[WARNING: this is a sentimental post about bygone days...*sniff*]
Gaudy Night, set in beautiful Oxford in the stately interwar days when women had just been admitted to universities and everyone still wore academic dress to College dinners... And, of course, when the best Sunday afternoon activity was to take a leisurely punt down the river. Sigh.
When I was fortunate enough to be sponsered on a "literary tour" of the UK a few years back, one of my most favourite outings was when we went punting. It certainly made a nice change from yet another stately home... Though Blenheim et al are stupendously magnificent, they are also terribly hard on the feet.
Not that punting is an art for the lazy. For those of you that don't know, punting is the art of pushing a boat down the river by means of a long pole prodded repeatedly into the muddy river bed and used as a lever.
Apart from negotiating bridges which are mainly too low to get the pole (or yourself) through upright, one also has to cope with steering (mainly with the assistance of the ardent paddlers) and going upstream. Going upstream is mostly a case of one punt forward - two floats back.
And of course: very HOT work (unless you fall in, which I fortunately didn't!) ... By the end of the outing I was much thinner, mainly due to removing layers of clothing!
Nonetheless - oh to return to those stately days...