Devils Tails from the Riverbank 9

Holiday Season

I think this should be quite a lot shorter than normal, which will probably be a bit of a relief for you. We’re off on our hols at the moment.

I’ve got another anecdote left over from the recent trip to Lithuania by some of our members. Remember? The ones that toiled all the way back up the raging stream to rescue another crew from their sinking boat? Well, this story concerns the sort of misunderstandings and lost social opportunities that can so easily arise if you don’t talk to people. After our hero rescuers had spent a couple of nights in Vilnius and done their trip on the River Neris, they upped-sticks and moved 10 miles westward to put up in another AirBnB place in Trakai. Trakai lies on a peninsula stuck out into the middle of a series of lakes and is home to a sort of inland beach resort with more pedalos per square metre than any other place on the planet, along with a similarly impressive accumulation of very purposeful-looking rescue launches. I guess they must need them. A different area of water is home to an international rowing centre, which is where our friends were heading, to spend a happy couple of days exploring the lakes in borrowed boats and being entertained to superb spreads of excellent food when off the water. I think that message came back home with them, that Lithuanians make fantastic hosts (in case you might be planning a trip abroad at all).

I suppose it’s inevitable that a seven-strong group of rufty-tufty oar-wielding men and women from Long Eaton, all landing on the same self-catering flat at the same time may seem a bit noisy and threatening, until you actually set eyes on them. Then you’d understand. The first evening was very convivial and pleasant from what I understand and, under the circumstances, I don’t think anybody could have expected proceedings to be particularly quiet, but neither would they have been described as at all rowdy. Just what you’d expect really. There was a door off the common-room area of their flat and Jo Pickford (who is our club social secretary, a very responsible lady and the least likely of any of our members to cause trouble of any sort at all) thought ‘ I wonder what’s behind this door’, tried the handle and then said ‘Oh! It’s locked’. Fifteen seconds later, a pyjama-clad foreign gentleman unlocked it, poked his head out and said something about having had a very long journey that day and that he didn’t really mind, but his wife was having great difficulty sleeping and could we try and keep it down a bit please. (Oh, Jo. Deary-deary me. You naughty girl). Slightly embarrassing, considering that our friends had no idea there was anybody else there. The days and nights passed and nothing more was seen or heard of these ‘others’ until the morning when everybody was departing. The ‘others’ suddenly appeared again, said good-bye from a distance and carried their bags out to the car. Jim Hawkins (our club chairman – and therefore feeling slightly responsible for any persistent ill-feeling) went out to apologise for any inconvenience and in the course of the conversation it turned out that they were also avid rowers on a fact-finding mission on behalf of their rowing club in Oslo. They had seen people rowing out on the lakes and hadn’t realised it was our lot. If only they’d talked, they could have been out there too rather than watching from the shore. And, they could have had a nice sociable time during their stay, instead of spending their evenings more or less imprisoned in their rooms. Anyway, all’s well that ends well, as we now have new friends in Oslo and an open invitation to go and row from their club whenever we’d like to, so it looks very much as if our ‘away-tour’ might be all sorted for next year already. Great stuff.

Ed Sinfield

Devil’s Elbow Rowing Club – Recreational Captain