Day 23 (29th Sep 2013) – Oxford to Shillingford Bridge:

The team got a surprise visit this morning from David Bruce of the Bruce Trust, who have supplied the support boat ‘Hannah’ for the rest of the trip, saving the day after the problems with ‘Merlot’. David made the money to set up the trust with the Bruce’s Brewery pubs, all called the something and Firkin. The older members of the group regaled him with stories about various youthful adventures involving his product and venues. David invited all to a reunion get-together at the trust headquarters at a date to be determined.

The team caught a ride to the Falcon Canoe Club on ‘Hannah’ and met up with a cast of thousands. There was Jo Bates, Nick and other members of the Falcon Club, also Paul, Aaron and Sarah plus others from Active360 stand up paddleboard club in Kew. The Active360 club having been super helpful and have donated two sea-kayaks for the duration. There was also Doctors Simon Gabe and Michelle Marshall from St. Marks who are two of Justin’s consultants. There was Steve who has been following the trip online and also Max, the son of Justin’s old mate Adrien, who is visiting from Los Angeles. Adrien’s younger son Anthony was helping with the crewing on ‘Hannah’. The huge flotilla set of from Oxford a little later than usual.

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Another new arrival was Paul, Brother of JP and the fifth member of the Parke family to join the crew. As JP is still using the Parke family boat, Paul brought along a small 10.5 foot kayak of the same model as the ‘spare’ kayak, ‘Little Red’. Simon Gabe took Stevo’s boat ‘Patch’ for the day so Stevo and Max shared ‘Little Red’. This was a reunion of sorts for Stevo as he had used this kayak for most of the 2010 Manchester to London run. A long day of 18 miles and six locks was ahead and the crowd had thinned by the time they reached Abingdon lock where Max and Stevo swapped out. The survivors who made it to the debrief at the Shillingford Bridge Hotel were Justin, Stevo, JP, Paul, Simon, Steve and Paul, Aaron and Sarah on their paddleboards, after standing all the way. Well done.

The end of the day saw the sad departure of JP so tomorrow Paul can claim the Parke boat, Stevo can reclaim ‘Patch’ and Curtis can get in a day’s paddling on ‘Little Red’.

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