TAKING A PUNT

Do you miss Cambridge ?” they all ask.

Well, no, clearly not, or I wouldn’t have left. Duh.

But the city does have its appeal, and despite it being the obvious touristy thing to do, taking a punt along the backs is the second thing I’d recommend after 5 pints in the Blue.

In typical alpha male fashion, I charged ahead, leading our team to the wrong jetty (?), meaning we turned up fashionably late for our 12:40 launch (?). Quite why I had to fill out a Track-and-Trace form still eludes me.

Self-hiring a 5 person punt for 90 minutes costs £42. That’s a saving of £80 on the cost of the tours. AND toy avoid the endless yap yap yap of “in 1683 Sir Henry blah” and “Steve Hawkins invented the Universe here in 1973 blah blah” and “by tradition the fag carries the young masters collection of Beer Guides blah blah blah“.

Of course, you have to find a sucker brave young man to do the punting (?).

I’d done it before a decade ago, and I can tell you it hurts. The legs, not the arms. I’ll let him off the lack of commentary on the pubs, and frankly there’s only a couple on the half mile route, and the Anchor is covered in scaffolding.

Matt did a great job, keeping a steady pace and avoiding the bumps that would have seen Mrs RM spill her Blanc Brut.

I panicked a bit when I saw Google Maps place us in the water.

The route takes you past the Arithmetical Bridge, which was built in 1749 to allow the safe transport of Tolly Bitter over the Cam in what was then Greene King country.

I have no idea about the other buildings; buy a book.

Oh yes, I know this one;

The outward leg, which ends at the famous Las Iguanas on Quayside, took 35 minutes.

The return took considerably longer. Emma got out the paddle and helped steer.

Would anyone else like a go ?” said Matt, staring hopefully at me. But if I’d have got up, I’d have fallen in. And Mrs RM would have taken a photo, then laughed.

We were overtaken by a boat with beer on it, but they weren’t offering tasters so we let them pass.

Just before Clare we met a trio from 1957 who had got stuck by the bank and were going nowhere.

Suddenly our 90 minutes were nearly up and we hadn’t past King’s. “Faster, Matt” I urged, hoping he’d find a late surge of speed like Redgrave in 2000, but sensibly we limped over the line late, and no-one said anything. Unlike 1983 (me) and 1973 (Stafford Paul), we’d stayed dry.

I bought Matt a beer, a Lost Lager, while Mrs RM enjoyed a tasty Vienna Lager by the Lion Yard loos.

Let no-one tell you we don’t know how to live in style.

23 thoughts on “TAKING A PUNT

    1. I recommend the punting experience, it’s a bit like taking the boat from Tower Bridge out past Wapping, you get to see incredible detail. The tour sounds dull with all that history, so you may need to find someone who’ll do the punting without the talk.

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  1. That looks like a marvelous day out. This is the first I’ve heard of this tradition– certainly something I’d like to try if I get the chance (no doubt using your approach of having someone younger handle the ore!). Do you know the recent history of it? Strikes me as something based on what was once a common form of everyday transportation, but is now mostly a tourist’s experience, as in Venice.

    I’m curious about what is floating in the Blanc Brut; grapes? Enjoying sips of that as you float along– sounds pretty heavenly to me, though of course a pint of Bass would also do the trick. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s the Cambridge equivalent of a gondola in Venice, only a bit cheaper. The shortish stretch of college walls and gardens is the highlight of towns. In normal years over half the visitors would be Japanese/Chinese/Korean I guess, but we seem to be seeing an early boom in home-grown tourism.

      Blanc Brut is grape fizz. I was driving !

      Liked by 1 person

  2. “and despite it being the obvious touristy thing to do, taking a punt along the backs us the second thing I’d recommend after 5 pints in the Blue.”

    I should have waited for your 2nd post to appear before asking about the punt thing in the previous post.

    Although I will ask what the ‘backs us’… is. 😉

    “Quite why I had to fill out a Track-and-Trace form still eludes me.”

    At least they didn’t ask if you were from different households.

    “AND toy avoid”

    Toy?
    (but I understand completely seeing as how you were reliving, so to speak, the possibility of a ‘guided’ tour (shudder). We did a Danube river cruise back in 2010 (which turned into a coach trip due to flood waters) and we avoided the guided tours like the plague after the first day!

    “Of course, you have to find a (sucker) brave young man to do the punting (?).”

    Think of it as payment for the free meals. 🙂

    “I’ll let him off the lack of commentary on the pubs,”

    Dangerously close to a guided tour that. 😉

    “Matt did a great job, keeping a steady pace and avoiding the bumps that would have seen Mrs RM spill her Blanc Brut.”

    (slow golf clap)

    “I panicked a bit when I saw Google Maps place us in the water.”

    A switch to Bing would have calmed your fears, I’m sure.

    “The route takes you past the Arithmetical Bridge, which was built in 1749 to allow the safe transport of Tolly Bitter over the Cam in what was then Greene King country.”

    Amazing! Since Greene King wasn’t founded until 1799. 😉

    “Oh yes, I know this one;”

    I’m thinking; Harry Potter meets Discworld.

    ““Would anyone else like a go ?” said Matt, staring hopefully at me. But if I’d have got up, I’d have fallen in. And Mrs RM would have taken a photo, then laughed.”

    That sounds like something that would have happened had it been me, my two sons, and my darling wife. 🙂

    “We were overtaken by a boat with beer on it, but they weren’t offering tasters so we let them pass.”

    I see you’re unfamiliar with the phrase ‘You Shall Not Pass!’.

    “Just before Clare we met a trio from 1957 who had got stuck by the bank and were going nowhere.”

    They don’t seem too upset about it.

    “Unlike 1983 (me) and 1973 (Stafford Paul), we’d stayed dry.”

    Ugh, dry. That will be me in 4 days, for 3 weeks!

    “while Mrs RM enjoyed a tasty Vienna Lager by the Lion Yard loos.”

    Surely there were other loos besides those in Brewdog?

    “Let no-one tell you we don’t know how to live in style.”

    Even if said style includes plastic cups! 🙂

    Cheers

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      1. “1799 ? Were you there ? If you weren’t it’s all guesswork.”

        Apologies. I foolishly believed what I read on the Net. From now on I shall trust only you good sir! 😉

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  3. I’ve been for a punt a couple of times on the Thames, whilst in Oxford – although for some strange reason the locals, in the city, refer to the river by the name of an infamous terrorist organisation – (clue, it is also the name of an Egyptian goddess!)

    This was back in my student days, whilst visiting a couple of friends who were at the university. Great fun, apart from nearly being dived bombed off a bridge, by unfriendly locals (the great town and gown divide). They gave our punt a wide berth, as we had a number of knotted towels and empty wine bottle to hand, ready to repel boarders!

    I don’t suppose you get that sort of raffish (a most appropriate word), behaviour in Cambridge, though?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Selkis – Egyptian goddess, protector of the hawk-headed canopic jar” ?

      My lad was convinced students threw objects at the punts or tipped beer on them from the bridges but I’ve never seen that sort of behaviour; Oxford is rough.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. T’other Paul,
      “Unfriendly locals” reminds of being aboard a boat on the Ouse and Yorkies throwing coins at us from a bridge.
      Imagine my surprise at the coin landing between my feet being not a 2p but a pound which went most of the way towards a pint of Humphrey’s OBB.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Sounds like money well spent, Stafford Paul. As for “unfriendly locals,” you’re a sitting duck sat in a boat, especially if the former are towering above you, on a bridge.

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