Friday, 1 July 2011

Dr Matthew Hawkeye: Master of the Punt

We recently got home from a trip to Canada, which was overwhelmingly full of love, and friends, and family. I am suffering jet lag - how is that supposed to be said? I "have" jet lag? I am "jet laggy"? I am "lagging from the jet"? At any rate, I have it. It's 2:02am, and Elizabeth is banging around in her crib, presumably rolling from side to side, and waiting to fall asleep. In other words, she's doing what I had been doing before I got out of my bed and came downstairs. Not before I did the loud, whisper-yell to ask Matthew if he was asleep. He cleverly pretended to still be asleep.

So anyways. We were in Canada for Matthew's convocation for his PhD. It was a beautiful and sunny morning, and he looked awesome in his magic robes. The PhD ones are swankier than the regular old Bachelor's robes, and my only disappointment was the lack of floppy hat. At least he did some poses a la Harry Potter. I admit it: I cried when he went across the stage. It was wonderful. I was so proud.

But here's the thing. I don't have my camera with those photos on it down here, and if I go upstairs to get it, I'll wake up Matthew, and probably Elizabeth (if she is asleep by now, which I doubt). I do, however, have pics from my Blackberry, which include photos from a social event that Dr Faff organized for his lab group before we left for Canada. We went punting on the Thames, and the lab-mates did the punting. Matthew made a rule that everyone who wasn't a local had to try punting, and he also said he'd buy a drink for every person who fell in.

For those of you who don't know, a punt is like a canoe, but with a flat bottom. They are propelled by someone with a long pole who drops the pole into the water, and then pushes the boat along. Kind of like a Cambridgean gondola & gondolier. (That's right: Cambridgean.) You can steer the punt with the pole as well, like a rudder.
 So there we were: 18 of us in 3 punts. That works out to 5 people sitting and 3 punters - it sounds great in theory, but in practice, that's a lot of weight per boat, and the tops of the punts were only a couple inches above the waterline. Our boat had James (a Cambridge rower - he rows for Selwyn - see the post about the Bumps), Nij (an Australian who was clever enough to bring bread & hummus), Anna (girl physicist), Gen (Japanese physicist, clever enough to bring beer and share it), me, Elizabeth and Matthew.

James was totally down with playing with Elizabeth while I held on to her tightly. Elizabeth loved when Tiger ate Horsey. Classic.

 The only hard thing with punting (says the girl who has never done the actual punting part of it), is not getting the pole stuck in the mud at the bottom of the river. You have to put it in  the mud, in order to push off, but you can't leave it behind. Unless you are Faff, and leading this social event. Pictures say a thousand words:
Having fun!
Yeah, the pole is still over there, and the boat is still moving away from it...

Paddling back to the pole by hand because no one checked to make sure each punt had an oar for situations like this...

James reaching for the pole

James pulling the pole out of the mud and righting the punt. Matthew kept on punting afterwards, but kept a firm grip on the pole. He was super cute. Poor Dr Le Faff.

 We met up with the other punts of physicists, who had brought along a watergun, and were trying to get everyone wet. Our whole boat was grateful to Elizabeth, because even physicists know that you can't aim a watergun at a boat with a baby on board. We ended up linking-punts with them at one point. So friendly are the physicists. More like, so slow at punting, and everyone wanted to get to the pub.
Matthew only ended up buying two pints for faller-inners.You can see the dude with the towel around his shoulders, on the punt on the right - his name is Peter and he's Italian. And the kid in front of him is Christian and he's German. Well, apparently, Peter fell in, and his glasses fell off. So Christian jumped in to help him try to find them (???) and in the process cut his hand pretty badly. So when they came back, Matthew bought Peter the pint while I checked out Christian's hand. I don't think Matthew actually bought Christian a drink, since he jumped in voluntarily. Rules are rules. The sad ending to that story is that the glasses are lost to the Loch Cam Monster, never to be found again. The moral, then, I guess, is that University students are all kinda stupid, even the ones who are bright enough to do a PhD in physics at Cambridge University.

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