Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Christmas catch-up

High Tide00:57 (2.60m)
Low Tide07:24 (0.50m)
High Tide13:49 (2.30m)
Low Tide19:16 (0.90m)

Sea conditions: Bizarre, so much deeper than yesterday
Sea temperature: 6.4 last time we checked
Weather: windy
Joined by: no-one today but Christmas day was another story...
After a break there's a bit to catch up on: It's traditional that people swim on Christmas day here but the unseasonably warm weather meant that the beach was almost crowed at 11am, the allotted hour. There were twice as many spectators as swimmers, but at least 100 people actually went in. It was warm once we were in too and the three of us took our time. Looking back at Mertz's video footage I can clearly hear someone say "there go the hard core" as we swam out - that's us...? Hard core?! I certainly wasn't feeling hard core, in fact I nearly didn't make it at all due to having overdone it in a major way on Christmas eve and being very, very, very hungover. Actually I think I may still have been unsafe to drive, let alone swim. But the idea of not swimming didn't bear thinking about and I felt a lot better for it.

Since then DK has been the only consistent swimmer, both The Pirate and I have been away, but he keeps our appointment with the waves. We were so nearly joined by 3 more on Tuesday, but apparently Mertz had put the fear of god into them at dinner by talking about heart attacks, undertows and strong currents, this was after we'd polished off a couple of tons of herring, ham and akavit. The Visiting Girls were so game then that they even been provided with a selection of swim suits from the cupboard but we suspected they might not make it when they set off for the local at 11 with the promise of "a DJ from London on the decks" (sure...) and as Bill the Birder had predicted a text arrived at 7.55 the next morning instead.
The Pirate told us about an encounter with a little boy from the village whilst carol singing, he had approached him to say how brave he thought he was. The Pirate needs a stick to get about and says that occasionally children will comment and make assumptions about his disability but this was a first, the child had assumed that as he needed help in and out of the water he must be blind. Now he wants to be called The Blind Pirate because it sounds more romantic!
Alice is the new love of my life - she's a bike and I love her. She was my Christmas present and I've been cycling her down to the beach, even though I don't need to, because she's so wonderful. I haven't taken her very far yet as I haven't had time but hope to get a chance at the end of the week if it stops pouring with rain as it has been for the last couple of hours - they threw in some mud guards but they are a little on the thin side...

Wonderful food. As well as being served wonderful festive food by Legs, both DK and I agreed we have had great meals at our other nearby pub, which has restored my faith in eating locally. The Anchor has been very busy, with a wonderful crowd over Christmas but the team behind the bar and in the kitchen have done a stirling job. For lunch yesterday I had an amazing piece of cod with chorizo, puy lentils and curly kale, followed by pear pannacotta with lemon biscuits and a lemony coulis thing. We'd seen the shellfish being delivered so Mertz had the mussels, (which I had to try and then wished I'd had a starter portion) and a friend at a nearby table said the oysters were amazing. He was about to get on a train to London and we later discovered that it had been delayed by 3 hours, so I hope they gave him strength. The chef/patronne was keeping everyone happy and fed, flitting between the kitchen, restaurant and bar - such a contrast to our last experience over the river. As always the bar staff managed to cope with a massive influx of people and still managed to take the mickey out of NCFC as well as coming to fetch me when I bumped into an old friend, who I hadn't seen for 25 years, and haul me back to my table because my pannacotta was melting! We are very fortunate.

The tides have been most odd, we've tried to work out how they can have been so very different over the past 4 days, it doesn't seem normal. At first we speculated about the winds up north having an impact and then the moon, but ultimately DK and I agreed that we are ignorant and don't understand. I shall have to ask one of the village elders.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Low Tide03:26 (0.70m)
High Tide09:40 (2.50m)
Low Tide15:46 (0.70m)
High Tide22:01 (2.60m)
Sea temperature: 5.7
Sea conditions: calm and very high
Weather: Sunny, with the sun rising as we went in
Joined by: 3rd Constable and Murdo
Topics of conversation:
The weather - as always, we're English for crying out loud (although, to be fair, neither The 3rd Constable or Murdo are) and it was just glorious this morning. Having discussed recent nightmares at length yesterday, due to a particularly terrifying one which stayed with me all day, waking to this kind of a sunrise lifted the spirits. The tide was very high and I'd only just managed to jump over the water as it whizzed around the bridge, still rising - this made for excellent swimming conditions.
Welcome to The 3rd Constable and Murdo - the Constable's wife had mentioned that she didn't like the idea of his swimming on his own and so I'd given him our swimming times - it was lovely to see them and both are regular cold water swimmers. Murdo had been for a splash yesterday, after a long shingle run, so knew what to expect. There were serious discussions about techniques to help the body to become acclimatised and whether or not the fishing stool was of benefit, how shoes or boots make life easier on the stones and whether gloves is the way to go.
Welcome back The Pirate also, he'd had to dash up north due to a rapid deterioration of a dear friend's health, which has saddened the whole family. So hard at this time of year too. We all endeavoured to cheer him up but this time he really had reason to be Eyeore.
The Pirate's No 1 Son has returned home, and the list of culinary delights being prepared in the house made me salivate - having a proper chef in the house must be amazing, perhaps he could rent him out?
Mabel had managed to sneak down without her collar this morning, and the 'time to go home' game had an added twist. In order to catch her without a collar on you have to either trick her into coming over (she wise to this, so it seldom works) or tackle her to the ground. I think we probably need to work on an easier way.... she simply doesn't want to leave the beach. Mabel has her own heart on the Christmas tree and I think I'm jealous.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Low Tide
01:21 (0.90m)
High Tide
07:37 (2.50m)
Low Tide
13:58 (0.70m)
High Tide
20:26 (2.40m)

