My Big Fat Gypsy Diary (Part Four)

Sheffield – Inhuman League

This day was basically of a write off! Long story short – communicating with Sheffield previously had been going great. We’d swapped about four emails together sorting everything out.  Their last email said “All good you’re welcome just let us know what day you’re arriving”  – I emailed back to arrange Wednesday the 27th.Due to juggling a million other clubs and campsite arrangements I assumed this was sorted – I left it at that. I admittedly never chased it (lesson learnt there!) and it wasn’t till i got there I realised something was wrong.  No-one was turning up.  Hummmm! I emailed again as I had no way to call. They were super lovely in their emails previously, so I assumed there was a change of plan on this session or something.  Oh well – I love wearing derby kit anyway so I wasn’t at all annoyed – just disappointed as I was looking forward to getting my skates on. It just added to the adventure of this whole tour and dealing with unplanned moments. 
In respect to the lovely emails exchanged with The Inhuman League here’s a selfie pic of me with my skates – both of us sad to have missed this training :)
Me and my skates feeling sad together from missing training :)
UPDATE – Inhuman League have since contacted me and apologised as the person who Id been emailing had since left the club and not passed this info on. :(  They were very welcoming still and informative about other local clubs who are are training in the next couple of days etc.  Sadly I have a tight itinerary so I’m going to have to keep moving… :(  But appreciated the email anyway.  You seemed lovely ‘Inhuman League’ so maybe next time :).

It's also dawned on me I haven’t uploaded any pics of inside the van. Obviously at night it’s pitch black but here’s a pic of my morning view when waking up inside Poppy (the Van).
My home for a month
Brighton (God knows what day I'm on – don’t ask me one day blends into the next at the moment….)

A city I've never been to before apart from once playing football about 10 years ago – when all I saw was the inside of a massive stadium to boot a leather lump around!

I arrived Wednesday morning with Brighton Rockers training that evening. It was a rookie session (open to all min skills passed players). For rookies who haven’t yet been put through their min skills I was impressed!  I didn’t realise this till the end! I always find it hard to train with rookies – there’s a fine line between wrapping them in cotton wool and insulting them by not hitting hard enough – then again you don't want to be a dick and start slamming people like you’re in try outs for Team England! They all held their own well though and were really nice! Got to meet Kris who was staying at Foxy’s this weekend to guest coach our Bath team on Friday!  Sad I was missing that!  Bet it was an ace session! (Editors Note: It was awesome!)

The following morning I couldn’t wait to get up and do this marina skate I’d been told about so much.  So I hiked it off to find the path.  Seriously beautiful!  The path was very hilly but it was like skating in a hall! I was skating for an hour before reaching a tiny little fishing town and pulled up and grabbed a coffee and did some people watching! Amazing. OK time to get my skates back on and head down the straight path I arrived on.  After about an hour's skating the road divided – of course I took the wrong route (I have the worst sense of direction in the world) I ended up right in front of the sea and skating along what felt like bloody bobbly ropy ground. That was not cool – I thought – just keep going you’ll find the smooth path again soon. I ended up on a slop about 80 degrees – endless to say I took off the boots and walked to the top.  Where the hell was I? I had no idea. How the hell did I get lost on a straight path.  OK, this wasn’t funny I’d been going for hours now and I had training in the evening. Needless to say after about 45 minutes of skating around trying to find my bearings (ha see what I did there…) I eventually found the land mark I used to get home.  I must have skated way beyond it by about 3 miles! I had about 1 hour to get changed – eat and get to training! Such a tit!

In the evening I trained with Brighton's advanced session.  Again immediately everyone was super friendly – I mentioned I knew Foxy who used to play with them all and they were like “awwwww Bex – we miss Bex” – I was like “who the hell is Bex??” then I remembered Foxy’s real name is Rebecca – weird to hear her referred to as that!  Anyway within minutes there was usual banter and laughter and smiles and friendliness.  Brighton had had a month rest so it was their first session back.  Putting the track down was a mission – initially misjudged and massive wiggly lines.  I was asked not to refer to that in this blog but how could I not? ;) It was brilliant.  Everyone was pi*sing themselves at the solarium track that had originally been laid!  Love it!

