As it turned out, we didn't go back to Ely yesterday. We were so enamoured of Cambridge that we were happy to stay another day. This fitted in with our need(!) to go shopping in Ely again and the tides at Denver. We'll now be heading for Ely this morning, to arrive early afternoon, and then on to Denver for the four o'clock tide on Saturday. So I sent the Ducks a text yesterday morning saying that we were still here, if there was anything they wanted to do... and Amy replied 'James would like to go punting, if you're keen....'
Well, would you believe me if I said such a possibility hadn't crossed my mind, despite it being something I've always (of course) fancied doing. So we definitely didn't need asking twice. And best of all, not for us the exorbitant commercial punt hire of the tourists, but a quiet word with the Porter, the payment of a very modest fee, and the the keys for the Clare College punt (wittily named Clare Buoyant) were in James's hand. Having collected pole and a few cushions we made our way down to collect it from its own little lay by and were soon off. James (and I'm not just being flattering) is really skillful at punting and we were able to sit back and enjoy it just like in the pictures. We could certainly see why you wouldn't want to bring a narrowboat up here in the punting season - in places it was more like a dodgem rink - but everybody was good humoured and having enormous fun on this first properly sunny day of the year. For the first time yesterday I also suddenly noticed that all the trees had burst into blossom at last... It was all perfectly idyllic.
It didn't take long to get away from the crowds and we headed upriver first to Darwin College, where it was very quiet, before turning round, coming back through the crowds, and going down as far as Jesus Lock (just below which Warrior is moored) where we had an ice cream and our joy was complete. Can't thank Amy and James enough for being such wonderful hosts - we wouldn't have enjoyed our visit to Cambridge one tenth as much without them.
In the evening, the Ducks having gone off rowing, we retraced our steps to to Devonshire Arms for a few more pints - Nero was off this time but Jim enjoyed the Minotaur dark mild, and, it being rather quieter than last night, we chatted with the landlord and assorted local characters.
And in an hour or so, we will reluctantly leave Cambridge, but we will certainly be back.