Monday, 28 January 2013

Low Tide05:06 (0.60m)
High Tide11:26 (2.40m)
Low Tide17:02 (0.70m)
High Tide23:27 (2.60m)
Sea temperature: 3.5 at last look
Sea conditions: calm, coming in apace
Weather: frosty with a chilled breeze but the snow has finally melted
Joined by: Sara and The Poet
Topics of conversation:
We're missing DK, who is a little under the weather with 'a chest', and The Pirate was late so we did think it may just be 3 of us today. The Pirate has admitted that if we tell him our meet time is 30 minutes earlier he might be there in time. I think I'll just ask The Pirate's Wife to change the kitchen clock.
We were able to shake of the night and The Pirate referred to the dark gloom of sadness rising like a scum and floating away and we briefly toyed with it being more like silt and sinking to the bottom, but in the words of John Irving 'Sorrow floats'. This is the first occasion the sun had risen as we went in for ages and by 7.45am we had a clear sky and swam in golden light. It was a very lifting experience. 

I'd had a text from the dog hunt co-ordinator on my way to the beach to tell me there was an article in the local paper about Maisie being reunited with her owner and I've just heard that she's also in the Daily Mail!

Thursday, 24 January 2013

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Low Tide00:34 (1.10m)
High Tide06:54 (2.10m)
Low Tide13:07 (1.00m)
High Tide19:41 (2.20m)
Sea temperature: not taken
Sea conditions: too rough for The Pirate and I
Weather: the thaw has begun
Joined by: The Poet
Topics of conversation:
The snow sea-maiden - who made her? Last year The Pirate's No. 2 Son made a huge snowman and so I suspected him, but The Pirate didn't think so. She was beautiful but by the time I went for my evening walk she had but melted away, into a sad pile of driftwood, seaweed and pebbles. I've just read a story from New Fairy Tales called The Ice Baby by Carys Bray and finding this the next day was quite extraordinary. In the story the ice baby is given a real heart by her maker, our sea-maiden's lot is not so happy. The Poet felt a poem coming on, or perhaps even a saga... 

I found this for him by Nils-Aslak Valkeapää (1943-2001), Sámi poet and artist, who won the Nordic Council Literary Prize in 1991 for his book The Sun, My Father (1997):
and time does not exist, no end, none
and time is, eternal, always, is
rises, falls
is born, dies
days, years are rounded
snow melts
buds push
the river of life
into deep pools
in motion
the trek in the heart
rounded off
life’s circle
or end

Monday, 21 January 2013

High Tide05:41 (2.20m)
Low Tide12:07 (1.00m)
High Tide18:43 (2.10m)
Sea temperature: not taken but felt about the same 4-5 degrees
Sea conditions: still surprisingly choppy and mashed up under foot
Weather: snow, quite thick this morning, little drifts off the dunes up to my knees in places on the way down.
Joined by: Sara and The Poet
Topics of conversation: 
And we're back - it's all back to normal at last. The full team was there this morning and we were all able to get in, although it did get a bit hairy as The Pirate and I went into the trough, just as a decent wave came at us. There was an unexpected and very deep dip and The Pirate was quickly whisked out so I made a grab for him and didn't let go till we were safely back on land (sorry if it was not very dignified Pirate!). Sara had a revaluation that her wearing a wet suit benefits the group as a whole, which I hadn't realised and am now really grateful for: if any of us got into serious trouble in this weather we wouldn't last 5 minutes in these temperatures, but she has the protection of the wetsuit. So it's official, not only is she fully trained as a First Responder but she's our go to girl in case of swimming emergencies due to her ability to stay in for longer!
The Swimmers taken by Sara

Snow on ice on the lane
The beauty of it all - the light has been amazing over the last few days and there was actually an argument about which day had been the most beautiful, proving it's in the eye of the beholder.
The Sauna is really coming into its own at the moment, not just because the snow is thick and deep enough to roll in but because our oil was due to have been delivered last week and they haven't been able to get out to us so we're keeping warm by lighting the fire indoors  or staying in the sauna. As we came down this morning the snow plough/gritter was churning up the street but it never does the small lanes so it's unlikely that they will come today either. As my Mother lives in the adjoining property it's more urgent. Mertz is determined to be snowed in so that he doesn't have to go south tomorrow and in the words of his mum "survive on love and coconuts".
Even DK had walked down this morning, not wanted to risk driving on the beach  track over the sluice bridge as it's lethal. I'm paper girl in this weather in my Mother's stead, and we all walked back up to the shop after our swim. Luke, the bar manager at our local came, running out into the street on seeing us and called "We're open! Come on in!", it's a little early for a pint but I was tempted by the offer of bacon and eggs. 
Although I enjoy my maths course I have to say that I relieved that I don't have to go today.

