Erynn and I used to live in Bristol so we used the excuse that the 2006 World Rowing Championships were being held in Eton to come back and visit. I've updated our Bristol memories page with photos from this trip too so click on the previous link if you're interested. This trip lasted just over a week and consisted of watching the finals of the rowing champs, seeing a few sites and re-connecting with old friends.
We have a couple additional photo albums from the UK:
Photos from Doug's parent's visit in 2002
Photos of our favorite Bristol memories from 2003
When funds and time allow, Erynn and I like to trek to the World Rowing Championships. I've gone to the rowing
events at the Atlanta Olympics and Erynn & I have gone to the Worlds in St. Catharines, Canada (1999),
Lucerne, Switzerland (2001), and in
Sevilla, Spain (2002). The events with links associated with them show photos from the
trip. The cool thing is that these events are typically held in a place where we haven't been and it's a good
excuse to book a trip. We usually only go for the last two days for the final medal rounds and then spend a period
before or after seeing the sights. We left England from our 2.5 years living there knowing that the Worlds would be in
Eton in 2006 so we vowed to return.
We met up with our friends Emily (to my right) who I used to row with at the University of Chicago and Patrick and Miren from Bristol (behind Emily). Emily had just finished up a summer course at Cambridge and Patrick and Miren were there supporting the Spanish team. I also took this photo of Emily and Erynn in front of the finish.
It's no secret that rowing doesn't get much media coverage. When I race it's usually my wife or mom cheering me on. I get a real kick out of being in a venue where 10,000 people are cheering for the home crews. And I like the lone crazy people from Estonia. World championships in amateur sports are like no other.
One tradition every year is that the athletes swap clothing at the end of the event. This year, most of the swapping occurred in front of the Eton College Boathouse (remember that a high school owns this). Every year I also try to get a unisuit/all-in-one from an oarsman. I've been successful every year, and this year is was Poland. It's neat to be at such an international event.
My favorite photo was of Yanny. There were many adaptive rowing events at this year's event where rowers of various levels of disability competed. What made this image neat was that the dog needed his own credentials to get in the secure area with his owner.
I thought I'd post a photo of the GB Men's 4- winning their gold medal. In two seat is Pete Reed who used to row in Bristol for the University of the West of England. UWE shared the Bristol City boathouse, and while I was captain of City, Pete was captian of UWE. He showed up to Bristol on leave from the military and his first-ever 2k was better than my best. Once he was recognized by the country's rowing powers that be he was asked to attend Oxford. Before he left Bristol, he was training in a pair with a teammate and did some wacky racing against Ash and myself. Yes, we did win a few times but he went on to win the Boat Race and a couple World Championships while I went off and got an MBA and found a few pounds around my mid-section. It was fun to cheer for him. Good luck next year in Munich and then in Beijing.
Since we used to live in Britain, we didn't do much site seeing. One thing in Bristol we never went to was Blaise Castle Estate. Our friends Jackie and Jas were gracious enough to let us stay with them for the week, and they accompanied us to the estate. Here they are in front of their house as we're about ready to leave.
Here's Erynn and Jackie in front of the Blaise Castle. Just below the castle is a nice overlook that we posed in front of. It's a pretty park, but unfortunately I don't know much about its history. It's a short hike from the car park, and the estate appeared to be a decent sized park in the middle of Bristol with some nice hills and scenery. There were some well maintained paths and tons of people out walking.
We spotted this rock outcrop from the overlook in the previous photo so we hiked around until we found it. Unfortunately it didn't afford a great view of the castle, but I decided to climb out anyway. The ledge was about 5 feet wide and about 40-50 high. The medical professionals in the group were concerned. There were a few pretty places for photos. The little pond behind Jackie and Erynn is called the Giant's Soapdish, which had a cute stone bridge crossing a portion of it.
We took the train into Paddington Station to go shopping in London. We left Jas in Bristol to work, and I had Erynn and Jackie to myself. We went to Selfridge s & Co., Zara, Petit Bateau and Uniqlo. When we were done we headed back to the Tube at Piccadilly Circus where I snapped a photo of Jackie and Erynn.
