Continued from: Upriver: Jerome K. Jerome Comes Out of the Woodwork

Sometime in January, I suggested to my family that we should go rowing up the Thames. À la Jerome K. Jerome. They didn’t take me seriously but I didn’t see why that should stop me. So a few weeks later, I was back on topic…

“We will need to get fit,” I said. It was a Saturday night and my husband and I were alone in the living room with a bottle of red. “We’ll need to practise.”

I’d been turning the thing over in my mind in the previous couple of weeks, and the conclusion had been pretty inevitable. There’s absolutely no way we could row for hours upriver at the moment. Amend that: There’s absolutely no way either of us could row for hours at all, never mind against the current. Not without some training first.

And then to do it for days on end! If you ever went walking for more than one day at a time, you know what I mean: that fatigue sort of accumulates. Twenty miles the first day, no problem. Twenty miles the second day… well, there’d better be a nice bed-and-breakfast at the end of it with a warm bath to stretch out in. Twenty miles the third day… Er… Whose idea was this anyway?!

“There’s nowhere to practise,” my husband replied, rather unreasonably I thought. He hadn’t so much as agreed yet that we’d row up the river but he was already filing excuses. I decided to take this as a tacit agreement regarding Jerome K. Jerome and his boating pals and devoted myself to prove him wrong. “There’s the boating lake,” I pointed out triumphantly.

There is, in fact, a small boating lake half an hour away from our house.

“Ten pounds per half an hour. And we could go on the river at Richmond. Also ten pounds per half an hour…” I trailed off. There seemed to be an awful lot of ten pounds per half an hour involved.

And the silence at the other end of the sofa was absolutely deafening.

“The trouble is at this rate we’ll spend so much on training we won’t have money left to hire a boat to go up the river,” I continued, somewhat miffed.

Well, there was at least total agreement on this point. We can’t afford to practise at the cost of ten pounds per half an hour (and that’s only fifteen minutes each). And we’ve got work and family and can’t be forever going to the boating lake or Richmond anyway. There’s literally not enough time. If there’s anything wrong with London, it’s that it’s too bloody big. It takes hours to get anywhere.

“We will have to join a gym and use a rowing machine,” I said.

More silence. I was clearly talking to myself.

Whichever way I look at it, the only practical way to get any training would be to join a gym. The problem is neither of us likes gyms. We like outdoors. I for one can never even understand why anybody would want to run on a treadmill in a stuffy, crowded gym and pay for the privilege when he could just as well run round the block. I mean it’s free. You get fresh air. If you’re lucky, it’s not even round the block but somewhere slightly more pleasant. I can think of any number of mindnumbingly beautiful locations in cities around the world where you could run. Embankments mostly, in my case. (Have I mentioned yet that I like rivers? Beaches, too.)

My husband will under no circumstances join a gym to go on a rowing machine, and that’s a fact. So I might as well save myself the trouble too.

“We could always just row downriver instead,” I said cravenly. “That way when we’re too tired to row, we can just drift…”

Continued with: What Price a Thames Skiff



6 thoughts on “Downriver

  1. Tronsawyer

    Hummm… maybe rowing is not the sport you should give a try to be outdoor… or maybe the location is not that good for rowing… or you have to find a “rowing” which both of you love😊


    1. arwen1968

      Jerome K. Jerome has much to answer for… I believe I’m not the first one wanting to row up the Thames in consequence of having read his book. 🙂


    1. arwen1968

      I’m glad you enjoyed it.
      I haven’t given up on the plan yet, by the way. Not completely at any rate! 🙂 You’ll have to bear with me and find out how this will end… as I don’t know it yet myself. That life is a journey is a terrible cliché but seems to fit the circumstances well. 🙂


  2. I have a solution, of sorts. Buy one of those big stretchy elastic band things (resistance bands?) they sometimes use for exercises at the gym. Sit on the floor with your legs out in front, hook the band around your feet, then hold either end and make rowing motions. Good exercise and no gym membership (nor life-jackets) required. Or you could just satisfy your yearning for the Jerome K. Jerome experience by simply walking up the Thames. There’s a sequel too, ‘Three Men on the Bummel’ where he went somewhere by bicycle (Europe), so you’d have to go further afield for that. In any case, no “travelling in his footsteps” for either of them as he seems to have had an aversion for walking!


    1. arwen1968

      The resistance band doesn’t sound half bad as an idea for training… or maybe do push-ups. (A test of our dedication, that.)
      Walking up the river on the other hand should be definitely doable… I suppose you gave me a plan to fall back on there if all else fails. 🙂


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