Sunday, 20 January 2013

High Tide04:19 (2.30m)
Low Tide10:54 (0.90m)
High Tide17:45 (2.10m)
Low Tide22:59 (1.10m)
Sea temperature: not taken
Sea conditions: rough, massive current, scary
Weather: freezing with a very strong north wind
Joined by: it all went to hell in a hand-basket today as some of The Swimmers had been out and about in the village last night and needed a lie in, others were being godly and others were still not well. Sara and the poet went in at normal time, complete with hangovers, and reported back to me in bed, still not feeling 100% and listening to the wind rattle the house like a matchbox and DK played the Joker card by taking his yearly lie in. I did join DK down on the beach later to see if we could get in but it was just too low and too rough. Our routine has been disrupted this last week by the cold and ill health, but the water has kept in the 4/5 degrees area, so warmer in than out and it's good to be able to make use of the beach hut. It is a godsend. The swimming itself is not what makes it hard in the cold weather, when the wind gets up it is simply impossible to get dressed quickly enough unless you have some shelter and this is debilitating. The forecast is for snow and the wind to drop, hopefully we will be back to normal soon. 

Wednesday, 16 January 2013

High Tide01:02 (2.70m)
Low Tide07:29 (0.40m)
High Tide13:48 (2.30m)
Low Tide19:25 (0.80m)
Sea temperature: 4.7
Sea conditions: calm and shallow
Weather: snow and ice, temperature -5
Joined by Sara
Topics of conversation:
The Pirate's Odyssey - having left his hospital apt at 2pm yesterday The Pirate and The Pirates' wife had taken 4 hours to travel around 2 and a half miles as the 2 inches of snow and freezing temperatures had caused the city to come to a standstill. He ended up going to London as it was easier than battling his way home and he's still there! We discussed this country's inability to cope with snow and how it wasn't just the lack of planning from councils etc but that so few Brits know how to drive in snow. Legs is American/Norwegian and in her part of The States blizzards, hurricanes and ice are common; DK told us how she has the inbuilt ability to drive blind and safely into a blizzard without fear. She needs to give some of the Norfolk Numpties on the A47 a lesson, it was closed all night. I'd been looking after Bosco and Alf, who took over the sofa and generally seemed to enjoy their Home Alone experience but they were still very pleased to see me first thing so I'd brought Bosco down to the beach with me. He runs down, I had no idea! He crawls back as if he's in pain but now I see that it's just a ploy... He's not getting away with that!
La Grande Odyssee - my dog sledding friends are taking part in a sled race in the alps again this year and I'm following their blog: teratours blog They were in third place this morning but 2 of the dogs are poorly so I'm crossing fingers that they don't have to retire. Jess looked like a trekking husky this morning as her breath began to freeze around her face as it caught on the soft hairs

Jess's breath had frozen on her face - no wonder we were cold!
The Poet is live, his chat with manonabeach is on You tube for all to see and he is his usual poetic, smiling, enthusiastic self.

More Zero Dark Thirty chat as The Viking had been to a Q&A with Kathryn Bigelow and reported back to me the day before, DK was discussing the lack of character development from his point of view and we got on to watching films more than once. Sara has seen 4 films this week, a record even for her and recommended Les Miserables, which she said even her 'cynical children' had thoroughly enjoyed. She also recommended Quartet specifically to DK as the incidental characters are all played by musicians.
Sunrise from Viking Bridge
The sunrise was so stunning that I almost forgot that I needed to round up Bosco, the snow had been cleared by the tide but the evening before it had been virgin on the sand as the village is so quiet at the moment.

