I love doing new things and one of the best new things I have done this month is be a volunteer at the World Rowing Championships held in Sarasota, Florida. I arrived just as Hurricane Irma was sweeping though the state. The plane from London to Tampa, which is about an hour north of Sarasota, could seat 299 passengers; but there were only 75 of us on it because of the gathering storm. Hurricane Irma was scary with wind howling at 90 miles an hour. We prepared our ‘safe room’ – our built-in wardrobe – which had no windows, so if any windows were broken, we’d still be safe – with cushions, snacks and lots of water. We put our passports and other documents in waterproof plastic bags and put those in there, too. The palm trees had a good workout bending this way and that and rain was horizontal at times. Irma had become a category 2 storm by the time it reached us so there was lots of debris from branches and twigs that needed sweeping up afterwards but minimal damage. We had a lot to be thankful for.
A week later the rowing started. I was helping look after the desk at the tent where journalists and television crews worked. I also helped photographers go to the correct place (inside the little white fence) when they were taking photographs of the end of the race All the volunteers wore orange tee-shirts, white caps and lots of sun screen. Rowers are incredibly strong, work in teams and really do look after each other. In this photograph of me standing between Moe Sbihi MBE and Will Satch MBE, they were not standing on anything and I haven’t shrunk – they’re just six feet six inches tall! The photo at the top of this blog is me with the BBC commentating team – Dame Katherine Grainger, Sir Steve Redgrave and Mathew Pinsent CBE.
While I’ve been out here I’ve done some writing as well. I’ve written the most important things that will happen in my story on post-it notes. Then I move my ideas around to help me plan. My husband helps me to do this as he is a scientist and very logical. He usually suggests I take ideas out to make my plots simpler. And better!