Sunday, 24 February 2013

Low Tide03:25 (0.70m)
High Tide10:00 (2.30m)
Low Tide15:31 (0.80m)
High Tide21:50 (2.40m)
Sea temperature: not taken
Sea conditions: terrifying
Weather: very strong wind, snowing lightly
Joined by: just DK and I again today
Topics of conversation:
Thanks to the Vicar's Wife - the 'on loan' beach hut was very welcome this morning as the wind was so strong that Mabel would probably have blown away, let alone our clothes. We were determined to go in nonetheless and being able to stay relatively warm and dry whilst getting undressed makes things a good deal easier. My older dog had refused to come down so it was just the two youngsters who made themselves busy digging under the hut for rabbits whilst we had a very quick dip. It was the kind of sea that I would not normally even think about going in but this morning I was too much in need and put my fears to one side. It was, as mentioned above, terrifying, I am not exaggerating for effect, I was actually terrified at one point but the fear only makes it feel better when you get out. I think I am going to change the quote at the top of this blog to a couple of lines from Al Alvarez's book, which we discussed again this morning:
...there's nothing risky about cold water swimming and the adrenaline rush when you dive in is inevitable. Which is why I am hooked on it. Cold water swimming is the poor man's adrenalin sport; you don't even have to be fit and it makes you feel healthy with a minimum of effort.
Perhaps I should get Uncle Mike to ask permission first.

Saturday, 23 February 2013

Low Tide02:45 (0.80m)High Tide09:29 (2.20m)Low Tide14:57 (0.90m)High Tide21:14 (2.30m)
Sea temperature: not taken (see below)
Sea conditions: rough, too rough for me but DK went in and battled the undertoad gamely for about 3 minutes before dragging himself out 
Weather: nasty north wind blowing through us and trying to take DK's towel
Joined by: just DK and I today, still no sign of The Pirate and the other two are not here
Topics of conversation:
The Pirate - he is much missed and especially on days like today when, even though he would be unlikely to swim, he would rage at the sea and wind for keeping him out of the water. It's understandable that he is staying away as he must get fully well and the sea isn't making it easy to get in. I didn't go in today, the run of bad health continues in our house and I've finally given in and had to take the dreaded penicillin as my eye socket has stared to swell again. This combined with the rough sea is not a good combination but if the water hasn't calmed by tomorrow I don't care, I'm going in, I'm beginning to suffer swimmers blues. If I feel like this goodness knows how The Pirate must feel, he's not been in for over 2 weeks.
Al Alvarez - he understands all about this state of mind, D K has leant me his brother's precious copy of Pond Life (Guardian Review link) which has me in it's thrall. Brother Mike is a good friend of Alvarez and swims with him in the ponds, I am only in the first third of the diary format memoir but its simplicity gets you straight to the point. I'm aware that things don't improve where his health is 
concerned as the book progresses, but the way he writes on the blessing of being able to swim in cold water, whatever your age, rings true here too. I asked DK about the ponds, which were once his stamping ground too and have decided that I must make a trip and try them for myself. It's a shame I don't get on better with my in laws as they live just down the road.
My entries will be shorter and without pictures for a while as I am without a computer (which is also my dvd player/TV/radio) and find typing anything of any length on my work iPad a pain, please forgive me for this. It remains to be seen whether the issue is terminal or that I can get away with a new power source. Fingers crossed.

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Low Tide01:06 (1.00m)
High Tide07:46 (2.10m)
Low Tide13:34 (1.10m)
High Tide19:43 (2.20m)
Sea temperature: not taken because:
Sea conditions: too rough
Weather: cold
Joined by: The Poet
Topics of conversation:
Mainly Agro and yes, it does deserve an 8.0 on IMDB

Tuesday, 19 February 2013

High Tide05:03 (2.10m)
Low Tide11:00 (1.10m)
High Tide17:38 (2.10m)
Low Tide23:53 (1.00m)
Sea temperature: 3.2
Sea conditions: very calm
Weather freezing, hoar frost, -2 degrees
Joined by: Sara and The Poet
Topics of conversation:
The weather was quite breathtaking and as I'd not slept (more of which later) I had been out and about taking in the views as the sun rose. The frost was beautiful and the sky was throwing shapes and sky dogs as I got down to the beach. There was no one about and as the sea was calm and the shingle was frozen it was totally silent, I resolve to make the most of these moments.

In sickness and in health - Mertz doesn't get sick often, in fact he has a clean record at his office when it comes to sick days and he's been with them a fair while now, but last night he was sick, and how. He was really very distressed and at one point I did wonder if he might need to go to hospital, but 8 hours later and he is finally able to drink liquid and hopefully he'll get some sleep. He's not up to talking about it but having played detective this morning it's got to be food poisoning, and it's possible the culprit could be rice. We seldom eat together during the week as we have very different tastes and I don't know what he ate yesterday but there is often a saucepan of white rice hanging around, which could have been cooked a day ago or a week ago. If you put 'food poisoning' into Google third on the list is "from rice" and here's what the NHS has to say under the title: Can you get food poisoning from rice?:

Yes. You can get food poisoning from eating reheated rice. However, it's not the reheating that causes the problem but the way the rice has been stored before it was reheated.

