How to Succeed at Punting Without Really Trying

An account of a despicable method of boat navigation.

Before I get to the punting part of this story, I must add the pictures from the top of the beautiful St. Mary’s Church. The views are incredible.

The Radcliffe Camera from the top of St. Mary’s Church Tower.
Posing in one of the arches at the top of St. Mary’s tower and the view on the east side of St. Mary’s Tower overlooking All Souls College.

This was one of those mornings where I actually woke up in enough time for breakfast, not because I went to bed at a reasonable time, but because I had stayed awake through the entire night. I had stayed up until four in the morning playing Secret Hitler (arguably the best board game ever) and after everyone had left, there was absolutely no way I was going to bed. Fortunately, I got to see the sun rise over Brasenose — an absolutely beautiful view. I made my way down to breakfast, where I made plans to visit St. Mary’s Tower with Sam, Sophie, and Morgan. St. Mary’s was the best £4 I’ve spent so far, as the view was insane.

Next, came punting.

I’m trying not to complain too much about the experience of punting, but it was a little rough, if I do say so myself. First, I have to explain what punting is. Imagine someone sits you in a boat and hands you a steel pole and tells you “Go nuts!” and you will pretty much have the same experience as I had with punting. It’s like someone thought one day: “what is the worst possible way to navigate a boat without rendering yourself completely hopeless?”, and that’s punting.

I was in the boat with Sophie, Dwaine, Sam, and Yael. I’m really glad I was in good company for the punting endeavor, because otherwise, it would have been an all out disaster. Instead, it was just kind of a disaster that we can all laugh about. We all took turns “steering” our boat down the river, but the steel pole was rendered completely useless in actually getting us somewhere. By the time I took my turn at steering, I ended up just turning the boat around in circles all the way down the river. The boats are rented out to you hourly, and by the time the first hour had passed, we realized we had not even made it halfway through the trip. We decided to attempt to turn back around, which we succeeded in doing, but there was some cursing and running into trees involved. Here’s some photos of me attempting to punt — take note of the distress on my face.

Punting. Not only am I in pain and completely wet, Dwaine is so bored that he’s looking at his phone. Also, notice Sam’s many facial expressions that sum up punting perfectly.
Yael and I pretending to enjoy punting.

I’m being very dramatic about the whole situation, but I’d be lying if I didn’t say punting is stupid. We invented rowing and motorboats for a reason. After we finally made it back to the dock with our boat, I really needed a drink. We all went to the historic Turf Tavern, which has seen the likes of Bill Clinton, Oscar Wilde, and Ernest Hemingway. I ordered an Old Rosie Cider, the Turf’s signature brew. I also tried Pimm’s for the first time, which is basically heaven. I’ve been ordering it almost everywhere I go since I tried it. I will be very sad when I return to the States and I can’t order it anymore.

So, lessons for the day:

  1. Don’t even think about punting without someone who might actually know what they’re doing.
  2. I’M SERIOUS, DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT.
  3. Disastrous situations are made more hilarious with friends. And some Pimm’s.
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