Wednesday, 10 September 2014

Sea temperature: 16.5
Sea conditions: calm
Weather: clear, crisper than it has been
The moon had been spectacular last night, not only was it a 'super moon', but also this is the harvest moon season, the closest full moon to the Equinox and moon mythology dictates that it is a time of clear skies. This has been the case for the last 36 hours, with the sky clearing in time for the moonrise over the sea. The dogs and I decamped to the hut as the sun went down, just in time to get the candles lit and the telescope set up to watch it rise, amber over the sea, casting its path on the water.  Willow hunted, Luna gazed at her namesake and geese skeined over, heard but not seen - its hard to adjust from the tiny eyepiece to the wide sky without making your eyes water. Just watching the moon alone through the 'scope was magical - it was so big that it filled the lens totally, which makes it hard to photograph, but the detail was intense. At one point a passenger plane crossed in front, which startled me, I couldn't hear it but suddenly the silhouette crossed, trailing its distorting wake, blurring the surface. This morning it was still there as the sun rose. Here are a couple of shots from my phone.

Tuesday, 9 September 2014

Sea temperature: 16.4
Sea conditions: calm
Weather: it was glorious but quickly clouded over - I met The Weather Oracle on the way home and she said we will have the worst of it today, the only cloud will be on the east coast apparently.
There's been a formatting change on the website I get the tides from, so the above is a cheeky screen shot from till I work out the best way to lay out the info, it shows the main event of the day - not just a full moon but the last 'super moon' for a long time, so this makes the cloud even less welcome, as I was planning an evening of moon gazing. 
Yesterday I'd seen The Poet briefly and he'd asked that I take a regular photo to mark the changes in the shape and structure of the beach and this morning there was a marked change with new levels of sand coming higher and over the shingle. The easiest way is for me to stand where I swim, in front of the hut, and shoot north and south. 
Today this was the view and so is Shifting Sands #01.

The sun is lower in the sky now and yesterday at 6am the mist had been heavy in the low fields, but I hadn't had my phone with me, so no pictures. Today there was certainly a slight chill in the air, but I managed to get out before it clouded over, The LE came down to the water's edge as I was getting out and Jagger had a splash about, whilst Willow swore and shouted at him, all the while wagging her tail. She's such a bitch. The hut doesn't get the sun till later now, as it's behind a ridge, so hadn't warmed up. 
Sunday had been hut clear day and I'd painted the inside (blisters to prove hard work), and this had meant emptying the contents out first. The beach was quiet and so I had the space to myself, but a chap walked past at one point and asked if it was a beach hut or a tardis after he saw what I'd piled up outside. The next job is going to be insulating the roof, using leftover insulation from my Mother's recent work on her house, it's over egging it a bit, as the walls won't be done, but the insulation is free so in the words of an old boss: SNT (silly not to) and hopefully it'll be a little warmer in the winter. One day I'll build a new one, with insulated walls, that is as big as the regulations will allow and have a built in kitchen like the bigger ones on our stretch. It'll never be to the standard of the 'posh huts', like one The Drapers have, with bunk beds, wood burner, gas oven and fridge etc. but they have different rules and have more or less lived there all summer. 
The Artist is not well, I'm hoping she may read this and I can send her love over the ether and help her to stay in touch with Dr. Sea via this blog.
Stop press: just heard from The LE that there were 4 swans swimming in the sea this morning - so sorry I missed them, they might be the 4 I saw last year. She sent this, the swans are far left:

