Thursday, 7 March 2013

High Tide06:26 (2.20m)
Low Tide12:26 (1.00m)
High Tide18:34 (2.20m)
Sea Temperature: hovering at around 4 degrees
Sea conditions: calm, cold, grey
Weather: see above
Joined by: The Poet
Topics of conversation:
I've not been able to post recently as a result of technical issues and work/exams, but having replaced my computer and got through the worst exam on Monday (algebra/number) I'm hoping to get back into the swing, so this is a summary of the last week or so's topics (and weather by way of pictures).
The weather has been improving and as if by magic the first of March brought with it a calm and sunny day, with the air temperature rising considerably. The overall mood rose with it and I bade farewell to February, my least favourite month, with relief. It's not been a great one this year. Illness has been rife in our group and The Pirate is still struggling to shake his cough, which is exacerbated by the cold air and the cold water first thing in the morning. We finally got to the bottom of Mertz's violent illness, new information came to light after he had been bed ridden for 2 days following a call from his mother, who has been equally sick, in fact they have worked out that they had simultaneous d & v that night. They both ate oysters at Sunday lunchtime and the sickness cannot be a coincidence, we all feel. Although we assumed that these things move more quickly, a quick surf shows that this is not always the case with oysters and in fact they have recently been found to harbour the winter vomiting bug norovirus. The NHS reported on this in November last yearNHS online  we bought them from the harbour and so he's going to let them know in case it was a bad batch, which has hit others. His mother is frail and it has really knocked her for 6, having seen the state he was in I can see how she will not be recovered for some time. The Swimmers joked that as the oyster his mother ate originally had my name on it, I was trying to poison them both at the same time, I prefer to think that she took a bullet for me, she's like that.
Pond Life - DK and I have been discussing Al Alvarez's book at length over the last few days, as he kindly leant me his brother's copy, and I have now changed my header to reflect it's impact upon me. Whilst I was sick I felt I wasn't recovering quickly enough for my liking and reading the book helped me to crystallise why I find recovery harder now that I am a cold water swimmer. It's not just that I miss the swimming when I'm sick, but the more days that pass without a swim the lower I feel. I cannot judge whether this impacts negatively upon the length of my recovery, but it certainly makes it more painful. The book takes the form of a diary, over a period of years, and is open from the start that he is addressing his own mortality. It is painful to read about the inevitability of decrepitude but it chimed with me, even though I haven't reached 50 yet, especially in relation to the two-way impact of not swimming when you are unwell. The addictive nature of cold water swimming in relation to other physical exercise must be hard to understand for those who greet us on the way to the beach in snow, wind and rain with comment like "NUTTERS!" and I wonder if Pond Life would have such an impact upon them. He advocates The Three S's, which you can't possibly argue with, and the positive thing about getting older is that you have more time for all three and surely they can only help make the ageing process more acceptable. It's also made me realise the differences between sea swimming and pond/lake/river swimming as we do see changes in the sea conditions and weather each day but not the surrounding wildlife or plant life in such an intimate way. I have enjoyed lake and river swimming but never swum in the London ponds and I want to even more now, if only to meet the characters, human and avian.
There has been much discussion about The Pirate's sartorial elegance - in this weather we aim to get off the beach as quickly as we can after the swim as there is a point at which the body temperature suddenly drops. If you can get dressed and moving before this moment in time then you can usually feel your feet when you get home, otherwise you haven't a hope in hell. This morning The Poet decided that I get dressed quicker than anyone, this may have to do with the Arctic trekking or to do with having to get dressed and out of halls of residence in the morning at the speed of light when I wasn't formally a resident, regardless it is a valuable skill and one which I hone by wearing clothes which are easy to put on. The Pirate on the other hand is hampered by  a couple of limbs that don't operate well in balmy temperatures, let alone freezing ones, but more importantly for the purposes of this debate - he is hampered by inappropriate clothing. Sara and I are determined to get him kitted out with new shoes for a start - thin tussore socks and wellie clogs might be comfy but they a so fiddly and the coat, whose lining is padded but has a mind to separate from the outside layer whenever an arm goes anywhere near it doesn't help, nor does the plastic zip. A few stitches here and there and a strip of valcro are in order. The Pirate's wife knows a fine seamstress, perhaps we should hand it over to her, alternatively I found this rather fetching onesie:
That's all for now, catching up will take some time as we have had so much to talk about recently.

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