Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Beach closed

DK stared mournfully out to sea and didn't hang around long as this is the second day he hasn't been able to go in, but the combination of the very rough water, strong wind and the possibility that he might encounter a floating shell were sufficient to keep him dry. It's been the worst weather for swimming that we've had since I've been part of the group, with strong currents and winds as well as the waves being deep and so we are all getting a bit rough at the edges. The LE and I walked down for a chat with Coastguard Jim, who was a bit tired and red eyed, having been in position for 48 hours and he filled us in with the detail. 
There's a dumping ground just off the coast not far from our swimming spot and due to the rough seas a couple of 'ship shells' were spotted on the beach yesterday but have since been washed out again and there have been further sightings near Aldeburgh. He's asked for everyone to be aware that there will be no access to the beach from the campsite going South. There are Coastguards positioned all the way down the beach, with high tides and strong winds forecast today and into the New Year they are hoping to conduct controlled explosions as the shells cannot be diffused and must be detonated. The Navy will be joining the operation today to see if they can locate them in the water. 
Sods law again dictated that I didn't have my phone or camera with me and we tried to call Mertz to wake him up and get him to bring the camera to the beach, but The LE's phone didn't seem to be working, then we realised that we were standing so close to her car that it was using Bluetooth inside to call him... She has kindly sent me some shots taken with her phone, as we approached Coastguard Jim into the murk and wind.

Sunday, 29 December 2013

Low Tide 00:52 (1.00m)
High Tide 07:13 (2.30m)
Low Tide 13:27 (0.80m)
High Tide 20:01 (2.40m)
Sea temperature: 5.9
Sea conditions: perfect
Weather: heavy frost, frozen dunes
Joined by: The Poet, TBC and The LE
Topics of conversation:
The temperature - both of the air and the sea. There has been a sudden drop, causing a beautiful thick frost, which painted a veneer of beauty over the mud coated marshes. It's not till the thick swathe of brown is dusted white that you realise how overpowering it is and how much the surge has darkened the landscape for the last couple of weeks. Arguably the colours this time of year are always pretty dismal, but we all agreed that this year the combination of the warm weather and the flood has made us feel bogged down. Today there was a sign of the crispness I love, proper cold, the water temperature dropping a degree overnight, although still not down to the usual 4 degrees. Getting in when it's calm and cold is one of the best combinations, allowing the water to dictate how quickly you get cold works for me and as the tide was further in than we expected it was a gentle baptism this morning. When the water is shallow and you have to wade in it can be pretty torturous. When DK used to swim in the ponds he would occasionally have to go through ice, but always the water is at the same level when it's not tidal, this must be a blessing.
Frozen footprints


This was Jagger's first frost and he'd been so excited that he'd forgotten all about breakfast, we speculated about how he will respond to the snow. That should be worth a bit of video.

Congratulations are in order, The Poet and Sara's daughter announced her engagement over Christmas and they are in full celebratory mood, even though the son-in-law-to-be is still up in Scotland, from whence he hails. We asked if he'd asked The Poet's permission, which he hadn't, but those of us who've met the son-in-law-to-be agreed that he's such a great guy that he's forgiven the social niceties of another generation. Being a Scot he's never phased by our cold water swimming and occasionally joins us after a quick 20 mile run before breakfast, so he fits right in.
Football - as Norwich had been playing Man U yesterday and DK's son is an avid Man U fan and Mertz had been at the game there was lots of chat that I didn't understand or care for. He'd been with the vicar, who kindly gave him a spare ticket and all his friends and family were also at the match but, as I understand it, you have to sit in the specific seats and he'd not been able to join the others and so had been on best behaviour. He'd managed not to swear till the very last minute, but as they'd lost he'd finally disgraced himself. He'd been out all day and as a result I'd been able to get stuck into my book and my Film Club partner and I had been down to the hut in the afternoon to watch the sun set. She's recovering well from surgery and feels the cold as a result of not being 100% but she wanted to stay outside for as long as possible so I'd wrapped her in a blanket and leant her a hat. She was concerned that she would look like an elderly relative, who been wheeled out into the fresh air but I thought she looked rather stylish. Her dog was delighted to be able to hunt in the dunes with Luna and Willow, bringing her 2 rabbits during the course of the afternoon.
Having missed the Christmas swim, being away, I was grateful that The LE had sent photos to show me the crowd going in, it looked like a great morning here, as it was in Norfolk. I'd hoped I'd be able to swim at Winterton, where we walked on Christmas morning, but a large number of baby seals had been washed down during the storm, so we had to keep away. The parents were keeping guard in the shallows and we'd missed the signs explaining the pups were sheltering on the dunes, but the dogs told us. They were terrified of them and ran away with their tails between their legs before we'd spotted them hiding in the marram grass. I can't think of a more endearing looking creature than a seal pup, they just stared up at us with those huge eyes and brought a lump to my throat, even though they seemed fine. This guy has taken a couple of great shots there: Andrew Stawarz
My new hand warmers didn't get warm, at least they didn't whilst I was on the beach or walking home, but by the time I'd meditated, had my porridge and shower and Mertz was up they'd heated my gloves up nicely in the coat pocket. We've just been for another walk on the heath and they are still toasty, so next time I must activate them before I leave in the morning. They were a Christmas present and are disposable - which is convenient, but not very ecologically sound so I'll use them sparingly.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

