Guernsey Girl

Welcome to my blog! I am Erica Bodman from Guernsey, 25 years old. I started rowing in 2008, retired in 2013.

Life goes on. This is my story.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

The last of the summer of 2013

Well, plans changed and I had my first day of work at Curriculum Visions on Monday July 2nd!  They are very busy at Curriculum Visions and on reflection suggested that instead of a September start date, if I was happy to, I could work around the holidays I had planned.  This worked perfectly for me so I eased myself in by starting on that Monday and following that by a week writing race reports for Leander at Henley Royal Regatta!

Great fun, a little pressure, watching all the races and feeling useful made it an almost perfect week at HRR. Graham was in the top boat for Upper Thames and one of the favourites to win the Thames Challenge Cup.  The week went according to plan, until Griffin stole the show in the final.  Very sad for all the Upper Thames supporters as the guys had put their all into this season, but it was not to be. I always think you learn more from losses than you do from wins, so hopefully they will take something valuable away from the experience. 

I was very happy to have my good friend Mirka Knapkova rowing my boat at Henley Royal Regatta, The London Olympic 2012 1x champion had a great Henley regatta and won the women's singles event! I'm sure my boat was very happy to be rowed so nicely, and fast!

So my week at Henley was followed by my first couple of weeks at work. First. Ever! I must say, I loved it, and still do! I love the challenge, there is so much to learn and so much to do. I've always liked being busy.  Of course starting a new job you feel thrown in at the deep end but I came home every day just brimming with enthusiasm so I'm pretty pleased about that. I didn't expect to enjoy it so much, or for the days to pass as quickly as they do.  It has certainly left me with no regrets about leaving rowing when I did.

Hasn't it been a beautiful summer? I don't remember having a summer like this since I was a child on the beaches of Guernsey. Getting to spend two and a half weeks in Guernsey was a real treat, and something I fear will not be repeated for another few years.

My parents took some time off work, I was able to spend time seeing friends who I never get to see enough of, and we managed lots of swims!

Mum and the beautiful bride to be, Lauren Martel
Mum, Dad and I walked down to Moulin Huet for many swims over the couple weeks I had at home
I was also very pleased to have Graham able to visit for some of my stay, so having done Herm last time he was over we went to Sark this time.  One night camping on a slight slope was enough for us; we chose the view rather than the flat bit of land, and paid for it as we slipped down the tent all night! Had a great time though, BBQing, cycling the island, walking down to the Venus pool and spotting a seal :)

We also took part in the Rocquaine Regatta! Always a great event, and we couldn't resist entering the dingy race, approx. 200m long around some buoys in the bay. Graham got tangled up with a local on the start line, and ended up doing a 360 degree spin before he managed to get going. Despite a heroic attempt to get back on terms with the leaders, the course was simply not long enough and he finished a respectable third place.  I fared better, kept out of trouble and managed to bring home a shiny gold medal, which we repeated in the doubles race. I felt very inadequate though as Graham and I both had one oar each and as I am obviously much weaker than he is, so all my calls were just telling him to go light/ease off/stop rowing in an attempt for us to go in a straight line.  Lots of laughs though and we made it back to the shore first, so we both went home winners :) funny how you never lose the competitive spirit!
tired after a day at the Roquaine Regatta
I was so pleased that a good friend of mine, Sarah, from Jersey, was able to make it over to Guernsey when I told her when I'd be home. We don't manage to see each other very often but it's always like we've never been away when we do! We spent a gorgeous day in Herm with mum and dad. The sea always looks tropical but I assure you, it is more like the arctic when you first step in! After a couple minutes your body goes quite numb, and then it is lovely.
Dad, Sarah and Mum coming up the beach at Belvoir
Alex was home for a week, and over his birthday too, so it was great to get to spend some time with him. We had a birthday day for him centred around food (amazing!) with brunch at Muse, afternoon tea at the OGH and mum and I made the most incredible, if I do say so myself, lemon and raspberry meringue birthday cake. 
The next day both Alex and I were back on flights to the UK, Alex to Bath to start his final year at Bath Spa studying Sociology and Creative Writing, and me to Henley to do a little more work! Two and a half weeks later though, we were all off again. This time on a family cycling holiday, plus Graham, to Lake Constance (Swiss/German/Austrian).
Four days to cycle the 150miles round the lake meant that we did a fair bit of cycling each day but we were also able to stop in lots of different towns along the way, have swims in the lake and breaks for coffee and ice cream. It was a stunning place and pretty flat so I would definitely recommend it for virgin-cycle-holidayists! There are cycle paths almost the entire way round, well signposted, and the company, Radweg-Reisen, who supplied our bikes and transported our luggage each day from hotel to hotel did a great job.
Stein am Rhein