The first snow yesterday

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

High Tide00:18 (2.70m)
Low Tide06:46 (0.30m)
High Tide13:03 (2.40m)
Low Tide18:46 (0.70m)
Sea Temperature: 5 yesterday
Sea conditions: calm and low
Weather: dusting of frosty snow
Joined by: no-one
Topics of conversation:
WELCOME HOME!!! The Pirate is back after a month away and it was so lovely to see him. He was very big and brave, having been in the warmer climes of Cambodia and swimming in heated pools at 38 degrees. He went straight in with no messing, and didn't swear at all, what a pro. I didn't really have time to catch up with all his news as I had to get off to work but he did tell us about spending a memorable Christmas travelling on the back of an oxcart staring at the stars. No doubt there will be more tales to tell, but the weather isn't conducive to hanging about. It's snowing as I type and seems to be settling, so tomorrow will be no easier.

DK and The Pirate
Oddly today is the anniversary of the first micro-photograph of a snow crystal, taken by Wilson "Snowflake" Bentley in 1885.

Saturday, 12 January 2013

Low Tide04:24 (0.50m)
High Tide10:41 (2.60m)
Low Tide16:38 (0.70m)
High Tide22:47 (2.70m
Sea temperature: 5.2
Sea conditions: gentle waves
Weather: bitter wind but not as cold as forecast
Joined by: No one - just DK and I today
Topics of conversation:
I'd forgotten my towel - DK was dismayed and appalled that I would get dressed wet so when we finally got out of the water he insisted on my sharing his towel - that's what friends are for!
Yesterday we' been joined by the manonabeach again - he's back in East Anglia and as I'd been in a rush and the others were late I'd swum on my own but it was not my kind of sea, there was a massive undertow. The dogs had been guarding my stuff when I went in and as he came on to the beach they went bonkers so it was a little scary at first to see someone I couldn't recognise standing there, but once I'd realised who he was and I was rather relieved to know there was someone there, not that I'd have expected him to rescue me. He asked if he could do an interview 'What does the beach mean to you?' but I had to get off to have blood tests so once The Poet, Sara and DK were there he managed to persuade The Poet to be filmed so I await that with interest.
Tarantino - DK had seen Django Unchained last night and we discussed the Marmite effect of Quentin Tarantino, i.e. you either love him or hate him. We have one of each in our house, and I'm looking forward to seeing it although his outburst on the news the other day has turned me off him considerably. Admittedly it wasn't a great interview by any stretch, and I can see his point but he did behave like a brat, with no charm or respect.

Varg Veum - Mertz was given the DVD's of this series for Christmas by his brother and whilst these are the early ones and a little clunky I thoroughly enjoyed 'Midsommer Murders' in Norway last night. It's really nicely shot and the lead is male and gorgeous, which makes a change from all the other Scandi dramas The Swimmers are hooked on. I suspect I'll have to lend this to The Pirate's Wife!

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Low Tide02:27 (0.70m)
High Tide08:46 (2.50m)
Low Tide14:53 (0.70m)
High Tide21:11 (2.50m)
Sea temperature: 6.2
Sea conditions: Calm, hardly a wave
Weather: 0 degrees, frosty with a cold breeze, it's on its way down
Joined by: Sara and The Poet
Topics of conversation:
DK - was he alright? I'd been for quite a circuitous walk before I got to the beach and had spotted his car head lights approaching and then stopping on the sluice bridge. The car didn't move for about 10 minutes, by which time Sara and The Poet had arrived and I was getting concerned. It's an odd bridge and people have been known to get stuck on it as it's only wide enough for one car and has a bend in it. Sara was very relaxed and said he was probably just chatting some poor woman up. What at 7.30am? Actually, yes. When he arrived I expressed my concern about his wellbeing and he replied that a 'very nice woman' had tapped on his window to enquire if he was DK, she's a writer and she'd heard about him and his morning swims. She's moving to the village is considering joining us so DK advised her to wait till it's warmed up a bit, which judging by the forecast, won't be for a while.

