Rowing round in circles


Sparky in a canoe Looks like a pro, but doesn’t know how to row © Emma Sparks

For my second video entry for the STA World Traveller Internship (also known as my LIFE for the past three months) I decided on Leamington Spa.

Whilst Warwick University campus is a glorious hub of student activity, there’s a reason we call it ‘The Bubble’. You could spend a month here without stepping foot outside of the campus perimeter if you didn’t want to, what with your Costcutter, laundrette, post office, banks and bars all within five minutes walk from your cosy (if not a little cluttered) student bedroom. You begin to forget what real people look like. You know, the ones that don’t fall into the 18-24 age range. If you’re not carrying a bag laden with heavy books with a strained, distracted look on your face, or alternatively, if you are sober, you do not belong here.

In fact, in my second year, I’m horrified to admit, I was strolling to the union for a game of pool with my flatmates when I spotted an extremely small person. I immediately presumed he was a man with dwarfism and continued on in my very politically correct manner… but a second glance panicked me. This guy was really small. I wondered what extreme form of dwarfism this could be, trying not to let the curiosity flicker in my face. I was well and truly baffled until the mini-man fell over clumsily and started yelling ‘Mummyyyyy!’.

Yes. The sight of a child was so unfamiliar to me that my mind could not process what I was seeing quickly enough. Don’t even get me started on dogs. Alien creatures.

So I felt like it was time to escape the bubble and go out for some Sparky antics.

Like I say, it’s no metropolis. So if I was going to really get under the skin of my local community, rather than show you the generic student drinking culture (also readily available: try ‘Kelsey’s’ and the dodgy-sounding but completely clean club ‘Smack’), I had to slow down to match the pace of the locals. And it felt good.

Essay stress, exam worries, goodbye. Nothing clears your mind better than an afternoon row along the Leam River. Even if, like me, you can’t really row…

I even manage to interact with a child, strange humanoid that it was.

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