High Tide 00:55 (2.50m)
Low Tide 07:09 (0.70m)
High Tide 13:32 (2.30m)
Low Tide 18:57 (0.90m)
Sea temperature: 6.5 yesterday
Sea conditions: too rough for me
Weather: blustery, cold
Joined by TBC and The LE
Topics of conversation, a quick summary: 
DK's cold - he's much better, huge relief all round. He went in, I didn't. It's just too blustery for me ATM and whilst the sea is not cold I just can't risk another issue with my eyes. I think I'm going soft, or maybe just feeling a bit fragile.
The Solstice - we are all very pleased that we have had the shortest day.
The carol service - DK and the LE are 'performing' if that's the expression (I'm sure it's not but with those two involved how can it be anything but?) and The LE has to read a poem which, we had to agree, is not up to the standard of anything she would have written herself. The powers that be need to make the most of the village talent rather than getting them to recite tawdry rum-ti-tum:

But I'm sure she'll make it sound loverly... and she's asked for 'no sniggering at the back' - good job I'm not going.
Jewish penicillin - my dear friend who makes up the other half of the Film Club has recently had surgery and I've been doing her shopping/dog walking etc. and finding things for her to eat is not easy as she simply doesn't fancy anything. TBC and I discussed the benefits of chicken soup, or jewish penicillin as it's known, which she desired after her surgery and I'd love to make huge batches of for my friend, but she's vegetarian so she's having to make do with spiced pumpkin. Her dog, who is one of Luna's pups has been staying with us and we discussed the incident when he had a go at poor little (big/little) Jagger. I've since discovered that he has a thing about disciplining young dogs and makes a point of snapping at them if they are over bouncy... sounds as if I should have had him in class with me when I was supply teaching in Norwich.

Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Low Tide 04:49 (0.70m)
High Tide 11:11 (2.40m)
Low Tide 16:52 (0.80m)
High Tide 23:13 (2.60m)
Sea temperature: 7.7
Sea conditions: dark, high
Weather: dark with a cold wind
Joined by: TBC, The Poet and Sara and The LE as support.
Rock lobster dance
The Ellies are back from their travels - they have been gone for such a long time that Jagger the puppy is now Jagger the great big dog. She very kindly brought me a birthday present back from Bondi beach, where they think they swim in cold water at 16 degrees - a warm swimming costume. So today I wore it and The Pirate thought I was in a bikini, it's quite skimpy... a summer suit I think, even though it has 'Bondi Icebergs' written on the arse, so cool! We discussed a twinning between the various wild swimming areas they'd been to with our little part of the east coast and at some point she's promised me access to their photos and a travelogue which we can share here. Welcome Back to The LE, it's great to see your smiling face, even if you are not quite up for a swim yet. 
The swimming today was pretty good though, it's still remarkably warm for December, compared with recent years. The Pirate's 'twice Christmas' temperature is based on it being around 4 degrees this time last year, but this evening I went out for a late walk as it was getting dark and there seemed to be a very sudden drop in the air temperature as the wind increased in speed and swung around. It is forecast to plummet tomorrow, but then warm up again. TBC and I have taken to running up and down the beach after our swim, but today the tide had brought shingle with large stones, making it hard to run in comfort so we just jogged about a bit.
The moon - I'd met up with one of the Elders yesterday who'd been in raptures over the moonset, which I'd just missed as I came over the dunes. He's a man of the world, but even he had been knocked sideways by the sight of it on the horizon, huge and tinted orange by the sunrise opposite. This morning we agreed to meet on the river just before 7 to watch it again. As it was so much later I didn't see the final set, and it had hidden itself before it hit the horizon, but it was still pretty impressive. I didn't have my camera with me and the phone can't cope with moonlight, but I thought I'd share this compilation someone sent me from Nefeli Aggellou.
Nefeli Aggelou
This month's moon has been spectacular worldwide.
TBC and I wandered back as we'd got bored of hanging around waiting for the boys to go in so were ready to go home for a warm shower, and as were made our way to the car park we mused on the beauty of the village - regardless of it's current state of post-flood chaos and destruction. The beach huts and harbour buildings are all being dried out or taken away, depending on the state of repair and all the public car parks and paths are thick with sticky mud and reed piles. As the reeds have washed across from the marsh they have built up levels of rotting vegetation and dead creatures, caught out by the water. The saddest sight was the starlings, who didn't stand a chance. The night before I'd watched them murmur to roost in their seemingly secure spot, away from the marsh harriers, warm in their thousands. How many are lost I have no idea, but I've been searching for the survivors since and have seen a traces of them drifting off towards Dunwich, looking for a safer place, and flying higher than I've ever seen before. The Pirate saw another snake in the dunes too, the disorientation of nature will continue for some time yet and there is another super high tide predicted for January 4th.

Sunday, 15 December 2013

I haven't been swimming regularly for the last few days due to other commitments and an error on my alarm system (he pressed the wrong button apparently) so this seemed an opportune moment for a slightly unusual post. A friend wrote this short story recently and has allowed me to post it here. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do. 

Wild swimming

Standing on the beach Ellen watched the sun drag itself up to perch on the

horizon and allowed herself one shiver. 

Underneath her feet the gravel twitched as she walked down to where the water

creaked the beach. Letting the sea flirt with her she walked into the breaks,
each third wave leaving the taste of a thousand miles on her skin. 

She dipped her head, then pushed under the surface, letting the tide turn and spin her and press her away from land. Once far enough that the distant cliffs became a sketch she reached into her costume for the small pouch of dried plant material.

Skulling on the waves she crushed bladderwrack, sphagnum moss and burnt heather together, rubbing the powder into her neck. Vertical slits opened up in her skin, pulsing with the ebb and flow of her breath.

With a kick she flipped over and pressed down through the mountain of water, the song of the blind and gilled women getting stronger, lungs shrinking to nothing like the far forgotten coast and the feel of concrete under her feet.

More of Steve's work can be found here:   www.stevetoase.co.uk

Monday, 9 December 2013

High Tide 02:30 (2.60m)
Low Tide 09:07 (0.60m)
High Tide15:43 (2.30m)
Low Tide 21:05 (1.00m)
Sea temperature: 6.9/7
Sea conditions: calm
Joined by: The Poet and TBC with Sara on the shore
Topics of conversation:
The last few says have been eventful and we are still feeling the impact of the floods.The village was well prepared and we are counting our lucky stars and thanking the forethought of the agencies involved in creating our sea defence structures from the 1960's onwards. The surge hit before the high tide, and the wind speed dropped before the surge itself, meaning that although the water reached just below the top of the concrete defences we didn't have the force which was predicted. 

