Olympic Inspiration

Guest Blog by Sandra Clayton

Among the advice given to writers is the need to get the blood pumping around your system at regular intervals so as to provide the brain with much-needed oxygen. Doing something physical, like sailing, I enjoy but I have always hated exercise for exercise sake. And the sailing David and I are doing this summer is not what you could call taxing. Relaxing is more the word for drifting along the canals and rivers of the Netherlands after the demands of blue water sailing and Atlantic crossings.

Add to that afternoons on deck with a glass of wine and our feet up admiring the scenery and our general fitness had begun to lessen while our waistlines seemed to be expanding. I say seemed to be because mysteriously the bathroom scales disappeared. When challenged David said they had become unreliable, probably due to rust from the salt air, and he’d put them in the gash bag with our other refuse. We were saved by the Olympics.

With a boat, the usual mode of transport ashore is either a bicycle or your feet since you are frequently tied up to riverbanks in rural areas where buses might run twice a day or not at all. The Netherlands being so flat, however, riding a bicycle takes minimal effort. The average distance to a supermarket is around a mile so, hating exercise for exercise sake, we decided to do our shopping on foot. Not only would that give us weight-bearing exercise but a valid reason for doing it daily because if you are carrying all your supplies on your back you need to shop every day instead of a couple of times a week as you would normally do by bicycle.

Accordingly we have become rather proud of our Sprint (or as we call it, the Olympic Shopping Event With Backpack) since a speedy return journey is essential; it’s been a hot summer here and food, not to mention your back, starts to get a bit sticky if you hang about too long.

Our Team Pursuit, along the back roads and dykes, has been less successful. The Dutch are put on their first bikes around the time they are weaned and ride into their eighties. Trying to keep up with them has been a challenge. So has achieving that special velodrome body hunch and hand grip when you’ve got an old-fashioned sit-up-and-beg bicycle with conventional handlebars.

In the Weightlifting we have been greatly assisted by oily water appearing in the bilges and having to be pumped into containers while crouched on hands and knees, heaved up above the head into the saloon, carted upstairs onto the deck and then lugged up a very long pontoon for disposal.

We’re not sure we’ll make the pick for Rio in four years’ time but what with the weight-bearing exercise upping our bone density, and drinking hardly any alcohol at all when you make yourself carry it home on your back, we started thinking: there’s the Olympics and the Paralympics, why not the SeniorOlympics for the marginally fit of a certain age?

Meanwhile our clothes have started to fit again and we’re even toying with the idea of a new set of bathroom scales. As for the increased activity to be expected from my oxygen-enriched brain, unfortunately all this exercise has made me too tired to write. But you can’t have everything, can you? 


Sandra Clayton and her husband David felt in desperate need of a change so they sold up their home and set sail in a 40-foot catamaran called Voyager. 

Sandra’s first book, Dolphins Under My Bed, charted their passage from a chilly northern Europe to a warm Mediterranean. Her second, Turtles In Our Wake, came out in March 2012 and takes the reader around some of its loveliest islands. Both books have been published by Bloomsbury. A third, due out next Spring, finds them crossing the Atlantic to America, via the Caribbean Islands plus an eventful few days in the Bermuda Triangle. 

Nobody needs to sail to enjoy her books. They are written for anyone interested in travel, people and places and a different way of life. 

To learn more: http://sandraclayton.sharepoint.com.



Posted on August 28, 2012, in Memoir. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. I love your writing and your adventuresome spirit, Sandra!

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