A few drills initially and again generally a high standard.  Again I’m beginning to see more and more of small people hitting like bloody monsters. Sham, their coach on the night – very pretty chick – but also very slight frame – blo*dy good skater but weighs I expect as much as my right leg; never the less hits like she’s 20 stone!  I need to work on my yoga I think. I just wasn’t expecting to get hit with such force - like her secret weapon. Awesome jammer! I also got nabbering to ‘Derby McGee’ who is an absolute legend. I see how her and Foxy were close in Brighton! We scrimmed for an hour. I dunno if I worked extra hard or the hall was ridiculously hot but by the time I’d got home I’d gulped back four litres of water.

I was on such a high from this training session I couldn’t sleep.  I sat outside my camper van in my pi’s in the blissful quiet till around 3am (I had tried to sleep but given up) and sunk a couple of beers!  Such a gorgeous clear night and such an amazing day.

Quite simply Brighton is beautiful and I definitely need to come back and see this place properly! Anyway in memory of a thoroughly enjoyable training session – Brighton Rockers you Rock! :) Here’s a pick of you all with a very dehydrated Bath player in the mix too!
The Brighton Rockers
Portsmouth - God knows what day?

Before arriving at Portsmouth I arranged to meet one of their players.  This chick (Betty Blood Axe) is awesome.  By coincidence I’d been in touch with Betty for a few months previously.  Betty and I had suffered a similar injury! After breaking and dislocating my ankle Betty’s Mum had posted something on Facebook asking for people who had suffered something similar and being able to return to derby.  I was tagged in this post by my team mate ‘Smasha Cake’ and of course I wanted to touch base with her like others had done for me when I was bedridden. It's the worst thing in the world to be badly injured and having the one thing in life you love taken away from you – not to mention your independence and life style! So Betty and I had swapped a few emails over the months and I’m happy to see she’s well on the mend – and definitely getting there.

I picked her up on route to Brighton and we chatted non stop about how we did it, how the surgery went (both got metal work in our ankles) and how we both projectile threw up after the surgery etc.  To be fair my ankle was dislocated by about  1cm – her’s looked like it was about a mile out of place – and her metal work looked more like a climbing frame!  Respect Betty you’ve had it bad girl and love it you still want to play derby. ‘I heart this!’

Then we met Betty’s derby wife ‘Bun’s’ – again didn’t take long to get to know this dude!  She took care of Betty when she was broken just as my derby wife Ali did!  I was taken to Portsmouth beach and we sat looking over views eating chips and sausages!  Buns should be a history teacher – she knew every single detail about Portsmouth history and World War II etc.  Actually very interesting!

So then I rocked up at training – it helped that I arrived with two of their players!  Of course – usual derby love style everyone was really friendly. When watching Portsmouth A team a few months ago they were bloody awesome (I believe ranked 14 in Europe at the moment – OMG).  Anyway the coach was the American chick who wore a butterfly material thing over her eyes – I'm describing her like that as I'm sure my team Bath know who I mean. Yes the girl we all talked about after the bout and how blo*dy awesome she was.  Not to mentioned R.I.P who hits like a fridge on a pendulum! Couple of scary players – fricking awesome though!  Don’t get me wrong it makes 14 people to make a solid team and Portsmouth are a solid team but I cant deny these two stood out when I saw them play their bout!  Respect!

Great training session – such lovely girls – dead friendly and a very decent standard.  Some really awesome offensive drills.  Both their A and B team trained and the girls I was drilling with were so blo*dy tall. Needless to say many drills (for me) resulted in a face full of boobs – again and again! hahaha! You kinda get used to getting groped  or having a face full of boob playing derby. It's quite an intimate game at times as I'm sure any derby player can relate to.  We’ve all had our bits grabbed and groped! In another drill with ‘Buns’ we accidentally fell over and I was properly crotch groped!  Thankfully I was wearing padded shorts or that could have been really painful! ;)

In usual derby love style when I was asked where I was kipping that night I said I was going to break the back of my trip to Plymouth (180 miles) and I was offered a spare room in Buns house if I didn’t fancy the drive. Cheers Buns! Very kind! However, I didn’t fancy getting up at 5.30am to leave at 6am as i knew it was at least a 4 hour journey in my old van!  There’s that amazing ‘derby love’ I keep banging on about (and will continue to do so).

In fond memory of Portsmouth Wenches – lets do a rematch soon.  You guys are ace. Here’s pic of the ‘Wenches’ and a Bath bird trying to do the ‘Wench hand’ thing you all do!  Would love to skate with you again!
Portsmouth Roller Wenches
After saying bye to the lovely ‘Wenches’ I headed off to Plymouth!

