I love watching the Oxford and Cambridge Boat Race. It takes me right back to when I was sixteen, and I had just moved to Putney where my mother was to run the local Yacht Club that was situated right on the banks of the River Thames.
I was subsequently invited to be on one of the following boats, and I could not imagine anything more romantic. I envisioned myself on board, looking pale and interesting (well, I was a teenager) and hopefully attracting dozens of romantic encounters.
However, the day turned out to be quite a very different experience. To start with, the weather on the river is always cold and windy, and on that day, it rained too. Then there was the wake of all the other boats to contend with. No chance to appear ladylike and refined, when you are hanging on for grim death to avoid being thrown off. The journey from Putney to Mortlake seemed to go on for hours.
Despite the less than perfect setting, and being cold and wet and slightly sea sick, I managed to love every minute. Something about the River Thames has always struck a chord in me. I lived in London for quite a while when I was a child, and somehow you naturally gravitate towards it. At least I do, but then I love water anyway. Sea, rivers, ponds, lakes, I just love them all.
Something about the way water moves, all the powerful currents and tides, has instilled in me a lifelong love of water.
Today, Oxford won the race and the day was wonderful. For the first time ever, the female students had their own race before the males, and they won their race too.
The water was choppy; threatening to subside both the boats, but the sun was shining. Thousands of people lined the banks of the river, and the young students gave their all. One of the boats was called ‘Endeavour’ and I think that pretty much sums up what we all do every single day, and not just once a year for a famous race.
The secret, I think, is in how hard you try, not really the winning.