Kake's been suggesting that someone organise a London.pm trip to Oxford for a couple of months, so we can go punting (and drink Pimms, obviously). After (finally) deciding to go, I ended up sharing a car up there, via the M40 and a couple of the complex motorway junctions I discussed here earlier; it's been a long time since I'd been on that much motorway, and it was a little odd going over these structures I'd been mildly obsessing over earlier.
Whilst driving up, Dom was using Art's iBook to write TeX; there's something odd about how used to laptops people are now, me included, as the thing that struck me as odd wasn't so much the use of the laptop as the fact that I'm really not used to people using Macs multi-user, especially laptops; I tend to guard mine somewhat jealously, which I'd suspect is fairly common for such a personal machine.
After arriving we had a small respite (complete with a swarm of aphids over the table; perhaps they've got on will with the spring, whereas ladybirds haven't) in a handily placed pub, then walked down to Magdalen where Dom had booked two punts for us. After the inevitable wait for members of the group to turn up, we made our way down to the Cherwell to board the boats. Getting in was definitely the scariest bit of the day. Punts are pretty low in the water anyway, and once six people are in there you feel worryingly like you're about to sink, especially when the punt sways as the lucky man with the pole (at first, Magnus) pushes off. Our punt (with me, Kake, aef, Magnus, Marcus and Kath in) was the first off, and the second (containing sheriff, PerfDave, Kit, doop, Dom and Earle) followed after a couple of minutes.
My nervousness was very obvious, but once we'd got past a couple of minor traumas (we lost the pole to a tree, but rescued it promptly, and had a minor collision with another punt) the Pimms and lemonade, combined with a touch of familiarity, let me relax.
I've been to Cambridge a little, and I was expecting Oxford to have a similar layout to the Backs, but instead the river goes a fair way from the town centre and there's a lot more in the way of strange little waterways. This meant that we ended up going round a rather strange triangular route, looping back over the same bits of river a little (but not too much). There were also the inevitable breaks to go to the loo, complete with a minor encounter with a bunch of nettles, and seeing whether ducks liked nachos (yes, apparently, even without salsa), plus inter-punt contests over who had the dips and/or alcohol (sadly, the Pimms ran out quite early).
Amazingly, no-one except the punters got damp, and we made it back to dry land in one piece. After a brief wander around the tourist hotspots of the centre of Oxford, the remaining section of people, plus Art, went to a fairly nice Chinese restaurant called the Pink Giraffe, of all things. After beer, wine, food and conversation, we headed back to civilisation.