We passed through the German town of Bodman on our way!

Graham showing off his photography skills

Drying off our beach towels on an ice cream stop

The Rhein falls

Last swim in the lake.
Now that I am back, I have officially started work now! I was fortunate to be able to ease myself into it, get a feel for work whilst still enjoying the holidays we had planned.  Next on the agenda is the Frankfurt International Book Fair in October.  Lots of work to do before we get there though!

Friday, 7 June 2013

Summer Plans

Holiday over, I got about two days into my summer 'off' before deciding I couldn't wait until September to start the job search!  Four or five days of solid job hunting, CV revamping, cover letter writing and job applications made for a demoralised Erica.  However, it must have paid off as I got my first interview offer within that first week.  Four days later I was fully prepped and ready to wow them with my brilliance.  Little did I realise that I needn't have worried; the company interviewing me is a small team and they were more concerned with ensuring that I felt the job was a good fit for me than giving me a grilling.

I loved the team, the office, the work, Libby the Dalmatian, and the atmosphere and am delighted to say that I will be starting life in the real world, the 9-5, at the start of September!  I'll be with Curriculum Visions which is a smart little company which follows the National Curriculum to provide educational text/online books, videos, and teacher lesson plans and resources for primary schools.  I am most grateful that they've allowed me to postpone my start date until September, so I still get to have a summer to myself, sorting everything out post rowing!

I haven't been able to leave rowing altogether though, I have volunteered to be on the press team for Henley Women's Regatta and do all of the race reports for Leander crews during Henley Royal Regatta.  I am looking forward to being involved in this way and seeing everybody race.  After that I have a couple weeks in Guernsey planned and a cycle holiday round Lake Constance in Switzerland.  Can't wait :)

Living the life of leisure, out on my sun deck!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Life after rowing

Hello again, I am back! I have decided to continue keeping up my blog although now more for my own interest than anything else. I have a poor memory for details and am looking forward to reading back on my writing to remind myself of the particulars of my day to day life at this time!  Thinking back to my decision four weeks ago to stop rowing, I am still pleased that I made the right decision at the right time.  The two days following my decision were the hardest couple of days. Highly emotional, tears and tissues were the order of the day. All day, for two days. It is draining! But, after two days I woke up feeling refreshed, happy and able to analyse my thoughts without tears shed. 
I had spoken to everybody I needed to speak to and my parents had invited me to join them on holiday visiting my American side of the family (mother). Flights were booked and a week after my decision, I was on a flight to Vancouver.  My family live in Washington State, but flights to Vancouver were 40% of the cost of flights to Seattle, so I flew to Vancouver, Canada and got to experience the lovely scenery on the Amtrak train from Vancouver to Seattle. The train was efficient, spacious and hugged the coast the whole way down. Four hours later I had seen the sun set on the American and Canadian coast, and was rolling into Seattle.

Somewhere between Vancouver and Seattle, shot from the Amtrak train
My parents arrived into Seattle the next day and we spent the weekend with the two Seattle based families: aunts, uncles and cousins. Cousin Zen's baseball game was a highlight, at 8 years old he is already a talented little athlete. Can you spot the ball he has hit in the photo? It is middle of shot...

