Sunday 22 August 2010

Punting in Oxford....Three Men in a Boat style....:)

Yesterday we went punting in River Cherwell in true Oxford style. If you want to know more about punting check here.
We have been planning to do this for a long time, but somehow plans kept getting cancelled. So finally yesterday we decided before course ended and everyone dispersed, it was time to go punting. Our friend C booked a slot in his college. We walked to Merton College sports ground in St Cross Road and there were 5/6 punts floating lazily in the water. First we had a tough time trying to unlock our punt. Some idiot had changed the locks. Finally punt unlocked and time to float.
So what happens when three people with no experience of sailing whatsoever and one person with partial experience try to punt? Well the result is hilarious at the best and scary at the worst. It quickly became a gendered activity with the men taking charge, while we women S and me clung on for dear life and screamed our heads off. The first fifteen minutes C and ID mastered the punt, doing crazy 360 degree rounds, hitting the banks and going off into the shrubs and similar such activity. Thank God Merton College had the foresight to park their punts in a deserted stretch of Cherwell, far away from the madding crowds and leering tourists. So we i.e. these two men lumbered on in relative privacy, encouraged on by us women in none so polite manner.
Tip of the punts floating lazily in the water. The idea is that you are supposed to drink cider while punting and many a cheap drink which the students can lay their hands on....after getting drunk a lot of accidents happen. One of the most common one is to keep clinging to the pole while the punt floats away. C and ID were looking for cider but thankfully found none Merton Bar being closed. So we went punting stone sober.
The initial learning and experiments!
Into the shrubs we go....merry ho!
C, the man with the partial experience, who saved the day, and again and yet again and some more times and every time he mentioned it!!!
ID turned out to be surprisingly steady with the pole!
Us ladies enjoying the ride! Good work men....
Slowly we went towards the University Parks....but the problem was that there were people around!
We had a rendezvous on the banks of the University Park, our friend A was supposed to join us there....C alights and acts as the traffic police no water police.....
 The world was peacefully floating by, ducks, other punters...when others punt it seems so easy and effortless....
A joins...that red bit is the tip of our punt as we moor on the banks of University Park....
A joins us in the boat....oppps that must have hurt!
Off we go again and promptly got tangled with some shrubs.....
Can a boatfull of people get scared of a swan? Yes we did cos this swan thought we had bread, which we did not and he kept coming towards us and since we knew how badly swans can bite.....we were on the verge of toppling into the water in our effort to shoo away the swan....
S takes up paddling....
While she was busy posing for picture...the punt decided to glide into yet another shrub....this one had thorns and A sailed right into them.....
Be careful of your head....
C posing before ducking to enter the bridge....
Woke A up with some cold water from the river! He was admiring two lovely girls on the bridge and dreaming away!
View on the bank....
Safely towards mooring....just one more hanging branch to dodge....and we reached safely without capsizing or falling into the river. What an achievement! 
End the evening with a nice glass of Pimms at the University Club and some coffee for S and A....
We had a great time, some tired muscles, and we sure made our audience laugh. In case you are wondering about my contribution, to be fair to self I did try paddling but either I was doing it too hard and kept moving the boat or not doing it at all. So I gave up and instead concentrated on documenting the experience for posterity's sake!

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