How does reheated rice cause food poisoning?

Uncooked rice can contain spores of Bacillus cereus, a bacterium that can cause food poisoning. When the rice is cooked, the spores can survive.
If the rice is left standing at room temperature, the spores can grow into bacteria. These bacteria will multiply and may produce toxins (poisons) that cause vomiting or diarrhoea.
The longer cooked rice is left at room temperature, the more likely it is that the bacteria or toxins could make the rice unsafe to eat.

Tips on serving rice safely

  • Ideally, serve rice as soon as it has been cooked.
  • If that isn't possible, cool the rice as quickly as possible (ideally within one hour).
  • Keep rice in the fridge for no more than one day until reheating.
  • When you reheat any rice, always check that the dish is steaming hot all the way through.
  • Do not reheat rice more than once.

So maybe that's it.
The convoluted trout - by contrast I'd had the most amazing supper, a trout so big that I'd had to take half round to my Mother as Mertz doesn't eat fish. The trout was caught by the wife of my Mother-in-law's ex-nieghbour, the Vicar, hence DK referring to it as the convoluted trout. She's hell of a fisherwoman and it weight nearly 2lbs, it was quite delicious. I baked it in my oven and then took the steaming pan around the back to my Mother's house, where we filleted and shared it. There was enough for 2 meals each and it was absolutely delicious. Note to self: keep on the right side of my mother-in-law's ex-neighbour's wife!
Bag lady - as is often the case I was marvelling at Sara's ability to cope with 3 children and The Poet and remain sane but she made me feel better by telling about an occasion when she had been juggling children and loo rolls, collecting them for a 'technology competition' at her son's school. She'd amassed a large bag full and on the day they were due to be taken to school The Poet had done the school run, seen the bag by the door and helpfully placed it in the bin. A Mother's instinct told her to check, and once she realised that they were on the way to school without the precious loo rolls she went into Mad Mum Mode, grabbing the bag from the bin and chasing the car half way across London to make sure Josh had the best chance possible. It was only when she encountered another mum and began to explain what she was doing that she realised she may have taken devotion a step too far.
POST SCRIPT: He lives, and speaks, and it transpires that the rice was not the culprit, but some "dodgy chicken" that may have been left out at some point... Apparently there's some still in the fridge but having bleached the whole kitchen at about 7am I wasn't aware of this. Now I've got to pluck up courage to dispose of that... I might need another espresso, but as I daren't go anywhere till he can stand I guess I've got some time.

Monday, 18 February 2013

High Tide03:37 (2.20m)
Low Tide09:37 (1.00m)
High Tide16:17 (2.10m)
Low Tide21:56 (1.00m)
Sea temperature: 3.9 yesterday
Sea conditions: deceptive - looked calm with baby waves but there was a strong drag
Weather: warmer
Joined by: Sara and the Poet
Topics of conversation:
The Pirate - he's still absent, although he did have to do the school run this morning. When I asked The Pirate's wife if he was better, by text, her reply was "a bit", which is only slightly encouraging as he has been really bad. He described himself as Victorian consumptive to me when we met on an evening dog walk, when neither of us wanted to be out of doors, last week. Having to walk the dogs is probably what kept me going, but I didn't have this terrible cough that has been the common denominator locally. Mine's been a weird fever/throat/glands like marbles/exhaustion thing, but I'm better now and hope we will soon be a complete team again. GET WELL PIRATE!!
House of Cards - I'd put off starting this till I'd felt better but a nudge from someone whose judgement I trust means I'm now hooked and I'd banged on about it to DK when we swam unaccompanied by the others yesterday and now he's hooked too. The show hasn't had universally good reviews, but I loved the original and Kevin Spacey manages a new line in creep, quite different from Ian Richardson's arched eyebrowed cynic. DK shivered when he talked about Robin Wright's performance as 'the wife' and we agreed that Kate Mara is wonderful as the journalist, Zoe Barnes, he brilliantly recalled the original actress as Susanna Harker - he has a memory for blondes. We're catching up on Breaking Bad at the moment too, so having thought February was going to be a TV dry month following the end of Borgen we are well served yet again. I only hope that the problems I'm having with my iMac don't put the kibosh on that as it's my only means of viewing (it's struggling to cope as I've reached my last possible upgrade and the Mac Doctor is booked for a prognosis).
Rigolleto - Sara and The Poet had been, at the weekend, to see a production which was staged in a Las Vegas casino and they were clearly still undecided about it. Out of curiosity I found this clip and I don't think I'm sure either, there's something very wrong about opera being sung into a microphone! 
Dreams - DK and I had discussed dreams the day before as I'd had nightmares about my dogs and had been very relieved to find them both alive and well in the morning. One of my students had sent me this michael McIntyre clip last week about how dreams stay with you, especially when they are about your partner being unfaithful, they do if the shoe is on the other foot too!
Apparently this mild weather is not going to last, we've been lulled into a false sense of security, the temperature is due to plummet again on Thursday so I hope The Pirate gets back in before then.