Saturday, 6 September 2014

Low Tide02:12 (1.00m)
High Tide08:30 (2.40m)
Low Tide14:48 (0.70m)
High Tide21:22 (2.40m)
Sea temperature: not taken
Sea conditions: calm
Weather: misty and grey
The tides were perfect this morning for me to take the board down to the beach just as the swimmers were coming out, so we had a quick chat but I wanted to get to the river mouth before the tide turned so had a quick hug with DK, who's back from his travels and jumped on. The water was very calm and the mist was thicker the further out I went, but it was easy going. The Ice Cream Lady was further up the beach with her family and we waved, I hadn't realised she'd taken this picture, which she'd put on Instagram before I'd even got home. I love it! At the river mouth I encountered a sailboat going out to sea, but they were drifting along so slowly that they hardly made a ripple, it was only where the strong eddies met their wake that it got a bit wobbly. I remembered Jochem saying "just kneel down if it get's wavy" so I did, and was able to power through the ripples. Going up river with the tide at this time of the morning is effortless and silent, you hardly have to paddle. But when I stopped to check the time and take a photo and was motionless on the board for a few moments in the calm at the top of the meniscus, created by the river walls, the board slowly turned around to face against the flow and I began very slowly inching upriver, backwards. I find it all fascinating and have booked a lesson in the surf next Friday evening, if there is any, so that I learn about that side of paddle boarding too. After all, it's not going to be calm all winter...

I'd asked Mertz to walk the dogs over and meet me at Novoboats with a top and some trainers so that I could walk home in comfort and not feel like a prat and the timing was perfect. Just as I reached the Bayley bridge they were coming across it, the poor dogs didn't know what to do, but I'm hoping to train them to walk parallel with me when I go upriver so this was a good test. As I turned against the tide it was slower going but they stayed  with me even when Mertz got ahead, so maybe it'll work eventually. There was a young guillemot struggling against the tide by the bridge and I'd have loved to have given it a lift to wherever it was going. I rescued one last year and they are such beautiful birds. 

The dogs were still with me by the time I got back to the slipway, and they greeted me there, then we all walked home together. Unfortunately Mertz had forgotten the shoes and top so I had to walk along the tow path and through the village in my wetsuit and my swimming shoes - a long soak in the bath and foot balm was much needed on my return. I love weekends.

Thursday, 4 September 2014

High Tide06:11 (2.30m)
Low Tide12:22 (1.00m)
High Tide19:05 (2.30m)
Sea temperature: 17 degrees
Sea Conditions: good, little rollers
Weather: slightly misty, sun low and glowing
The last few days have been stunning on the beach, that kind of weather that makes you gasp, not from the cold but from the magic of light. There's been a golden light every morning and every evening, way beyond 'magic hour', more like 'magic 3 hours'. I took advantage of no commitments and paddled upriver on the board yesterday at 5.15 on the high tide. There wasn't a soul about and the water was slow by the time I reached my new favourite mooring post. Waiting for the water to slacken I rested in the reeds and then drifted back, occasionally dipping the paddle till the wind got up and I had to put a bit of effort in. As the mouth of the river came into view it felt as if the tide had turned back, but it was the funnel of wind powering west against me. Back at the slipway the sun was going down and some Webblets were on the Studio balcony waiting for the unrivalled view of the sunset that they get from there, if I hadn't been so shattered by then I would've joined them.


'Joined by' and 'topics' are not relevant at the moment as I don't see the group to swim with, just occasionally as I'm walking home. This week I caught up with The Pirate briefly and he told me about his impending adventure to New York. It all sounds very exciting and I'm rather jealous. In true Pirate style he seemed more concerned about whether or not it was acceptable to wear shorts in the city.
The LE sent DK and me an update as he's away at the moment, his photographic update, sent from Legs, follows:

Watched a wonderful John Betjeman documentary last night on BBC4, in which much was made of his love of Cornwall and the coast. He said: 'I so enjoy watching the sea that I wouldn't mind if all television programmes were just about breaking waves and sea noises. Living inland makes me so long for the sea that I sometimes find the longing becomes unendurable'.
Aren't we lucky?

In other swimmers' news...
Sunday morning - The Pirate swam early  ( as he had to do the reading in church) and found himself bathing with sea nymphs. Two naked  20 something girls frolicked in the surf and had to head for Dunwich with his eyes closed.
Monday morning, his first words were 'I wonder if they'll be back?'

