Sunday, July 29, 2012

Home Again

 The weather has not been kind to punts - even last week's heatwave found the stream scarily fast, especially when cross winds flung me into the trees. But this weekend the floods had abated; I turned tail, tired of long and unrewarding odysseys to check the punt without being able to continue upstream. Three hours yesterday and three hours today brought me back from Tadpole Bridge, a thunderstorm on my tail.
Timing almost perfect: just a few fat drops of rain before I tied up at lunchtime today on my now much improved and entirely nettle-free [thank you, Environmental Agency] mooring at Oxford Cruisers, got the cover up and tucked into pork pie and fruitcake. Ellie kindly picked me up, and drove me to Newbridge to collect my car.
The Upper Thames is ill-served for creature comforts. A fortune could be made by a small electric or steam bus-boat with licensed bar and tea-urn  that operated a regular service between Oxford and Lechlade.
What next? Short trips downstream, which is much more accessible by car from Wytham, Wolvercote, Binsey and Osney. Down a sidestream to the Talbot? The infant Evenlode to Cartington? I will explore Oxford's backwaters, perhaps even picking up the grandchildren up from North Hinksey School on the Seacourt Stream . . .

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


Dulcie in the woods above Ten Foot Bridge
Lucky I was not planning to get anywhere soon: so far the summer has not been kind to punters. But I was encouraged to see the use of a punt in a more static way by reading Barbara at Oxford (1907), a delightful light read that has much fascinating detail of town and gown life at that time. Punts are repeatedly resorted too simply to sit and dream in, shaded by boaters and puffing pipes. Dulcibella has now reached a save haven just downstream of The Trout at Tadpole Bridge – much easier to reach across a pleasant flowery rabbit-mown meadow which Leo thoroughly enjoys racing across to get to her. She's out of the swell of the still racing river, and bulwarked from passing craft [not that any are passing at the minute] by clumps of rushes that indicate just how shallow her mooring is. I explored Chimney on foot yesterday, then, Barbara at Oxford style, had tea, fruitcake and a leisurely read in a blissful drop of warm sunshine.