Mortlake and Quintin may share a beach but to date we haven’t shared training camps. Quintin’s camps have a reputation for going to scenic places and for providing a mix of serious training with a holiday – recipe which suits veterans well. And so when we were asked us on this year’s trip, which involved flying to Bordeaux and over the early May bank holiday and with our boats taken for us by Graham Lloyd, we said yes please and booked our flights without asking any more questions.
A few alarm bells rang when we were told the price – only £285 (that’s £32 a day) for full board as well as a coach to drive us around plus use of the rowing lake and local club facilities. So we weren’t expecting either much luxury on the accommodation or food front or a great rowing course. We were wrong. The lake was fabulous and most days we had it all for just ourselves and a few fishermen. Our boats and trailer lived happily under the pine trees a few yards from the pontoons. The accommodation was indeed fairly basic but clean and charming in its own forest clearing. The food was plentiful and tasty and best of all could be washed down with copious quantities of the local produce, purchased in the local supermarche. A 2007 Margaux accompanying pork chops and puy lentils sitting on benches at trestle tables under a setting sun is one of the abiding memories of the trip.
We also trained hard. The Quintin men were preparing for Henley and we enjoyed watching them swish past doing their 2k pieces down the course. Meanwhile we were training for GB Masters and were doing rather shorter prices – but with coach Ben ensuing that we did serious interval training sessions as well as miles of steady state to let our more elderly limbs recover. We were joined here by the Quintin girls and also by Tom Bishop – a Quintin “super vet” who, along with the Quintin coaches Willy and Fred, had been in the GB Olympic team of the 70s, and we also enjoyed hearing them swap tales of that era.
Back home, that charming lake and all that fun and sunshine seems like from another era. But we now know our neighbours on the beach much better and will enjoy cheering them along at Henley Royal. And we would like please to be invited along again next year!