It was about half an hour after all the boats were back from the downriver punt, that a much smaller group - in only 5 boats - started upriver with the destination being a small country pub where we would have lunch.
Greg Fahy, whom we've known for several years, joined us and took the punt position. He had not done the down river punt but had watched some of the activity from the shore and felt sufficiently confident. David, in the foreground, is the son of one of the attendees who was in another boat.
We're headed towards the portage point to bypass a small area of light rapids. Sure looks like somewhere on the lower Mississippi as Paul uses the paddle to help steer the boat.
As the boats came up the ramp and across the still water, Aubrey collected them and pushed them back towards each waiting "crew".
So, off we headed with Greg manning the punt (pole) and Paul doing the fine steering from the front with the paddle. Still not quite cricket, but definitely necessary if we wanted to get anywhere in a reasonable amount of time; important since we were the last boat out.
After more than 40 minutes of dodging obstacles overhanging the river, Greg relaxes and laughs at jokes about the English "Amazon".
Kitty took the paddle after what must have been a mile - at least Paul's upper thighs felt like it.
Greg, Paul and Kitty admired a resident swan family as we passed it on the Cam.
Paul relaxes and gets to enjoy the trip - and the bottle of wine that was part of trip beverage, each crew getting to make their choice.
About a half hour after paddling, Kitty decided young David ought to try his hand at the task. He joined right in on and really enjoyed being treated like one of the crew. Although he offered the information that he'd never paddled a canoe, he needed only a little direction before he had the idea pretty much "in hand".
Another swan family grazes in the reflection of the clouds in water - real idyllic scene over David's shoulder.
These babies are almost as big as momma - or is it papa? The parent below as we pass by.
What seemed like 10 miles and 3 hours - though was probably only 2 miles and 1.5 hours - brought us to a point near where we were told was a pub where we could rest our weary bodies and have some lunch. As it turned out, Aubrey de Gray's instructions were unclear to more than just us and most of the crews had an extra long walk to the country pub, invisible from the river itself.
After the long time punting, the food was highly welcomed (though pricey) and was accompanied by mostly pleasant conversation - at one point Kitty made it clear to a conference presenter, who belittled the use of supplements and Paul's brief justifications for our personal usage, that he was not speaking with some ignorant laymen.
Updated 4/19/04 On the return trip, Stephen Coles, father of David, joined us. He was still a bit wet from his unpleasant fall into the river. He had been attempting to retrieve the punting pole, which should not have been terribly difficult - except that a certain person had taken the paddle from the boat before we had all left so that his crew (the paddle thief's) could have the luxury of 2 paddles. In the unnecessary meeting with the water, Stephen lost his (expensive) prescription sunglasses; it is unknown to us whether any restitution has been made by the paddle thief, though we made it known to him that such was absolutely warranted. In fact, Kitty doesn't remember when she last saw an adult physically squirm with as much discomfort while avoiding eye contact when being told he was wrong in his behavior and responsible for the damage caused.
Added 4/19/04 Stephen having recently seen this photo page, contacted Paul about the above incident, correcting us on the actual loss (we had been told that it had been a watch) and inquiring as to the culprit, to whom Paul blind copied our email reply with the urging to own up and restitute. Stephen now knows the identity of the paddle thief - and because the latter has constructed a different memory of what took place (that he'd taken the extra paddle from a pile on the ground) and refuses to acknowledge any responsibility for restitution, everyone else can also know that the paddle thief was Michael Price. He is on the right in the photo just above and in several places on the preceding page. If Michael decides to restitute for the harm he caused - a long overdue "I am sorry for that" just doesn't cut it - then Kitty will acknowledge that fact here. This incident is a real-life application of the issues Kitty wrote about in the piece "Harm - Responsibility and Restitution".
A swan family - probably the older one we saw on the upstream trip - rests on the southern bank.
Paul who had been manning the paddle, took over the pole position; Greg enjoyed the rest sitting next to Kitty. David showed his father that he could paddle just fine, having been given plenty of opportunity before the lunch break.
After about 20 minutes, Stephen took over - the activity was one way to keep warm.
The shadows are falling and the air is cool as we round the final turn and see buildings at the eastern end of Cambridge in the distance.
After the crews disembarked, the boats were directed onto the portage rollers for the short drop that bypasses the "falls".
Paul and Greg lend a hand getting the boats from this trip through the portage pass.
Greg volunteered (or was he "volunteered ? ;>) to return the boat to the docking point a couple hundred yards downstream. The rest of us meandered off - some for final departures, others for another night's stay, and a few just for a few more hours with a supper break for more chatting.
Before meeting a few of the last stragglers, Kitty had Paul pose in front of the building that housed our room for the conference. This is one of several attached dormitories that forms a semi-ring around the classroom and support function buildings of Queens College. Our room was on the top of the 4 floors and actually faced in the opposite direction, out towards the street with all the noise that comes with vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
We had used a lot of energy that afternoon, and lunch was not large. Since the drive back to Blackburn would take close to four hours, we decided to have another meal and some more conversation with the last of the attendees. Kitty had a glass of red wine with the intention that it would help her to sleep on the drive. Unfortunately, the road pattern and street lighting in Cambridge were very confusing and Kitty's set of eyes were needed to ensure that we got to the correct initial highway, and even the next two. It was 2:05am when we arrived in Blackburn and Kitty's sister Mary, aroused from her sleep, let us in.