Star in the making

As on every visit, we visited the ever bustling, ever colourful Pike Street Market.

Between 1906 and 1907, the cost of onions increased tenfold. Citizens and farmers were outraged.  They wanted to be able to deal with each other directly, cutting out the fat cat middlemen.

On August 17, 1907, Pike Place Market was born. On that first day, a total of eight farmers brought their waggons to the corner of First Avenue and Pike Street—and were quickly overwhelmed by an estimated 10,000 eager shoppers. By 11:00 am, they were sold out. Thousands of would-be customers went home empty-handed, but the chaos held promise. By the end of 1907, the first Market building opened, with every space filled.

Pike Place Market attracts 10 million visitors per year
Some of the family took us down to Seattle Waterfront to do the touristy things.  Highlights included Ye Olde Curiosity Shop which is home to the weird, freaky, interesting and curious.  Among other things, it features a couple of genuine mummies, a four legged chicken, a two headed lamb!  Here we are on Elliot Bay Waterfront, Olympic Mountains in the distance.

A walk round Seward Park at the weekend provided spectacular view of Mount Rainier across Lake Washington and we enjoyed high temperatures as Seattle reached record highs for the first weekend in May.

Mount Rainier across Lake Washington

It is amazing how clear and huge the mountains can look to the naked eye, but as soon as you put a camera to them they seem to shrink and disappear into the background. Very frustrating, as they really are incredible!

Two of my cousins, Kai and Zen playing whilst waiting to be seated for dinner

 That first weekend was spent in the city to have some quality time with the family based in Seattle. Monday morning, relatives went to work and cousins to school so my parents and I headed over Puget Sound to the Olympic Peninsula, to spend the week with my grandparents.

Washington State Ferries pass, Mount Rainier behind

We started the next day by a drive up to Hurricane Ridge to see if we could take a hike, and get a good view of the Olympic Mountains.  We drove through the S'Klallam Indian Reservation, tourist centre shown below.  The Indian reservations are interesting places. They are governed by their own laws.  For example, casinos are not permitted in the state of Washington yet Native Indian Reservations are allowed to have them because they are their own separate community. The casinos are a big business in the state, doing well because people cannot go to casinos outside of the reservations in Washington.  These casinos have earned vast amounts of money which can be put into maintaining the reservations.

As an alternative to gambling, I bought a pair of moccasins from their gift shop to support this reservation!

The view from Hurricane Ridge was incredible, clear sunny weather still holding from the weekend.  The Olympic Range was vast, dominating the landscape.  No chance of hiking though, snow still lay 12 feet deep in places. All trails were impossible to find! A half hour walk down one of the snow ploughed roads gave us all round views to treasure.

Olympic Mountains viewed from Hurricane Ridge, WA

Here are some further photos from our week on the Olympic Peninsula

Old building in Port Townsend, original painted advertisement on the wall

Abandoned hut in Fort Worden State Park
Fort Worden State Park

View of Port Townsend

Flag off the stern of The Adventuress

Driftwood on beaches like this is common in Washington

What a glorious sea star! The Americans do things big!

That weekend we returned to Seattle, Grandparents in tow and spent a lovely weekend with the whole American family. Aunt and Uncle came over to join us from Yakima, just under a 3 hour drive over the Cascade mountain range.  I have been getting the hang of a new panoramic photo app on my phone but sometimes, if people move, it creates some interesting shots. Spot the ghost in this family charades photo!

Mothers Day weekend in the States, a great excuse for a big dinner! We had some obligatory posed family shots, as we get the opportunity to all get together so infrequently. Here is the Hudson blood line from my grandparents, just missing my little brother who had to stay in the UK to sit University exams.


After a lovely weekend my Yakima based Aunt and Uncle kindly took me back to Yakima to spend some quality time with them, and after a couple days, my Godmother.  I was thoroughly spoilt!

