How to win at Poohsticks
Some sports are physically tough - think Rugby World Cup, in which England's opener against Fiji this month could be a rough one. Some involve heavy use of tactics - think Mo Farrar being 'tripped up' more than once in last month's athletics world championships. Some involve water - there are plenty of opportunities for sailing, windsurfing and kitesurfing on the Sussex coast (does Worthing Birdman count as a watersport?).
And then there's a gentle sport that involves water, tactics and, well, luck.
It's called Poohsticks.
Poohsticks was invented in Sussex, so why the World Championships aren't held here is a mystery. However, Sussex will always be its spiritual home and I think in due course I might undertake a tour of the county to identify the best local bridges for playing Poohsticks. The original was Posingford Bridge in the Ashdown Forest, which Christopher Robin restored in 1979 so that we could all carry on paying our respects to it, even if it's no longer quite the best place to play the hallowed game. Click here to view our accommodation close to the Ashdown Forest.
Anyway, there's now an official formula for success, devised by a clever engineer called Dr Rhys Morgan, and it goes like this: PP = A x I x Cd. Got that? Good. You're one up on me already.
PP is the perfect Poohstick. A is cross-sectional area. I is density and Cd is the drag co-efficient. Are you any the wiser? Are you scratching your head in perplexed Pooh Bear tradition? I'd have thought A and I were much the same thing, but no doubt someone will put me right.
For the uninitiated, you play Poohsticks by dropping sticks (or pine cones) into the water on one side of a bridge, then rushing to the other side to see whose went fastest. It's pretty obvious that a straight stick is going to go faster than a wiggly one, but you have to get the weight right: too light and it'll get lost in the air, too heavy and it'll sink before it swims and lose valuable time. Oh, and drop it vertically so it doesn't have to do aerobatics to hit the water straight. Eeyore suggested dropping your stick in 'a twitchy sort of way' but that might contravene the modern rules and lead to marital strife.
See you at the bridge in the Hundred Acre Wood, then.