Monday, 31 December 2012

Low Tide06:02 (0.60m)
High Tide12:21 (2.30m)
Low Tide17:54 (0.80m)
Sea temperature: not taken
Sea conditions: Horrid
Weather: leaning into the wind and not falling over
Joined by: Sara and The Poet
Topics of conversation: 
Many and various over the last week or so, including "what are all these people doing in the sea?" on Christmas day, although there were far fewer than last year as the weather has been particularly foul. 
The reason I started to keep this blog was to help me to remember the experience of the changing sea and seasons, the diversity of interests as well as the commonality within our small group and looking back it became apparent to me that we do have a number of themes we always return to: food, family, dogs, music, religion, sleep, films/dance/telly and always nature and the weather. We seem to have life covered...
Taking stock of the year is interesting from The Swimmers perspective and reminded me that the sea has become such an important part of my life over the last 3 years, as have the people I meet each morning. As we all see the new year in this evening we will raise a glass to The Pirate, who will be somewhere in Cambodia and I, for one, will look forward to another 350 (allowing for bad weather and sick days) or so morning swims next year with exceptional company.
Happy New Year.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

High Tide02:59 (2.50m)
Low Tide09:38 (0.60m)
High Tide16:33 (2.20m)
Low Tide21:28 (1.10m)
Sea temperature: too rough to know
Sea conditions: see above
Weather: sea above
Joined by: just DK and me at the moment, the others are all away
Topics of conversation: see above and below

Thursday, 13 December 2012

Low Tide03:38 (0.70m)
High Tide09:50 (2.60m)
Low Tide16:00 (0.60m)
High Tide22:16 (2.60m)
Sea temperature: not taken
Sea conditions: choppy
Weather: a bitter, bitter wind getting up, blowing in from the sea.
Joined by: Sara and The Poet
Topics of conversation:
Again not much chat today as the wind was bitter - a 'lazy wind' as it's called here, as it's too lazy to go around you and just blows straight through you. There was one topic on everyone's mind though: Privates on Parade. The Swimmers are all going down on Saturday to see the show and The Poet was keen to know how I'd found it, I was able to be honest as DK hadn't arrived get... it's brilliant! I'm not an aficionado of the musical play by any stretch of the imagination but you have to be completely heartless to find it anything but touching. The reviews have been universally glowing, The Guardian had issued theirs online as the cast and crew (and general hangers on like me) had been celebrating the opening night at the National Portrait Gallery and as the word spread everyone desperately grappled with their canapés, glasses of fizz and smart phones to see how it had been written up. The cry went up "5 STARS!" and then the toasting really started. Michael Billington:
"Michael Grandage could hardly have made a better start to his five-show West End season than with this joyous revival of Peter Nichols's 1977 play with music. With songs by Denis King, it is much more than a star vehicle for Simon Russell Beale: it offers a heady mix of personal memoir, musical parody and jaundiced account of postwar colonial politics." (See full review here)

By 1am we were back at the hotel scoffing sushi in the bar, after Legs made her smashing entrance, scouring the online reviews to find The Guardian wasn't a one off - hurrah for DK! Oh and the rest of the rather professional and totally delightful team. They are such a great bunch and DK has really enjoyed working with them, especially the director Michael Grandage. 
The Guardian, The Telegraph and The Times were the three reviews everyone was most concerned about on the night as they are obviously hoping for a commercial success, and by breakfast they were in.
Charles Spencer in The Telegraph was captivated by Simon Russell Beale's performance - even though he was suffering terribly with a heavy cold - "Grandage’s outstanding production is also blessed with an irresistible star performance from Simon Russell Beale. He plays the outrageously camp Captain Terri Dennis, who refers to our Lord as Jessica Christ and during a moment of stress memorably announces: “You dare speak to an officer like that and I’ll scream the place down.” With his bottle-blond hair and fleshy face leering delightedly at every conceivable double entendre, Russell Beale is superbly entertaining, and offers brilliant turns in the show’s delightful pastiche songs (lyrics by Nichols, music by Denis King) with impersonations of Marlene Dietrich, Carmen Miranda, Vera Lynn and Noël Coward, all but the latter performed in extravagant drag. 