The river banks were breached and all of the low lying land was flooded. One of two houses were reached, but they all had time to prepare and put in their flood boards. All the wooden buildings on the harbour were below water on and off for 36 hours and the north side of the river was almost as badly hit as it was in 1953. The Harbour Inn landlord brought in a lorry and emptied the building, which ended up 5 ft deep in filthy water, but he's aiming to be open again by the end of the week. The owners of the wooden buildings here have already started their clearing up process. On a personal note we were extremely lucky with our beach hut, 75% were either flooded, damaged or even uprooted and moved into the fields, ours may be tiny and a bit tatty, but it is on the highest ground on the shore and was left on a dry island, with the sea rising in front and the flood waters from the river and marsh rising behind. http://www.edp24.co.uk/news/region_rallies_around_flood_hit_coastal_communities_as_edp_launches_norfolk_and_north_suffolk_flood_appeal_1_3089499
Reeds washed down from the marsh caught on the bridge 

Dunes devastated

Disorientated adders

The disruption to normal life was not sufficient to deter me from party plans this weekend though and on Friday friends started arriving for birthday celebrations, which lasted till Sunday afternoon. Although it's not actually my birthday till Wednesday I'm away on a course this week so Saturday was my 'official birthday'. I've had the most wonderful time with all my girlfriends here, I feel blessed, privileged, tired, hungover and emotionally drained - in a good way! My BGF excelled herself, collecting together  songs and messages from important people from my life so far and we listened to them all on Friday night so that I could get the crying out of the way before the party proper. DK compose a special birthday song for me a Beth pulled out all the stops, her voice silenced the entire group - no mean feat. There were gifts galore, including these amazing wellies all the way from Legs, in the US and Phillips baked me the most delicious cake, with home made crystallised rose petals and lavender. 

My present from Mertz was that he picked up the bill and shipped out for the weekend, he returned to a house full of hungover and happy women, to make us brunch, a brave move, especially as he'd spent the weekend with one of his oldest friends and was probably more hungover than the rest of us put together. The other brave person was DK's Son, now known as Il Faccino, who worked as butler, waiter, DJ and cleaner upper for the evening - he was magnificent, and even agreed to pose with the team.
His look says it all...
When I get a moment I'll do a little clip reel and post it here, in the meantime if any of you are reading this, THANK YOU!!! This morning I woke up and realised that the only way the weekend could have been any better would have been if I'd been born in the summer and then we would have been able to be on the beach and everyone could have felt the benefits of Dr Sea the morning after the night before, as I did.

Thursday, 5 December 2013

Low Tide 05:38 (0.50m)
High Tide 11:51 (2.60m)
Low Tide 17:52 (0.60m)
But actually it's the next tide, at around midnight that we need to be convcerned about.. "highest risk of a sea surge for 30 years".
We had a very quick dip and made the most of the calm before the predicted storm, The Pirate had had the call from the Flood Defence team, warning him that he may be able to swim around his kitchen by this evening and there is a sense that we all need to batten down the hatches.
The BBC explain the potential surge here: News Report with video
The sky was stunning though, Mother Nature is really flexing her muscles today, the boats have come into the bay to ride it out, and the birds were all on the cow fields out of the wind. I was a tad late as I just had to take these:

Tuesday, 3 December 2013

Low Tide 03:58 (0.70m)
High Tide 10:11 (2.60m)
Low Tide 16:18 (0.60m)
High Tide 22:37 (2.60m)
Sea temperature: not taken

