Monday, 24 October 2011

Low Tide02:20 (1.10m)
High Tide08:33 (2.50m)
Low Tide14:56 (0.60m)
High Tide21:35 (2.50m)
Sea temperature: not taken, didn't feel we should get the human cork floating again
Sea conditions: rough
Weather: very windy, 30 MPH winds forecast
Joined by: Mertz, Abs and Boo Bob, her next door neighbour and his dog Blake, Legs and Mabel
Topics of conversation:
Introductions were clearly needed with such a crowd on the beach. Abs' neighbour had come to photograph the sunrise and I hope I may be able to put some of the results up here at some point. Legs has to rise early now that Mabel is able to join us because she is too curious to be left alone on the beach whilst we swim, especially in this weather. Mabel had joined us for the first time yesterday and spent the first few moments huddled in Legs's coat shaking, but after watching Boo chasing a stick for a bit she fond her own legs. It was a bit of a baptism by fire, wind, sea and dogs for the tiny thing, but she did brilliantly, even remembering to sit for a biscuit.

It was very rough this morning and so we did hem and haw about whether to go in. The Pirate, Mertz and I had gone in after lunch yesterday, when it was windy enough for the kite surfers, but the tide was low so we could swim. The beach was heaving again as it's half term now, but no one else seemed mad enough to swim. I was actually mad to swim, having been to my Mother's for Sunday lunch drinks, at which I'd consumed far too much alcohol on an empty stomach as usual and then we'd had a curry for lunch, but The Pirate says it's an old wives' tale that you shouldn't swim after eating so I went for it and didn't get cramp, throw up or any of those things you tell children.

Th Pirate didn't go in at all this morning, which was very sensible, Abs and I had a go but she fell over and I felt my legs go so we got out but off went DK, the human cork, bobbing south down the shore. I felt very nervous, especially with Legs and Mabel there! It's an optical illusion as it looks OK till you get in:

The Killing - it's coming back, that will change this blog as all we will talk about on a Sunday morning will be the last episode. It's how we all bonded in the first place - our mutual obsession with the series. Sarah Lund (sorry Sofie Grabol) was on The Culture show this week talking about it and it has just been announced that it is back on 12th November, thank goodness for Facebook in these circs. We may not be able to wait that long...

Saturday, 22 October 2011


We're hoping that the famous Mabel will be joining us tomorrow as she's had all her jabs, I went to see her today and she is very excited:

High Tide06:27 (2.30m)
Low Tide13:07 (0.80m)
High Tide19:57 (2.30m)
Sea temperature: 12.4 yesterday
Sea conditions: rough, huge swell, big waves - scary
Weather: glorious
Joined by: Abs
Topics of conversation:
The sunrise, it was magical - we were stopped in our tracks by the sun appearing over the horizon and stood watching till it pulled itself away from the sea and that thin strip of sky snuck underneath it, separating it from the water and throwing its colours across the waves towards us. We all agreed that if we were to paint the sky exactly as it was this morning, we'd be accused of romanticism, no one would believe the tiny fluffy blue clouds, positioned exactly the same distance apart, the slate grey of the sea as the red sun changed it purely by contrast and the green glow above it all. I didn't have my phone or my camera this morning though, so you'll just have to take my word for it. There's a great passage in The Art of Travel where Alain de Botton talks about taking photos of places you visit and how the process removes you from the experience as you don't feel the need to remember what you see, I'll remember this sky for ever.
There was a great deal of discussion about the sea conditions. We couldn't really decide if it was do-able. In the end Abs and I had a go, got in up to our waists/head/waist/head (as the waves crashed at us)  and got swept north. The Pirate sensibly stayed on the shore and DK did his human cork impersonation for about 3 and a half minutes. It was exhilarating but I certainly wouldn't even have tried on my own. I got hit in the shin by a stone again and have a massive bruise - shame I'm having my legs waxed on Monday... ouchy.
Tracksuits - The Pirate's son has bought him one, it's not pink unfortunately and he's praying that it isn't covered in logos. It's hard to find ones that aren't - mine has DADA written on it for some reason, which led to the whole "DADA wouldn't buy me a Bauhaus" conversation, The Pirate took it to the next level and almost issued a challenge by saying that "Dada wouldn't buy me a Bauhaus because it might create the wrong Impression". Any further contributions gratefully received.
NIMBY's (not in my back yard) who complain about things in the village - one has really excelled himself by not only objecting to every single planning application but now he's complained about a fruit and veg stall on the street, which is run by 2 young boys who are home educated and the stall is part of their education and also about a Greek flag, which is flown in a garden on the green by way of tribute to the widow's deceased husband, who passed away in Greece. You really couldn't make it up. I'm afraid I was rather rude about him - even The Pirate raised his eyebrows.
Log splitting - Abs had an unfortunate experience with an axe, which resulted in loss of vision and loose teeth - we talked about the merits of axe vs splitters but now that I am typing this in the afternoon I can say that I really am erring on the side of the Logmatic - it's changed the way I look at the log pile. Matthew has leant us the full kit: splitter, basket, gloves, and we are trying it out it this weekend to see if we want to invest. So far so good. I managed to split a very large elm slice and a number of smaller logs in half the time I would normally take, but more importantly, nothing got stuck, I didn't jar my weakened back and was able to split logs on the 'not splittable' pile. And no, I'm not sponsored by Logmatic - but I could be...!