My favourite line from this review, and in fact from all those I have read so far was "It Ain't Half Hot Mum it ain't" which really sums up how the play brings the writer Peter Nichols's experiences in Malaysia to the contemporary audience in a context which is quite changed from the first run in 1977. Time Out also gave it 5 stars and a great quote for the programme: 'Apocalypse Now' given the Kenneth Williams remix or 'Cabaret' retold by Noël Coward

Variety's David Benedict name checked DK in a very favourable light too "Armed with Denis King's top-notch musical parodies and lips ever-ready to purse, Beale's wonderfully timed reveling in the role is seriously infectious. It is, however, considerably deepened by the world-weariness and the sense of bitter experience he brings to it. His hints at the private difficulties of being publicly homosexual in the 1940s, when it was entirely illegal, is all the more powerful for being suggested rather than overplayed"

I'm sure that the village trip down on Saturday will be wonderful and I know the The Poet will love it. He asked if Legs and I had managed to find ourselves glam enough for the West End, being aware of our own little dramas trying to find clothes and I reassured him that we certainly achieved some kind of glamour, although DK's description of us as "high class hookers" wasn't really what we were aiming for... He compounded his felony when we both looked at him askance by adding that he meant the kind that charge £1000 a minute, but hey - it was his night, I'll hit him later, when he's not expecting it.

Links to individual reviews:

Couldn't have offered a more solid piece of theatre
A master class in authenticity, structure and characterisation
Remains as piercingly original as it must have been when the RSC originally premiered it in 1977
Parody, political intrigue and period charm: this was more than just the sum of its Privates
This makes small potatoes of Glastonbury
a wonderfully funny show, it's panto season, and here's Simon Russell Beale in a dress - what more could a red-blooded Englishman want?

Wednesday, 12 December 2012

Low Tide02:41 (0.80m)
High Tide08:55 (2.60m)
Low Tide15:09 (0.60m)
High Tide21:30 (2.60m)
Sea temperature: 4.6
Sea conditions: calm
Weather: hard frost and ice
Joined by: Sara
Topics of conversation:
Too cold to talk.
The phone can't cope with the reds - it was deeper than this!


Sunday, 9 December 2012

High Tide05:55 (2.40m)
Low Tide12:27 (0.70m)
High Tide19:10 (2.30m)
Sea temperature: not taken
Sea conditions: shallow with a few rolling waves
Weather: Warmer, sun escaping through a gap on the horizon
Joined by: Brother Mike
Topics of conversation:
It was lovely to see Mike again, and he's here for a a couple of days as he'll be Mabel sitting whilst DK and Legs are in London. He's a regular cold water swimmer and the temperature in the ponds, where he takes his daily dip is around 3 degrees at the moment. We discussed which is easier, colder water that is still, or our warmer temperatures with waves. I felt I'd probably chicken out if the water didn't feel as if it was coming to take me but Brother Mike said he found the waves harder as you have no control over how you immerse yourself, which is part of the joy for me.
The Canadian and his wife had been round for and early evening sauna followed by venison stew last night and we were still eating cheese at the dinner table at midnight, so although I'd had too much to eat and too much to drink I had had certainly not had too much sleep and was trying to shake off cheese dreams and fuzzy head, so the cold water was most remedial. They'd told us about a day spent near Whistler, where they used to live, when the skiing wasn't any good so they'd followed some friends off into the hills where they knew of a some hots springs. The whole day was spent bathing and drinking beer by the pools, so beer was allowed in the sauna for the first time. I stuck to spiced apple at this stage but my abstemiousness didn't last long.
Theatre seats - DK was most put out when he discovered that our seats for the Opening Night were in row Q or some such, so he rang the producer to question his judgement only to be told that the reason for this is that the press have booked 150 seats. I can't work out if this is a good thing or a bad thing (story of my life really) because it's great that there are so many of them wanting to come, but having been teaching probability and averages recently I'm aware that the more bums on seat the more possible a bad review is. There again, lots and lots of good reviews has to be a good thing. It's all very exciting and Legs and I had been trying clothes out for the event at their house. I discovered that she has 2 resident Gok Wans. Both DK and No. 1 Son are honest and great at casting a critical eye over an outfit, they took me from thinking that I couldn't possibly wear either outfit I'd dug out of the box marked "posh" under the bed to feeling happy with both. What a relief. I know where to go in times of clothing crisis in the future. 
We also coined a new phrase due to autocorrect on my text message to Legs offering 'girly' input on her outfit in return. The phone turned it into 'Gorky', which now means looking glam on a shoestring by digging out old stuff we've had for years and accessorising with New Look. We've even agreed to swap shoes halfway through the evening as I'm feeling rather guilty that I've ended up with a new pair of hers as part of my outfit - thanks boys!
The Killing - the usual banter about the fact that DK had watched it and I hadn't, he's got me intrigued though with his raised eyebrows. Only an hour to wait now till Mertz gets' back from the pub and I finish catching up on Merlin in front of the fire, perfect winter evening - what will I do next winter, with no Merlin and no Killing?!