Sea conditions: calm, grey
Weather: grey
Joined by: The Poet and TBC (The Bridge Captain has been shortened, not sure how she'll feel about that), and Sara keeping watch
Topics of conversation:
DK's apology to TBC - he'd forgotten to let her know we've moved to WST (Winter Swim Time) and was very sorry. Poor old TBC had arrived at normal time and wondered where we all were as she'd missed the announcement yesterday. DK and The Pirate had made and executive decision as it's so dark these days. This morning I'm not sure it would have made a difference, it was dark grey and looks to stay that way.
There was then one of those sequences of conversations, the likes of which never happens anywhere other than first thing in the morning on the beach, and only when we have the DK/Pirate/Poet combination. The Pirate admitted that he'd  confused Tom Daley and Daley Thompson, thinking it was Daley Thompson who had come out online. The Poet then told a joke about Camels, whose punchline was "Of course it's a female camel, I'm not queer", DK tried in vain to stop him, but he was on a roll. DK then accused him of being very 1950's and we all looked at The Pirate, who I accused of being very 1890's, which he took as a compliment.
DK is still getting over his charity event in London at the weekend, when he and his friend Maureen had been booked to entertain with song and humour. It had been a total trial for DK, having set off at 6.30 am and not getting on stage till 11.30pm. Legs had posted the following on Facebook by way of explanation:
So, report from London: DK got talked into performing his Christmas song with Maureen at a charity do last night at Leicester Square Theatre in aid of New Orleans Jazz Musicians Affected by Hurricane Katrina, or something worthy, produced by Harry Shearer and wife, also performing (rather lengthily in fact). Also Kiki Dee, Rob Bryden, Jaqui Dankworth. Others. Show didn't start until 10:15 PM. No sandwiches backstage. No coffee, no tea. No water. No expenses. No cabs home. DK and Maureen, she in high heels, trotting along Oxford St to 1:30 in the morning for one and a half hours, no cabs to be found. 
TBC and I usually go to an exercise class on Tuesday with my Arctic team-mate Mark, but dear Mark, in preparation for his Marathon De Sables has overdone it and exacerbated his old problems with his back following his helicopter accident in his RAF days. He ended up in hospital at the weekend, so certainly won't be making the LOTV's jump about today. Get well soon Mark.
Sara and I discussed the recent murmurations over the marshes, which have been spectacular. I'd missing most of the best one at the weekend, trying to race down to a view point in time, but their house has amazing views and they seen a corkscrew tower of starlings. Yesterday they'd been very keen to roost and hadn't 'murmured' much but I'd been on the marsh till dark, where I'd met a young man with cameras, who had come all the way from Dereham in Norfolk to see them. I think I'd also spotted one of The Artist's friends down on the path, but those of us who hang about on the marsh at dusk tend to ignore fellow shifting shapes in the gloom in case we scare each other, it's an unwritten rule that you just walk in silence, only acknowledging each other if you pass. Here's a little clip of the birds rushing to roost last night.

Sunday, 1 December 2013

Low Tide 02:18 (0.90m) 
High Tide 08:34 (2.50m)
Low Tide 14:44 (0.60m)
High Tide 21:14 (2.50m)
Sea temperature: 5.9

Sea conditions: calm, deep
Weather: frosty, crisp
Joined by: Just The Poet and I today, but Sara and a friend joined as spectators.
Topics of conversation:
The sunrise - it began to lift above the horizon as we met, the sky having changed colour as I walked across the marsh. The blue burned off and the sun warmed the cold off the water with flaming flecks. It was one of those morning when everything stands still momentarily. We looked in vain for signs of comet Ison, but there was only the evidence of planes travelling to Scandinavia with their vapour trails masquerading as comet tails. Such a shame.

I only had a very quick swim today, I've had another enforced break due to health issues resulting from the original infection in my eye orbit, so I didn't want to overdo it and also... it was bloody cold! The temperature had dropped considerably since my last swim, regardless of that and the fact that I was still feeling tender, it was wonderful to be back in the water and it had to be done. I'd been starting to wonder whether my foul mood (which had started to impact on those around me, even strangers, like the woman who told me to F off in the cinema) was due to not having been able to swim or the pain. I suspect more of the latter, there's a very good reason for the phrase 'like a bear with a sore head' - just call me Grizzly.
Sara's friend has a lovely dog, I hadn't met a Wheaten Terrier before and she is delightful, my phone died on me again this morning so I couldn't get a photo, but found this one.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

High Tide 01:58 (2.50m)
Low Tide 08:12 (0.80m)
High Tide 14:45 (2.20m)
Low Tide 20:03 (1.10m)
Sea temperature: 7.1/7.6
Sea conditions: good
Weather: slightly warmer, wind has dropped
Joined by: The Bridge Captain
Topics of conversation:
Exercise, before or after? The Bridge Captain had sand on the top of her hat when we met on the beach this morning, so I assumed that she had been doing her stretches, but she assured me she couldn't touch her head on the ground before the swim, only after. Our friend, who is a fitness instructor and mad marathon runner (Mark's Blog click here) has advised caution when exercising after swimming in these temperatures and I have to admit that it was because I was cold that I damaged my hamstring last year. We both agreed that you need to keep moving after the swim though, and today the tide was low and the sand wide, which is conducive to a quick jog after the swim. Now that I have shoes which are suitable for running and swimming I feel that I'm not as prone to running unevenly, but ultimately I'm saving up for some Five Fingers, which should be the best solution.

