Friday/Saturday/Sunday 11th-13th November 2011

BUCS Swimming Championships, Sheffield

BUCS is the organisation that arranges British Universities and College Sports. Sue has been a regular announcer at BUCS Swimming Championships.


We set off for Sheffield just after 8am. We took our time, stopping just North of Oxford for breakfast, at Donnington Park for coffee and just outside Sheffield for lunch, finally arriving at the Holiday Inn at around 2:30.

Sue had to go over to the pool for 4pm. I had just taken a water tablet and waited a while longer to allow it to do its work.

Walking across from the hotel to the pool took a lot of energy. I meant to walk at road level, but turned the wrong way along the road and missed the crossing. So, I ended up walking up a lot of steps and using a pedestrian bridge system. I got to the pool just as warm-up was finishing. Sue helpfully sent me an E-mail telling me where to find her. I unhelpfully did not check my incoming mail, so had to search to find the announcers position.

I finally found Sue at the top of the seating area to the West of the pool. There was no question of being cold .. it was very hot.

There were four events this evening, 4x50m freestyle relays for both sexes and then the 800m freestyle for ladies and 1500m for men. The relays are just heats, the finals are tomorrow evening. The distance events will use two pools.  (There weren't officials to run the relays in two pools.) There were one or two teething problems with the scoreboard, but the event did start on time. Using two pools in parallel worked really well and succeeded in reducing the length of the session.

BUCS organised a buffet dinner at the Holiday Inn Express. The quality of the food was pretty disappointing. We made up for it with a reasonable bottle of Merlot. The hotel is a strange mixture. The rooms are reasonable, but there is virtually no storage space at all for "stuff", so it is necessary to live out of a bag.


I slept surprisingly well and wasn't ready to get up when the alarm went off. Breakfast was manic .. the hotel cannot cope with the number of people who wanted breakfast at the same time. Sue was not able to wait for breakfast. I did, but it wasn't really worth it. They advertise hot breakfast, but what they serve, cold sausages and reconstituted scrambled egg is awful. If they advertised continental breakfast and dispensed with the sausage and egg, people would probably by happier.

I followed Sue across to the pool about an hour after she left and this time, I did find the way at road level, which was much easier. Almost immediately, I got bacon rolls from the cafe, which made up for the hotel breakfast. Today, both pools were in use for all events. That reduced what in previous years has been a very long session to around 2 hours. This was much better for everyone,  but did result in a long break between sessions.

Sue had quite a stressful day, with lots of different people trying to tell her what to do.

I set up the computer system for the South East Region Winter Championships and finished organising the photos from our trip to the Seychelles and Kenya ten years ago. There was a period during the transition to digital photography when I tried to be too ambitious in how I processed and arranged pictures and was overwhelmed by the sheer number of images and ran out of time. My next project is a holiday in New England in 2002.

Meanwhile, Sue and I are plotting a cruise in the spring of next year. We may go to Alaska, the first week of the season. It will cold, but the scenery should be spectacular with a lot of snow. We will probably postpone a decision until February, when I know exactly how well my chemo has gone and what kind of follow-up treatment will be needed.

The competition finished for the day at around 8pm, with another Holiday Inn buffet, and another bottle of Merlot, to look forward to. During the day, cumulatively, I walked a long way and climbed up and down a lot of steps, without crutches and without a problem. It will have been very good for the muscles in my legs, but I will need to resort to crutches for the half mile walk back to the hotel.

Dinner was predictably moderate, but as predicted the bottle of wine helped.


Once again, I slept well. That is becoming a habit. Sue headed off the pool without even trying breakfast. I stayed behind for coffee and weetabix and to check out of the hotel.

The receptionist at the hotel asked me whether everything was fine and was taken aback when I commented on the lack of storage space in the hotel room and the poor quality of cooked food at breakfast. On the question of storage space, she said that the policy of the hotel is "open storage". When I asked what that meant, she admitted that she didn't know.

I walked across the pool in a light drizzle, which was actually very refreshing. I got there just before the end of warm up and almost immediately went down to the cafe to get bacon rolls to replace/supplement the hotel breakfast.

It being Remembrance Sunday, At 11am, everything stopped for 2 minutes silence. The swimming did not finish quite in time for the announcer to explain to people what was going on. An announcement on the scoreboard was synchronised with the time, so started the 2 minutes while the announcer was still talking. It never ceases to amaze me how well people respect this period of reflection. Everyone stood up and there was absolute silence for the two minutes.

Even using 2 pools, the morning session took over 3 hours. the warm-up for the finals session started immediately and we were through swimming by just after 3:30pm.

What did I do? Well I started off by updating my blog, completed the preparation of the computer system for the upcoming South East Region championships and started to organise the New England photographs from 2002. I also watched the Abu Dhabi grand prix on BBC I-Player.

I am still not driving, so Sue had the prospect of driving the 200 miles home from Sheffield. We got away just after 4pm and stopped relatively soon at Tibshelf services for a relaxed cup of coffee. The traffic was relatively light, so Sue managed to make it all the way to Meon Valley on the M40 (ideally she would like to have stopped about 15 minutes earlier, but there wasn't anywhere suitable). After a reasonable meal (by motorway standards) we made it home by about 9:45.

This was Sunday, and we did not make it to church. We partially made up for that with a quiet prayer time at home before relaxing in front of the TV for an hour to wind down. We watched the first episode of the splendid "Death in Paradise" series. This is not going to win any awards for drama and most of the characters are (deliberately?) caricatures, bit the beautiful setting of Guadeloupe makes this very enjoyable escapeism.