Thursday, 20 October 2011

High Tide04:12 (2.30m)
Low Tide10:25 (1.00m)
High Tide17:04 (2.20m)
Low Tide22:32 (1.20m)
Sea temperature: 13.4
Sea conditions: good, calm but with a swell, which was stronger in the evening
Weather: the air temperature was fluctuating between 3.4 and 4.2, and there was a hard frost, even on the wooden walkway
Joined by: No one
Topics of conversation:
The Pirate was late...again.
Exercises for the back - DK's an expert in daily exercises and we discussed the merits of stomach crunches for supporting a weak back, I had planned on doing some daily on my return from the swim, but as DK pointed out, they need to be done before the swim, hmmm... that means less time snuggled up on the sofa with a dog on each foot checking my mail and reading the news, but I suppose it's worth it not to have this reoccur. I shall endeavour to start tomorrow - in the hope that I'll get a washboard stomach in the process, yeah, right.
The frost and it's grip on the village, we all have different journeys to the beach and had experienced frozen ground, frost on windows etc. and had I brought my neoprene gloves I would have worn them. DK wore his and even The Pirate is considering it. We are also trying to persuade him into a fleece tracksuit, the kind which associated with American coaches or carpet carriers and he is very resistant, preferring to still wear his dressing gown with a raincoat over the top, but as neither he nor I were able to do up the zip on his coat and the poppers have rusted it may finally be time for him to give in. We wear them, not just for warmth (and it's certainly not for elegance) but for ease of changing back after the swim, as it gets colder it's so important and The Pirate nearly ran home today due to the cold getting into his bones.  If he doesn't get one soon I am going to buy him one a la Vikki Pollard, in pink velour although I won't be able to call him The Pirate any more.
The strange land out to sea - this had appeared this morning and looked as if some Terry Gilliam world was coming up, far out to sea.

The last evening swim? The Pirate, Matthew and I went down this evening as the weather was glorious, The Pirate had been for a long dog walk late afternoon and got hot, yes, so he said, and so he called to see if we'd like to join him. Matthew and I had had the fire going all day, so we were toasty and although Matthew's initial reaction was 'no', he didn't take much persuading. It was beautiful on the beach and we had to pick our way between the fishermen as it was a lovely deep, high tide.
The Neopolitans

Wednesday, 19 October 2011

High Tide03:19 (2.40m)
Low Tide09:23 (0.90m)
High Tide15:53 (2.20m)
Low Tide21:32 (1.10m
Sea temperature: 13.2
Sea conditions: ripples
Weather: sun, crisp and a very slight frost
Joined by: no one
Topics of conversation:
The irony of by having done my back in doing something I try to persuade everyone to do, because it's good for you, e.i. yoga. I've never damaged it before and have no idea what I did wrong but having tried to brave it out yesterday I decided that swimming in the cold water wasn't going to help. The boys were very sympathetic, especially as it was my kind of sea this morning. We chatted briefly and then I wandered off, feeling sorry for myself, and took a few photos as I've usually been in the sea with them so haven't had any shots to prove that we actually do swim.  I'll have to wait till tomorrow to find out what the other topics were!

