A chronicle of fall quarter abroad at Oxford, 2010
Thursday, September 30, 2010
My latest Oxford discovery: punting down the Thames! This afternoon a group of us walked to the boathouse by Magdalen Bridge and rented three boats for an hour. For those of you who don't know, punting is the pastime of riding in a narrow, flat-bottomed boat propelled by a long pole that pushes against the river bottom. Very Venetian.
I found it absolutely beautiful, floating down the calm waters, gazing up the banks across green lawns and up through overhanging branches. Someone had been smart enough to bring some crackers and cheese, and we all leaned back and ate in the mild fall air. Ducks swam alongside our boat, darting to nibble up the cracker bits we tossed into the water - one curious female must have followed us for ten minutes! Canadian geese dotted the banks, too, and a small flock flew into the water and crowded our boat around one river bend. The sun even ventured out a few times, and almost everywhere we could look back and see some Oxford spire or rampart towering into the sky.
Now, all this sounds very idyllic, but punting is much harder than it looks. All five of us in my boat took a turn, and for my part I found it impossible to make my boat cruise on straight! The long rod felt unwieldy in my hands, and no matter how hard I tried I kept swinging the boat around in circles! The Oxonians (Oxford students) that passed us in other punts were certainly laughing at us. Still, it was very, very fun. Maybe I'll make it out on the water again before the weather turns too cold.