Saturday, 16 February 2013

High Tide02:00 (2.50m)
Low Tide08:14 (0.70m)
High Tide14:33 (2.20m)
Low Tide20:13 (0.80m)
Sea conditions: calm - glassy
Sea temperature: not taken
Weather: warming up slowly
Joined by: No one 
Topics of conversation: None, I swam on my own at sunset, the water reflecting the reds as I swam out and as I got out of the water my wet skin glowed in the light. I've missed the sea so, so much and even though I'm not 100% better this made me feel as if I am. (I nearly felt as good as this little elephant.)

Sunday, 3 February 2013

High Tide02:42 (2.50m)
Low Tide08:58 (0.70m)
High Tide15:20 (2.20m)
Low Tide21:05 (0.90m)
Sea temperature: 4
Sea conditions: calm but with 100 yards of shallow, making it hard to actually swim
Weather: hard frost, freezing point and a cold wind from the south
Joined by: The Poet
Topics of conversation: 
The shape of the beach - it's changed dramatically over the last few days with the high tides banking up the shingle and exposing a smooth, wide expanse of sand which continues at a level for a long way before there's even a hint of a trough. This has also cleaned the beach and it's really at it's best right now, but this doesn't make for goos swimming as it's just too cold to wade all the way out to the deep water. We gamely splashed about in the shallows and I did a bit of running in the thigh high waves. In fact I've just remembered that as we were going down to the water The Pirate suddenly broke into a canter, pulling me along like a gambolling foal, I was so surprised that I went along with it till he said "let's run till we fall over!" which he's doing rather a lot lately as he said yesterday that he has the wrong feet on.
Tonsillitis - a friend was supposed to be staying with me this weekend but on her way here yesterday morning she'd had to turn round and go home as she's a single mum and he's got tonsillitis for the 4th time. He's also had glandular fever and the two seem to be connected. None of us could work out why they don't take them out for certain and there was speculation. I remember as a late teenager, when I used to suffer with it, someone said they don't remove them so that the infection doesn't spread elsewhere. When I looked it up on the NHS site it seems to suggest that only children get it, which is news to me  and they simply say: Surgery for tonsillitis is now usually only recommended if:
  • your child has five or more episodes of sore throat due to tonsillitis in one year
  • the episodes of tonsillitis are disabling and are disrupting normal activities, such as school work
We all dressed very quickly and for the first time in ages my feet really suffered and I had to stamp about to get the blood going again. There was to be no hanging around and so The Poet took the quick option and grabbed Alf, The Pirate's blind, cantankerous and smelly black terrier (who I have a serious soft spot for). He managed to make Alf look like a ventriloquist's dummy, which kept us all amused right back to the car park.

Cars not having spare tyres any more. The Pirate has a flat and so the RAC have to come and tow him to Quick Fit, I just don't get why they have stopped using those little skinny spare ones, they don't take up much space and mean you are not stranded. I put 'run flat' ones on my Mother's car as I didn't want her to be stranded anywhere and there's no way she could change a tyre these days due to her arthritis - they were ridiculously expensive but it had to be done. It was at this point that The Pirate admitted that he wasn't sure if he had a spare or not... He's always saying I'm a 'real man' and I was temped to say he's 'such a girl' till he called to DK and said "she's being mean..!" I rest my case.
In Bruges - we dumped into my Film Club friend on the way home and she had recommended that I watch this, so I had to thank her. I'd always avoided it in the past as I have issues with Colin Farrell, but as I had an unexpected evening in due to our change in plans, (as well as enough food to feed the 5,000) I'd watched it and I'd loved it. The tagline of the film is "Shoot first. Sightsee later." and it has a scene that had me laughing so hard I stopped breathing, it's on You Tube, but not suitable here.

Friday, 1 February 2013

High Tide01:17 (2.60m)
Low Tide07:35 (0.50m)
High Tide13:47 (2.30m)
Low Tide19:31 (0.80m
Sea temperature: not taken (for ages - must rectify tomorrow)
Sea conditions: choppy but quite safe
Weather: foul, really, really could. Rain, wind, cold, miserable.
Joined by: no one
Topics of conversation:
Being joined by no one - this was due to the weather for the last couple of days. The Pirate and I are making use of the beach hut in order to a) keep our clothes dry, b) make things easier in general for The Pirate as it gets a bit hairy in the wind and rain when you are trying to dress and balance without your stick, and c) to keep my skinny long dogs from getting soaked and glaring at me as they wait for me to get dressed. The others are either made of hardier stuff or find removing a wet suit in a confined space with other people impossible without pinging Neoprene everywhere and so have gone for the getting wet clothes option over the last few days. The Pirate and I are creatures of habit and so we also see each other on our early evening walks most days and the last couple have provided soft sunsets.
Reeds above my head

Spong Bridge

Dug, the beach hut and friends

From Viking bridge

We met up with The Poet on the way home and again I told him how much I have enjoyed reading his latest masterpiece, I shall apply for permission to blog extracts once it is complete, as well as DK's memoir. Watch this space for exclusives, the Sunday Telegraph will have to watch out....