The Perch Pub Paddle

Considering the short notice given for this trip, we had a very good turnout. Karolina, Laura, Sheena, Adam, Nick and Bridgo all arrived in good time and set about getting kitted up. All in sea kayaks bar Adam who used the Minuet. One slight setback was that we could not access a canoe paddle for Adam as these are all kept in the main garage. Adam was not perturbed by this and was happy to use a small kayak paddle. The weather was good with the prospect of a beautiful sunset and maybe a glimpse of the International Space Station which was due to pass over at 9:08pm. For Karolina and Laura, this would be their first "paddle in the dark" so a sense of adventure and excitement for them at the prospect of what lay ahead!

Adam was making a valiant effort in his kaynoe combination but by 7:30pm it was evident that we would not complete our planned journey to time. Everyone was consulted and the overwhelming consensus was that we carry on as planned, it was a lovely evening, the conversation was non-stop and no-one needed to be back at a set on we went!

We arrived at Port Meadow at dusk, just a perfect scene as the river widened and the sky contained a whole spectrum of colour. Smiles all round. After lashing the boats up in the field, we found a table in the garden from where we could keep an eye on them. Drinks and crisps were amiably consumed...even a civilised cup of tea in real china for Laura!

As we made our decision to return, we checked the time, 9.10pm. We all looked up and to our delight there was the space station making a graceful sweep across the sky, about 2 minutes from horizon to horizon. Via Nick's phone we were able to find out that it was travelling at over 17,000mph.

It was fully dark when we launched for our return leg. After assigning numbers to all, to ensure we didn't lose anyone, we set off. I have made this trip a few times now but this part always seems magical to me. Again we maintained a steady pace governed by Adam who never once complained about his unusual set up...well done mate! By the time we got to Osney Lock we got some surprised looks (and comments!) from the revellers at The Punter pub. This was only surpassed by the students returning home to their rooms at Folly Bridge as we emerged from the tunnels under their building!

Fate was definitely on our side as the first few drops of rain held off until we were back at the boathouse. Once again the evening trip to the Perch was a great success and felt vey special. All six of us left very happy and looking forward to the next trip wherever that may be.

- Paul (Bridgo)

Photos by Nick.