Punting: the obvious summer-time distraction for bored twenty-somethings in university towns, most of whom have read Brideshead Revisited a few too many times. Morning, afternoon or evening, punting is low-risk and highly enjoyable, and has for hundreds of years been used to woo lovers and push friends in the river. We all know about the Magdalen Bridge punts, but get on your bike and up North into Summertown, and you will find a quieter and decidedly more idyllic punting spot.
The Cherwell Boathouse is one of the most beautiful spots on the river, and rents out 80 punts, which operate on a first come first serve basis at the weekend. Summertown may sound daunting, as with anywhere in Oxford that is not a metre from your doorstep, but it is close to LMH, next to the Dragon School, and a mere ten minute cycle from the centre of Oxford.
If the scenery wasn’t enticing enough, there is something so very ‘Oxford’ about a spot of summertime punting, which people seem to love to hate, but secretly just plain love. What better way to preserve your strident anti-elitist views than to have a quiet punt in North Oxford where you won’t be seen, and at any rate are certain not to clash with a punt-full of excited tourists. For those who are more into either exercise or adventure, (or rowing) the Boathouse also rents out rowing boats and canoes. Anyone for white water rafting?
In addition the boathouse owns the Teahut bar and café, a reasonably priced spot for a post-punt gin and tonic in the sunshine, as well as the Cherwell Boathouse Restaurant. The restaurant is the ideal spot to whisk the parents off to when you have exceeded your overdraft and are growing tired of Quod. It boasts a sunny river- side terrace which is a great scenic accompaniment to the delicious food that they serve. The puddings are particularly good, so bin any notions of ball diet now.
As days out go, it’s not the cheapest: punts will set you back £70 for six people, but you do get it for the whole day, and some colleges have a system which means they go on your battels (practically free money…). If you haven’t yet squandered all your cash they do great packed picnics and afternoon teas to order in advance which you take on your punt so that contact with the outside world is absolutely minimal. Although Trinity has mostly left us doing sun dances in desperation, there have been sunny days, and when the next one comes you know how to spend it. So grab your disposable camera, your cheapest Prosecco (who cares, as long as its fizzy), and do the Oxford thing.