Who remembers this from two years ago? Couldn't resist re-using it.
(Maybe Vladimir and his amazing swimming polar bear will join as again.)
A bridge too far last time but we're all a lot tougher now.
Aquatic apes of the Isis,
December is upon us, and you are no doubt anxious to get your toasty
toes into the water.
It is a little known fact that the term 'wassailing' is actually a
contraction of 'water-sailing', an auld winter custom of December
swimming thought to have originated in Oxfordshire. The custom was
practiced at 'yuletide' (so called because of the especially prized
faster riparian December currents, and the sounds they make, akin to
yuling, modern: yelling. Spiced apple juice and flapjacks were
traditionally awarded to hardy folk who could swim a country mile in
mid-December. Yule logs were then burnt in local hostelries to warm
these romantic heroes. Mistletoe, named for the frequent occurrence of
frostbitten toes lost through such japes (it was colder in those days)
was hung to allow toe-less swimmers the sweet compensation of kisses
from rosy-cheeked serving wenches and bejerkined swains. Not swans. They
had all been wrangled for the Christmas table.
Swim 17 found us joined by the Cherwell, and, maybe a little more
acceleration there from. We will therefore attempt the happy mile from
Folly Bridge to Donnington Bridge, erstwhile Oxford eights
row-boat-super-highway. Term will have ended so it is to be hoped the
young folk have deserted the river for the turkey table, but a fair bit
of looking out will no doubt be required.
As there has been a drop in temperature inside and outside, the distance
is a little less than we submarine hardy perennials are used to -
approximately one mile. We will meet at *11.00am*, *Sunday 15th
December*, at this carpark:
off Meadow Lane, Oxford, second-left after the canoe club. Meadow Lane
is the last right turn off Donnington Bridge Road before the bridge from
the town side, or the first left from the Hinksey side. The carpark is
an unkempt wee council number with plenty of bushes for changing in.
Last time I visited it was free but bring a couple of quid in case.
We'll walk up the towpath to Folly Bridge weather permitting. If the
weather is coming down harder than Theresa May, it is a short drive to
the Hinksey Pool carpark near Folly Bridge and we'll shuttle. We will be
able to get out of the water very close to the cars.
Afterwards, we propose a festive pub lunch at the Isis, a little further
downriver - a must-visit on the pubs of the Thames tour that we are also
engaged in, and a fitting setting for a little wassailing.
As outdoor swimmers and romantic heroes, who can resist the lure of the
Thames (known as Isis) for the Last Swim of the year 2013? We promise
yule love it.
Yours, with seasons' greetings (so named because of the ancient custom
of calling the heroic swimmers 'sons (and daughters) of the sea').
Jeremy & Sef and the dark blue wassailing wahoos of the Isis
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