The Virgin Voyage

It was with great excitement the newly passed 'Wednesday' Intermediates (Alice, Bradley, Keith, Dave & Lynds), accompanied by Rach & Mark of the 'Thursdays', gathered at the watershed for their first trip without their great coaches Simon and Jen (nothing wrong with sucking up a little!!)

Now who knew it would turn out to be such an adventure? - Trolls, a horse and unkempt bushes!!

We spent a tad too long faffing around with spray decks (lesson learnt - ones with red tape fit the tourers) and ended up running way behind schedule! Bradley and Rach very elegantly seal launched (slid) their tourers from the grass verge...Simon decided for us that we were taking too long - all Lynds heard (after thankfully managing to at least get the spray deck on) was 'grab your paddle' and the next thing Simon had pushed her in!! Balance, high braces...all out the window as she let out a scream, few expletives and hoped not to capsize on the off. Keith and Dave were long on the water by this point and that left Alice and Mark to fend for themselves getting in.

After a debate over where exactly we were going to paddle to (another lesson learnt - make a plan and stick to it!) and getting used to the tourers again, we eventually 'elected' Bradley to lead us on. So off towards Osney we headed.

It was a relaxing amble along as we passed The Head of the River pub - Alice was very tempted to stop for glass of wine - but we powered on (ok that's an exaggeration) admiring the houses and contemplating that they may have a great view, be lovely houses - but a flood would suck!

At first we thought we could hear a fair in the distance but as we paddled nearer the field - it was a MONSTER TRUCK show!! If you craned your neck you could just about see the bad boys - although there was some disappointment that it wasn't a fair.

We continued on under the rail way bridge but then Mark, Keith and Alice spotted an off shoot...again after a debate (yawn) we decided it looked fun and creepy so meandered down...well meandered might not quite be the right word! It involved paddling into unkempt bushes (now known as 'Lyndsey's bush'... won't go into details), cobwebs and branches! Alice was impressed with the flowers growing within the bush and continued her streak of spotting things of interest by pointing out a pac-man stuck up in someone's window. As we got further down, and signs of civilisation had all but gone (bliss) - there were a few tents randomly pitched up (No one seemed to be home though) and then we came to THE bridge - I'm not even sure who bravely went under first (probably Keith and Dave) but this is where we met... dun dun derrrrrrrr.....the Trolls! This isn't us being rude btw...they introduced themselves as the trolls and rather proudly explained they are the reason people are afraid to cross the bridge! Fair enough! Alice thought it looked quite homely under there - they had a dressing table, cabinets, bed, a fire going...!! After our discovery of real life trolls we decided to turn around as time was slipping away - Rach was the last to complete a three point turn and whispered in a slightly hurried tone 'don't leave me to pass the trolls on my own...'

We safely made it passed (pheewww) - a bit further up from the troll bridge we made our second discovery - a horse floating in the water! Saved by Rach, (after lynds hysterically shouting 'save the horse, SAVE THE HORSE!!') we found it had a leg missing and was covered in sludge - perfect as a gift for the coaches! Rach and Lynds plotted a way to get it into the coaches part of the shed without them noticing...mwah ha ha! I should probably mention this is a ceramic horse!

On the way back Keith decided to take us through the eerie tunnel of doom - with a shout out from Dave to watch out for giant rats, someone else threatening there were bats and Bradley wondering if this was some sort of plan to make us late / kill us...we eventually got to the tunnel and out the other side all in one piece.

We then had plenty of time to paddle back up to the watershed, admiring the views as we passed by and saying hello to fellow water goers. Bradley finished off the evening with an impression of a washing machine (he nearly has rolling down, just can't stop rolling) and since we didn't make it to a pub, we joined the coaches at the Prince of Wales for a well earned bevy! Hopefully we haven't put Mark off from joining us again J

The End

- Lynds