Sunday Roast Paddle: The Red Lion

The premise was simple - paddle, pub, roast - and for our first outing we were off to The Victoria Arms in Marston. So you'll understand how confusing it must have been for folks when they turned up at the shed only to find that we were going to be walking to The Red Lion in Wolvercote.

To cut a long story short, I hadn't booked table at the Viccy Arms and when I rang the day before the man on the other end of the phone sucked air in through his teeth, like a plumber who is about to give you some very bad news, and said that they couldn't guarantee us a table.

Panic ensued as I realised that I had eleven people who were expecting some kind of roasty goodness, and may in fact decide to roast me on an open fire for being so naive as to think I could book a table the day before a meal. The panic died down and I sprang into contingency mode, finding The Red Lion in Wolvercote who could guarantee us a table, but only from 12-1.15pm. Realising this was better than nothing I confirmed the booking and set about telling the folks who would be joining us.

Then, after a little planning time, I realised that there was no way we could paddle all the way from the scout hut up to the top of Wolvercote, get out, and carry our boats up the lane to the pub in an hour, so contingency number two was put in place - we wouldn't paddle. We would drive to the bottom of Port Meadow and walk across the fields to Wolvercote, working up a good appetite on the way. A third contingency of floating up there on Helen's narrow boat was scuppered as we couldn't find the keys.

So Helen, Adam, Kirsty, Sue, Penny, Nick and I all drove to the bottom of Port Meadow, Nick decided to paddle up from there in his new boat and the rest of us wandered over. Penny told us about her amazing three month trip around the world and made us very jealous.

Lynds and Rach met us at the pub, where we arrived early and stood outside waiting for them to unlock the door, like desperate alcoholics. It was worth it though because the carvery here is the best in Oxford. We were stuffed after our three different types of meat and Kirsty managed to get out of washing up in the kitchen by clearing her plate.

As 1.15pm loomed we finished our drinks and wandered outside to say farewell before heading off towards the meadow where we raced Nick back to the car park, although this time the current was with him and he easily beat us.

A very filling start to our Sunday roast paddles which has taught us to book waaaaay in advance if you want a seat.

- Jen