s palm. Yet again I ducked out early, but what another great day it had been.
Sunday morning and everybody looked far fresher than the morning before. Off to the Club for more training and this time I was delighted to be able to paddle with you for the whole session. And what a marathon it was. Did we really paddle all the way to Denmark and back, non-stop? Oh no, we did have a break when we paddled in “pairs of four”. Yes, this is a mathematical possibility, just ask Chief. But wasn’t it great? We did it and lived to tell the tale, though my tale telling was a bit breathy. So that was it. No more paddling through the beautiful city with motorists papping, cyclists jingling and pedestrians calling and waving – had Jenny been flashing all that time?
A leisurely lunch in the sun was followed by many tearful farewells (by me) – well it’s alright for you lot, it was only to be 2 weeks before you met up again. A lucky few were staying one more night in magnificent Malmo, and Jenny had booked us in for a meal followed by a 60’s, 70’s and 80’s disco. The meal was delicious and great fun as we geared ourselves up for a great night of dancing ahead. But where did they dig the DJ up? He was under the stupid assumption that he could play music that he liked and could sing along to, but that we didn’t like and couldn’t dance to. I’m sure you can imagine the scene, with Jenny trying to put him right. (Those who have witnessed Jenny talking to foreigners will know it’s a treat to behold, particularly when her sign language comes into action. Who will ever forget her requesting the loo, by sign language, in China?) He wasn’t persuaded by her charm, so we manfully stuck with it. Sights to remember are Pam smoking her cigar like someone from a 1920’s B movie, and Jenny earning a drink on the house for her stunning Russian dance to non-Russian music. Nikki did a fantastic solo, as did Emma, but none of these were deemed good enough for a freebie by the I Love Me DJ. We were the only ones there (apart from a strange old couple) as we had successfully cleared the place. As the dancing continued to increasingly strange music, the restaurant staff who had been ready to go home for ages came through to watch our antics – and I’m sure they had many a tale to tell to stunned relatives as they tried to explain why they were late home that night. At midnight we turned into Cinderellas and made our weary way back to the hotel, with the DJ by now playing to an empty house and still determinedly playing his grotty music.
So wasn’t it a great weekend? I’m glad to see you haven’t lost your social skills in my absence!! Above all, I have come away convinced that in Berlin you will silence the doubters once and for all, and I’m green with envy that I won’t be on the boat when you do. Train hard, and I will be there with the loudest gob and the biggest flag cheering you over the finishing line when you finally prove to one and all that the Senior Ladies are SIMPLY THE BEST.
Lorene xx


Guess Who
May 2005

Emma pictures of Malmo
May 2005