Thursday, 6 December 2012

High Tide02:50 (2.40m)
Low Tide09:10 (0.80m)
High Tide15:36 (2.20m)
Low Tide21:08 (1.10m)
Sea temperature: 6.6
Sea conditions: calm and slightly higher
Weather: frozen solid and a scattering of snow still on the ground - 1.3

Joined by: Sara and The Poet
Topics of conversation:
Turning 90 - as Sara's father does today. The Poet rang him from the beach to wish him a happy birthday and we all shouted our good wishes down the phone. He seems to be enjoying life, having recently started a new relationship and living life fully. Last night I'd seen a TED talk by Charles Eugster, a 93 year old who says that a beach body at 90 is no longer a dream and advocates "work, diet and exercise" as the way to remain fit and well into old age. He sees retirement as the slippery slope and keeps himself active as a motivational speaker and competitive rower and weightlifter. Whilst I found his talk inspirational, I struggled with his SHOUTY delivery, but here's a link anyway: TED - Charles Eugster
Another inspirational man who turns 70 next year is in the news today and DK had heard him on the radio talking about the kind of temperatures and conditions we can only imagine. Ranulph Fiennes sets of this afternoon in a ship from London on the last great polar challenge "The Coldest Journey". He is attempting to cross the Antarctic in winter, which has never been done before and he will be out of reach of all rescue services. The expedition also aims to raise £10 million for Seeing is Believing who aim to tackle avoidable blindness. 
Ranulph Fiennes
 The temperatures could get down to -90 and whilst I've some cold weather experience, this really is unimaginable. He talked about the possibility of lung damage, not just cold injuries which are well known. He puts us to shame. My weirdest cold experience was on my first Arctic trek, when the temperatures dropped suddenly and we were completing a dusk drive, the liquid in my eyes began to freeze and whilst there was little light left my only real option was to put goggles on, close my eyes and trust my dogs as they pulled the sled through a miniature forest of stunted trees bent over with snow. It's no wonder I loved them so much that I requested the same dogs on the next trip. It fell to -40 that day, but the wind chill was what made it hard, we had cold injuries in the team, but thankfully only minor ones. Today it was freezing on the beach, the shingle was solid, but there was no wind, so I went for a quick run up and down the sand to warm up before I got dressed and was joined by the dogs, who love the frost and snow.
Poorly student again - I had a call, whist I was changing, from my Thursday student's mum to say she's still not fully recovered after her hospital visit last week and wouldn't be with me this morning - now I wish I'd lit the sauna before leaving!
DK had brought an article on The swimmers with ice in their veins from the Torygraph in which the journalist asks if we are mad and claims
Winter swimming was once the preserve of an eccentric bunch of middle-aged men, but now it has caught the imagination of a whole generation of men and women, young and old, determined to prove that they have not been corrupted by central heating.
The most interesting part of the article for me is the Dr who claims that cold water swimming may help to prevent type 2 diabetes! 
Telegraph article.

Tuesday, 4 December 2012

High Tide01:22 (2.50m)
Low Tide07:34 (0.80m)
High Tide13:57 (2.20m)
Low Tide19:29 (1.00m)
Sea temperature: 6.1
Sea conditions: calm and low, reflecting my mood, as is the custom
Weather: Sun rising, frost fading
Joined by: Sara and The Poet
Topics of conversation:
DK put in a plea for a a later swim time, having muttered about it since he returned. He's right that it's dark when we get up now, but I argued against the case as I'd be watching the sun rise over the water whilst waiting for the others and don't want to miss it, so we compromised - 15 minutes later as of tomorrow. THIS IS A REMINDER.

It's cold in the water - no shit sherlock - but at least we don't have to break the ice to get in as they did in Frensham Ponds.