Of Eastern Europe and Eights

Henry's trip to the former Eastern Bloc last year left him with a taste for more.

With his usual charm and an appropriate bribe, he convinced his party friends Emanuelle and Guillotine Withers to accompany him on his next "surprise" trip.  When Emanuelle asked him if the location was hot, and he truthfully replied "23 degrees," she gleefully announced she would just pack skimpy little numbers, and bring lots of lotion.

Henry's intended destination was Cracow.  Cracow in February is 23 degrees... in Fahrenheit... that's -5... in Centigrade.


Huggy, Robin and Tony were watching the seniors training from the club landing stage with a critical eye.  Robin saw someone unusual in the bow of an eight which went crisply by, someone who hadn't been rowing for some time, someone who shouldn't have been there: Pluto Nicholls.

"I thought you said that Pluto was sleeping with the fishes?" he asked the all knowing Tony.

"Well the sardines in the Polo message could have one of two meanings," back pedalled Tony, "I suppose it could have been a couple of his mates returning his car with his shopping."


Contessa Vanya Olimpia Konstantin-Assen of Vidin was in a pickle.  Her father, the Prince of Vidin, had betrothed her to Prince Boris of Preslav, who was 78, 5' 2", bald, toothless and withered in every way.  Prince Boris, knowing his days were numbered, was keen to get to his conjugal rights and test the goods well ahead of the wedding, so one night he sneaked into the Contessa's bedroom.

Unluckily for Prince Boris, the Contessa was both strong willed and had a useful apprenticeship within the Bulgarian Secret Service, which meant she habitually kept a silenced Makarov PB under her pillow.  So predictably as the panting geriatric Prince scrambled onto her bed early one morning after the engagement party, a neat and bloody hole appeared in his forehead.

As the Contessa calmly unscrewed the silencer: the early rays of dawn glinting off her steely blue eyes, she decided she was in a pickle and had to get out.

Exhibit no 1.


Emanuelle Withers was not happy.  She was freezing in her hot pants in the snow, she was fed up of visiting war memorial sites, and they had lost Guillotine during the visit to the salt mines.

Henry was unperturbed, "oh, she will turn up soon enough," he said, as they got back to their hotel and bee-lined straight for the bar.  A few vodkas later, Emanuelle had warmed up, forgotten her sister, and was actually enjoying Henry's undivided attention, when she noticed a tourist leaflet.

"Oh look, Mr Abraham, they've got 'Speed Dating' in old Cracow Town tonight.  That might be fun, I might find myself a Polish lover," she teased.


Henry's frequent disappearances to the continent were beginning to frustrate Huggy: the rarely used Empacher was growing cobwebs on it's rack.  Slowly, but surely over the winter season, a plan came together.  Taking advantage of his self appointed role as Veteran's coordinator, he hand-picked himself a crew that would take him to Henley.  Entry requirements were strict.  He used himself as the baseline, so only those taller, stronger, fitter and older than he could get in the boat.  When more made the grade than were needed, he fell back on the little known club 'Minorities Rule' to justify his inclusion in the boat.

After some experimentation, a squad of some of the best that Maidstone had to offer averaging one day over 50 finally formed the originally named: 'Vet D Eight'.

This group of grumbly old prima donnas went through coxes and coaches like a hot knife through butter.  Liz Macham started off doing both jobs, but in desperation at their in-boat tantrums and out-boat innuendos, she got herself pregnant and married Richard Ridgeway as a last resort.

Seeing things were not going as planned, Huggy instantly improved crew morale by strong arming Poplar's Captain into giving them a pot at the Dockland's Head.  A visit by the Maidstone Mafia and a horse's head was all that it took.

Grumbling all the way through 3 miles of high seas, the Eight did the Medway Invitational Head and came third overall behind the two MIRC senior Eights... it was an unsightly, but effective row.

Roger and Sue Mobbs then took over coaching and coxing duties and improvements continued to show.  Unable to figure out hand heights on their own, straws began to appear 3" above the gunnels of boats as aide memoirs.  Going back to basics seemed to pay off, they came 3rd out of 8 in their category at Molesey, beating some useful competition; despite Huggy hiding in the bow of the boat, playing the Race card, enjoying the ride and thinking what heights they could reach once they got Henry back in the boat.

The crotchedty, grumbling Eight were giving a special coaching session from Ian and Chris Mollinson.  Father and son were appalled at the overall technique, which resulted in another back to basics session, which the surly eight took with their usual poor grace.

However, this paid dividends with another good result, this time at the Vets Eights Head with a very respectable 12th out of 42 in category.  It cost them another cox, as Sue deciding that she got enough grumbling at home from her old man, resigned forthwith.

Despite these setbacks, Huggy daily plotted their improvements on a spreadsheet, and calculated that with the Henry factor, Henley and glory was just within reach...


Contessa Vanya Olimpia Konstantin-Assen of Vidin, having smuggled herself out of Bulgaria found herself in Poland and desperate.  Funds were running low, her supply of false identifications and passports had been used up, and her friends in the Secret Police had deserted her.  The 5' 8" blonde, valkyrie beauty needed help and quickly.  She needed a cover.  She needed a husband, a tall one, a foreign one.  Thinking outside the box, speed dating was the only answer...


"Hi, my name is Henry and I am English," said Henry to the ravishing blonde bombshell with the high cheekbones, as he moved to her table.

"You vill do," replied the Contessa playfully pointing her antique 9mm at him.

So it was that Henry, accompanied by an unusually tall and blonde Guillotine Withers and a very confused Emanuelle Withers came home after their winter frolic in the cold of Cracow.

Head of the River Eights and Vesta Veteran Eight Results

Maidstone Seniors and Veterans were in competition over the weekend at their respective Head of the River Eights Events.

The results for the Head of the River can be found HERE

In the IM2 event, our crew came 42nd out of 77 with a time of  18.47.93.
In the IM3 event, we came 88 out of 128 with a time of  19.47.65

Pictures stolen from Oli Arscott's FB page.

Guys, please feel free to edit this to give the blow by blow of your adventures!

The results for the Vesta Veterans Head of the River can be found HERE

In the Vet D event, we came 12th out of 42 with a time of 21.15.55
In the Vet Novice event, we came 2nd out of 7 with a time of 23.21.86

Clearly the river was much faster on the Saturday ;)

Darren and Jez need to square earlier!

 Pics provided by Roger Mobbs and Graeme Hodgkinson.

Well done everyone - now for the regatta season!