Also on Sunday. Jagger had been praised for good behaviour and excellent recall and I was starting to relax. But then, there was a yelp from Sara, 'He's peed on my jacket!' Back to the naughty step.

TBC and I are planning to start a collection of the Walberswick Wallies Stone  Family - stones with faces. Not necessarily hagstones, just ones with eyes and a mouth or nose. We'll start a children's bowl in the Anchor. Barmy or a good idea? Bit of both.

The Artist swam out, on this beautiful morning towards a shaft of sunlight, announcing she was going to float away to  meet her Maker. 'Not today, I said 'I want to go to Waitrose.' It would have meant hanging around and paperwork and you know how busy that car park gets, after 9.

Come back soon, DK, we miss the singing!!

DK's current swimming site, it looks as if they've got some serious issues with the H&S exec - never seen so many 'do's and don'ts'!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Low Tide 05:06 (0.90m)
High Tide 11:19 (2.60m)
Low Tide 17:34 (0.60m)
High Tide 23:58 (2.40m)
Sea temperature: not taken

Sea conditions: grey
Weather: grey
Joined be: no one
It's feeling really rather autumnal here today, the air temperature has dropped and it was on 8 degrees inside the hut this morning. The Allotment Bonfire Captain also decided it was time and lit the huge pile at dawn, as there was no wind and the smoke was going straight up. The weather is due to get wetter by the hour, so his timing is great, but the smell made it even more autumnal. The aftermath of the weekend is also obvious, with litter everywhere, but I see no point in clearing it today as we still have this Bank Holiday to go - nor did I mention to the family with a full size tent, bonfire and barbecue on the beach that it was not best practice. I don't like confrontation, especially first thing in the morning.
We've got 3 dogs this week and Raffi has a tendency to bully other dogs, so I'm trying to keep him by the hut whilst I swim, but he's a natural hunter and takes his little sister under his wing and off they go. On Saturday Mertz came down later for breakfast and found us all snuggled up - they did all settle and it was actually warm enough to sit there till about 10.30.
Mertz seems to have found the 'autumn' filter on his phone!
David, the Drone man sent me this link to some of the footage he shot over the beach, it's really interesting to see oneself swimming in the sea from above!

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Low Tide 01:29 (1.00m)
Low Tide 02:05 (1.00m)
High Tide 08:29 (2.30m)
Low Tide 14:38 (0.90m)
High Tide 21:22 (2.30m)
Sea temperature: 16 - a massive drop in a very short time!

Sea conditions: perfect but markedly colder
Weather: glorious
Joined by: no-one, but I did see the others as I was leaving
I say no-one, but I'd met David Hughes yesterday, a photographer who is staying in the village and has been on the beach first thing the last couple of days. I first noticed him when I heard a familiar sound above my head and followed it back to him as his drone went home. I hadn't realised that they do this if their batteries get low, it's rather sweet. David is a professional photographer: here's his website and is just starting to work with drones, so a quiet beach on a summer morning is a great place to get  in some practice. He was modest enough to say that it's easier than it looks, but that wouldn't be hard, it looked like you need to have exceptional powers of concentration as well as being able to think backwards and upside down. Here are some shots he took of the water's edge, they really make my heart sing.

This morning wet met again and talked moving pictures, and then I swam for a good time as the water was my kind of temperature, I like this cooler edge. As I was floating on my back I looked up and there, about 50 feet above me was the little drone, I nearly waved and then though "idiot, it's a robot".... I look forward to seeing the results once he's had time to edit it.

