Karsten's Leaving Paddle

When Karsten told us he was leaving Oxford to return to Munich we did what all good clubs do and decided to rally some troops to give him a goodbye to remember. Bridgo and Paul organised a paddle to The Perch, which was the destination of Karsten's first paddle with Isis CC. There were nine of us in the group - Karsten, Bridgo, Paul, Joe, Cam, Hilma, Mike, Sohpie and me. We met at the shed and loaded the boats making sure everyone had some spare thermals and a hat because it was a very cold night. We set off upstream and made steady progress realising that there was some flow, but before long we reached Osney Lock and portaged around. As we did the clouds cleared and a shooting star streaked across the sky.

We carried on up to Port Meadow and in the darkness landed on the tiny beach near The Perch. We took our paddles and hid our boats in the field next door behind a hedge, locked them up and then made our way through the magical tinkling archways in the darkness.

Once in the beer garden we realised that it was freezing since we had stopped paddling and there were no patio heaters to make things bearable. However, after a quiet word to the barman he showed us to a special area which had sofas and armchairs all focused on a brazier which he promptly stuffed with wood and firelighters and left us to it. Simon joined us, and wrapping ourselves in complimentary blankets and supping warm mugs of hot chocolate we all made the most of the feast of crisps which was provided by Karsten (who had decided to get a couple of packets of everything they had).

Joe settled into his armchair like an old man (or a beautiful Chinese lady), while others warmed their feet on the brazier and we all invited Karsten to give a speech. He explained how he had come to the UK in the spring time planning to spend two weeks in Bournemouth and two in Oxford, however, the magic of Oxford managed to tempt him to stay for nine months after a series of wonderful coincidences and some very friendly people.

We spent a long time around the fire warming up, not wanting to go back out into the cold, but the sky was clear, the moon and stars were out and we needed to get back to the shed before midnight. Back in the field we found that our boats, and Sophie's gloves, had all frozen so we got moving quickly and running with the flow this time we glided back into Oxford in the darkness. As luck would have it we saw a second shooting star on the return trip which made us all smile and secretly say a wish. We're not entirely sure what will have happened to the plants Karsten's friend was watering in his house for a 'couple of weeks' which turned into nine months - either all the plants will have died by now, or they will have taken over like Triffids.

We will miss you Karsten and you are welcome back to Oxford any time. The good news is that we'll be setting up a trip to see Karsten in Munich next year so keep reading the newsletter if you fancy a paddle somewhere a little different, and lots of sausage and cheese!

- Jen

Photos by Karsten.