DOES anyone else have slightly mad weekends?
According to some of my colleagues, I do.
The other Friday, I set off for the Isle of Wight. Saturday morning I was up before the larks standing on the shore just round the corner from Yarmouth watching the sun come up and hundreds of boats piling into view.
It was freezing. Worse still, the man I had stood out in the chilly light of early morning to see had whizzed half-way round the island before I, and many others, had rubbed the sleep out of our eyes.
I felt slightly better when I discovered the star sailor Ben Ainslie had not only beaten most of us who thought tumbling out of our beds before 5am would get us to a good vantage point in oodles of time, but had smashed the Round The Island Race record to smithereens.
He took 16 minutes of a race record that has stood for 12 years.
But then for a man with an embarrassing number of gold medals to his name, what would you expect?
Ironically, I’d spent a day out at seas in Athens watching him win an Olympic gold medal and sat out in the sunshine in Weymouth last year with thousands of others to see him do it all over again on home turf.
To miss him by a whisker was bad planning on my part. But then I wasn’t alone standing shivering on a shoreline, comforted only by tea and a bacon butty.
A fellow sailing enthusiast back in the office (there is just the one) had confided that she’d missed it all too.
She, at least, was at home having her breakfast when she heard on the TV that the race had not only started but super Ben had finished.
Thankfully this tale of woe does have a golden ending.
As I sat with friends in the yacht haven in Cowes downing a consoling orange juice (honestly!), we realised that all the fuss at a nearby tent was down to the man himself, signing books.
My friends had come prepared, bless them. Books in hand they queued to get his signature and see if this sailing hero lived up to the billing.
“Isn’t it great when people live up to your hopes about them,” said one of them. “He was brilliant with everyone but particularly with the kids.”
“Look, he even signed your Olympics piece from the Examiner and said how nice it was of you to write it!”
Was it worth a mad weekend trip to the Isle of Wight? You bet it was.