As summer faded, a single sculling mania gripped Sons of the Thames Rowing Club. We vets abandoned our quads and doubles for the gladiatorial challenge of the single - and jolly tiring those Saturday morning outings became.
Speaking as the sap writing this piece, I hadn't done a Scullers Head before and wanted to compete in one before I move on to the challenges of Crown Green Bowling.
Jan was there too, after a summer in the single mostly acting as pace boat to Cat Hart; as was our Chairman Baldwin of the flowing stroke and Les who's won enough pots for Sons to equip a pub.
Faith was competing in her beautiful Stampfli, recently reclaimed from the above mentioned Hart, as was Ed Hillyard who has been placed in or around the top 100 for the last three years.
So there were seven of us in the log-jam of singles floating down to the start, Colin's cheers of encouragement at Mortlake carrying above the ominous clonking of spoon on glass fibre.
After the crush of queuing it seemed quite peaceful going with the stream in the middle of the river and I struggled to find my race rhythmn. It wasn't until Barnes Bridge that I was joined by my regular companion Mr Pain and started to settle down, the flash of orange Lee Rowing Club spoons in the corner of my eye giving me a target.
Happily, I struggled past the other competitor outside the club, cheers from the pontoon adding at least half a pip to my rating. And then it was just that watery road of pain down to Putney, and a big effort to pass another couple of boats before the line.
As it turned out I was placed 211th which, need-less-to-say was not good enough to beat Ed Hillyard who was well out in front at 123rd. There were some good performances from other Sons too, often achieved without a lot of physical conditioning which shows the technical skill that many have.
The Sculler's Head is a strange way to spend a morning, but I think I may be there again next year.