My Godmother organised for a friend to take us on a tour of the apple packing warehouses in Prosser, WA. Unbelievably fascinating and so high tech.  Apples are cleaned in a chlorine bath, soaped and rinsed and chlorine again. 70 high res photos are taken of each apple and the equipment grades them according to size, weight, imperfections before sending them to the correct line to be dealt with.

Yakima, my birthplace

Apples at the beginning of the cycle, you can see a few duff ones in there!
 What I found most interesting was that the apples they were processing that day (all Granny Smiths, the variety changes each day) had all been picked in the fall.  They are kept in strict atmospheric conditions where the oxygen level is between 1 and 2%, and CO2 produced by the apples is removed. This slows the ageing process down to almost nothing, and enables the fresh year round apples we consume.

Above is my Godmother and husband. They took me out for a big mexican meal with family, delicious! This visit was the first time I've ever really gotten to spend any time with them and despite having less than 48 hours we had a really lovely time getting to know one another.  I feel incredibly blessed to have a special connection to such wonderful people.  They are part of my family because my parents chose them to be but I would have chosen them myself if I could!  Now I just need to get them to come visit us in Europe. I hope I've tempted them :)

Sad goodbyes

A last few hours was spent with the Seattle Hudsons and I was treated to a very American last meal at Red Robin!
Gorgeous girl cousins!

This trip really was filled with food, and my suitcase came back packed to the brim with American goodies. This was about half of it, before my godmother got her share of goodies into my bags!! I am thoroughly savouring it now that I am home.


On my way home I spent one night in Vancouver and stopped over with a friend I had met whilst at university in Cambridge.  I had the best view in the city I think, high up in a beautiful apartment block. Overlooking the city, water and mountains. Ceiling to floor windows!

Best guest room in town!

Quick walk with Claude through Vancouver before I had to leave

Now that I am home, I need to look to the future. I am excited to be looking at job opportunities and applying for wildly different careers. The possibilities are energising, although applying is still slow. I am sure I will get quicker at writing cover letters as time goes on.  For a small flavour of job applications I have made, they include the sectors of finance, education and events.  I am looking forward to seeing what happens next!

Thursday, 25 April 2013

The Last Post

So, I think most people will be expecting a blog post about my Final trials, and I will tell you about that but I also have some big news to share. I have very sadly decided that it is time for me to stop rowing.  As with any decision of this magnitude, it has not been made lightly.  Life as a full time international athlete is incredibly tough, and there are many reasons that have lead to me making this decision.  Ultimately, the main one being that my heart just isn't in the sport anymore. 

I love racing and I do the training so that I can race, but my physiology has hardly moved on in the last eighteen months and boat speed not picked up. I feel I am putting in a lot and not getting much return.  As a competitive athlete this is very hard to deal with.  I had a tough time at the weekend, at GB Final Trials. I had a poor time trial, but with side by side racing for semi finals and finals I picked myself up and improved my ranking with each race.  I didn't come out badly, and was asked to row in a 4- for the next couple of weeks with some seat racing and a possible selection for the World Cup at Dorney. 
I know that this moment may seem like the wrong time to leave, with seat racing just around the corner, but my coach asked me how I would feel if a 4- was selected for the World Cup which I felt I could have made, and I'd quit just a few days earlier.  I honestly can say I wouldn't feel like I'd let myself down.  I'm tired of the training.  I don't want to be rowing right now and I can only applaud those who do. I've lost the fire, the desire to improve and give myself to the sport.  As an athlete, it is incredibly tough to accept defeat and say that you're done, you quit, but as people often say; when you know, you know.  The sacrifice, and physical and mental strain that you put your body under for top level sport requires a wholehearted, 100% approach and without that, it is impossible.
One of the hardest things for me has been to come to terms with the idea of telling everybody.  I feel so indebted to so many people and am constantly astounded by how everybody has helped me in whatever way possible, and are always wanting to help more.  This has not happened through lack of support, and although I have made peace with myself concerning my decision, I am so, so upset to have to tell everybody this news. I feel I am letting down and disappointing so many people.  Guernsey is one of the most inspiring places for a young athlete, and it is brilliant to constantly be seeing sport being promoted throughout the island, and to all.  I am so fortunate to have grown up in such a healthy environment and was given all available opportunities to achieve my dreams.  For this I am eternally grateful. 
Despite this tough decision, I am excited for what the future will hold for me and I know that the dedication and commitment that I had to my rowing will come through and help make me successful in other areas.
Forever thankful for the support of:
Mum and Dad
My support network of family and friends
Jeremy Frith, Dave Warr and all at the Guernsey Sports Commission
Jeremy Rihoy, Rihoy and Sons
Colin Fallaize and everyone at the Fitness Factory
Leander Club
GB Rowing
Faith in Nature
110% Play Harder
Hunter Wellies

