Monday, 30 April 2012

High Tide06:17 (2.10m)
Low Tide11:12 (1.10m)
High Tide17:47 (2.20m)

Sea temperature: 9.4
Sea conditions: Deep trough due to the high tide, with big waves coming in and settling in the trough. Jumping conditions not really swimming conditions
Weather: Stunning. After the gales ad lashing rain of the last 2 days we have a small window of sun and blue sky. It's all due to change back again tomorrow though.
Joined by: The Poet and Jess
Topics of conversation:
The usual weather conversation, brought on today by the extreme change. DK and I had whimped out yesterday as the waves were so high and the wind so strong. I had spent the previous night on the sofa with the dogs as I was afraid that the house was going to blow away, it feels like a boat when the wind blows so I feel safer downstairs. I discovered I wasn't the only one whose night had been disturbed when I met The Canadian on a long walk in the morning. He had not slept for fear that the new church gates, which he has recently restored, might have blown away. The Poet has the best views of all of us and had seen the breakers from his vantage point and not contemplated leaving the safety of his home.
The tree that floated - yesterday evening Mertz had returned from a walking break in Kent and had been rained on pretty solidly for 2 days so when he arrived home to the first glorious sun we'd had he was keen to get into the sea. He's not swimming regularly yet and isn't really a morning swimmer but this was to be a therapeutic dip. The sea was very rough and I had no desire to be swept to Dunwich so watched from the shore. As I did so I noticed a bit of wood, which seemed to be floating in towards the shore. It looked big and as he was carried south I shouted for him to get out in case it hit him. It became apparent that is wasn't just a bit of wood, but an entire weathered tree, around 30ft in length. It's probably from Covehithe, up the coast which is famous for its upside-down forest; trees that have fallen from the eroding cliffs and end up sticking out of the beach with their roots uppermost. It could have been a rather nasty collision and as the tide was high this morning we couldn't see if it was still there, but it could be anywhere so I was a little nervous.

The Pirate's tutorial - He has been rumbled! One of his students had seen the magazine article about cold water swimming and had recognised him. Now I have to be extra careful to ensure I don't give away Pirate secrets as he had clearly read the blog too! Hello student.
Alde Valley festival - The Poet had been to an interesting sounding event as part of the festival and so I intend to look at the programme for the coming weekend:
Alde Valley Food Adventures
These events pop up around the Alde Valley at different times of year after the Spring Festival. They started in January 2005 with a feast of 30 dishes for 100 guests at the farm café on the A12 at Marlesford – with almost all ingredients sourced from within ten miles of the cafe. Since then the Alde Valley Food Adventures have roved up and down the valley working with pubs, cafés, theatres, museums, hotels and community celebrations. Other events have included specialist foods for the romany festival at Museum of East Anglian Life, a 19 course Alde Valley Tapas at a restaurant in Aldeburgh, seasonal “Spring on the Fromus” dinners at the Bell Hotel in Saxmundham and foods for the Aldeburgh Festival Fringe at the Pump House in Aldeburgh. 
John Irving - DK knows I am a fan and that I don't read the Telegraph so he brought an article on John Irving by Ariel Leve for me to read. Legs has offered to help me plan an Irving inspired trip to her part of the world. The article is interesting, if short and I suspect that there must be a long form version somewhere, so I'm going to search for it. I've pre-ordered his new novel described as a compelling novel of desire, secrecy, and sexual identity, In One Person is a story of unfulfilled love — tormented, funny, and affecting — and an impassioned embrace of our sexual differences. Right up my street then, but I can't see The Pirate getting into it - he doesn't 'do' novels, especially this kind!
The Bridge - We are all watching it but I banned all talk this morning as I still have episode 4 to watch. It had been planned for this evening but I have just been informed that "the most important game in the history of football" is being played between 8 and 10pm - like I care... So an agreement has been reached in this house of no TV set. I shall watch it tonight whilst he watches the game in his office, with the door closed so as not to frighten the dogs or me.

