The countryside has started to take on the quality of the last days of summer. The trees are still the darkest of green, but the grass, the hay and the like are all shades of yellow and orange. Brittle and tired. The air feels dusty. Thistle down floats about and attaches itself to spiders' webs. The sun sets into smoky clouds. What a cracking summer we've had.
Nathan and I walked from the car park in Lammas Land across Midsummer Meadow and into the city centre. There's not an inch of that walk which doesn't hold up a mirror to an ancient memory. I learnt to punt as a small child and I've punted on or near my birthday almost every year since the age of 5.
But it's not just the river. There's a tiny open air swimming pool in the meadow. It's probably only a few feet deep. These days it's clean and a brilliant sparkling shade of blue. An old man was sitting at the water's edge, cooling his feet. I remember the days when the pool was dilapidated, green and covered in algae. And yet still we swam in it!
We pottered around the market and I bought a piece of fabric to protect the amazing camera which my family bought me for my birthday. Today was its first outing. It takes wonderful photographs and I'm thrilled with it.
We met Helen in a cafe on Green Street. She was looking summary in a cheese cloth top. Being mildly allergic to the sun, she has to cover up her arms on days like this but the lack of sun in her life has done wonders for her skin. She's one of those people who seem to look younger as she gets older.
My parents arrived and we had brunch before hitting the river. Helen works at Trinity College, so we were able to hire one of their punts (for some ridiculously low fee) and have a tour of the beautiful college in the process.
We had a little adventure along the backs; the part of the river where the glorious college buildings hang out. Queens, Kings, Clare, Trinity Hall, St Johns. Extraordinary Medieval and Elizabethan buildings. Dreaming spires and impossible bridges.
The tourists were everywhere. Punting along this section of the river is an assault course of American and Japanese tourists clinging hopelessly to poles in the river, their punts zig-zagging from bank to bank.
We went down a tributary of the river by Downing College, which we'd never explored before. It was gloriously tranquil and we emerged in a completely unexpected part of town.
After a few hours of sublime drifting, we returned to dry land and had a cuppa in a church on King's Parade before heading home.
Oh the joys of a freelance lifestyle!