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

Spare - The other athlete

Firstly, a huge congratulations to all the British athletes at the first World Cup.  The races were all really exciting to watch and we had some great results.  More info on the racing can be found here:

This trip to Australia was one of many firsts for me. My first trip with the Great Britain Rowing Team's senior squad. My first attendance at a World Rowing Cup. My first experience as a 'spare'.

Being a spare on a trip like this was one of the best experiences. I was picked off the back of an under par performance, so I had no expectations about being selected in the first place and felt very grateful when that happened. Secondly, we went to Australia! When the rest of the UK was in snow and minus temperatures we were under the hot Aussie sun. As I knew I wasn't going to race I had no pressure on me, I was able to really enjoy training and make the most of being able to hop in and out of different boat types.

Thanks to Pete Reed for his photo of Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra.  
Hot air balloons fly overhead as Alex Gregory carries blades down the landing stage on his birthday

Sunset on Lake Burley Griffin, Canberra


The long journey to Sydney took it out of everybody and there was a cold doing the rounds which probably affected almost half the women's team over the first two weeks. Luckily I was unaffected by this, so it worked out well for me as it meant I got a few sessions rowing in the eight in place of one bowsider or another.  This was a great learning experience for me, having not done that much sweep rowing before or recently, and I was starting to feel much more comfortable in the eight by my last session in it!

Polly, Helen, Vicky, Fran, Vicki, Beth, Jess, Me

When we got back to Penrith, Sydney after training in Canberra for ten days the vibe in the camp felt different all of a sudden. Racing was upon us and the game faces were on.  That's not to say there wasn't still lots of laughter and fun (Jess Eddie, probably the funniest girl on camp. "And you're stiiilllll single..."), but the focus was on the racing. As a spare, I felt that my job was to be ready to race, in case a last minute disaster occured, but also to make the girls' lives as easy as possible. 

Being a spare is tough because you generally don't get to race and that is all we train to do. It's in our hearts to be competitive, to put our training to the test. The spare has to be right there, watching the racing, in the competition atmosphere, around the athletes 24/7 yet not on the start line. My way of dealing with this was to make myself useful. I was on top of getting 'recovery' to the girls post race, helping out with blades and boat carrying where necessary, moving shoes to the right pontoon so they found them when they came back in, assisting Zoe De Toledo, the W8+ cox when she needed to adjust things in the eight and taking photographs!

Sunrise over the warm up lake, Penrith, Sydney

The Sydney 1st World Cup 2013 was the first time a World Cup had been held in the southern hemisphere.  Due to the fact that the event was earlier in the season than normal, and in the southern hemisphere many smaller nations did not send teams.  Entries were smaller than usual and so it was great that the regatta was run not as a stand alone regatta but as part of the Sydney International Rowing Regatta; a long standing successful Australian event. The SIRR combined the Australian Open Rowing championships, the Australian Open Schools Rowing Championships, the King's and Queen's Cup Interstate Regatta and the World Rowing Cup!  A very busy schedule ran from the 18th to the 24th of March, with the World Cup starting on the 22nd.  World Cup racing typically bookended the other events, starting as early as 8am and finishing as late as 6pm so they were long days for all involved.  The busy schedule also meant that training times were more limited than normal so training paddles were normally done around 06.30-07.30 and 18.00-19.30.

