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. 

Saturday, 2 November 2013

Low Tide 02:49 (0.90m)
High Tide09:04 (2.50m)
Low Tide 15:16 (0.60m)
High Tide 21:44 (2.50m)
Sea temperature: 13, but if felt considerably cooler
Sea conditions: good
Weather: see below
Joined by: The LE, her visiting friend Sweet FA and The Bridge Captain, back from her holiday in Italy.
Topics of conversation:
The weather:

The mist was thick and lying low when we all rose and the sky was blue inland. Clouds hung on the horizon and as The Pirate and I sat on the shore the sun began to rise above them. I had my cloudspotter's handbook and we found an image of a cloud formation we often see which was called the Jacob's Ladder. The Pirate, knowing my lack of religious education, told me the story of Jacob's ladder and how the angels ascended and descended, it brought to mind the Blake illustration I had forgotten about. As the sun cleared the top of the cloud there was a sudden and dramatic change in the weather, like a chemical reaction and within a minute we were engulfed in thick mist, fog even. The temperatures dropped and The Bridge Captain only slightly regretted her decision to join us, having spent the last couple of weeks swimming in temperatures between 17 and 22 degrees. She had requested that the pool be reopened so that she could swim, the Italians having closed it up as it was 'troppo freddo', and apparently word got around the valley in no time that there was a mad English woman swimming. She has a new towling outfit, which was supposed to be black, clearly something went wrong in the ordering process and perhaps if they'd seen this photo of her in her fully coordinated outfit of pink Crocks and purple robe, staring out into the misty murk they might have felt reassured.

Sweet FA was not deterred however and ran into the water with a squeal - this is not approved by The Boss (i.e. DK) who reprimanded her "No screaming allowed!" he yelled. The Drapers heard us from their hut, where they had spent the night, and fully intended to join us - so they said when we saw them later and the sun was out again, but I'm not sure that I believe them. After a dog walk and a forage for chestnuts and mushrooms we joined them for coffee at the hut to make the most of the beautiful weather and the girls scared the living daylights out of me by jumping off the new ledge. All I saw was them jump and disappear. The ledge has softened though and it is no longer a sheer drop, so I tried it too, now I know I can get back up if we need the life belt.

As DK and I helped The Pirate with his coat (the lining drives us all bonkers as it's not sewn in and rides down the sleeve) he said "Blimey! Someone's been eating garlic!" DK and I glanced at each other conspiratorially, we both had - he'd been round for Nasi Lemak, a very garlicy Indonesian dish that Mertz had wanted to try out on willing volunteers. The verdict was that it was very good indeed, but we both hate cucumber so Mertz got the hump and ate all of it, maybe that's what helps with the garlic smell...?