Strangely enough, in all the time we lived in Britain we never went to see Windsor Castle. While Erynn stayed back to study, I spent the day wondering around Buckinghamshire. I ended up standing in the queue to get into Windsor Castle, but was glad I did. The castle grounds were quite impressive. The left photo shows the King Edward the III Tower, and the right photo shows the Military Knight's Lodging with the famous Round Tower in the background. Actually, I liked the right-hand photo because of the Shaguar and Porsche on the Castle grounds. The Round Tower was not flying the royal standard so I knew the cars didn't belong to Liz.
Inside the State Apartments one is not allowed to snap photos. However, if one is clever enough one can get away with a photo of St. George's Hall. Windsor Castle had a fire in 1992 that destroyed a large portion of the apartments and this room was one of them. It was meticulously restored to what you see today. All over the walls and ceilings are the family crests of those in the Order of the Garter, which is reserved for the highest and closest knights of the monarch. I particularly liked the white plaques, which were still shown but only to remember those that had disgraced themselves, queen or country. Their crests were removed, but not the record to humiliate their name into perpetuity. That's harsh.
St. George's Chapel on the Castle grounds is quite remarkable. Built in 1475 it houses the College of St. George and serves as a focal point for the Order of the Garter. For Americans all of this pomp and circumstance seems either awe inspiring or completely ridiculous. I border on the ridiculous side, but the age and history is something to be admired. Our flat in Bristol was housed in a building that pre-dates the American Civil War. While old, it wasn't particularly that unique. It only became a listed building because someone famous had once lived there. In the U.S. a building that old would have a fence around it and only be open during business hours. Old in Britain are the Romans.
Here are a couple more photos I enjoyed. The left photo shows the obligatory guardsman in the Lower Ward. The right photo shows the statue of King Charles II in the Quadrangle.
Just across the river from Windsor is Eton, which is home to the famous Eton College. In a country of elite schools, Eton College ranks up there. Students at the school created traditions and sports that have persisted until today and have spread around the world. It was Old Etonians rowing at Cambridge that gave them the university's blade colours. and the first Boat Race held between Oxford and Cambridge was in 1829. The left photo shows the school yard and the right photo shows their boathouse in town as opposed to the one at Dorney Lake where the Worlds were held (see top of page).
Before heading home, I swung through Reading and Henley. I got up close and personal with rowing legends Sir Steve Redgrave and Matthew Pinsent at the River & Rowing Museum in Henley. I had been there before, but not since they had made the homage to their victory in the 2000 Sydney Games. In the museum they also had a display case describing swans in Britain and how most of them are owned by the monarch. This royal privaldege and Britons' rather strange pre-occupation with animal welfare describes the nuisance swans pose while rowing in Bristol. And also how Erynn got her nickname "Killer". I HATE swans!!!
Oh, and if you're in the area one of our favourite pubs is The Griffin in Caversham.
Compared to the U.S. the U.K. has almost no crash test standards. As a result, any Fred in a Shed can bolt together a car and sell it. Therefore, Britain had some amazing boutique brands of automobiles as any auto aficionado can attest. I was smitten the first time I saw and drove a Lotus so I decided to buy one. Virtually no one in the U.S. is accustomed to such small cars, but people should be turning around slowly with the introduction of the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky. But sorry to say, GM was making the Vauxhall VX220 (upper left photo) in Britain for years to compete in the two-seat sportster market before the U.S. derivations were rolling off the assembly line. This is a GM! I snapped a few shots of some tasty rides that I'd like to share to begin your journey to sports car appreciation: If your car has four seats it may be sporty, but it's not a sports car.
Clockwise from the red car: Vauxhall VX220, Smart Roadster, Lotus Elise 111s, and a Lambo from Dubai
As I mentioned before, the highlight of this trip was visiting with old friends. The left photo shows Erynn and I with Miren and the chef Ian at A Cozihna. Miren's husband Patrick was taking the photo, and we had a fantastic evening planning our trip to the next World Rowing Champs in Munich while eating at one of our favorite restaurants. You have to try the cataplana. And on our last night in town, Jackie and Jas were kind enough to host a party for a bunch of people. From the left are: myself, Scott (a.k.a. Baggy), Ash, Erynn, Patrick and Miren. I didn't realize that we didn't get a nice photo of Jackie, Jas, Erynn and myself until after I was sifting through all of these photos. It'll have to be something we rectify on the next trip...
Thank you to everyone for a wonderful trip. Doug & Erynn
© 2006 Doug Rathburn