Friday, 15 August 2014

A strange structure, but what Vivienne Rickman Poole, a regular contributor to the Outdoor Swimming Society, has to say in this music video/documentary short film rings true to me. It may not to everyone, I accept.  
High Tide 02:20 (2.50m)
Low Tide 08:11 (0.70m)
High Tide 14:26 (2.80m)
Low Tide 20:52 (0.40m)
Sea temperature: not taken
Sea conditions: very calm, low tide 
Weather: Sunny, light breeze
Joined by: Mertz and Abs
I haven't swum with the usual group much lately, but there has been a great deal of getting wet; sea water, fresh water and rain, lots of rain between the sunshine. This week we've been on holiday, with friends from the Middle East staying. They've been joining us on the beach and most days we've had at least 3 swims. Late starts have been followed by relaxed mornings at the hut with coffee, breakfast and sandcastles. The Drapers have been around too, so it's been a social time of food and drink and sun. We're back to work next week, so when our friends left this morning, and Abs had been for her shower (she's staying at the campsite again this year), we decided to make the most of the weather, which we thought was going to be glorious, and loaded the dogs into the car to try other places to swim. 
The Deben
The stretch of the River Deben we chose turned out to be too silty so we went on a long and very wet walk, during which we sheltered in a beautiful church at the end of a lane in deepest Suffolk whilst the rain came down like stair rods. Mertz was so wet (he doesn't do waterproofs) that he had to take his shirt off and wring it out and the dogs were drenched.

Twice we attempted to set off again, but each time we returned to the shelter of the church, wetter with each visit. Finally it cleared and the sun eventually came out and there was a stiff, warm breeze so by the time we got back to the car we'd almost dried and felt we deserved a good lunch at The Ramsholt Arms, on The Architect's recommendation. They have a dog friendly bar and the Luna and Willow took to a family beside us on the other side of an unused fireplace. When the dogs eventually settled down it was in the fireplace itself, posing like statues. Someone actually came over to check they were real. 
Another walk in the afternoon deeper into the countryside and on a pilgrimage to a spot I'd been recommended by The Shaman for peaceful and private swimming. It was very hard to access due to the recent rains, which caused some flooding and there were 2 huge oak trees that had recently fallen across the path but I was not going to be deterred. It was idyllic and I'm going to return once a month over the next few months to observe the changes in the surroundings. Something I've discussed with DK is the way in which the sea does not have the same seasonality as his old haunt, the Highgate/Hampstead ponds, this spot has the same aspect, overhanging trees, banks and plants in the water. I feel a photo diary addition to the blog coming on.

Saturday, 2 August 2014

High Tide 03:04 (2.30m)
Low Tide 08:40 (0.90m)
High Tide 15:12 (2.50m)
Low Tide 21:21 (0.70m)
Sea temperature: varied between 19.4 and 20 on my morning swims this week
Sea conditions: a very shallow week, calm
Weather: today was cooler due to overnight storms
Joined by: The Usual Suspects, The Vicar's Wife and The Good Shepherd.
There had been loud and pretty violent storms from about 4.30 onwards and the water was surprisingly clear as a result. The Pirate had heard it all kick off but had then managed to sleep through the rest but DK hadn't even heard it due to his 'noise machine'. He often sleeps surrounded by recorded sounds of rain and other soothing natural delights, so it's hard to distinguish between these and the real thing. We'd been woken by the first rains as our bedroom acts like a drum, being in the attic of an old workshop, and then once the thunder kicked off the dogs became very unsettled. When Mertz opened the door Willow was halfway up the stairs, shivering, so the rest of the morning was a write off. The water felt very warm, but I'd left my thermometer in the hut so didn't take it but it'll certainly be a 2 or 3 swim day, so I will later.
Trigger has joined Mabel in being a chauffeured dog, they look so smug coming down to the beach in their little carriages with their drivers. I just received this picture from TBC with the caption: Attached Trig and Mabel, don't know who the old gits are with them!

