I was in Croydon on Saturday too, then took trains from Waddon to Clapham Junction, then to Bracknell, so I could compete in the Slough Open (yes, Bracknell is not Slough - in fact, Slough is not even the closest "major" town, Reading is). Managed to get to my hotel by about 10:15pm, and got a good night's sleep.
The tournament itself went pretty well. In the pool round I won 5 bouts, lost 1, with hit indicator +9 - that placed me 25th (of 122) going in to the DE. I won the first bout fairly comfortably, 15-7, and the next two both went 15-13 - one against someone who was fairly unorthodox in style, and kept attacking and ending up with double hits - not so good for him when I was ahead from mid-way through. The second of those was against a left-hander, who also pommels a french-grip epee (that's my trick, gives me a little extra reach). Again, this bout involved a lot of double hits, after I'd managed to get ahead, so I wasn't too concerned - he didn't seem to find a particularly effective attacking combination against me. Those three wins put me in to the last 16 - my best result in any of the major tournaments (i.e. over 100 entries, lots of highly ranked fencers) over here so far, and put me up against another Australian (d'oh !). I fenced him once in Australia, probably in 2000 or 2001, and remember him as fencing a little bit crazy - basically attacking a lot, and forcing his style and pace on the bout. At the time, I couldn't handle that style at all, and lost 6-15 or 7-15 or so. This time the bout was much closer, and his style was a little more refined, although still effective and forceful - I got some nice hits, so did he, and there were a fair number of double hits. With about 30 seconds remaining in the first period, he got ahead 12-10, and then just kept on attacking and getting double hits - finishing the bout 15-13, thus leaving me in 15th place. Overall, I am quite happy with the tournament. Managed to maintain concentration and avoid nerves, even with some quite length delays between rounds. My hand didn't trouble me too much after the incident with the screwdriver earlier in the week (it got me right at the spot where the pommel normally rests when I'm fencing), and while I did break one blade (just before the start of a bout, while bending it into shape), it wasn't a great surprise after it got a near-right-angled kink in it almost a year ago - I'm quite amazed that it lasted this long, in fact, after it was hammered back into almost-straightness.
After finishing, hanging around a bit, then showering and changing, I ended up presiding a few of the women's epee bouts - they had a late start, 1PM closing time for check-in, and had had two recalls of their pools, meaning they were still on the round of 64 bouts at the time. In presiding three DE bouts, I ended up giving 9 yellow cards for fencers' weapons failing checks at the start of the bout - 8 of those failing the weight test. Then, on the next strip over, another referee using the same weight had two more fencers' weapons fail - those fencers were not happy, since they had both tested their weapons beforehand and had them pass - and so we tried a different weight. Both weapons then passed, and when I used that weight back on my piste, those (previously failing) weapons were ok too - as unlikely as it seems, I think we really did have a weight that was out of spec. On the advice of a handy nearby qualified referee, I cancelled the yellow (and subsequent red) cards from my bout and got on with presiding.
By then it was nearing 7, and I had to get moving - taxi to Bracknell station, train to Feltham, bus to Heathrow, checked-in, and caught my flight, finally arriving home at around 11:30pm. I've been rather tired today, oddly enough ...
Quite a weekend - and I haven't mentioned yet that I seem to have lost my camera (the Optio S, my "go everywhere" camera). I'm pretty sure it happened while I was getting up to get off the plane when we arrived at Gatwick, but despite lodging a missing item report as soon as I realised (while we were collecting our baggage), it hasn't been found yet. Fortunately, I had cleared the memory card recently, so I don't think I lost anything too special - I guess if it doesn't turn up in the next week or so, I'll have to see if our travel insurance will cover it somehow.
And finally - I get to do it all again next weekend, only with lots more cold and snow, because on Friday I'm off to Stockholm for another tournament ! Eeek !