Sea temperature/conditions: Calm, and feeling much warmer
Weather: Slight breeze, sunny
Joined by: The Shaman - The Pirate is away
Topics of conversation:
The solstice - which was yesterday. Having planned to salute the sun as we did in the summer, The Pirate had made me have second thoughts, being versed as he is in all things eastern. He was concerned that the cosmic 'fluences would be disturbed by the Gayatri Mantra and sun salutations at the close of the day and I had missed the sunrise due to power cuts and Mother. It all worked out for the best; just as I was about to leave for the beach this morning The Shaman sent me a text and so she and I went down to salute the sun as it rose. She brought her own ritual, which she shared with me and I completed a number of salutations, which the dogs got involved in too. (I wanted to put the recording of the mantra with a video clip here but have discovered that my old version of iMovie has been screwed by my latest upgrade so I can't edit video at the moment, hours have been spent trying to get everything aligned - but clearly my technology is not in line with the sun's axis...).
Today's sunrise

Today's sunset
DK and I had a wonderful swim after the salutations, the temperature has risen we are sure, and we then talked in a very grown up fashion (for us) about religion and spirituality, which is far too bizarre and personal to go into here. Suffice to say that we both agreed that the sea provides us both with the kind of constant solace that others find elsewhere, just when we need it most.

STOP PRESS: You Tube and I are back on talking terms:

Sunday, 18 December 2011

High Tide03:10 (2.50m)
Low Tide09:44 (0.70m)
High Tide16:10 (2.20m)
Low Tide21:38 (1.10m)
Sea temperature: 5.5 degrees
Sea conditions: perfect
Weather: icy, a little dusting of snow still remaining from last night's flurry
Joined by: Abs, The Photographer, Blake, BooBob, Mertz
Topics of conversation:
Welcome back Abs! For various reasons Abs hasn't been able to join us recently so it was lovely to see her back and she had chosen the perfect day for her return. Although it was so cold that the shingle had frozen solid and the dunes were as hard as concrete the sun shone over the cloud bank just as we began to get undressed.
Going in

Coming out - taken by Mertz as they joined us

The Killing - I made DK swear he wouldn't tell; we missed the final 2 episodes last night, he kept teasing me with suggestions, it was unbearable. I'm almost tempted to put the day's plans to one side to watch now, but the weather is so glorious that it would be churlish and I don't think I'd be popular. I just wish that I hadn't gone onto Facebook this morning to wish a friend happy birthday as The Killing is one of my 'follows' and it did give a little something away. The reason I missed it was that we had the worst meal I've eaten in ages. A group of us went to The Harbour Inn in Southwold last night and it was shocking, truly shocking. The dover sole was so badly cooked that I couldn't get the fish of the bone on one side and it was almost raw on the other. We all tried Mertz's squid with chorizo and some people had to spit it out it was so bad. The haddock chowder seemed to have been made with condensed milk and the potatoes were new and overcooked, in December. They failed to clear our plates after the first course but in an attempt to salvage the meal The Wolf ordered a bakewell tart thinking you can't go far wrong with that... you can! He couldn't even get his spoon through it. To make things worse The Wolf had had reason to send food back last week as they had fish pie that was cold in the middle, so he felt duty bound to give a discreet but full report of our disaster to the Manager (we weren't charged for the sole or the wine). It's such a shame as it's run by the same team who run our local The Bell and we gave up eating there some months ago too. We'd cycled over and as we left the wind and snow/sleet was lashing in but fortunately we had the wind behind us on the river bank on the way home. It wasn't quite as extreme as being on a sled in a blizzard in - 40 but I can't say it was enjoyable. I was stupid to have eaten that fish which I could get off the bone and had a horrible night with little sleep as a result, but that's the wonderful about these morning swims, however bad you feel when you get up you always feel better after a swim. The difficulty is getting dressed quickly enough to keep your fingers working, and whilst my wonderful gloves, bough for Arctic adventures, are toasty warm they are quite hard to get on if I haven't dried my hands properly!
Swearing quietly

