Sam and Brad arrived on Tuesday morning, all the way from Canada! It’s good to see them — it’s always good to see family. They are good guys too, easy to have around–and self-sufficient. We are the first stop on their three week tour of Europe. So they are off taking in all they can before heading off for the Netherlands on Wednesday.
We just found out about a punting membership for people associated with the University that is very reasonable! (It will be free for us to go punting, when Richard starts his JRF in the fall because he will then “have a college”.) So today we took the boys punting!
Sydney had been invited to a birthday party, so she missed the excursion. While Norah and I dropped her off, Richard took the boys (including Judah) up “The Backs”. After they had been out for an hour, we met up again at Mill Lane, hopped into a new boat and headed down river towards Grantchester. Apparently Richard got the hang of the punts pretty quickly, and if you ask me, looked pretty good doing it too 😉 ….but you might not want to ask me. Sam was another story. To be fair it is hard to steer as it’s counter-intuitive. You have to put the pole on the same side as the direction you want to turn and push off or drag the pole so that the boat turns, but you feel like you need to be pushing from the other side. He managed to hit another boat straight on at full speed. The poor guys in the other boat were yelling to turn the other way!
The little paddle you see Norah holding in the pictures below turns out to be pretty handy. As you can imagine the bottom of the river isn’t always firm so the pole can get stuck in the muck as you push the boat along. It gets stuck frequently, but irregularly enough that it’s difficult to be prepared. I almost fell in several times! My feet planted on the boat which I had propelled forward and the pole staying put! I managed to get it out just in time, but again Sam was not so fortunate. On Sam’s second try punting, on the way back home, he got the pole stuck in hard enough that he lost it to the muck! Thankfully he didn’t fall in after it (though that would have made a better story). But now we were floating away from the pole, and our driver with nothing to steer with! We all had a good laugh as we rushed for the paddle and made our way back to the pole. Thankfully it was stuck upright and not floating away from us!
The river is a totally different experience heading south, away from the city. There are no fancy colleges, and once you exit the city no bridges either and far fewer people. Heading south, the others on the river are not just punting, but canoeing and kayaking. The atmosphere is calm and easy. Light shines in through the trees and down onto the water. The edges of the river look like scenes from a hobbit shire, where green mossy grass rounds lushly down to the bank of the river. Trees cross overhead and the river winds and bends slowly along it’s path. Ducks, who are quite used to tourists with snacks chase your boat with the hopes of lunch. They are quite persistent too–like seagulls at the beach. Judah of course tried to grab them a few times, but I of course preferred him to keep his bum on his seat! Moms just love to get in the way of all the fun. Poor Judah.
It really was a fantastic afternoon. We sat and chatted while Norah and Judah played very happily. Judah absolutely adores punting, and did not want to leave the boat. At the end of the day he told us he was staying and tucked his head under the blanket. We will have to make punting a regular habit! Anyone want to join us?