My days during the World Cup generally went like this: go down to the course with the girls in the morning, do a session on the ergo whilst they were prepaddling and then be available to them once they were off the water. I looked after the eight, two doubles and two pairs.  Sorry quad, but I couldn't handle you girls as well!  I collected shakers, recovery drink sachets and food from the girls and determined with them where they wanted to receive their post race recovery. Once I had their recovery in my possession I was not allowed to take my eyes off them until I handed them, drinks made up, back to the girls after their races.  Some boats got recovery on the pontoon next to the finish line, some recieved it on the boating pontoons about 800m away. 

It is vital that athletes know exactly what they are putting in their bodies and I had to be responsible for knowing that the recovery drinks could not be tampered with.  I took this job very seriously, even to the point of showering post ergo with the door open so that I could keep an eye on the bag of recovery stuff! Apart from finals day, the long middle part of the day was spent at the hotel.  This was because we could only do our training paddles either very early or very late in the day, and World Cup racing was also either morning or early evening.  In the evening I would do another ergo whilst the boats were warming up, and then be ready to deliver recovery to the racing crews.  Food throughout our trip was excellent, and I always looked forward to getting back to the hotel for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

I was fortunate to be using Vicki Meyer-Laker's camera for the duration of the World Cup and came away with some stunning photographs, as well as a good feel for the atmosphere of the event and team.  I felt that the team was a really strong little community whilst we were away, everybody was very supportive of each other and as a spare I never felt left out in any way.  Here are a few of my photos from the event...

Crews boating in the morning mist
British Rowing - benefiting from all of you who play the National Lottery. Thanks!

Helen and Polly step out of the boat after winning their first World Cup gold medal together
Coach Rob Morgan giving the boat a clean
Still struggling a bit with the jet lag, and the cold weather! However, three and a bit weeks till final GB trials so looking forward to racing there. 

Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Canberra to Penrith, Australia

So it is our last morning in Canberra, we are shortly to board the coach and head to Penrith where the racing starts. Whilst in Canberra we have been staying at the Australian National University and using their training facilities which has been great. Delicious food, friendly people, lots of space and amazing weather has made for an unforgettable stay. Lake Burley Griffin has treated us well for the most part and we happily coincided our visit with Canberra's 100 year celebrations so we have seen lots of fireworks!

As a spare I have been in and out of the women's eight which has been great fun for me and I've been learning lots from them. Unfortunately we had one sickness which has meant an athlete being pulled from racing, but a positive for other spare Zoe Lee as she will now be racing. I'm looking forward to seeing a World Cup first hand an getting a real feel for the event, but I know already that it will be hard to be on the sidelines and not in the thick of it.

I believe that the BBC is showing the World Cup on Sunday after the Formula One.  I'm looking forward to watching this new and exciting young GB Rowing Team compete against the rest of the world this weekend. Keep updated with the GB Rowing website, I think my Internet access will be limited in Penrith.


Wednesday, 6 March 2013

G'day from Down Under!!

Through bleary, half open, jet lagged eyes I am greeting you from sunny Sydney!  I am here with the GB Rowing Team for the first World Cup in Sydney 22-24th March. I was given a late opportunity and selected as one of the spares (one of two female spares) so am not sure whether we will get to race the at World Cup yet, either as a spares boat or in the seat of an ill or injured athlete. Land training and acclimatisation in Sydney is followed by training camp in Canberra, and finally racing is in Penrith for the World Cup.

Today, hot off a very long couple of flights with only a short stop off in Singapore, we headed downtown to stretch our legs and take in some of the sights. I would put some photos up but having to do this on my phone whilst I'm out here, I've not figured out how to do that yet.  Take a look at my twitter for more updates and photos!