Last Sunday was the day before my final Final. It was rainy, it was miserable, and I had one of the best trips to the Granta I have ever had. Bela and I went down at about half past ten, walking from New Hall in the rain, talking about all the things you're not supposed to talk about during Exam Term: family, politics, love, ecology, the Great Outdoors... Bela is a new friend, and we had a lot to cover. When we reached the swimming hole, I was laughing maniacally; couldn't quite understand why we were doing this, but incomprehensibly glad that we were. I got in first, avoiding the Carlsberg cans on the riverbed.
Why do be people drop beer cans into the river? Does the river LOOK like freakin' recyling bin? PLEASE, if you're in a punt this summer, make yourself the person in charge of the rubbish bag and save our river.
The water wasn't warm, exactly, but I'd pitch it at at least 16* - we could take it. We swam down to the Newnham Riverbank Club and, finding it deserted, climbed out. I have made a resolution to be able to turn a cartwheel by the end of the summer, and we both practised on the beautiful sheltered gardens of this semi-nudist organisation. We got back in the water - I dived, Bela would, I think, rather die. Which is odd as she, the caver, is very much the braver ofthe two of us. We swam on downstream, and scrambled on trees growin out low over the water. I hung upside down koala-style and dropped into the river onto my back. It felt like time had been stopped, like no-one else had ever seen ther iver. Everything was so green, so still apart from the birds and the rain. As we looked at the thick shrubbery on either side of the water, bela described it as "vitamins for the eyes", and she wasn't far wrong. We swam on one further bend, to another overhanging tree, before heading back upstream.
There is a bench - marked private - on the bank of the river, and as Bela grew tired and i grew increasingly nervous about revision (I was reciting Dorothy Richardson quotations at her by this point) we climbed out, having decided it would be quicker to walk back to our gear. We clambered through ankle-deep ivy, eventually meeting barbed wire, and being forced back into the water. I have so very little time for private landowners. The river is ours. The riverbank should be, too. Anyway the rest of the swim was great fun, and intensely, blissfully relaxing, after we decided that we didn't need to rush. We drank hot grapefruit juice from a thermos as we changed, and cooked pasta together at my place afterwards.
Not just one of my best Cambridge swims - one of my best Cambridge days.
Have been to Dublin since then, but my brother wants the computer now...