This year is the 150th anniversary of the Reverend Charles Dodgson (aka Lewis Carroll) reading his story of ‘Alice Underground‘ to Alice while on a boating trip on the Cherwell in Oxford in 1862. The story went down so well that Charles Dodgson had it published three years later as ‘Alice in Wonderland‘. The 4th of July was the actual anniversary of the trip when Charles Dodgson with his friend Robinson Duckworth took Alice Liddell and her two sisters for a leisurely boat journey from Folly Bridge near Christchurch in Oxford to Godstow Port Meadow via Osney Lock, where they picnicked and the story was told. The Lewis Carroll Society staged a re-enactment on 7th July with a flotilla following the route with characters standing in for the historical Dodgson, Duckworth (perhaps an appropriate name for the weather conditions) and the Liddell sisters.
A few vague connections with the event and us in Cheltenham are that Charles Dodgson is actually a very distant relation of mine (nephew of husband of 17th cousin!) and that some of the Oxford land (and river) marks are very familiar to both Veronica and I. First Veronica from her nursing and Oxford Brookes’ days knows Christchurch Meadow, Folly Bridge and Godstow well. Indeed she and I met at The Trout at Godstow (an Inspector Morse favourite spot), and I had some bruising (and soaking) encounters with Port Meadow and Osney Lock in my Hash House Harrier days. I recall running across semi-flooded Port Meadow and for three consecutive years we took part in charity raft races through Osney Lock, on one occasion our raft disintegrating entirely in the rush of water filling the lock!