Yesterday I'd nearly lost my swim shoes and The Pirate as we came out of the sea - we'd hit a patch of quick sand, not something we've really encountered before. As we walked across the sand and then into a shallow trough before we hit the shingle it had suddenly gone soft and shifty beneath our feet, The Pirate went down onto his knees and the sand gave way, I stepped forward to grab him and my feet simply sank, and the sand sucked my shoes off. Eventually, with help from DK, we managed to get out, but it was a very odd sensation.
It had been a stunning sunrise yesterday but my battery was flat and The Bridge Captain only managed to get a couple before her's died too, but they were lovely, today I brought my charged SLR, but it wasn't a patch on yesterday.

Yesterday - thanks to TBC

Yesterday - thanks to TBC

Rain out to sea today

The squall cloud made us all get a wiggle on as we could see the rain coming. Regardless of the lack of sun there were some stunning clouds today, I had told DK that I've recently become a member of the Cloud Appreciation Society, as a result of The LE introducing me to the Gavin Pretor-Pinney books. He asked whether I now spend time in railway sidings, counting train engines too. Yes DK, I am a middle aged, middle class geek - I don't care - and hopefully he doesn't either now that I've forced him to be a guinea pig for the guinea fowl experiment. I asked him to be part of my blind tasting today, he seemed a willing volunteer and gave excellent feedback, just what I needed to confirm the Christmas menu. The guinea pigs have all just left and I've had a hyper-hour washing/clearing up with very loud music whilst Mertz and The Architect walked the dogs and now I intend to digest for the next hour or twelve, which means not moving a muscle, till it's time to swim again.

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Sea temperature: not taken - to rough
Sea conditions: deceptively strong current
Weather: foul, really bloody foul
Joined by: The Poet
Topics of conversation:
Let's crack open the huts - it was such disgusting weather that even The Pirate agreed. The wind was freezing, in fact even though it started to rain cats and dogs at about 6.45am the lane still had frozen puddles, disguised as wet ones. We rushed to the huts and as soon as we were ensconced I realised it would be foolish for me to go in to the water, having just recovered, as we've worked out that one of the things that kicks off my infection is wind, so the dogs and I sat on the bed whilst the boys proved themselves. It was just me and DK in the little hut and the other two had the big hut, so we had a chance to catch up. That is till The Poet chivvied him along as he was getting lashed by the rain waiting outside for the others.  So the girls stayed in the dry and looked miserable. DK is the second person I've met who can take a blurry photo with an iPhone, it's quite a talent. Following my realisation that it is the wind which causes problems I'm dressing for Arctic conditions by covering my face to walk, this seems to help. I stupidly googled the operation that I had, which saved my sight, but causes the issue and discovered, to see if there was anything about how to avoid it this morning. To my horror, that there are video's of the surgery being performed. I haven't had the courage to watch yet, and I didn't much like the reference to risk of brain haemorrhage but here's a link in case anyone else wants to broaden their surgical knowledge. I think I still imagine that fairies came whilst I was asleep and took away the bone and the pain. Bilateral orbital decompression
DK and I had a long chat about geriatric care as Leg's is having a terrible time in the US with the responsibility of caring for her folks, being an only child. Talking through her situation made it even more clear that the the system in the UK, if you get it right, can really work, but if you get it wrong can be fatal. My Father was so well cared for by the state in his final year because he was in full possession of his marbles but parts of his body gave up, bit by bit, so they were able to treat those elements and send nurses to deal with the medical issues in his home, where my Mother cared for him. She was fit and well, but poor Legs has 2 parents who are in their late '90s and both living at home, and there seems to be no solution as there is no NHS equivalent. If you are reading the Dear Legs, we are sending lots of love.
This picture is a close up for The Artist, who hasn't seen the that rug I made out of pyjamas, and who is not well at the moment.

