After what seems like a very long winter it finally looks like spring is here and just in time for the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race.
The Boat Race can only mean one race, the rowing race between Oxford and Cambridge universities. The story goes that two old friends called Charles Wordsworth and Charles Merrivale went rowing on the Cam, Charles Wordsworth had attended Christ Church College Oxford and Charles Merrivale was an alumni of St. John’s Cambridge. Not long after this lovely winter holiday row on the Cam the two friends decided to set up a race! On February 10th 1829 a letter was sent from St John’s College to Christ Church College:
‘the University of Cambridge hereby challenge the University of Oxford to row a match at or near London, each in an eight-oared boat during the ensuing Easter vacation.’
….I’ve read up on the history and there are…various dates and slightly different versions of the story, but that is the gist.
Back to present day, we pack a picnic and head over to Putney which is the current day starting line for the race. There are many different spots where you can gather to watch along the river. There are also big screens set up on both sides of the river at different points, its worth checking these out, the exact spots change a little each year to have a look in advance. We get off at Putney Bridge and head down to Bishops Park. Having the beautiful weather makes such a difference, we sit in the sun and friends join us in the park. Ten minutes before the women’s race we head to the riverbank to reserve a spot, some ingenious people have climbed trees to get a better view. The boats are past in moments and we head back into the sunshine. We repeat for the mens’ race.
For a more intense experience head across the bridge and join in the bigger crowds, where there are more drink and food stands. Bishops Park has a family friendly and lovely friendly atmosphere, it feels like a mass family day out. Definitely enhanced by the wafting smells of the near by BBQ stand.