Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Friends + Snow + Travel = Epic!

Made it!
I spoke to a random stranger last week about friendships and how they are not always a tangible thing. Sometimes they change and develop; sometimes they grow; sometimes they fall away. Like everything in life they are ever changing and ever challenging.

This weekend as a result of a trip to Paris top watch a rugby match, my friendships were tested, challenged, grown and above all enjoyed. In what became an epic journey we had a lot of fun looking back the sense of achievement in getting to the game just after kick off, was only bettered by the sense of achievement I felt at actually getting home. I say ‘sense of achievement.’ I actually have to thank the people I was travelling with. As I slipped into a state of incomprehension at what the next move was going to be; people were on the phone to UK and rounding up the resources to get us from Paris to the UK. I went along for the ride, I wish I could have bought more to the party but in a way with so many organisers it is sometimes better if some people don’t interfere! Well that my excuse.

Old friends
 After we actually got to the game we headed back to our base for the weekend cheered by our patients at an 11 hour flight delay. Unaware of the chaos that was growing overhead as more snow was falling. On the Saturday I met up with an old friend who I knew, long before I even was aware of the existence of the good friends I travelled to France with. Since we last met she has made a new home in Paris and become a mother to 2 little Parisians. I spent a lovely extended lunch sinking some wine and eating Roquefort on toast; my old friend battled with stroppy waiters and evil French people: devastated that two British people were taking up seats in their eating establishment. After a great couple of hours we parted company. The trip and the forthcoming chaos were all worth it, to catch up with such a good friend, with whom over the years I had shared some great experiences in the past.

After the fastest trip around Paris which involved arriving at great landmarks taking a quick photo before route marching to the next destination was hard graft! The snow was falling heavier as we decamped to a bar and found the most stereotypical French waiter on earth, as well as the black waistcoat and long black apron he was also in possession of a waxed moustache, a surly face and glasses just small enough to peer over with distain as we ordered a couple of bottles of vin rouge, in broken French. Despite a nice few drinks the fear of the trip home was not far from the back of our minds and as we made our way back to the hotel.

When we awoke we were under a few inches of snow and found out early our flight was cancelled and so began the long trip home. First a train, then a tube then a longer train from Paris to Calais all along the route the 13 that arrived slowly dwindled in number. 6 not leaving the hotel, 2 making their way to the airport and 5 of us taking the decision to head to Calais and on route organise ferry tickets and a mini bus at the other end. Ironically we got home in less time than the journey out to France. Along the way we had tantrums, mainly from me, we had moments where it looked like we wouldn’t make it, but above all we had fun, in a sick way, it felt like an achievement we would be proud of. My friends all of whom I had encountered through the brotherhood and sisterhood of rugby had made it home and we were better for it. I will say this though: I am never leaving Chesham again!


Tuesday, 7 December 2010

3 Teams.

In the last few weeks I have seen so much rugby, of such varying standard that I have found myself trying to look at the similarities they all have to each other. The various states of development all the teams I have seen are in and where they are all going in the future.

I have had the privilege of seeing England get squeezed by the All Blacks- at this point I want to bring up what I said about Hosea Gear in the summer. I knew he was good: on his trip over to the UK, I think he proved himself more than capable of holding onto his shirt for some time to come. My stand out performer of the tour- The same England produce a master class against Australia, battle past Samoa and then fall short against an aggressive and wounded Springbok team. Despite the last game I have never felt more positive about England. The six nations are going to be a tough tournament but I am predicting England to win it this year. So that’s England: a team in development.

That brings me to the Chesham men’s team. I have watched this team start to grow and find its feet and I have nothing but a positive feeling about where they are going. The youngsters continue to grow in confidence and that is what they need most. They have in the armoury, all the equipment to win games. They just need to start believing in themselves. The old heads have a role to play in that and something we are very bad at is providing positive encouragement. Stand on the sidelines and you can hear everyone telling people what they are doing wrong but struggle to hear people telling people what they are doing well. The coach is the one whose job it is to lay into people, the supporters have the job of doing exactly what the name suggests “supporting”.

Then my last but not least team the Chesham Women. I have after some resistance found myself involved in the team again in a small way assisting the coaching and going to the games and helping to get the women prepared and warmed up. To be honest it is pretty much suited to me, putting out a few cones then coming on and trotting out a few things at half time. The women have it sussed they have a few wise heads out there; who know more about what they need to do than me and they communicate it perfectly. All that said this weekend seeing the girls take to the field with 15 players was so good, it was just a joy to watch and I tell you something else they were good, very good. What I would give to be able to have that availability every week. With the addition of the players we were missing on Sunday you would have a league winning squad of players with no problems. Does that sound arrogant? Only if you don’t think it’s true.