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Low Tide 05:04 (0.70m)
High Tide 11:21 (2.50m)
Low Tide 17:15 (0.80m)
High Tide 23:34 (2.60m)
Sea temperature: 8.8

Sea conditions: perfect
Weather: perfect
Joined by: The Poet and The Bridge Captain
Topics of conversation:
The perfect day - I had missed a week due to ill health and had just begun to feel the psychological impact, although that could have been the antibiotics which always make me miserable. God how I had missed it. I'd been down to say hello yesterday but had been housebound for a few days and that doesn't suit me. I'd rather be outside-bound. It was a glorious day to be back though, the temperatures had dropped to 2 degrees and the water is at what The Pirate calls "Half Christmas" as it's usually around 4 degrees then. There has been a lot of discussion about the Christmas swim as those with beach hut, who usually host the spectators and provide warming mulled wine and minced pies have realised that now that there is a shingle cliff between them and the water, it will not suit. They will have to move the libations further north. I'm not here this year but I'm sure DK can coral the once a year swimmer to our spot.
The Bridge Captain is IC grandchildren tomorrow so can't swim and is hoping she doesn't miss a good day, she's bitten, that's for sure. The Poet told us of another couple in the village, whose children are anthropologists and working in Peru, they've been asked to babysit, it's quite a long way to go.
The Pirate got a ticking off for being late from DK and I didn't catch the excuse, something to do with a house full and no sleep I think. He 'took off like a stag' as Mertz would say, then The Poet fell off his stool and we used another of his expressions "HE'S DOWN!". We were all out of synch as you will see for the video below, I'm testing cameras and had one clamped to the fence for the duration, it ran out of memory but it was interesting to see how much we faff about. It's at 800% speed.

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

Low Tide 00:08 (1.10m)
High Tide 06:13 (2.40m)
Low Tide 12:51 (0.70m)
High Tide 19:40 (2.40m)
Sea temperature: 9.9
Sea conditions: perfect
Weather: frost, gentle breeze and an air temperature of around 3.5
Joined by: Just DK, The Bridge Captain and me this morning.
Topics of conversation:
The Pirate was having a harp lesson this morning so we didn't expect him.

Checking out the frost
 The weather and sea conditions - A combinations of ailments, rough water and strong currents has meant I've not had a good run recently, but The Bridge Captain and I had vowed that regardless of everything we'd go in today, whatever the sea and my health were doing. I wasn't perfect (although DK kindly said I was, which was a good start to the day) but the sea was, it could not have been more beautiful on the water's edge. There had been a frost, the first of the year here, and it had us all bouncing along, even the dogs seemed happy to be out in it (Mabel and Luna in their coats). The water was bracing, to say the least, and there was a little 'ooooing' from the female swimmers as we went in, much to DK's annoyance. The drop in temperature to single figures is worth noting as it doesn't usually rise after its gone this far, although DK noted that further out in the deeper water he managed to record 10.4, maybe that's the way forward? The Bridge Captain has admitted that she is hooked and agreed that the view is perhaps even better than that of the pool she recently swam in in Italy. We get them in the end. She didn't have a picture of the stunning view for us but we had received word from Cambodia that all is well with The Ellies and that they are managing to swim in 33 degrees in this elegant pool.

The contrast between their safety and the devastation in the neighbouring country and islands is staggering and an obvious relief, but the reports of the aftermath get worse by the minute. On my way home this afternoon I heard one journalist say that the only way to describe the state of emergency was that it was as if an atomic bomb had gone off. If you haven't already - you can donate here:

Monday, 11 November 2013

High Tide 03:49 (2.40m)
Low Tide 10:38 (0.70m)
High Tide 17:35 (2.30m)
Low Tide 22:51 (1.20m)
Sea temperature: 10.4/9.6 yesterday
Sea conditions: "Twirly" according to DK and The Poet who were the only ones to go in
Weather: very windy, warmer than the weekend - stunning sunrise
Joined by: The Poet and The Bridge Captain
Topics of conversation:
Concern for The Ellies, and Asia in general - they are currently in Cambodia, due to travel to Vietnam at the end of the week. The news from The Philippines is dire, the storm is on its way to Vietnam and concern about the stability of the border following the disputes with Thailand mean their choice of country is perilous. The reports from news agencies have been horrendous and standing on the beach this morning, leaning into strong Suffolk winds, it is impossible to imagine the strength of those battering the other side of the world. The most terrifying thing being the lack of shelter for those who lived in makeshift homes, exposed to the elements. 
Our conversations were consistently black this morning, even before the others arrived and we began to discuss the situation in The Philippines The Poet and I had had a long conversation about death. He had been profoundly affected by a poem describing a mother's death in minute and domestic detail and we mused upon whether writing, or indeed thinking about death in this way excluded spiritual thoughts about transcendence. It seems possible that the two can exist side by side and yet The Poet had had his foundations shaken by this work, making him question his own work and its validity. We also recalled the reading on the radio of Chris Hadfield's An Astronaut's Guide to Life, which we'd both heard, where he discussed the way in which they have to have drills to prepare for a death in space. It was fascinating to think of being totally prepared.
Abs had been in touch over the weekend on the same theme, since The Incident she has been having recurring dreams about drowning, and we explained what had happened to The Bridge Captain, who had been away at the time. Surprising then, considering our conversations so far and the state of the the water that DK and The Poet went in. They didn't swim, just got wet and stayed safe. 