OK this was possibly the worse night yet.  I headed off and for about 20 miles it was fine. Then the main A road was closed for works – next thing you know Im being redirected by my Sat Nav down roads so skinny brambles were scraping the side of my van.  Blind corners and shaped like an ’S” – totally scary (Id started regretting turning down Bun’s offer) :(

I did  a massive detour – I’d been driving for about 2.5 hours and I’d only covered about 50 miles as I think my Sat Nav was taking me via Scotland!.  Next thing I knew another road was closed. WTF? Seriously WTF?  By this time I was getting tired but there was absolutely no where to pull over and sleep.  The road was too narrow and isolated.  Keep going S’Macs, keep going!

Eventually I ended up in a little town – finally some lights and sign of living people!  Yey! Noooooo – the road was closed! Aggghhhhh!  I took yet another detour.  Followed my Sat Nav a different direction – 20 minutes later I ended up at EXACTLY the same spot that’d Id been redirected from before.  I’d done a massive loop. OMG! Your fricking kidding me?  Ok, so I took an alternative route to get out of here. Twenty minutes I ended up at EXATLY the same place AGAIN! Are you serious? By this time steam was beginning to come out of my ears! Seriously, what the hell was going on? I'd done another loop in completely different direction. This was getting stupid.  By this time it was 2.45am and I was driving round in circles like a scene out of Blair witch Project.

Time to pull over – anywhere. Literally anywhere that wasn’t on a road narrower than 3mm!!!…  I landed lucky by finding a councils car park.  Pulling up at circa 3am – I dived in the back to get some kip. 3.30 Id set my van up and got my head down. I needed to be out by 8 am before the ticket people started arriving!  So setting my alarm for 7 (yes 3.5 hours later). UGH! Leaving the car park at 7.30 I was preying the roads that had been shut were now open as it was day time.  RESULT they were.

Cornwall Training – with the Truro Crew

Due to the nature of Cornwall’s location and being so spread out – they train in three different locations – Truro, Newquay and Penzance.  I don’t really get how it works but all I know I trained with the Truro bunch on this occasion. You may get bored of me saying this but ONCE AGAIN – such a lovely welcoming – ‘hellllooooo, who are you, where are you from, welcome, hope you enjoy the session – chat chat chat”  Just brilliant! Sooooooo lovely!

There was only small number of people at this training – I wasn’t complaining – more floor space and more drill / skate time!  However, they had a slippier floor than Liverpool – I didn’t think this was possible. So naturally on my 91’s ad 93a’s I was like Bambi on ice at first. Plough stop? Whats that? Is it when you bend your ankles in and continue skidding into the wall? Haha! Forced me to spend more time on my stoppers as my wheels were not working too well – apex cross over – sllliidddeeee! Think I adapted to it in the end but never the less it was super slippy. To put it into context most of them were wearing 8 poison wheels!

Good session – good endurance and lively team rapport!  Working on jam starts – and power jam starts etc.  Really enjoyed it and was lovely to see this crew again as they were such a lovely team when we played them last time!  Rematch please??  If not – lets just go to the pub together and drink cider? :) Maybe both? Yey!

Cornwall / Truro bunch for memory – here is a pic of you all with a Bath player enjoying the derby love between you all! Thanks for having me really enjoyed the session and seeing you all again!
Training in Truro

Newquay days were was basically identical .  Woke – ate – played guitar – showered – played guitar – sunbathed – ate – drank –  read – ate – walked – played guitar etc. On my way home I only went and stumbled into a mini skating ramp park! Where had this appeared from? How had I not seen it before? It was on the grounds of the camp site.  Right! This was my chance finally!  My team are always booking skate ramp days out and I'm never available when they do them! Ever! So I headed down and kitted up and had the whole thing to my self.  I know I get a bit over excited at these things and don’t seem to have a danger warning button – I'm padded up what's the worst that can happen? Of course I went completely flying a couple of times but generally I was fine.  However, on one of the times I miss-judged my landing I heard this loud “oooophhh”.  I turned round to see a group of concerned looking grannies!! haha. I had a blo*dy crowd! How had I not spotted them? I was quite self-conscious now knowing they were watching, after all I'd never done this before – but they proceeded to applaud every time I went over a ramp staying on my feet. They even clapped as I did cross overs and transitions on the flat... derby basics. Derby basics clearly entertain grannies! I now know this!

Anyway I legged it after about an hour. It was getting dark. Here’s the a pic of the cool little ramp park I popped my ramp cherry on!
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