Day 87 (4.10.17): Oxford and Punting on the Thames

Today, we got up a little later since our friends Molly and Kate were a little tired from their trip and the time change.  Eventually, we headed to Oxford, which Team Hubbard had been meaning to explore more for some time.  We started with a bit of a walking tour.   We made our way to famous Radcliff Camera, which is part of the also famous Bodleian Library.  (Note that this is not where the law library is housed.  That building will be intentionally omitted as it is not in the least bit historical or charming.)

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We also walked through the Schools Quadrangle, which has different doors for different schools of study.  After a little head scratching, I eventually figured out which one was for law.

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Julie offered to take a picture of me, but I wanted a selfie.  We settled on a picture with my arm stuck out to the side.  After I took this, I think I heard the door behind me lock.

We continued our walk enjoying the better-than-Cambridge charm that only Oxford can offer.

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We found a fantastic pub down a tiny alley, but unfortunately the girls had their elevensies and it was too early for lunch.  #Britishpubproblems

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Undaunted, we pressed on.  Oxford truly is a city where learning permeates the air, and we were got a little smarter just soaking up the atmosphere.

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By now, the troops were getting hungry, so we headed to a nearby covered market in search of food.  Fortunately, we found a place that served delicious meat pies.  We also grabbed some coffee for the adults and some ice cream for the kids.  The sugar had the usual effect.

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Refueled, we headed down to the Thames river to see if we could find a place that rented boats for punting.  (Yep, it’s the same Thames that goes through London.)  Jackpot!  We rented a boat for an hour and headed off.  The proprietor was even kind enough to take a photo of all of us (for the papers in case we sank no doubt).

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The idea of punting is that you use a long pole to push a flat bottomed boat along the river.  We set off heading downstream.  For a while, it was smooth punting.  Lydie took a turn and did a fabulous job.

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Following the instructions of the fellow who rented us the boat, we turned into a smaller channel to go around an island, and the punting started to get harder.  In the shallow water, I had a little trouble using the long pole around the low bridge in the back of this photo.

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Still, the views of Oxford were wonderful, as was the springtime sunshine.  Molly took a turn punting, and she was a natural.

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The goose in the background was, however, a total jerk.  He literally swam circles around us.  Showoff.  Though the girls did a great job, maneuvering the large pole was tough, and the flat-bottomed boat tended to spin around in circles.  I took the pole back and proceeded to have the same problems.  Y’know.  Just to make them feel better.  The girls were happy relaxing in the boat.

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Eventually, we left the small channel, returned into the Thames, and started our journey back to the dock.  It was at this point that I realized that (1) we had been going downstream until this point, (2) we had been going with the wind at our backs until this point, and (3) we might not make it back to the dock.  It was seriously slow going!  Fortunately, I had help.  I pushed on the pole as best I could while Lydie did her best to keep us pointed in the right direction.

IMG_9632Cassie and Molly were big helps, too.  Oh wait.  No the weren’t.  They were literally asleep.

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We only had one pole and one oar anyway, so I guess it worked out.  With Lydie’s help, we made it back to the dock.  Of course, we had not made it back in an hour as planned, so the gentlemen at the dock made a few extra quid, which might have been his plan all along.  I think he was in league with the goose.

With feet firmly back on dry land, we walked around a bit more before heading back to Woodstock.  It was time to get eggs, sausage, “bubble and squeak” (a bit like a hashbrown casserole), and of course pints from one of our favorite pubs in Woodstock, the Black Prince.

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-Will

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