September 2017

I love doing new things. One of the best new things I have done this month has been to 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 an hour’s drive 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 had our passports and other documents in waterproof plastic bags, too. In the garage we also covered the back of our car with old carpet then wheeled it against the garage door and put the brake on. This is to stop the door being blown in by the wind.  When the storm arrived, the palm trees had a good workout bending this way and that and rain was horizontal at times. We were very glad that 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 – though some of our friends came to our condo to eat and shower and charge their mobiles because they had lost electric power. 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’m still not happy with my book – so I wrote the most important things that happens in my story on post-it notes and taken out some things that don’t quite work and written new bits. 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!