DK - was his email account alright? Either he had been up in the middle of the night sending grammatically incorrect emails out to all and sundry or he'd been phished. He thought about it for a moment and then remembered that Legs had had a sleepless night - maybe it had been her? He obviously hadn't appreciated the full story, the day Legs sends anything out that's grammatically incorrect is the day hell will freeze over, so yes, he had a problem. 
Teenage students brains - my Wednesday student returned having failed to revise for her maths exam, which wouldn't be too much of a problem as she's rather bright, but she had also forgotten to turn her brain on. Having 3 children who've all been through exams in huge quantities over the years Sara was supportive of my frustration but also pointed out that teenage lifestyles are not conducive to good memories. How true. I had been regaled with tales of her new years eve, which lasted uninterrupted for 36 hours and seems to have involved partying on the tube most of the night "because it's free". I don't/can't use tubes (pathetic I know) so the idea of choosing one to celebrate in makes no sense to me, so I shouldn't have been surprised by her answer to an exam question that afternoon:

Question: Write, in figures, the number - one hundred and five thousand and two
Answer: 100 + 5000 + 2 = 5102
I need a miracle.

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

Low Tide00:11 (1.00m)
High Tide06:36 (2.40m)
Low Tide12:57 (0.80m)
High Tide19:29 (2.30m)
Sea temperature: 6.9
Sea conditions: the kind that would be lovely in the summer 
Weather: mild, 9.5 but damp and so very dark this morning
Joined by: The Poet
Topics of conversation:
Gloves - for some reason The Poet didn't have his with him and it became apparent, very quickly, that even though the sea is still warm (as it was this time last year) gloves make a significant difference. He wasn't in for long.
Zero Dark Thirty - DK and family had watched it last night and his son had texted me to say how much he'd loved it and DK seemed to agree, although having spoken to Legs later in the day she felt there was an element of history missing from the character played by Jessica Chastain (one of my favourite actresses of the moment, ever since I saw her in Coriolanus). 
There was much debate about the film being based on a true story and the link to Homeland and the Israeli original, Prisoners of War. It's certainly been hitting the headlines, not just because it's winning awards left, right and centre but because of the controversy over the depiction of torture and even investigations by the senate into the sources used to help make the film authentic. Director Kathryn Bigelow answered criticism by saying: "I thankfully want to say that I’m standing in a room of people who understand that depiction is not endorsement, and if it was, no artist could ever portray inhumane practices; no author could ever write about them; and no filmmaker could ever delve into the knotty subjects of our time,"  The down side of the film being gripping and 2hrs 45mins was that DK hadn't had a very early night.
In stark contrast the poet had been to see Life of Pi, which he'd loved. 
 It's not my scene, but there is no doubt that Ang Lee has thrown everything at it and the website. My Film Club Partner and I have become so accustomed to seeing it trailed at our local cinema that we both close our eyes when it comes on, she and I are not good at having our hearts wrung by stories of innocent or captive animals dying.

Talking of hearts, mine had a lead weight on it this morning having finished my latest book last night, Independent People by Halldor Laxness. It's such dark tale that I've had to have an upstairs book and a downstairs book on the go and the Independent People are left downstairs so that they don't enter my dreams, I have the gentle tale of The Summer Book by my bedside. 
Having said that I had had great news too - my 3 days a week student had her interview at Kingston College yesterday and has been offered a place on her chosen course of Music Technology. We are all delighted for her as she is very talented and the course should provided her with what she needs to take herself to the next level. Now we just have to make sure she passes her exams - and I just heard the the 'June' exams she's now been registered for take place at the start of May... bugger.

Friday, 4 January 2013

High Tide02:22 (2.50m)
Low Tide08:41 (0.70m)
High Tide15:00 (2.20m)
Low Tide20:38 (1.00m)
Sea temperature: 7.2 yesterday
Sea conditions: calm, grey
Weather: ridiculously dark
Joined by: Sara and The Poet
Topics of conversation:
No DK or The Pirate today, I'd forgotten that whilst The Pirate is home from his Cambodian adventure, he is now in France, on retreat. Having not left the country since the mid 80's he's clearly back on travelling form. DK is off galavanting in London with Legs and Lovely Liz, whose performance on the beach is immortalised here: Brecht and Weill

