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Michael’s Travel Diary

Thursday, 02 Apr 2009

Location: The Boat Race, London, England

MapLast weekend was the weekend of The Boat Race up in London. For a couple years I have considered going into the city and watching the spectacle that is the Cambridge vs. Oxford boat race but hadn’t for a variety of reasons, be it due to football club issues or other reasons.

Any case, this year I decided to head into London and catch up with Spen for the weekend and see the sights and sounds of The Boat Race on the Sunday. Caught a bus into London after work on the Friday and caught straight up with Spen. Dumped my bag at his place and we headed out to The Elk bar in Fulham where his housemate Troy met us. A few drinks and a late Thai dinner sealed the night off for us.

Saturday we got up reasonably early and headed out to Putney to buy some footy boots for Spen – this weekend being the Titanic Cup and Spen is coming down for a kick. After that we wandered round Putney and the markets nearby before heading into the city centre for a few drinks, mainly in the Covent Garden area, hitting a number of interesting little bars along the way. Andy Scales came along and met us for a few drinks as well.

As the evening wore on, and we all indulged in some fancy burgers, we headed up to Camden to a party in a bar that Andy was headed to. Jacqui and Alyshia were there celebrating one of Jacqui’s friends (Sarah) birthday. Also at the party was Charlotte, a Kiwi girl who was living down in Bristol, barely 5 minutes walk from my place. Through the night we got to chatting, and I arranged to snag a lift back to Bristol with her the following day after The Boat Race. We moved to a few different bars around Camden to The World’s Eye, and then some little lounge bar for cocktails before heading back across the city on the night bus back to Putney.

Sunday was the big day for The Boat Race. We headed out of the house early and had breakfast at a bar on Putney Bridge. Well, by breakfast it was a massive plate of bangers and mash. The place wasn’t exactly buzzing, but there were more people in the pub at 11 am on a Sunday than usual. The sun was also coming out for the day which was helping drag the people out to the river. After a couple drinks in Putney, we decided to grab a traveler and head along the river towards Hammersmith. By this time there was a group of about 10 of us, all Spencer and Troy’s mates in London. We got held up along the way with the Cambridge boats coming out of the boat sheds, so got to see the rowers up close and personal.

Eventually we get to Hammersmith Bridge and cross the river to the bars on the other side. Whilst in the bar next to The Bridge, the preliminary race started and we watched it go by on the TV’s. Not too much later the real race started, some time just before 4 pm. We watched the start of the race on the TV before heading out to the side of the river. Whilst it was cool seeing the procession coming up the river, helicopters in the air and support boats running along side and behind the row boats, what a bloody anti-climax! The atmosphere is cool and all, and drinking along side the river is good fun, but you see literally 90 seconds of an 18 minute race. As soon as that is done everyone crushes up back into the bars to watch the end of the race on TV. Cool atmosphere, but definitely a spectacle best viewed on the box. Then again, if the weather was perfect, would be a day just as well spent sitting on the grass on the banks of the river with the crowds of people ignoring the race itself!

Anyway, after the race I dragged myself back to the National Express bus terminal for the long bus ride back to Bristol after Charlotte had to leave earlier in the day to visit her sister and reneged on giving me a lift home. Last night though she did make up for it by coming out to play some pool with me and letting me beat her 5-0!