Friday, 27 April 2012

High Tide02:50 (2.20m)
Low Tide08:27 (0.90m)
High Tide15:01 (2.30m)
Low Tide21:05 (0.80m)
Sea temperature: not taken - see below
Sea conditions: shallow and rough, too rough to take the thermometer in with us
Weather: breezy, but warm, the sun was out most of the time but there were a few fluffy clouds
Joined by: Legs and Mabel briefly and The Canadian as we got out.
Topics of conversation:
The Pirate and I discussed our mothers. His is recently returned form a stint in hospital and a nursing home and the family is rallying around to support her and find professional care. He has been very down recently as a result and the sea is a necessity to keep his spirits up, so despite the rough water he fought his way out, through the crashing waves and uneven sea bed, DK and I keeping close, but taking the piss of course. My Mother has recovered well from her dog incident but the wounds on her hand is so bad that she has to go to the surgery daily to have it inspected. I hadn't realised that if an animal bite is very deep and it has reached the bone then there is a risk that the bone could become infected and they were concerned that this may have been the case, but having inspected under the wound they now seem confident that this is not so in her case. Her neck is bruised and inflamed but she seems cheery enough now that she realises how lucky she was. The poor owner of the offending dog took a tumble yesterday and has broken her wrist. It's really not been her week.  I'd met St. David on the way to the beach, he is the gentleman who drove my Mother home from the shop, blood pouring from her wound all over his car, he knows my schedule well enough to know that I'd be in the sea when it happened and so drove her home and waited for me in the driveway to fill me in. He also rescued the dog owner and took her to hospital yesterday and today, hence his new name.
Deep Heat - as mentioned previously I have been advised to try it to keep my leg warm during my swim and The Pirate said he could smell it straight away, something about it taking him back to his school days...! It didn't work, I might as well have been rubbing moisturiser into my leg and so The Pirate suggested I try some special muscle gels that his recently deceased friend had bought in bulk and on mass (to the tune of £600 worth). This was very kind and I did indeed pick up a pot of day and night gels on the way home. Unfortunately they didn't really suit me either and I very quickly developed a nasty rash, not only all over my leg but also on my wrists where I didn't wash it off after application. I've just about stopped rinsing my skin now (it's 4.30pm)!

This is just where my arm has touched my leg, so imagine the state of my leg

The CD - DK has produced a wonderful CD of various mixes of B's singing from the other day. I'll attempt to get it up here at the weekend.
The Canadian came over and warned us that here's a dead seal on the beach - locals be aware.

Wednesday, 25 April 2012

High Tide01:32 (2.30m)
Low Tide07:16 (0.80m)
High Tide13:43 (2.40m)
Low Tide19:42 (0.70m)
Sea temperature: taken 2 days ago at 8.8
Sea conditions: Very choppy, slight undertow
Weather: changing - more later
Joined by: The Poet and Jess
Topics of conversation:
Our main theme this morning was poetry, not just because The Poet was with us and had just had an encounter with Derek Walcott at uni. but also because of GCSE studies. The Poet had told us he'd be seeing Derek Walcott and we were keen to know how he had found him, "quite old" was the response. I suppose that if you have an image of someone based upon their words it can be quite a surprise when you meet them in the flesh. The Poet has been given an exercise to learn The Fall of Rome (W.H Auden) and judging by this morning's rendition, he'll have it by tomorrow. It's quite a bizarre experience to be fighting your way out to sea against the waves with The Pirate and The Poet shouting into the wind:
The Piers are pummelled by the waves;
In a lonely field the rain 
Lashes an abandoned train;
Outlaws fill the mountain caves.
Coincidentally The Pirate has a CD in his car at the moment with a recording of this particular poem read by Auden, so he's very familiar with it and is hoping to be getting an insight into it's meaning, which we struggled with a bit, although I do love: Ceasar's double bed is warm as an unimportant clerk writes I DO NOT LIKE MY WORK on a pink official form.
I'm immersed in poetry at the moment as I'm working with one of my students to cram her for her GCSE. She attends a school which is run on the principles of A.S. Niell and the students don't have to attended classes, so she didn't much. That is until very recently when she decided that exams might be useful and might help her get into college. She is one of those lucky people who is incredibly talented in most creative fields but she has not been given the tools to access literature or pass exams. It's been a challenging but very fulfilling 3 weeks for me and with some wonderful input from The Poet's son, who coincidentally is doing a PHD on literature. With a combination of his enthusiasm, the fact that she thought he was rather gorgeous and a lot of hard work, she might have a chance. Her treat, if she had completed all the tasks and demonstrated her new understanding of form, language, ideas and tone was to spend a couple of hours in DK's recording studio. She really deserved it and DK was wonderful, treating her as a pro. and making her feel comfortable. It was joy to behold as she belted out a couple of songs she knew well, and then DK played them back with a bit of reverb and added a bit of orchestration. I thought she might burst at one point, she was so delighted. As we left she waited till we were out of vision so as not to blow her cover - hyper styled grunge developed to look as if it's quite the opposite, own design tattoo, guitar over her shoulder - and squealed "OH...MY...GOD... he's sooooo coool!" Well I knew that. I'll post the finished article, which I'm going to put some visuals on for her but I am going to hold to ransom as her homework is to write a sonnet. No sonnet, no CD.
Deep Heat - the ointment that is. It has been suggested that I shouldn't be swimming in this temperature, by Mark, who treated my hamstring injury. Apparently the cold tightens the muscles and then the uneven sea floor and beach cause the them to work hard to balance, which won't aid recovery. I'm nearly better and he knows me well enough to know that he can't stop me going in so he thought I should try Deep Heat. I won't be able to get any till the end of the week but I thought I ought to give the boys warning, in case they smelled me coming over the dunes.
The weather - as is often the case. This morning it was because I had had an appointment with a beach hut cancelled due to the owner having heard the weather forecast. She has very kindly agreed to lend the hut to me for a week in July, it's one of the ones you are allowed to sleep and so I'm very excited about the idea of rolling out of bed and into the sea. Mertz thinks I'm quite mad to want to sleep on the beach so won't be joining me but I'm hoping the dogs will, I guess I'll be able to put the kettle on for the boys in the morning too. She was right and the weather began to turn as we waded onto the shore, the wind whipping the sea up behind us. It's now lunchtime and I think we've had more rain in the last few hours than we had all April last year.

