For a city gal who only knew of bangkas and canoes, punting was new territory.


Not that I’ve ever handled a bangka or a canoe before. On the contrary. I’ve only really been a passenger on a bangka and I only know of canoes from reading about them. (Are they even different?)

You see,

body of water + balance-requiring activity + yours truly = disaster = just not meant to be together

And punting, as I soon discovered, fits this equation to a tee.

This is punting.

With “punt” defined by the Oxford Dictionary (naturally!) as “a long, narrow flat-bottomed boat, square at both ends and propelled with a long pole, used on inland waters chiefly for recreation.”

Hmmm… I don’t know about you, but standing at the end of a small boat loaded with four other people, balancing and propelling it on water while trying to look cool – well, it isn’t really my thing. Watching another person who’s also supposed to be on holiday do all the work didn’t seem right, either.

So in the spirit of good ole family fun, I acquiesced to……


Peda-what, you may ask (okay, I asked. I didn’t know what it was either). 

This is pedalo.

It’s “a small pedal-operated pleasure boat”, according to the Oxford Dictionary. Ha!

And the boat company, Oxford’s Magdalen Bridge Boathouse, describes it as follows: “Pedalos have the advantage of allowing those of us who like to do no more than just sit down and pedal to still be able to enjoy the beautiful river environment.”


The Cherwell, I Conquer

On the river Cherwell past Magdalen College Tower in Oxford (Photo Credit: REUTERS/Eddie Keogh)

So after a walking tour of the University Library, the different colleges (it’s interesting how the college-university system is different in Oxford and Cambridge, by the way), the oldest college dining hall, the chapel, cloisters and quadrangle, we decided to do what Oxford students do in their spare time.  Why, go punting in the River Cherwell, of course!

Granted, pedalo isn’t quite punting, but I’m sure you wouldn’t hold me to the technicalities, would you? The point is, I got on something that floats in the water, pedalled it along the river to get it to go wherever we wanted it to go, and sure I got some lower body workout from it (which I probably needed anyway), but I was relaxed, and this made my husband and kids very happy indeed.

Oh, did I mention that the third option was rowing


To other Mums out there, or Titas if you will, pedalo-ing was fun!

If you’re like me who’s water-averse and balance-challenged, this could work for you, too. Pedalo-ing allowed me to really look around and appreciate the view of Oxford’s colleges from the river, imagining how it must have been like over the centuries. But what also made it fun was the instant camaraderie among punters/pedalo-ers/rowers who, in trying to navigate along the same waters (and trying not to bump into one another), all find themselves in the same boat, so to speak.

But of course, if an upper body workout is what you’re game for and you wouldn’t mind riding on a flimsier boat (the pedalo boat did feel rather solid), by all means, go for rowing instead.

So if you ever find yourselves in Oxford, make sure to check out Magdalen Bridge Boathouse.

Photo Credit: All photos, unless specified, from Magdalen Bridge Boathouse.