The Pirate was in a deliberately Eeyore-ish frame of mind this morning and wound me up so much as we were gong into the sea, hand in hand, that I let go and pushed him in. He had it coming. To get his own back, as we was floating around in the silky smooth and blood warm water after our initial exertions, commenting (as so often we do) about how very lucky we are to be able to do this every morning, he turned the conversation to The Book of Revelations and the Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea bit. He is alarmingly well versed in doom laden scripture. The Poet commented that he has a friend who populates his Facebook page with quotes from The Book of Revelations, I can imagine that it sits rather oddly alongside grumpy cats, petitions to sign petitions and selfies. 
DK, The Poet and I had been to a delightful summer garden drinks do at Wolfie and The Yogi's last night where people had asked me if I'd seen the shark on the beach, as these people were both well known jokers I'd brushed it off, but one of the Webblets had left a comment on my Instagram account saying it was true. Turns out it was a dogfish, which has now gone. Whether it was removed be human or canine scavengers or just someone trying to stop their dog rolling in it I don't know, but all evidence has gone.
I'd woken feeling as if I'd been for a run, which I hadn't, and it took a while to work out that the aching legs were due to wearing 6 inch platforms last night - and this reminded The Pirate about a surgeon who had been examining him when men wearing heeled boots had been all the rage. The surgeon had asked to see the boot and had taken them out of the room, was gone for some while, and when he returned he handed the boots back without any hells. He'd sawn them off.
Jess is getting confused as we all come out of the sea these days and has attached herself to at least 2 men who were not The Poet this week. She's very wobbly too, but still has grace and elegance when she moves in a straight line. She's also taken to standing in the shallows, which worries me after her little plunge in our pond.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Low Tide 01:23 (0.80m)
High Tide 08:03 (2.30m)
Low Tide 13:51 (1.00m)
High Tide 20:16 (2.30m)
Sea temperature: 19.2 yesterday

Sea conditions: good, a bit murky
Weather: grey 
Joined by: The Usual Suspects and The New Yorker
Topics of conversation:
Jess had been to stay at the weekend and there had been a drama and this was the first time I'd seen The Poet since, so we discussed it. To cut a long story short she had fallen in our disused swimming pool, which is full of water and yet disused because we have the sea and because the water is stagnant and not chlorinated. I heard the sound of her hitting the water and by the time I got there she had gone under, she's 15 and frail and couldn't even tread water. I saw her starting to sink so somehow got that strength you get when the adrenaline kicks in and got her out. She was very, very digressed and so I just held on to her till Mertz arrived with towels. I didn't think she was going to make it, but she is a fighter and after much love and towelling and roast chicken hand fed in tiny morsels she suddenly rallied, stood up, ears erect and began throwing herself on the carpet to finish the drying off process. It was as if she had been reborn, by the time we took her home in the evening I was having to run to keep up with her as I dare not let her off the lead and she was bounding along the lane.

The curative power of water is something we all experience daily, here's a 90 year old who pretty much sums it up in this beautiful 7 minute film. Watch it.
Waves - A Portrait of Maria รก Heygum

Sunday, 20 July 2014

Forgot to publish this one

High Tide 03:37 (2.40m)
Low Tide 09:17 (0.80m)
High Tide 15:36 (2.60m)
Low Tide 22:09 (0.50m)
Sea temperature: not taken today but 18 degrees three days ago

Sea conditions: strong waves bashing the shoreline, then a calm deep bit, then big waves with a scary undertoad
Weather: very warm, sunny at 6 but it had started to become very dense in the air as we arrived at the beach and he sky had totally thickened, obscuring the sun by 8
Joined by: The Usual Suspects (apart from TBC)
Topics of conversation: It was the first time many of us have swum together for a while, DK was way in France, The Artist has been on a course, then The Pirate was in Wales and I was in Gloucestershire. I don't swim with the team as regularly these days (hence a less frequent blogging - there's not as much conversation when I'm on my own) and seldom on a Friday as I am usually on the early shift. This week is upside down though, so I'm WFH on The Architect's website today. It was lovely to see everyone, including The Artist, who didn't fancy braving the first layer of waves. She still got wet though.
The Pirate shared an anecdote with me this morning, which the others had heard, and is apposite to this blog:
He and his wife have been on their holidays, it seem the main objective seems to have been to try out their new glamour tent before WOMAD, and one of their stop overs was Holwell in Wales. The town takes its name from a holy well (St. Winefred's well) and has some status on the pilgrimage map as a result. The Pirate was missing his morning swims and so, being a man of few inhibitions, struggled into his Speedos in the little tents provided for those brave enough and made his way to the edge of the well with The Pirate's Wife attempting to disown him. 