Tuesday, 18 October 2011

High Tide02:34 (2.40m)
Low Tide08:33 (0.90m)
High Tide15:00 (2.30m)
Low Tide20:43 (1.00m)
Sea temperature: not taken but the general consensus was "parky"
Sea conditions: calm enough to swim, but the waves were breaking nicely too
Weather: also "parky"
Joined by: Abs
Topics of conversation:
Welcome back to DK, who is feeling much better and seemed back on his usual form, especially when Abs needed a rub down.
The temperature has really dropped so much of our conversations was around keeping warm after the swim. Abs has to drive home so she needs to get her circulation going before she jumps in the car, as does Boo Bob. Movement is the only answer and we talked about the sledding and Milos's techniques of arm rotations and hand flicking. Obviously we tried some jumping up and down and running about too. We also discussed the term sled v's sledge and decided that sled was simply the american word for sledge.
As we were making our way back home Abs (with tongue firmly in cheek) asked if we use lard to keep us warm in the winter, The Pirate's rapid response was "NO!!" and then he qualified it with "I'm vegetarian!"
I found these online today, so Abs, if you are reading this, it might be worth a try.
Heated gloves

Monday, 17 October 2011

High Tide01:56 (2.50m)
Low Tide07:52 (0.90m)
High Tide14:17 (2.40m)
Low Tide20:02 (0.90m)
Sea temperature: not as cold as we thought it'd be (now discovered it was 14.9 as DK took it later in the day)
Sea conditions: calm, gentle ripples
Weather: clear, bright, slight breeze but no frost this morning.
Joined by: no-one, not even DK this morning.
Topics of conversation: DK must be really poorly! The Pirate, having known DK's routine for some while now, is very concerned about DK, as am I. He even resorted to "feeling like shit" in his text message last night, so I'm thinking of taking some of my yiddisha chicken soup round, trouble is that Legs is such damned fine cook that it might not be good enough. It seems to be working for me though, as I fight off whatever everyone has.
The dawn. Having seen Mertz off at 5.30am and downing half a gallon of coffee this morning and I felt it would be foolish not to make the most of the dawn and went down to the beach to watch the sun come up and took my camera this time. The dogs were very bored and I lost my lense cap in the sand but it was worth it. There wasn't a sound, no boats going out this morning and the sea was almost silent. Just the odd seagull. Although I was pushed for time once we had met, The Pirate and I did have time to exchange views on our luck at being able to see this sight each morning and agreed that we need to make the most of it.

There's a theory that you can only see green light in the dawn, these haven't been retouched and there is certainly green there, I wonder if I can find it in the sunset tomorrow on my evening walk with Miss Dashwood, we're planning to walk into the dusk in search of murmerations, I must remember the camera (even without the lense cap).
Yesterday we had met The Pirate for an evening swim, having met on the marsh whilst dog walking. We agreed that the sea has been through it's autumnal transformation, from which there is no return. Usually this happens towards the end of September but we have only just crossed The Rubicon this year, and whilst the skies and the beach may still be able to give the impression of summer, our skin tells us otherwise once we are in. We're not yet at nettling degrees, but it can't be far off.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

High Tide01:21 (2.50m)
Low Tide07:15 (0.80m)
High Tide13:39 (2.40m)
Low Tide19:28 (0.90m)
Sea Temperature: 15.7 yesterday, not taken today
Sea conditions: magical, smooth. glassy sea with the odd roller, mist rising of the water like steam. It could have been a thermal pool, had it not been for the waves
Weather: Unlike any other morning.
Joined by: Mertz and Abs
Topics of conversation:
We talked pretty much for the duration of our time on the beach about the weather as it was so unusual. The night had been clear and starry, and as we left the house the mist was thick enough to be called fog. There was a fine but tangible layer of frost across the marsh fields and the dogs had gone mad - noses to the ground - the minute we left the house. AS we neared the bridge there was the strangest aural illusion; the sea suddenly became very loud, as if it was just the other side of the river, it was almost scary as couldn't see across the river for the fog. The sun was rising over the water, huge and deep red. I really regretted not bringing my camera this morning and as we got over the dunes there was a professional already set up with tripods, various stills cameras and 2 assistants. The mist was lifting and we could see it, as we joined Abs, separating from the water, leaving a thin, clear line of light.

