Sunday, 28 April 2013

High Tide00:38 (2.60m)
Low Tide06:49 (0.50m)
High Tide13:01 (2.50m)
Low Tide19:11 (0.50m)

Sea temperature: 8.2
Sea conditions: still, calm
Weather: chillier but sunny
Joined by: 4 seals
Topics of conversation: 
It was just DK and me this morning but we were joined by 4 large grey seals, which didn't look grey at all but were glossy black, like polished jet. At first just one appeared a little way off, which we have become almost accustomed to, but it was obviously the advance party as within a couple of seconds we had two of them up close and personal. Then another pair appeared just south of us. They were clearly curious but also seemed to be courting each other.The closest pair were dancing in the water and raising themselves up, touching noses gently, then looking at us and flicking their tails. The sun was really bright and the sky was white so they really shone and we were close enough see water drops on their whiskers. Once we were out of the water they swam of towards Dunwich and I wasn't able to get a photograph but this image gives and impression of our experience.

DK has just returned from Ypres and his experience had moved him, which he had been prepared for but I don't think anything can prepare you for the sheer scale of the loss of life. One guide had explained how it wasn't just the volume but the speed at which the men died that was shocking - thousands in hours of sustained massacre. I have the sense that it was the futility of it all that has impacted on DK most and the indiscriminate loss young men in their prime. 
The memorial service - Will's father gave the most honourable and brave eulogy. He spoke about his son with love and honesty and touched the hearts of the overspilling church. He'd been understandably nervous that he'd not be able to speak but afterwards when I spoke to him and said how moved I'd been, he replied that he didn't think he'd be able to get through it but "when you love someone that much it turns out that it's easy". He came over yesterday and we all agreed that the day could not have gone better and that Will would have approved. Will's brother has returned to London and his parents have declared the official mourning period over, which we will respect.

Friday, 26 April 2013

Update post holiday

Low Tide05:22 (0.40m)
High Tide11:41 (2.50m)
Low Tide17:41 (0.50m)
High Tide23:52 (2.60m)
Sea temperature: between 7 and 9
Sea conditions: calm, murky with seaweed
Weather: pretty warm and sunny till this morning when the rain arrived 
Joined by: Sara and The Poet, Mertz, Legs, Jo the Artist
Topics of conversation:
Apparently the tone had deteriorated in my absence. Whilst I was away I had 2 messages from The Swimmers to say that it had become quite 'boyzy' without Sara or I to maintain decorum. I'm not sure I brought any higher standards back with me but it has been a lovely few days of swimming since Monday.
I'm so glad to be home, whilst it's great to have a break and do absolutely nothing, it would have been nice to have been able to have a choice, but the weather in Thailand was not conducive to moving, let alone exploring the countryside other than on a moped so that you got a breeze. It was stunning though, so just staying home and staring at the mountains was a good way to spend a couple of weeks. The water in the sea was bath temperature and had I taken my thermometer the start of a Thai Swimming blog would have read:
Sea temperature: 30
Sea conditions: still, shallow, clear with jellyfish 
Weather: 40 degrees with humidity of 80%, tropical storms most nights
The contrast was pretty shocking on Monday, but I'm really back into it and today my body didn't tell me it was time to get out for the first time in ages.

Doing nothing 
There was lots of catching up to do all round, we discussed the prospect of a new beach hut for the swimmers as I have just reached the top of the waiting list and hope to take over a hut that had been owned by a friend of my Mother, which seems right somehow. Mertz joined us on Wednesday as he is home all week recovering from an operation on Tuesday. It was much worse than he expected and I'll be surprised if he is able to drive next week as he has lots of stitches in his shoulder where the basal cell carcinoma was removed, but he is relieved that it's gone regardless of the pain. Legs and Mabel joined us today and Wednesday as DK is away with The Architect and no.1 Son on a trip to Ypres. As always she arrived at 7.30am looking as if she'd walked out of Vogue, whilst Sara and I hopped about trying to change out of soggy costumes/wetsuits and into warm tracksuits and wooly hats, it's always good to be reminded that one should make an effort...! Jo the Artist joined us to, it was so lovely to see her on the beach too, we haven't seen her hear since the autumn when she swam with us and brought her completely original humour with her. She been a bit poorly and not up to the cold but she and Legs carried on walking down the beach as we left, well I say walking but the sun had obviously gotten into their bones and they danced about like new born lambs trying out the springs in their legs! It really is good to be back.