The well was surrounded by tourists and pilgrims and earlier they had identified a group as being three generations of one family who were speaking a language they didn't understand - he assumed they were northern European and as he approached they all went silent. The Pirate needs the support of a stick to walk and getting in and out of water can be precarious, be he managed and found it to be the perfect way to cool off, relax and in his own way, to pay his respects. Refreshed he clambered out of the water to a still hushed audience, until the oldest of the family showed that they were actually Irish travellers who had been speaking gaelic, but she switched to English and said, crestfallen "oh, it didn't work then...".

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Low Tide 01:03 (0.80m)
High Tide 07:51 (2.20m)
Low Tide 13:27 (1.00m)
High Tide 19:51 (2.20m)
Sea temperature: not taken, I must remember to take it tomorrow
Sea conditions: Calm and deep
Weather: sunny, but terrible forecast
Joined by: I swam early but the others were getting in as I was getting out so I saw The LE, TBC and Sara and the Poet, which was nice. DK and Legs are in France, finishing off his memoirs and The Pirate and his wife are in Wales. 
I haven't blogged for over a week, and here is no point trying to catch up, but sadly Legs's father died last week. She has written a wonderful obituary, which can be found here: Obituary for Odd Knut Ronning It really is a very lovely tribute to a man I wished I'd known.

The sea has been very warm and mostly calm, although it whipped up a frenzy on Saturday, with rain like needles and crashing waves. I didn't even try to get in a went home before I had to watch DK try not to drown.
Both Jagger and Willow had birthdays last week and The Ellies held a small and exclusive party, for their one year old English Setter with attitude, on the playing field - it's the only place in the village that is fenced off and so mabel was allowed to run free, but she was rather put out that he didn't give her his undivided attention apparently. Willow and Luna had to send their apologies so we made up for it with champagne on the beach on Willow's birthday. When we arrived at the hut there was a card full of gravy bones and a brilliant card from Jagger.

We had our first jellyfish of the year last week, just a single tea plate sized moon jelly, and it didn't sting, but it's a sign that the water is heating up. It's also a sign that we should expect our American neighbours to turn up - they are always here for 'the summer' and usually arrive at the same time as the jellyfish, which is a shame as they love to swim. 
Paddleboarding update - I've now been to sea on Jochem's board, he kindly took me down and stayed on the shore whilst I went up and down and tried various turns, jumping off, getting on and generally messing about. It was much harder work as the sea had become a bit choppy, but it was quite exhilarating. He's hoping to make a start on my board soon, so I'm looking for inspiration for the design.

