Saturday, 25 July – (Off to a houseboat in Oxford)
Jonn, Jane and I headed up to Oxford fairly early to meet Bron and her boyfriend Owen. We met at one of the rowing clubs on the river Thames, where we hired the equipment to go punting along the river with all our picnic gear. It was a beautiful blue-sky sunny day with the odd tuft of white cloud bobbing by. Each of us had a go punting, but it was obvious Owen was the most experienced. I’d rank myself as not bad at all, which surprised me. Such a pity my arm muscles are not the fittest in the world! It gets flipping tiring putting that heavy pole into the water and using it as the lever of power to move a boat full of people. I navigated around passersby, successfully turned the boat around to change direction and punted in relaxation for a while, and then I was done. Punting on the river Thames - √ Tick. Then Jonn took over, we nearly toppled over, then he got the hang of it and did well too. Jane wasn’t too keen, but joined in for her quick go; and then Bron, who is one of those people who finds humour in anything and everything, raised the noise bar to much louder with great laughter as she struck poses for Vogue with the pole. The passersby were row, row, rowing their boats passed us in great amusement that they were politely trying to hide.
If you are looking for a place along side a river for a picnic, good luck finding one the birds haven’t got to first. We moored the boat alongside the river and cleaned the bird droppings as best we could, then laid down the blanket for our picnic. It was an ordinary picnic made extra ordinary by the people and conversation as we all reminisced and caught up on what was going on in our lives. There’s a lot to be said for love and laughter: it’s all good; but I’m sure you know that already.
Tummy’s full, eyes closed, we had a wonderfully peaceful drift back down the river to return our boat in time. From there we moseyed through a gorgeous park as the sun was starting to set. The photographer in me was in heaven. We were surrounded by the most elegantly exquisite exotic red flowers that were radiating heat from the flames of their petals, while bees were trying to settle on them and tap into their radiance. They lasted only seconds on the captivatingly magnificent feast, before levitating away from the flame to soothe their burning feet, only to be drawn back to another flame attempting to feed on the riches emanating from the delicious beauty of the fire. I lost time as I savoured the moment that beckoned the end of the day as an unbelievable electric light summonsed dusk to fall around us.
From the park Jane headed off to see her Mom in Warwick and Jonn and I made a move to follow Bron and Owen to their houseboat. Houseboats: Yes, well, that’s an experience! No toilet on board, a hand pump to shower with and no hot water; whilst you are surrounded by spiders the size of my palm. Yes, well, some people love the lifestyle and some people don’t. You can choose. Nevertheless, sitting on that deck surrounded by birds, watching the end of the day echo in hues of magical magnificence on softly whispering water was one of the most soulfully soothing moments I’ve ever experienced. Sitting quietly, peacefully, tea in hand, a delicately cloudy sky above me, watching the sun taking it’s time to set; happened slowly and was over all too quickly, as so many special moments are.
Sunday, 26 July
“You will find as you look back upon your life that the moments when you have truly lived, are the moments when you have done things in the spirit of love.”