Mabel sitting on an invisible plinth
Sadly the main conversation this week has been the devastating death of Will Smiley, whose parents are friends of all The Swimmers, and Willow and Luna's 'godparents'. His memorial service takes place today and the family have asked for 'no black and no po faces'. He was a Liverpool supporter so the wearing red will be no problem, but it will be a tough day all round, he was a wonderful man and far too young to die at 35. He will be sorely missed. 

Friday, 5 April 2013

Low Tide00:35 (0.70m)
High Tide07:26 (2.20m)
Low Tide13:09 (1.00m)
High Tide19:08 (2.20m)
Sea temperature: not taken
Sea conditions: terrible, rough with large destructive waves
Weather: still blowing a gale
Joined by: The Poet
For the third day in a row The Pirate and I have not been in and DK and The Poet have braved it out but spent around 20 seconds battling the waves and the Undertoad before admitting defeat. It's been ghastly. I've not got long before I go away and I NEED to get back in the water, if only to feel alive enough to cope with the journey. We discussed Pond Life again as DK gave The Pirate a copy for his birthday and I was reminded of the sense of doom and despair that he describes as taking him over when he hadn't swum for a few days as I mooched home. Although I'm not really in the mood for travels at the moment I shall be glad to get some warmth into my bones.
Alan Bennet - I'd had a friend staying last night and we'd been to see the NT Live production of People and seen The Poet there. Whilst she and I had left singing "downtown" at the tops of our voices we all found it a rather peculiar play.
Frances de la Tour was exceptional, as always, but we felt grateful for her candour in the preceding interview when she talked about the way in which Bennett had structured some of the language. "People don't talk like that" she had said to him, to which his response was "It's called STYLE". There was a sense of style over substance in the second act, in fact it almost felt like 2 plays. The first being in his usual framework of social comment through English eccentricity with elements of humour creeping in, but by the time we settled into the second act it all went to hell in a handbasket with what can only be described as farce. I struggled with that.
People - NT Live
The tide has taken away part of the beach and we now have a shingle cliff below the huts. It would be very dangerous to swim there at high tide, as the drop is more than a man deep. It has happened before, a couple of winters ago, when the chestnut paling fence was taken out to sea and it's always a reminder of the power of the water.
 Mabel wasted no time in finding the warmest spot on the beach this morning:

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

High Tide03:17 (2.40m)
Low Tide09:17 (0.80m)
High Tide15:35 (2.30m)
Low Tide21:46 (0.70m)
Sea temperature: 3.4
Sea conditions: shallow and splashy
Weather: bitter wind still 
Joined by: Sara and The Poet
Topics of conversation:
April fools - we talked about various pranks over the years, including the San Serif one from the Guardian and whilst searching for a reference I found this Guardian blog, which covers some of the others we discussed as well as those that could've been, but weren't: Guardian April Fool blog
Baldrick's poetry - DK and I recited Balrick's war poem for The Poet as we'd been discussing his impending trip to Ypres:
The bloody wind - this morning would've been so much more pleasant if the wind hadn't been blowing, the sea was cold but it still felt better to be in than out. The sea temperature was hovering between 7 and 9 at this time last year so the cold March weather has certainly delayed any spring warming of the water. It was this time last year that both The Viking and I damaged our hamstrings and I had an enforced rest from swimming. This year it'll be a different kind of rest for me as I'm going to warmer climes later. The Viking is skiing again but hopefully will return fit and well.
Chickenpox - The Pirate wasn't with us as his granddaughter has chickenpox so can't go to the childminder and he is in charge. I  hadn't realised how complicated and dangerous it is and that all the other nasty things like shingles and herpes are related. Sara is an expert, having had all 3 of her children suffer with it as tiny people, in rotation, in their eyes, poor sods. I had it as an adult when I was working in London and came down with it whilst staying here for a long weekend. This meant I couldn't go back to work and spent 2 weeks  feeling a bit crap, having no appetite and being in quarantine, which effectively meant sitting at the deserted end of the beach and sunbathing without any clothes on to dry up the spots. When I went back to work my grumpy boss wouldn't believe I'd been ill as I'd slept like a log, lost a stone, and got a tan. As I write this I realise that this is what I'm hoping to do on holiday, but without the feeling crap bit.