Saturday, 28 June 2014

High Tide00:02 (2.30m)
Low Tide05:46 (0.80m)
High Tide12:06 (2.50m)
Low Tide18:19 (0.60m)
Sea temperature: not taken today - 16.4 on Thursday.
Sea conditions: a bit murky, perfect depth, and coming in.
Weather: it had been sunny at fish but the mist had descended and brought a chill with it.
Joined by: just TBC, The LE and me today, but The Pirate's Wife came to say hello before her run, with Bosco trailing behind.
Jagger had found a new friend and was busy quailing himself with him by running round and round in circles barking a great deal. He's about three times the size of the new friend, a white Jack Russel cross, and yet the newcomer had him whipped. The Ellies have employed a trainer to work with Jagger and they are currently attempting to redress the balance of power in the household having been duped by his floppy, gentle and ever so clever manipulation of their daily lives. He had lulled them into a false sense of security by appearing to be rather an innocent unset jelly, whereas he was in fact a cunning and wily control freak who has been getting his own way. Yesterday he stole TBC's trousers, perhaps this really meant he didn't want her to leave the beach, but to stay and play?
The storm of yesterday evening was a main topic of conversation, it has cooled the temperatures from the mugginess of the day, which had started with strange dark cloud banks hanging over the land and the sea. As I'd swum alone I contemplated that had I no sense of temperature I could have been in Thailand, where there is often a dark line on the horizon and the air felt thick and still. 
There had been a sudden downpour at lunchtime and then by the time I was driving home the dark clouds had massed over the village. At around the same time the LE told us she had called in to pick up a loaf of bread, on her bike, on the way to a book reading. The heavens had opened during the book reading and just as I arrived home so we'd stayed dry, but the bread hadn't. It had been a full on tropical sounding storm, heavy rain, huge raindrops falling straight down with no wind at all and lots of deep, growling thunder. 
Double exposure creating ghost sheep!
The LE's article has been published in a local glossy magazine and I hoped to add a link here but I'm having issues with with my browser this morning, it seems to be choosing where I am allowed to go, interestingly allowing me to play a video about the new dog food I've invested in. I'm blaming The Yogi, who very kindly looked after Luna and Willow last weekend. She has introduced Maisie, her lurcher, to a new and exciting food stuff, which Luna wanted and couldn't have - so she went on strike. She has never, EVER left food in her bowl before, but having seen what Maisie was getting she refused hers. The Yogi then brought us a sample and the dogs wouldn't leave our sides till they'd had some so I've had a delivery this morning and it's quite complicated: I'll keep a note of how this goes.
As I am now officially hooked on the whole paddle board thing I have finally ordered a wetsuit, with mush support from Sara, who reviewed my choices and offered advice, both practical and sartorial. There hasn't been much been falling in, so haven't really needed it yet but that's because Jochem has made sure I've stayed on calm water so far. For my introductory lesson I paddled in the 'children's beach', a small inlet, where the water sits between the two rivers. It's tidal so at high tide he paddled over from the north side and then the next day I cycled over and paddle up river, on my own! I felt really confident and happy as I navigated around the moored boats and up under the bridge, next time I might even make it to the samphire beds. 
The children's beach with teacher.

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Low Tide 03:41 (0.80m)
High Tide 10:11 (2.40m)
Low Tide 16:11 (0.80m)
High Tide 22:29 (2.30m)
Sea temperature: not taken (last time I took it was Monday - 15.2)

Sea conditions: good waves, deep water
Weather: bright and silvery, a strong breeze on the beach
Joined by: The Usual Suspects (apart from DK who is in France working on his memoirs) 
Topics of conversation:
It's not just been my schedule that's been all over the place over the last week with work commitments, late nights and house guests. DK decreed a 7.15 swim time for the main group just before he went away and apparently this lasted only until he went away, when the rest of them decided to revert to 7.30, but didn't tell the occasional swimmers. This has meant that the short stretch of water on our patch has been swum from 6.30, when the first LOTV's take to the water, then The Rev Cannon seems to have persuaded his wife to go slightly later at around 6.45 as  I encountered them leaving as I arrived just before 7. There is then a steady drip feed till around 8, when the final staggers arrive. Over the last 5 days I've been joined by The Inventor, who has been staying with us and recently by The Osteopath, who has gone from full wetsuit to bikini overnight. 
Wetsuits were a topic today too as Sara has kindly leant me a couple of hers to try. I've never won a wetsuit before and I found it very awkward and uncomfortable, especially around the neck. I hadn't realised (foolishly) that wetsuits need to be high and tight around the neck to keep you warm and I have a fair amount of scar tissue in that area from surgery. Not only was it uncomfortable but it was alien, as I haven't even worn a polo neck for years. One of my tasks today is to research wetsuits to see if I can find something that works for me when paddle boarding. There are just so many variables that I'm stuck already.

