The office I work in is bordered by the Thames, and due to the water related nature of the work we do, it is inevitable that we would own some boats. There is a proper riverboat, the Florinda II (the name 'Florinda' is awfully close to the name of a girl I used to go out with in KiwiLand - it aint Jo and it aint Linda) and two three person Canadian canoes. Given the hot weather, it seemed a good weekend to go for a wee trip on the river. So...
Yesterday my friend Jane and I took a picnic lunch and our panama hats and with the aid of one of the canoes paddled our way upstream. We managed to get on board without tipping either the canoe or ourselves into the river, a significant achievement in itself, after a relatively short while managed to develop a rhythm that didn't involve driving into the side of the river bank. Negotiating the wilds of Oxfordshire, including not being picked off by the dozen or so Red Kites that were circling the river we made it to Benson Lock. Here we enjoyed the free ride up two metres of the Thames. The river broadens here and on the banks are old WWII bunkers that were designed to stop that nasty Mr Hitler. There are also some decidely posh houses along this stretch. The other trick was to avoid the vanguard of fisherfolk that were trawling for trout and salmon. Once we had passed under Shillingford Bridge we then began to looking for the 'Perfect Spot'. The Perfect Spot was an undefined spot that would allow us to have our picnic. The main consideration was that there weren't hundreds of other people to share it with. The trouble with this part of the river is that there is lots of unfriendly riverside vegetation, and any gaps in them were occupied by the aforementioned fisherfolk. Finally we found our 'Perfect Spot', a small and unoccupied break in the nasty vegetation and ran our boat aground. I produced my bottle of Villa Maria Pinot Gris, which, much to Jane's surprise was chilled (note to self: it is always good to have a cold bottle of wine up your sleeve).
When it was time and when we were suitably tanned, we gently made our way home on the shady side of the river, back through Shillingford Bridge and Benson Lock, under the circling Red Kites and after avoiding the fisherfolks lines back to the boat house.
It had been a damn fine day. We had got out of our respective cities and gone country, we had put our world to rights as we discussed the issues of the day, and we'd even got some exercise.
Today I am very very brown.
Next year we are thinking that now we have got this canoing lark sussed, we are going to take on the Nile.