The shifting sands - the sand banks here move about as they see fit, and their unpredictability can be disorientating. Today the tide was much lower than the table suggested it should be and we could see small waves breaking about 100 yards out. There was a trough in which we could just swim so I stayed there as I wanted to really stretch my body this morning, having spend most of yesterday evening curled up in a ball in front of the fire with a book. Sara and The Poet went to investigate and sure enough they were soon standing almost parallel with the end of the pier and only up to their ankles in water. We all had stories of times in the distant past when we'd been caught out by these banks that appear and disappear, I'm sure that there was always something moving about out there in my memory, a kind of sand creature, toying with us. It reminded me of a more malevolent image by John Kenn Mortensen - I love his stuff.
I'm off for a couple of days with my BGF before term starts, she lives miles from the sea so I shall miss it, but I miss her, so there is a pay off.

More John Ken Mortensen in The Guardian:

Wednesday, 2 January 2013

High Tide01:02 (2.60m)
Low Tide07:18 (0.60m)
High Tide13:34 (2.30m)
Low Tide19:09 (0.90m)
Sea temperature: not taken but gave me an instant headache so I think it had gone down but DK disagreed (vehemently as usual)
Sea conditions: Very low and calm
Weather: colder but still beautiful.
Joined by: Sara and The Poet
Topics of conversation:
Swimming at sunrise - as we all drifted, one by one, to the deserted beach this morning we had a swathe of rare dawn green hanging above the horizon and below a cloud bank, which has since covered the village. The sun hadn't risen but the glow across the sand belied that, there was a golden warmth which stilled us. Once we were in the water the sun flickered on the distant dark line and finally rose as we came out. Yet another occasion when I wished I'd brought my camera, my phone is fine for most things but the the iPhone 4 cannot handle sunrises or sunsets like the 3 and especially seems unable to detect the green dawn, I wonder how it would fare with the Northern Lights. I'm going to see if I can resurrect my old Canon Ixus, which has really done it's time and has sand in the mechanism, so seldom opens, but always reproduced colours faithfully. Regardless here are a few shots of the sun this morning.

A Poet on the horizon
Love is kind of like when you see a fog in the morning, when you wake up before the sun comes out. It’s just a little while, and then it burns away… Love is a fog that burns with the first daylight of reality. 
(Charles Bukowski)

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

High Tide00:24 (2.60m)
Low Tide06:39 (0.60m)
High Tide12:57 (2.30m)
Low Tide18:31 (0.80m)
Sea temperature: 7.3
Sea conditions: beautifully calm and deep but a bit murky
Weather: 4.3 and crisp, sunny with no wind to speak of
Joined by: The Poet 
I should really mention that we swam late today at 9.15, it happens once a year and this, along with the beautiful morning, meant we were actually joined by lots of people taking their New Years Day morning strolls. Some were local, others were holiday home people. There was also a large party having a breakfast picnic, they were still there when I went for a late evening walk to watch the sun set and had lit a large fire, put up wind breaks and seemed to be settled in for the night. I don't suppose they'll be expecting us at dawn tomorrow...
Sunset from Viking Bridge
Topics of conversation:
The dogs - Poor Jess is still a little wobbly on her feet, having had a small stroke a few days ago, but she seems to be getting stronger, thank goodness and Luna was back on the beach for the first time since she had an operation last week to remove some nasty lumps and a tooth. Both the old girls were clearly pleased to be out and about, but neither was interesting in running and showing off their turn of speed as they used to. We'd all spent a lovely evening celebrating with Sara and The Poet and family in their wonderful home which is a suitably long way away from the main fireworks to keep the dogs calm. Although DK had done his best to scare the living daylights out of everyone. We raised a glass to The Pirate in Cambodia and we think he may be back with us tomorrow, at least the water temperature is not too drastic for him, I know he was worried about having become accustomed to swimming in warm water whilst he's been away.

Sara's serious swim - Sara didn't join us as she was meeting up with 2 other serious wetsuit swimmers later in the day, although she loves rough seas the calm water suited today's aim of actually covering some distance. I'm looking forward to hearing all about it tomorrow as I am afraid the sauna called me from the beach, I could have sworn I could see a little wisp of smoke beckoning me over the treetops. My Christmas presents had a distinct sauna theme this year, which was lovely. I can thoroughly recommend this book: The Modern Sauna