Saturday, 17 December 2011

High Tide02:21 (2.50m)
Low Tide08:48 (0.70m)
High Tide15:07 (2.20m)
Low Tide20:41 (1.00m)
Sea temperature: not really sure, DK dipped the thermometer in the shallows after we'd go out and it fluctuated between 6 and 7, but it felt much, much colder.
Sea conditions: Beautifully calm - had it been warmer it'd have been proper swimming weather
Weather: icy and cold, not too much of a wind though
Joined by: Mertz, but not to swim, he had been walking the dogs and found us
Topics of conversation:
The sunrise -  the above is an optical illusion, I wasn't going into the sea with my phone, the sun was just getting bigger and the waves were coming in. It was so wonderful to have light as we swam again, it's been so dark this week, (both the weather and our collective moods).
The Christmas swim  and weather we should prepare a synchronised swimming performance to show our toughness. This conversation was brought about by my shouting as we went in and The Pirate calling to me as I waded into the thigh high water with "STOP! we've gone far enough! We can just lie down here!"
Masterchef -  at length.
Mabel and Bosco had a very loud chat, we couldn't understand what they were talking about, but we decided there was quite a lot of bad language involved...

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

High Tide
00:15 (2.60m)
Low Tide
06:30 (0.60m)
High Tide
12:48 (2.40m)
Low Tide
18:27 (0.90m)
Sea temperature: between 6 and 7 degrees, the thermometer kept changing
Sea conditions: Shallow and choppy with a channel to swim in
Weather: Cold wind, air temp. 5
Joined by: no one
Topics of conversation:
Screaming nightmares - The Pirate had passed a dead rat on the way across the bridge and he has a perfectly rational fear of them, he described it as innate but he also has had a nightmare about one crawling over his face which made him scream in his sleep. We talked about how dreams can do this to you and the problems for anyone sleeping in the same bed.
Greta Garbo - Luna is doing as a good a job at channeling Greta as Rooney Mara was at Lisbeth and would not even make eye contact with anyone this morning, she stayed in the dunes looking miserable till I went into the sea and then suddenly got worried - I think I may have squealed as I went in - and dashed down to the shore. She is feeling the cold, so it's coats from now on. The two young dogs. meanwhile tore up and down, attacking each other and having a lovely time. We've worked out that when Willow has had enough of Mabel jumping up at her she simply clamps her jaws around her head and holds her still.
The Killing - we are all on the same page now as DK and Legs caught up yesterday so we were finally able to discuss it. All of us are confused, as we should be, and three are now only 2 episodes left so we are wildly speculating about the outcome. The Pirates Eeyore take is that we are going to be disappointed of course, and we have not yet placed our bets, in fact last year we did a sweepstake but this year its hard to know who to put in the frame. There was much discussion about the most tense kiss/almost kiss on screen this year between Lund and her partner, who we have started to refer to as Perk (is that what they want us to do? after all his real name is Strange). The Pirate can't watch on Saturday and Mertz and I are out, but we've arranged to be home nice and early, maybe we'll be back in time to watch.

I've just previewed this before posting and realised that we are a bloody miserable bunch at the moment... bah humbug.

