08 Jul 2005, Safely back in Emsworth
I was on the train to London yesterday for some meetings about my Prince's Trust fundraiser. My friend Nick Jones rang. 'You might have some problems getting into London. There's been an explosion and some stations are closed.'
Then Rodney Byram, one of the people I was meant to be meeting, texted me: 'Don't come into town today. Not safe. 3 buses have exploded, no tubes. Stay away. Now four buses.'
My sister and mother rang to check I was OK. It started to feel like 9/11, when I was hiking on my own in Scotland and my only source of information as events unfolded was from calls on my mobile phone from concerned friends and relatives.
Still my train headed northwards, and I wondered whether to persevere. I'd been up since 1.30am - I'd woken in the wee small hours worrying about how I would meet the new accelerated payment schedule for the race entry fee. And tiredness makes me indecisive.
Eventually the announcement came over the train's loudspeakers. Major incidents in London. All passengers advised to avoid the capital if at all possible. The meetings were important, but not that important. I turned around.
There seemed to be death everywhere - a fatality at Chichester - in all I spent £23 and 4 hours going nowhere. But how can I whinge, when there are people lying dead and injured. Just as with 9/11, my heart bleeds for a city I used to call home. There but for the grace of God...
06 Jul 2005, London
We won!!! Well done, Sir Seb Coe and Co!!! You've done us proud.
I confess, I doubted you. I thought it would be another example of the plucky Brits putting on a brave show but ultimately losing out to somewhere a bit more.... glamorous. But somebody changed the script - fantastic!
This is a marvellous opportunity to regain our national self-esteem, to stop running ourselves down, to lift our heads, square our shoulders, and face the world with confidence again. Let's go for it and glory in it!
I never would have imagined I'd be rowing over the legendary Henley course on finals day to rounds of applause from the packed stands of the Stewards Enclosure. And then be so mobbed afterwards that the pontoon would start to sink... just a shame about the earlier highly embarrassing collision with the booms in front of the Remenham Club. And that my row wasn't a hard-earned victory, but a ceremonial paddle during the tea break.
Chris Martin had arranged for a row-over of three generations of ocean rowing boat. First came Graham Walters in the Puffin, the little dory in which Hoare and Johnstone perished during their attempt to row the north Atlantic in 1966.
Then came Chris in Pacific Pete, a traditional ocean rowing pair made in marine ply and named after Peter Bird, the first man to row across the Pacific.
Then there was me in Solo - state-of-the-art compared with Graham's state-of-the-ark. Unfortunately, with her mega-light carbon fibre hull and no ballast, I was floating like a cork on the water and getting pushed around by the wind - hence my brush with the booms. Well, that's my excuse anyway, and I'm sticking to it. But maybe just as well there are no booms in mid-Atlantic.
28 Jun 2005, Southsea
It's Trafalgar 200 (in case you hadn't noticed!) and I'm in Portsmouth to be interviewed by BBC Radio Solent who are broadcasting live from the International Fleet Review. Rousing nautical music is booming from the sound systems, an multitude of splendid craft, old and new, is processing sedately around the Solent, the sun is shining, and everyone is in a state of patriotic pride.
I met these two fine fellows at the Radio Solent outside broadcast van, and we know all the girls love a sailor, so I press-ganged them into an impromptu photo opportunity. Briefly managing to tear their eyes away from the display of maritime might arrayed before them, they kindly obliged.