The Voyage: Roz Savage
Beanz Meanz Sproutz
06 Oct 2007, Bristol, UK

Further to my last blog, a lot of people have been asking for more information on beansprouts (with the notable exception of my friend Reprobate George, who cooked a fab beef curry last night, but not a sprout in sight...).

I do not claim to be an expert, so will point you in the direction of my beansprout sponsors, Sproutpeople of San Francisco. They provided me with bags of their Beanie, San Francisco and Peasant mixes, and a beansprouter.

Speaking of beansprouters, I am trying to find one like Emma's - a system of square, stackable trays with narrow drainage slots in the base. But unfortunately there was no manufacturer's name on it, and I am rarely online while I am on the road so haven't had time to search the internet for it.

Any information much appreciated!

[photo: my old beansprouter, made by Biosnacky, on board Sedna in mid-Atlantic]

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Bed, Bath and Beyond
04 Oct 2007, Bath, Somerset, UK

My tour of Britain continues with a visit to an old friend and his fiancee near the beautiful city of Bath in SW England. I met Mike when he was with Creative, who were one of the sponsors for my Peruvian expedition in 2003.

Last night Mike and I brainstormed a strategy for my website content (which will lead to some subtle changes over the coming months) while Emma, a freediver and former filmmaker, produced a delicious and healthy dinner. She shares my fetish for sprouting seeds, so we compared notes on best sprouters and principles of healthy eating.

Tonight I return to Oxford for a meeting with a new recruit to my team, then a drink with Lord Butler, the master of my former Oxford college. Tomorrow I am off to Bristol to see my reprobate friend George of the Atlantic 4 crew that competed in the Atlantic Rowing Race 2005.

All good fun stuff - a happy combination of business and pleasure.

[photo: another pic from the West Highland Way in Scotland]

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Lightweights / The Right Weights
02 Oct 2007, Oxford, UK

While I am back in the UK for a few weeks I've been making the most of the opportunity to catch up with some old friends, including some members of the Oxford Lightweights Eight that raced against Cambridge in 1989 (which now sounds a frighteningly long time ago).

On Sunday night I stayed with Penny (bow seat) in Hathersage in the Peak District. We compared aches and pains - me after the West Highland Way, she after the Great North Run half marathon. On Monday (after an interview with the Observer Sports mag - taking the form of a one-hour hike (ow) and lunch) I drove south to Oxford to stay with Briony (number seven seat). Next week I hope to drop in on Natalie on the south coast (number three seat).

We're all a few pounds heavier than in our lightweight days - I'm still trying to shift the extra pounds I gained in anticipation of major weight loss on the Pacific. It's a lot harder to lose it on dry land, especially as all this socialising seems to involve eating and drinking, so I'm aiming to work it off through exercise instead. It's not easy, when I'm staying in a different place every night and running is out of the question for now post-WHW. But I have my portable gym - a skipping rope and a bungee cord - and this morning I indulged at the Esporta Club in Oxford.

Where there's a will there's a way, and while there's wobble there's a will...

[photo: Oxford Lightweights 1989. I'm in the stroke seat.]

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Sisters with Blisters
29 Sep 2007, Kendal, Cumbria

I am now back at my sister's house in Kendal, after we completed the West Highland Way together on Thursday afternoon. We covered 95 miles in 6 days, which may not sound much (especially since I found out there are some hardnuts who run it in under 24 hours) but it's no mean achievement either - especially carrying a full pack of tent, sleeping bag, camping stove etc, over a route that includes 11,500 feet of ascent.

The West Highland Way brought its share of highs and lows. The highlights included beautiful scenery on the shores of Loch Lomond, rainbows and white-topped hills on Rannoch Moor, the bleak majesty of Ben Nevis and the surrounding mountains - and an unforgettable breakfast at Glengarry House B&B, with eggs from the backyard chicken run and the tastiest field mushrooms I have ever had the pleasure of eating.

The lows were accidentally pulling half the skin off my heel on Day 2, a freezing night on Rannoch Moor on Day 4, and a brutal walk down a rubble track into Kinlochleven on Day 5. My body is still in shock ("where are the oars?"), with the final tally being two sore heels, two toenails bruised and likely to fall off (again), one dodgy knee and numerous midge bites.

I found out part-way through our hike that there are many companies that will carry your bags from one B&B to the next for only £30 (about $60) - but that my sister had decided we would go hardcore: the double whammy of camping AND carrying our own packs - with the associated impact on our poor aching feet.

As we took the train back to Mulngavie yesterday, retracing in 3 hours the distance that it had taken us 6 days to walk, it struck me that this was not so different from choosing to row an ocean (3 months) as opposed to flying across it (5 hours).

This leads me to conclude that there must be a masochism gene that didn't manifest itself in either of our parents, but somehow emerged in the next generation. Or maybe it's the way Mum brought us up - those cycling and hiking holidays we took as children may have imprinted our young psyches with the message that these challenges were some kind of fun.

But whether it's nature or nurture, I'm glad that the urge is there. The sense of achievement, especially when you've been through that stage of "Am I going to make it?" but you push on anyway, makes it all worthwhile.

P.S. Good luck to all those running in tomorrow's Great North Run. Sympathies!

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