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Low Tide05:48 (0.70m)
High Tide12:07 (2.40m)
Low Tide17:47 (0.80m) 
Sea temperature: not taken
Sea conditions: we decided it was 'swirly' - the current was very strong and the waves were all over the place
Weather: changing all the time.
Joined by: no one
Topics of conversation:
Whether it was swimmable. As DK arrived after The Pirate and I we had the chance to discuss how suitable the waves were for going in when the wind was blowing without him calling us both Jessies. The unpredictability of the wind, waves and sky always makes us nervous, but little seems to unsettle DK. He did arrive saying - just a quick in an out today - though, and indeed it was. The current was strong and the water shallow. I spent most of my time water walking whilst the other 2 attempted proper strokes. As we got out we were hoping for a sunrise over the cloud bank and were rewarded. In true Pirate melancholia he announced snow to be on its way and that we would pay for the site that met us as we got dressed; a stunning double rainbow, rising over the village.
Other topics of conversation were kept short as we are now swimming later in the morning, to ensure we get some light, but methods of catching Mabel remain high on our agenda (which reminds me - I must refresh the supply of dog treats in my swim bag) as she seems to have developed the habit of turning the last 10 minutes into a gam of hide and seek around the beach huts. Although it is hysterical watching DK dashing in and out of the row of huts shouting "come here you twerp!" and then attempting to rugby takle her to the ground, it does hold him up somewhat. I'm afraid that the other day, when 2 nice men where watching the ritual with amusement, they asked what she was and I replied "a pain in the arse" I feel bad about that Mabel - try proving me wrong?
David Fincher - The Viking had taken me to see a BAFTA screening of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, followed by a Q&A with the cast and crew on Sunday night. DK and I have both read the books, seen the first film etc and The Pirate's wife has also read them, so The Pirate knows the gist and the discussion developed into one about casting in general and in particular the difficulty of finding the right lead when the character is superficially simple but ultimately complex. Daniel Craig doesn't do it for me (as he seems to 'do it' for so many of my female friends) and he didn't achieve the depth I wanted for the character of Blomkvist. I was blown away by Rooney Mary though - she inhabited Lisbeth and seemed to be channeling her at the Q&A!
The darkness of the story was developed beautifully in this version, David Fincher really got that right, as he did the lack of hope. Hope was in short supply that evening.

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Low Tide00:58 (1.20m)
High Tide06:57 (2.30m)
Low Tide13:27 (0.90m)
High Tide20:19 (2.30m)
Weather: Frost, cold south west wind
Sea conditions: Big swell but calm
Sea temperature: fluctuating between 6 and 7 degrees. (air temperature was rising from 2 degrees)
Joined by: No one
Topics of conversation:
How long we'd stay in for, as the sun hadn't come up yet and the sand was frozen. The sea temperature has finally started to drop and whist the getting-in/swimming/getting-out experience is still exhilarating, the sudden drop once you are out and getting dressed is not. All of us struggled with cold fingers this morning, after the swim. DK has resorted to hand warmers and The Pirate is finally wearing gloves to swim in. It was my ankles that went today - Father always said I have 'larks legs', by which he meant skinny ankles - there's no flesh to keep them warm. My thighs seemed fine though... strange that!
Panto related injuries - Mertz has one. Whilst he's not involved in the panto in any way he has still managed to put his back out for the cause. He insisted on a show of strength when helping to move the stage extension in the village hall, I suspect he was trying to impress The Pirate's Wife and No. 2 Son (henceforth to be known as Ratty, due to his role in the panto, a crucial one, for which I am hunting for a suitable moustache), but should never have lifted a section on his own. Now he's having to lie down to work. If he's not better by Thursday, when he's due to go to London for his annual Christmas lunch with the boys I shall insist that he stays home.
Luna's ability to look pissed off - it's legendary and this morning I had brought her coat down to the beach so that she wouldn't have a sudden temperature drop having been rabbiting in the dark and then sitting still on the beach, and she was singularly unimpressed. Willow and Mabel couldn't care less as they now spend the entire time we are there going bonkers and chasing each other around the dunes. At one point they were on the top of a dune and we saw Willow 'doof' Mabel so that she rolled all the way down to the fence. Mabel shook herself down and tore straight back up for more. Willow used to be too aggressive with little Mabel but now she is much more gentle as she's realised what fun she is and that she's not a scary beast. Legs and I had a later discussion about how this can be the same in humans. We know that Mabel misses her canaine friends when they don't come down to play as on Sunday my two had stayed in bed and The Pirate doesn't swim on Sundays so she had been alone and spent most of her time waiting and looking for her friends. A forlorn sight and one I identify with.

National Express and its inability to keep the trains on time. We had such a rant. DK and I have both recently nearly missed connections and the last fiasco that Legs experienced resulted in compensation so we speculated about why the straight through trains had been cancelled and sounded very much like Daily Mail reading commuters, which we clearly couldn't be, even if we tried really hard. I don't think they allow tree-huggers in that club. Especially as we had just been discussing traditional vedic invocations. On the winter solstice (shortest day, longest night) Yoga Girl and I plan to complete 21 moon salutations, as we did sun salutations on the beach at the summer solstice. The Pirate has provided us with a great CD of the Gayatri Mantra, which were listening to at the weekend. We hope the weather will hold so that we can complete them at sunset and play the mantra as we do.

As we dressed and prepared to leave the beach the sun rose from behind the cloud bank and although we were all complaining of bits about to drop off we did stand and stare for a while.

A poor life this, if full of care, we have no time to stand and stare