It was breathtaking, hence little other conversation other than DK is unwell. There are so few occasions when he doesn't swim that we are all concerned, especially as Legs has been poorly too. She did amuse me with predictive text anecdote though. She had sent a text to a friend, thinking she was explaining that her discomfort when eating had been diagnosed as a gastro oesophagal inflammation but she inadvertently sent it as a "gastronomic" inflammation, her friend replied: How apt! Get well both!
We all agreed that it was good to be able to really swim today, rather than jumps up and down. Yesterday's swim had been 'exciting' as we'd had large waves and a very strong current. Today I swam to the beach huts and back with little discernible difference in drag either way as the tide was turning, so even though it was quite a long wade out, it was still perfect for getting the blood flowing.
Boo Bob kept us busy with his chasing sticks business, but as the first one was soon eaten he resorted to bringing us reeds, which had been washed up, I'm crap at throwing and this combination wasn't very satisfactory. Abs had brought her space age NASA blanket, lined with foil, and decided to have a run about to get the blood flowing before getting into the car to drive home as she'd suffered yesterday. Boo Bob really enjoyed this and almost refused to leave the beach when it was time to go. I took this yesterday but didn't post.
Today goes into my top 10 swims ever, anywhere.

Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Low Tide05:08 (0.90m)
High Tide11:16 (2.60m)
Low Tide17:32 (0.70m)
High Tide23:53 (2.50m)
Sea temperature: 16.5
Sea conditions: grey
Weather conditions: grey
Joined by: No one
Topics of conversation:
Transcendental Meditation - DK has taken it up again and has found a wonderful teacher, who has helped him to find a way back in. He is already sleeping better. I'm feeling left out as I'm the only one of us who doesn't go to meditation class, at least I do regular yoga practice - we are such a bunch of tree huggers.
Dreams and cheese - it all started with dreams and why we dream what we do and then got onto cheese and whether that made things worse, which led to personal cheese taste. Mertz has a theory that cheese makes his dreams worse and had emailed me during the week to say that he'd had a night of freaky dreams after a cheese fest, one of which included our very good friend Neo framing him for a murder, which he had committed himself. This is doubly unlikely, Neo wouldn't hurt a fly. I haven't really been dreaming much recently but had some strong, old cheddar last night and having spoken to a friend about a polar exploration that Laura is planning I'd had amazingly vivid dreams about walking on the beach with him and seeing the Northern lights. The dream was so real that it'd taken ages for me to realise it wasn't true, then I was sad, especially as one of my contacts in Kiruna had posted a shot of their night sky on Instagram this morning. It was full of aurora.
Åza Westén
The Pirate says that The Pirates Wife is hopelessly unromantic about dreams and insists that it's just our brain dealing with the crap we can't deal with during the day and I'm sure there is truth in that, but what about the cheese element?! We decided that the stronger the cheese the more powerful the dream, this is what lead on to cheese likes and dislikes. DK admitted that when he met Legs he could only eat M&S mild cheddar. The Pirate and I questioned the point of this - calories + no flavour - pointless. He and I like what we have termed 'gritty cheese' and DK claims that he is now educated in the finer nuances of other cheeses, but still hates Gestost, despite Legs's ancestry. I can't wait to try the new cheeses from Alex James having seen him on Buzzcocks last night discussing his tomato ketchup cheese. I'm a cheese heathen too.
Time off - I've just taken on a 3 week contract that means I won't be able to swim every morning, and have to admit that this was one of the things that put me off taking the job, but needs must and all that. The boys know that keeping a toe in the water on a daily basis is really crucial when it comes to keeping going through the winter and so I'm planning to go in the evening, when I get home. Matthew has bought me a wonderful storm lantern, so I'll be able to keep an eye on the shore but I won't be swimming with them, which is a shame. We've been talking about the  importance of our daily swim in practical terms: health benefits, getting us out of bed in the morning etc. but today we also recognised the importance for the soul. It really lifts my spirits to see the sea each morning, but DK and The Pirate are also instrumental in keeping me sane these days. you simply can't be miserable after 10 minutes in their company, regardless of the sea's conditions.
We broadened the topic then to encompass all those regular commitments, which one takes on and can be so important in small ways. The Pirate has a friend who posts a daily picture online, as I try to do on Instagram each morning. It is a tiny thing, and it gives a sense of purpose in a tiny way. More importantly these regular things help your community - whether it be online, family or a village - to keep you in mind. Redsnapper and I had been profoundly touched by the story of Joyce Carol Vincent, who died alone and was not missed for three years. Carol Morly is making a film, to be seen at the BFI about her life and death: Dreams of a Life

Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Low Tide04:37 (0.90m)
High Tide10:41 (2.50m)
Low Tide17:01 (0.70m)
High Tide23:26 (2.50m)

Sea temperature: forgot to take it but DK and I thought it had gone up and The Pirate thought it had gone down.
Sea conditions: choppy and murky
Weather: warm wind, we just missed the sun
Joined by: Abs and Boo Bob
Topics of conversation:
Boo Bob our new four legged friend joined us today, my dogs got very confused as he's so like their friend Chilli but this also meant he was immediately accepted and joined the happy throng. He has the most delightful freckly nose and this meant he was rejected by the Kennel Club, and ended up being rescued by Abs. We are all very pleased as he is most entertaining and swims with the best of us.
Naked swimming. Abs and I discussed the merits of naked swimming before the boys arrived, our group doesn't swim naked together as we socialise together too, but we do skinny-dip when we are alone, it's slightly odd I suppose, but very english. Some of the LOTVs swim earlier to avoid comment, but it still happens. The Village Mayor always finds out. In fact It's always round the village by lunchtime if anyone has been spotted, Tigger wound one of the LOTVs up by saying he'd been bird watching in the morning and seen 4 tits on the beach...
The sunrise was stunning this morning, but by the time we'd got to the beach it had all but gone. Abs had seen the display driving over and DK had seen it from his bedroom window. We are so privileged to start our day with such a view.

Magic mushrooms - not sure quite how we got onto this one but I had read an article in the press at the weekend about how they are being used to treat depression, anxiety and drug dependency in a trail, with measurable success. Info here: magic mushroom trial and we all agreed that it made sense, although having seen how they can make a normally sensible individual set fire to a full cardboard box of fireworks in a small terraced garden, I'd hope that they are still monitoring the success.
Myxomatosis - The dogs had caught a rabbit this morning and it had Myxy, we discussed the cruelty of the disease and its origins, as well as an exhibition at the Tate, in which Taryn Simon used the extended family of rabbits to show its impact through bloodlines in one of her pieces: 
Tate Modern premieres an important new body of work by the American artist Taryn Simon. A Living Man Declared Dead and Other Chapters was produced over a four-year period (2008-11), during which Simon travelled around the world researching and recording bloodlines and their related stories. In each of the eighteen ‘chapters’ that make up the work, the external forces of territory, power, circumstance or religion collide with the internal forces of psychological and physical inheritance. The subjects documented by Simon include feuding families in Brazil, victims of genocide in Bosnia, the body double of Saddam Hussein’s son Uday, and the living dead in India. Her collection is at once cohesive and arbitrary, mapping the relationships among chance, blood, and other components of fate.
She'd been showing Alan Yentob around when I visited and he had clearly missed the point as I overheard him asking her if all 100 or so rabbits pictured were the same one. We generally agreed that he's a bit of a pillock.
Dwarfism in dogs - (this is why I write this blog) DK explained that Mabel is not able to join the throng yet as she still needs her jabs and is very small. Apparently she's not as small as the world's smallest dog though - 6 inches long...? There was as slight discrepancy between our estimates on 6 inches. You do get some strange things if you Google "world's smallest dog"...
Legs is not well - We all wished her better soon (if you are reading this Legs, GET WELL SOON!!)
Abs has christened us: The Intrepids, we all rather like that.

