Victoria Arms

When you have a bit of sun at the beginning of April you should make the most of it, right? So before the sun disappeared and it started raining again we set up a trip to go for a paddle. Four members turned up at the Watershed, Lewis and Val with their own boats and Sheena and I in sea kayaks. After a little discussion we decided on the Victoria Arms as our destination. Sheena was first to launch her boat followed by Val who, since this was her boat's maiden voyage, christened it in style with some alcohol and a few wise words from Lewis naming the boat 'Grebe'.

Once we were all on the water we set off up the Thames and Cherwell for Marston. Since it was a beautifully sunny day there were lots of boaters and punters out on the Cherwell, some of whom needed a little advice from Val to keep them going in a straight line. We were all enjoying the slalom around the punts under Magdalen Bridge as we took the right fork up past Angel and Greyhound Meadow. The flowers were all out in abundance and the trees were just starting to blossom, some of the meadows were just packed with blooms and colour and the fragrance was stunning as it wafted past.

Just past the small mill we encountered more punters including one who got his pole stuck in the river bed so we helped to retrieve it before meandering on up past the University Parks and into Parson's Pleasure - the once notorious nude bathing ground now simply another stretch of river with a hidden past.

On arriving at the Victoria Arms and carefully stowing our boats on the grass, we grabbed one of the few benches available and ordered a refreshing jug of Pimm's and lemonade and some lunch. Surprisingly for a busy Sunday the food arrived rather quickly and we enjoyed the sun soaked garden before eventually heading back into our boats. On the way home I decided to shoot the weir at Parson's Pleasure which had plenty of water flowing over it, and Val seal launched Grebe off the rollers. We continued our meander back home in the dappled sunlight making its way through the trees, and made it back to the shed for 4pm. Yet another stunning day out on the river!

- Jen

Photos by Jen.