Sunday Roast Paddle: The Victoria Arms

It's not often I get up early on a Sunday but the call of a day on the water which included stopping for a Sunday lunch was very strong. So I arrived at the boat shed and met up with Jen, Adam, Penny, Sarah, Chris, Ben, Katie and Sean. After a quick lesson for some of our newer members on spray decks, and a certain amount of time admiring the new helmets, we were all set.

The wind was blowing and the sky looked slightly ominous as we headed up the river. There was a lot of discussion about whether or not we were wearing the right number of t-shirts/ jumpers/ jackets but we finally decided it would be one of those days when as soon as you changed, so would the weather!

We headed up the Cherwell and rounded the corner to hear the shrieking of punters. After safely manoeuvring around the first group we were on our way again. Next came a number of fallen trees and low hanging branches to dodge but we all made it through. Jen bravely rescued a punt stuck on a tree branch while an embarrassed looking Dad made out to his teenage daughter, and her four friends, that he was entirely in control! Super Jen to the rescue again!

We paddled our way around the back of the Botanical Gardens and University Parks. We made light work of a paddle across some fast flowing water from a weir (well, if you call being washed into the bank light work!)

After a lovely paddle we made perfect time and arrived at the Vicky Arms around 12. As we all know though, getting in and out of the boat is often the hardest part and on leaving her boat at the pub, Katie decided it would be a good time for a swim. So, dripping wet she headed into the pub to change into... oh no... the dry clothes she didn't have. Whoops! However she put on a brave face and we all enjoyed a lovely Sunday Lunch (although the roast was nowhere near the size of the Red Lion- we have decided to go there soon). The conversation varied from claims of Cromwell being in the pub (some time ago!) to prison, trips abroad and treason!

After a number of drinks and lots of sticky toffee pudding, and one cheesecake, we decided we couldn't put it off any longer and we set off again. We kitted up and just as everyone had put on another jumper the sun came out! We paddled back in beautiful sunshine and calm water... until we reached more punters! Chris and Sarah decided that the punts were the 'tractors of the river' and longed for an open stretch. I enjoyed weaving in and out of them and waving at my cousins who happened to be onboard one.

We reached the weir at the University Parks and most of us decided to have a go down it. Jen said as long as you got up some speed, stayed low, low braced and a number of other things you would be fine! She made it look easy so we all followed and most of us made it down dry. I think Sean just decided that he couldn't let Katie be the only swimmer so he joined her with a slow motion capsize!

Chris decided the sunshine was just too much to stay dry and began to splash Sarah with his paddle. Sarah returned the favour and they began a water fight which ended up with Jen being splashed in the crossfire. Jen vowed to get Chris back when he was least expecting it.

After a speedy return downstream we got to the Scout Hut and got out. Jen did get Chris back with a helmet full of water and then we all packed up.

A wonderful way to spend a sunny Sunday, thanks to all who came.

- Su

Photos by Jen.