Patricia Carswell |

Life on the river: the final push

Award-winning blogger and journalist, Patricia Carswell, looks at entertainment to get you through lockdown in her Life on the river blog below

With just a few weeks to go until we’re likely to get back on the water, we’re into that final push. The last 250, where everything hurts. Where even though you’re near the finish you feel as though you may actually never get there.

Now more than ever, we need a little inspiration to get us over the line. So here are my listening, viewing and reading suggestions to take you through the last, painful metres until that glorious moment when the clubs open again and we’re back to what we love.

1 – Listen

If you didn’t start a podcast during the pandemic, were you even around in 2020? With so much excellent listening out there it’s hard to know where to start, but I’d highly recommend these.

Steady State podcast

“Rowing for the rest of us” is the how the hosts, Tara Morgan and Rachel Freedman, describe it, and it really is as blazer-free as they promise.

Fabulous interviews with genuinely fascinating people (trans and BAME rowers, coxswains, ordinary Joes), this is rowing for rowers. Listen out for the “best part of my rowing week” segment where listeners send in recordings about the highlight of their week.

The Joy of SUP

If it’s just too painful to think about rowing but you need your watery fix, this is the podcast for you. It’s hosted by the wonderful Jo Moseley, the first woman to paddleboard across England coast-to-coast (there’s still a chance to watch her film about the adventure here – the final screening is 16th March and is sold out, but you can join the waiting list).

The podcast is joyful, sunny and thoroughly uplifting. Even if SUP isn’t your thing, it’ll make you reconsider, as guests share their passion for being on the water and surrounded by nature.

2 – Watch

I’m assuming you’ve already watched and re-watched every rowing film ever, although – news flash! – I’m excited to report that A Most Beautiful Thing is soon to be available in the UK on iTunes (hurrah!) While you wait, here’s an alternative to give you goosebumps.

Free Solo

In 2017 Alex Honnold climbed the notorious El Capitán in Yosemite National Park “free solo” – no ropes, no harness, nada. Just him and the rockface and a little pouch of chalk. It was the climb that nobody else dared to do, and for good reason – in multiple practices with ropes he fell from the cliff face. Even a tiny mistake would mean certain death.

Free Solo follows him in a heart-stopping, nail-biting documentary as he prepares for – and executes – the climb. As fascinating as the feat itself is his somewhat dysfunctional relationship with Sanni McCandless (now his wife) which his supporters fear may be robbing him of his mojo.

Available on various platforms – details here.

3 – Read

Rowing to Latitude by Jill Fredston

I honestly don’t know why this book isn’t better known in rowing circles, as it’s just glorious.

Jill Fredston and her husband, Doug, have spent summer after summer exploring the Arctic – she in a rowing shell, he in a kayak. Between them they have travelled more than 20,000 miles in this breathtaking and often hazardous landscape, falling in love with the wildlife and the people.

A thoughtful, gently humorous and exquisitely written narrative, it deserves a place alongside the very best travel and adventure books.

Let us know your recommendations!

The Joy of SUP podcast artwork: Charlotte Graham