I'm not really one to watch the weather forecast. My youngest Freddie has always been entranced by it, he rather likes Carol. I'm more of a look out of the window and wing it type of girl. On Sundays however, I open my window to see how much breeze floats in.
Well that's all changed since I've picked up the sailing baton. I watch it like a hawk. It is going to a be a westerly? That's dastardly at Olton Mere. How strong? Oh how I obsess with those BBC wind arrows that shoot up and down the country.
This weekend was going to be a windy one, with Twitter and Facebook reports of races and squads been cancelled, my blood pressure was slowly rising. I had agreed with my sailing pal Matt that we would race the Vision in the Icicle Series. No. Wimping. Out.
I woke on Sunday morning, I'd been dreaming of sailing with Ben Ainslie. It was good. We even managed to dance the waltz that evening to celebrate. I opened my bedroom window, some habits die hard. My paper flew around my bedroom, my nerves raced around my body like an electric shock. Man, it was really windy.
I arrived, rigged, joked and laughed about my dream and we set of in the Vision. My heart felt like it my burst. God I was nervous. Matt is an excellent sailing partner for me, he largely laughs his way round the course and you can't help but join in. We survived the first race, one capsize. Nothing to write home about.
We walked into the clubhouse like conquering heros. Nothing. Seriously guys? Right, clearly we were going to have to do the 2nd race to earn our stripes. Deep breath, wee and chocolate and off we set again.
The winds seemed to have picked up even more. One monster gust and bang, over we went, I leapt onto the centre board, small moment of glory, the boat came up and Matt climbed in. Smiles. Timing possibly wasn't our finest virtue as we executed the second part of the capsize, as Matt pulled me in a we caught another gust and I was sent headfirst into the water closely followed by Matt. Oh crickey that was proper scary. I wanted to cry, this was a Daddy moment. Where was he?
We survived, but after final capsize of similar proportions with another headfirst dive we called it a day. Once back at the pontoon, Matt lay down too exhausted to move. Had we earned our stripes? Oh yes we had.
I've never been very good with the cold. I deal with it by firstly curling my hands into a ball, then into my jacket, followed slowly giving up and crying. It's worked as a general rule up until now.
I remember being 8 years old, with 2 frozen plaits whilst skiing, frozen, really frozen. A few tears, quickly enabled a Daddy hug and a hot chocolate. That's how it works.
This weekend was going to be a game changer for me. It was set to be one of the coldest weekends this year and I was due to spend all weekend out on the water, Saturday as a crew member on a coaching rib and Sunday I had my Instructors Pre- Assessment all day. I was going to have to man up.
I had a couple of tools up my sleeve however, one was in the form of a lovely Volvo XC90 that I had won for the weekend which sported the greatest feature ever to grace a car, a heated steering wheel and secondly an Olympian dose of Adrenaline..
My husband sat in bed on Saturday morning and mused, " Oh listen, the weather forecaster has just said, you'll be fine as long as you have plenty of layers on and you stay out of the wind!". Fine, I could achieve layers, I'm past worrying about looking fat in cold situations, hiding from the wind on a rib in the middle of a lake and on a sailing boat would prove to be tricky.
We set off, the temperature gauge in the car read zero, I clutched my warm steering wheel hoping to infuse some heat into my hands and my body. Soon, way to soon, I found myself out on the water looking for my inner brave. The coaches were looking for help, not tears. First job, could I tie up the wet painter at the front of the boat. Seriously, did they not know that that involved getting wet gloves which would translate directly to frozen hands? Yes of course, no problem.
Predictably, it didn't take long for my hands to get cold but as I watched these young kids pushing their boats hard, falling in the water, smiling, laughing, fighting their way for top spot, I felt humbled. If they could cope so could I.
Sunday, dawned a new day, a fresh breeze and a good dose of Adrenaline and a freshly dried pair of gloves. I set off for the Sailing Club tightly gripping the warm steering wheel of my now beloved XC90. It was going to be a tough day, passing this was going to be no breeze for me, no pun intended.
I arrived, the others were already rigging the boats so I went off to prepare the rescue boat. Deactivate the alarm, check the boat for safety equipment, get the fuel tank, start the engine. I tugged at the cord, nothing. 20 tugs later, nothing. I was conscious that time was pressing and the assessor was on her way, I willed, I prayed, I tugged nothing. The only thing to do was to swap boats and start again. This boat had several inches of water in, so I had to pump it dry before I could start the process. I tugged, nothing. Man, this weather. Finally after 20 minutes of starting I got the engine to go, in my excitement I had forgotten to undo the alarm and set off in reverse with the alarm still attached. A sharp tug, I fell backwards into the boat. Thank god I was alone.
I was warm with my many layers and I had started to sweat, small mercies I think they say. We set off on the water with my heart in my mouth. For the next 7 hours, I tacked, gybed, hiked, laughed and didn't give one thought to the cold.
I passed the assessment, delighted beyond words. I also passed another major milestone, I finally learnt to deal with the cold.
Today I woke with a battered face and finger, I have no recollection of any incident on the water and I fear I may have an adrenaline low. The XC90 and its warm steering wheel are going back home. Thanks for a great weekend.
I've spent the last 13 1/2 years of my life worrying, it's not easy being a mother, even less so of 3 vivacious boys.
This weekend I was teased heartily for taking a safety boat out to ensure that my son and his friend had cover whilst learning to sail their 29er. Cries of they will be fine, what's the worst that can happen? In my head. Lots. That's what we do mothers, worry.
Possibly what they had failed to realise was that I'd been sailing that morning in a Hartley 12 that was heavily reefed to counteract the gusts and crazy winds of Storm Imogen. Reefing the boat meant that I couldn't point up to the wind and I ended up parallel parking against the dam wall. My knees were bruised as was faith in my sailing ability.
My son, my baby, now aged 13 was taking this beast of a boat, which was utterly unsailable in my newly adjusted opinion. I mean what could go wrong. If I could only crouch in a heavily reefed learner boat, what hope did they have? Entanglement, cut heads, bashed limbs, ok, let's not go there..
I ignored the remarks and set off in the safety boat. My, Oh, My. What a spectacle! The boys had the most exhilarating sail, they caught the gusts, massive smiles beamed across their faces as they trapezed and hung out of this truly ridiculous boat. They capsized lots. Were they hurt? No. Did they need me? Once. The mast was stuck in the mud and I needed to give them a gentle tug out of it. That's 1 - 0 I think doubters. I was clearly required.
Seriously, we won't always get it right, we only try our best. I thought the worrying would lessen with age, as it turns out, it only gets worse as they try more demanding things which are beyond my personal ability.
Bring back the days of endless jigsaws, CBeebies and sticky fingers. No chance. I'm firmly in the camp of terrified mother.