I got back home to find a friend of my Mother's waiting for me, she was attacked by a dog outside the village shop and had to go to the surgery for stitches. She is shaken too (although she'll never admit to it) as he had knocked her to the ground, gone for her face and then ripped skin on her thumb. It's doubly unpleasant for her as the dog belongs to a friend. It's rare days like today when I'm glad I live next door to my Mother!

Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Low Tide03:23 (0.60m)
High Tide10:07 (2.30m)
Low Tide15:46 (0.90m)
High Tide21:48 (2.30m)
Sea temperature: not taken (see below)
Sea conditions: ROUGH with a serious undertow
Weather: very blustery and threatening
Joined by: The Poet and Legs
Topics of conversation:
The first 10 minutes were spent assessing the safety of the water, we hadn't swum yesterday due to the conditions and whilst the sea was not quite as rough it did look pretty fierce. The Poet went in first as he'd taken his top off and was getting cold in the wind and it soon became apparent that the undertow was really strong. The Pirate and I began to have second thoughts so I went in to test it and quickly decided that my feet were not leaving the bottom or I'd be dragged too far. The Pirate sensibly decided against it but in dashed the human cork. DK was less rash than usual though and bobbed along for no more than a couple of minutes.
The sky was biblical, huge clouds were forming and momentarily splitting apart to reveal a steely sun and on the southern horizon the rain was joining sky to land over Dunwich. It looked as if it was on its way, but 2 hours later and it's still not here. I hope it stays clear as I met The Shaman on the way to the beach and she is on a pilgrimage to Dunwich this morning to visit her old family home and lay the past to rest. We are working together later today and so I must make sure the heating is on and I have plenty of honey for her tea.

Village hall committees, pantos and village life - it's like an Archers script here at the moment, in fact The Pirate (who is clearly a regular listener) says that current developments would merit the special dramatic music used for moments of huge significance. Not being a fan I'll have to take his word for it, when I hear the first strains of the theme tune I run to switch off any radio, even if not in my own home. My view of the drama is clearly skewed as I was involved, on the periphery, in the panto and have huge admiration for those who give their time for the sole reward of being part of a group of mad fools who produce something that brings a great deal of joy to the village. DK, Legs, and The Poet were all directly involved as musical director, set designer and police constable respectively, and The Pirate's No. 1 Son starred so were all supporters. The Village Hall committee, however were not unanimous in their enthusiasm for the project and some felt that the daily charges levied at the panto (as well as attempts to charge for 20 minute slots) were unfair. DK gave an enormous amount of time and waived his royalties, by contrast, and so felt aggrieved that certain members of the committee seemed to see the panto as a money making exercise and last night he attended a meeting where he made his feelings clear. To be fair, some of the committee were part of the panto, and are supportive in action as well sentiment and DK received either silent agreement or verbal endorsement from many at the meeting, but one esteemed member responded less than favourably. DK described the rant with which this gentleman responded, making his wife very uncomfortable in the process in his usual way i.e. doing a near perfect impersonation of what some of us know is typical of the ranter. It seems that his argument is that the panto has become "too professional..." this is a word being bandied about left, right and centre at the moment, more than often it's inappropriate. Even the wikidefininition is clear that it means someone is paid for their services, which none of the cast or crew were, as far as I am aware - and if they were - WHY WASN'T I?!! It has been driving me mad that one of my students keeps being sent assignments by her college that insist she presents her work 'professionally' - she's a mature student, she's certainly not being paid to be a student, quite the opposite. Interestingly the irate gentleman does actually come from one of the 'traditional professions' - you'd think he'd be a bit more Christian...
professional is a person who is paid to undertake a specialized set of tasks and to complete them for a fee. The traditional professions were doctorslawyersclergymen and commissioned military officers. Today, the term is applied to architectsaccountantseducatorsengineersscientistssocial workers and many more. The term is also used in sports to differentiate amateur players from those who are paid—hence "professional footballer" and "professional golfer".