Monday, 10 October 2011

Low Tide04:03 (1.00m)
High Tide10:05 (2.50m)
Low Tide16:26 (0.70m)
High Tide22:58 (2.40m)

Sea temperature: 16.5
Sea conditions: wind whipped but calm, hitting the shore with some force
Weather conditions: unseasonably warm, windy but warm
Joined by: Abs
Topics of conversation: Not much from today from me as I had to leave to get to yoga, but the main thing was to welcome Abs, who is hoping to join us on a regular, but not daily, basis over the winter. She comes from 'inland' and has to get small people to school so getting to the sea for our early start won't be easy, but she's already talking about getting stone shoes, so she must be serious.
Some topics from the last week which have stayed with me:
Voice recognition software and its fallibility. The Pirate uses this for his work, which involves marking and setting course-work for the OU, amongst other things. He warned us against becoming reliant on this knid of technology by relating an incident: he was marking work which had been based up on the Bhagavad Gītā, part of the Mahabharata. Having spoken the words "Bhagavad Gītā" he continued to go through the work and fortunately remembered to check it before he sent it. The voice recognition had heard the name of the Hindu scripture and decided to write "bugger the teacher" in its place. There's something rather classy about that.
Tamarisk - the illusive name of the plant which we all pass everyday and The Pirate kept trying to remember the name of. It's a wonderful plant, which grows in sandy, windy, dry places and is also (we now know, thanks to a landscaping app) known as Salt Cedar. I'd like to plant some in our garden.
The Panto - Wind in the Willows and all its politics are discussed on a regular basis, but I leave that for those closer to the production to record as I am totally out of my depth. I thought live Friday night TV was edgy, but I'm learning fast.
High tides - we've had some pretty full on ones this last week and occasionally I've had to take a detour to get to the sea.

 Inevitably we also discussed the sad incident at the Harbour on Friday. Redsanpper and I were on the beach when I heard the first sirens at about 3.30 (she didn't notice them as she comes from Reading) but it was clear that there was something serious going on. An elderly man had driven his vehicle into the deepest part river, thought the barriers at speed and the rescue crews were unable to save him. Later that evening it became a recovery exercise. The police have said that it is unlikely that it was accidental.

Monday, 3 October 2011

High Tide02:57 (2.50m) 
Low Tide09:07 (0.70m)
High Tide15:39 (2.50m)
Low Tide21:30 (1.00m)        

Sea conditions: calm
Temperature: not taken
Weather: sun trying very hard to break through, very, very warm. Back in shorts today
Joined by: Mertz
Topics of conversation:
Where is The Pirate? We waited, concerned, as he is seldom late and always tells us if he'd not coming but after 10 minutes we couldn't wait any longer so went in. He did arrive and with a "Sorry I'm late" as if he were at school. Apparently the reason for his lateness was that he'd been discussing train times.... not good enough!
The lost and found. On Friday night a friend and I swam after dark. A group of us had watched the sun set on the dunes with a glass/bottle in hand and then the moon rose, red and crescent shaped over a very calm sea. Mertz then took the girls to the pub and Matthew and I took to the calm sea. I often swim with Matthew, who is the strongest swimmer I know and so I had no fear, even though I did call out every now and then just to make sure he was still there and that I hadn't drifted too far out. We joined the others in the pub for a quick warming drink before going home and then I got a call from Matthew to say he'd lost his watch and glasses (and as a result had had a scary journey home in the fog). We searched the area where he had parked but no luck, so the next day we searched the beach and told The Student, who came to see us, that they were lost. She called me yesterday afternoon to say that coincidentally a friend of hers had found them, had a Reggie Perrin moment, and hung on to the watch but moved the glasses higher up the beach. Both are now returned and Matthew is delighted (and can see again). He swam the next night too but I couldn't join him as I was making borsht and keralan coleslaw for dinner guests, but apparently the phosphorescence was amazing. You have to go a fair way out to find it but it's there. 
Mabel. I suspect that Mabel will feature rather heavily on or 'topics of conversation' list from now on. She has joined DK and Legs as a permanent resident of the village and is already entertaining even those of us who have not met her yet as we receive snippets of video, photos and anecdotes from Legs's phone. She sounds adorable and I am looking forward to meeting her later. She has certainly captured their hearts, which was not an easy task, having loved their old dog so much. She seems to favour winding DK up and then taking to the arms of Legs.
From a non swimming friend

Sunday, 2 October 2011

What a week! The weather has been record breaking, with temperatures reaching 30 degrees and the calmest seas of the year, the sea itself has been around 18 most of the week too.
The daily schedule has been increased to at least 2 swims a day. Each day has started with sun at dawn, followed by thick fog or sea fret, which cleared some day but others we stayed plunged into mist whilst the rest of the county basked in sun. Just a few photos for this post, as well as the video.