[OSS Oxon] OSS Swim the Thames #18 - Folly Bridge to Donny Bridge - Sun15Dec13 at 11:00am

Jeremy Wellingham jeremy at wellingham.com
Sun Dec 8 20:39:35 GMT 2013

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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