[OSS Oxon] OSS Swim the Thames 18: Folly Bridge to Donnington Bridge

Sefryn Penrose sefryn at gmail.com
Sun Dec 4 20:05:39 GMT 2011

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 one makes when swimming in them, 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 therefrom. 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 *10.30am*, *Sunday 11th 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 some cars up
there. 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 apres-wassailing 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 2011? We promise yule
love it.

Yours, with season's 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

PS. This swim is part of Swim 30 in Michael Worthington's *I **♥** the

*e-mail: Oxford at outdoorswimmingsociety.com


*OSS swim responsibility statement:*

*By attending you confirm that you are a member of the OSS and have read
and accepted the OSS swim responsibility statement:*

*All swimmers swim at their own risk.*
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