Saturday, 14 August 2010

The end of an era

We're sitting on a Stansted Express train heading from Cambridge to London. There's something wrong with the line from Cambridge to King's Cross so we're being forced to hastily change our homeward plans.

It's been a charming day of punting and picnicking. The weather was glorious and sunny, but for a brief exciting shower when we nestled under a tree with our hearts somewhat in our mouths!

There was a quiz and a pub lunch to kick things off and then two punts-worth of us drifted slowly up the Cam for what I've decided will be the last time on my birthday until I'm forty. We've done it now for something like twelve years in a row and sometimes a  wonderful thing reaches its natural end.

Besides, this year the unimaginable happened. Not only did I manage to lose my pole whilst punting on a terribly easy stretch of the river, but, whilst attempting to slow the punt down to watch Nathan jumping over a bridge, I fell in! I've been punting since childhood and haven't fallen in since I was 13!

The episode attracted a huge number of screams and yells from, amongst others, my Mother. I found the whole thing hysterically funny but I've had to spend the rest of the day wearing an African rug like a sarong and one of Nathan's t-shirts which makes me look a very strange shape!

As we sat in the glorious evening light having our faces painted by Lisa and her daughter, Poppy, I realised how lucky I was to have such extraordinary friends. Top marks have to go to Helen for coming home from Yorkshire to join us and Jim, whose never missed a punting trip in all the eleven years that we've been coming in this block. His record of attendance is only threatened by Sam, who's missed just one, but was also present at both my 18th and 20th birthdays, which were also celebrated on the Cam. My brother of course remembers birthdays in the city going all the way back to the very beginning!

Good times. And the perfect end to an era!

Next year I will be running an old-fashioned sports day on Hampstead Heath... Dressing up races, egg and spoons, obstacles, sack races, a relay race for the under fives... Watch this space!

August 15th 1660, and Pepys’ day started in the office. After lunch he went to White Hall and discovered that Montagu and the King had gone to London Bridge to have their dinner on a Dutch pleasure boat. Apparently they were gone by 5am which surprised Pepys enough for him to add; “The King do tire all his people that are about him with early rising since he came.”

In the evening he found himself in Westminster Hall, drinking with his old friends, Mr and Mrs Michell, until the latter excused herself; “she and Mrs Murford and another old woman of the Hall were going a gossiping tonight.” A charming sentence, which makes me wonder where the old ladies of the hall went to do their gossiping!

He returned to Montagu’s residence at the end of the night and discussed various plans. Montagu was off to his country estate for a period and was leaving Pepys pretty much in charge during his absence.

Pepys stayed the night in his old attic room at Montagu's, a room which he’d recently given over to one of Montagu’s clerk’s, William Howe. It would seem the idea was for the pair to share a bed, but there was much tossing and turning and eventually Pepys kicked Howe out... (of his own bed.)

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