We all understand that it's easy for some people to lose their rag under pressure though, goodness knows it happened enough during the run and The Pirate admitted to succumbing to the red mist occasionally. He told us about a trip he'd been on in India with fellow Brits, one of whom had Indian ancestry, when she had been verbally set upon in a restaurant by a local, very tall Sikh gentleman, whose turban brought his height to around 6ft 9 (according to The Pirate's memory you understand). He had harangued her for being out and about with westerners and made derogatory remarks which had made The Pirate's blood boil. Eventually he snapped and shouted at the man who responded by requesting his presence outside. I'm sure The Pirate wouldn't mind my pointing out that he couldn't have physically matched a 6ft 9 burly local with a strop on and thankfully he didn't have to. He was saved by a gentle Californian dude in a Just Peachy T-Shirt who arrived as The Pirate was bringing himself up to his full 5ft 6 height and diffused the situation with "hey're ya doin?" I think I'd like a Just Peachy guardian angel right now.

Monday, 16 April 2012

Low Tide01:28 (0.60m)
High Tide08:25 (2.30m)
Low Tide14:00 (1.10m)
High Tide19:56 (2.20m)
Sea temperature: 8.2 yesterday
Sea conditions: Smooth with strong current and waves breaking on the ridge.
Weather: Sunny, hard frost overnight
Joined by: The Poet and Legs
Topics of conversation:
Would the full team be back? This was my first swim in 10 days due to the hamstring and being away from home and DK was late, and we weren't sure if he'd be there as he's still not 100% but he turned up with Mabel and Legs for support and we were whole again! The Poet thought I might be struck by a bolt of cold, freezing my leg and sending me into spasm, but not so, in fact I think it has really helped. I just swam for a short while, breast stroke only and now that I have soaked in a hot shower for an indulgently long time I feel remarkably OK. Arnica massage balm also helps (rub towards the heart), but I'm not sure that the way I smell now will be appreciated by the student I am working with this morning, her sense of smell isn't great so I might get away with it.

Dog friendly hotels - we just returned from Mertz's birthday weekend and we stayed at The Pear Tree in Purton, which is the most dog friendly hotel I've stayed in. We were greeted by towels, treats and bowls for the dogs and the owners were delighted to allow them free range of their 7 acres of gardens and vineyard. They do special dog friendly deals, with 4 course dinner included, great food, if a little 'Masterchef' in attitude and a wonderful wine list. It was Mertz's weekend so we were on a schedule and whilst it's always good to get away, it's rather good to be back.

 River swimming - I'd contemplated the Thames this weekend, we were close to the sources when we visited the Cotswold Water Park and the water was clear and inviting but there were too many cows about. The Poet has walked at the acclaimed source and found a spring and further down the water starting to flow, he'd also been there after flooding and found part of the area under water, having to wade through. There is some great walking once you are away from the developments and we walked the Thames path for some distance, coming across water meadows full of snakes head fritillaries and a strange willow sculpture, hidden in the wooded banks.

The Pirate's pants - I'd found a pair of trunks on the beach and hung them in a tree yesterday evening on my return and only when I got home did I realise that they could have been his. I retrieved them this morning and, if you are reading this dear Pirate, they will be returned to you tomorrow!

Thursday, 12 April 2012

The dog's not much help, but she tries. What was it The Viking said again? R.I.C.E. rest, ice, compression and elevation - I guess I've been RICED, that's where its all going wrong.

Still not swimming (nor drowning) so I've been wandering about at sunrise instead, slowly healing in all ways. The views here help.

Friday, 6 April 2012