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Low Tide 03:33 (0.80m)
High Tide 09:47 (2.60m)
Low Tide 15:58 (0.60m)
High Tide 22:20 (2.60m)
Sea temperature: 11.7
Sauna temperature: 57.5
Sea conditions: choppy and deep
Weather: windy and sunny
Joined by: The LE and The Bridge Captain
Topics of conversation:
There was a large and strangely menacing looking boat moored of the coast a little way north, and from where we swim it looked very, very close. The Bridge Captain and I climbed onto the top dune to get a better look and our perspective was totally changed, we now saw that it was quite a way out and travelling away at speed, which was a relief. We had both heard that the whale is travelling south still, so we had a cursory glance to see if we'd be lucky this morning.
Southwold Electric Picture Palace - The LE had arranged a trip here last night to see Wild Bill (with our very own Wild Bill and his Moll), a film directed by someone we had all worked with. It was my first visit to the venue, one of the smallest cinemas in the country which is run by a truly passionate and mildly eccentric gentleman called John Bennett. He introduces the films with a wonderfully dry speech, retains the "B Movie" first features and has a marvellous sense of humour. The cinema was opened by DK's mate, Michael Palin in 2002 and named after the original 1912 cinema which used to stand where our surgery is now. The LE is a member up the Southwold Film Society, which runs the cinema and so she has some sway over what is shown, having had such a great time there last night I'm determined to suggest more films that I've missed and feel would be right for the unusual venue. Although it is traditional on so many levels - there is an organ that rises throughout the stage at the interval when the organist plays '60s and '70s tunes for your entertainment, the staff wear dinner suits or uniform, and the Natuonal Anthem is played at the end, it manages to have a rather hip atmosphere. The gentleman who mans the door, in full regalia including a hat, is now my best friend as he allowed me to do something I've never done but always wanted to - he unclipped the red rope and allowed me to step to the front of the queue. Then he told me the price I had to pay was to buy ice cream for the entire audience! To be fair there are only about 50 seats and it would almost have been worth it for the experience of the evening. We enjoyed the film too. It's always a risk when it's someone's directorial debut but Wild Bill is genuinely good; at ender social comment film, with a thread of dark humour running through it, occasionally it's laugh out loud funny and ultimately it's redemptive and heartwarming. As ever Mertz struggled with the violence but is has one of the best pub fight scenes in British film and the use of language will anchor it in 2012 as will the location - it was filmed in and around Stratford during the building of the Olympic village.
We are on countdown to The Ellies great adventure, 3 sleeps to go and the various housesitting and dog sitting arrangements have been keeping us entertained for the last few weeks as the reality of leaving Jagger in charge of the house have begun to sink in. As he grows so does his access to the work surfaces and they have to amend the 'Jagger notes' daily. 
DK speculated about whether Mertz would have fallen asleep again as he was on sauna stoking duty whilst we swam and we tried to see if we could spot smoke rising over the house as we returned. He hadn't, and it was just about up to temperature (see above). We decided another sauna breakfast is due, we may have to wait till Legs is home though, can't imagine herring and waffles without her. She is much missed. I just checked back and the first one was on the 18th of November last year, let's cross fingers that she is home by then. The sea temperature was 9.7 and only rose above 10 once after that.
As we left the beach 9 swans flew overhead, clearly anticipating the strong winds that hit mid morning, they wouldn't have stood a chance later in the day. The lead swam flew over low and the others stuck together like geese, higher but already being buffeted.