Jochem Voogt of Novobaots is introducing me to the delights of paddle boarding, a sport which ticks every box for me; you take it at your own pace, you can use it for silent and solitary exploration, wave bashing or even just hanging out in the water, and it's good for core strength. It was Jochem who restored Greylag (previously featured) and I spotted him paddling down river one evening when we were eating fish and chips on her with The Architect. The only problem is that Jochem is not just a boat builder and furniture maker, he's an artist - he's made a beautiful wooden board for himself and now I want one. Having been sent message with a photo from one of my ex-students the week before, showing him paddling with his teacher on a lake in Santa Fe which read "You'd like paddle boarding!" and then seeing this board - I'm hooked. Perhaps the key is for me to see it for what it is, a collaborative work of art, as he's happy for me to be involved in the design, and my height, weight and Landrover create a formula to decide the length and volume of the board.
Jochem on his board (with my house in the background)
Jess had been poorly and had a seizure yesterday evening - she's a 15 year old lurcher, with very long legs, and it had been scary for her and her owners. The vet was very supportive and has even supplied them with Diazepam to be administered as a suppository in case of further attacks, which got us all squirming a bit. She seems well recovered today and had a play with Jagger and a gravy bone and hopefully will continue to feel better.
The Artist and I had had fun after our swim yesterday as she is going to work with an inspirational teacher in July and he has asked her to find photographs of her environment to use. She wanted to work with some of the shots I've taken by the harbour and shoreline so we spent an hour or so going through around 9,000 images on my computer. It was like a game, I skimmed through the events with the images as large thumbnails and she stared at the screen making noises as she saw something that she liked. The noises varied from 'OOOh!' to 'Ahhhhhhhh' or 'nooooope' and then we created a shortlist, which she had to whittle down further. The criteria were: man made structure in the fore or middle ground, clouds or waves, depth of perspective. I'm honoured that she has chosen them.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

High Tide 03:05 (2.40m)
Low Tide 08:50 (0.80m)
High Tide 15:06 (2.60m)
Low Tide 21:39 (0.40m)
Sea temperature: not taken
Sea conditions: Big, slow, strong waves.
Weather: warm and grey, clouds gathering
Joined by: The Usual Suspects
Topics of conversation:
The overall palette this morning was grey and silver. A magical, mercurial sea with the sun seemingly just over the horizon and moon-like, as if it was reflecting the light, not emitting it. The surface of the water moved in an unusual way too - like a liquid mirror, the waves breaking a way out. We had to wade through the shallows, which were deceptively gentle only to be met, rather randomly, by a series of large, strong and slow moving waves. The Pirate loves to throw himself into these waves, surfacing once they have passed only to prepare himself for the next battering. I prefer to get beyond them and then rise and fall in the pre-breaking swell that was so deep today that the land kept disappearing altogether. We often meet when we are taking our dogs for an evening walk and in the autumn, when is blowing strong from the south I choose to have the wind at my back and he choses to lean into it, I guess this may demonstrate something about our characters.

It began to rain as we came out of the water, which sent The Pirate's wife and granddaughter scurrying home taking Bosco with them, they had come down as we all went in, bringing the illusive Alf, who hasn't graced up with his presence for some time now. They formed a lovely group as they wandered over the bridge, silhouettes of all different shape as sizes but my hands were too wet to get a photo.
I'm hoping it will clear today as it is the AGM and 25th Anniversary reception for World Land Trust today, in a rose garden. I've seen pictures of the location and it is absolutely stunning, so much so that the invitation that went out to the council members and supporters makes room in the schedule for 'walk around the garden'. It's be a shame if it doesn't brighten up. I'm helping the SBPFG to set up her kit and caboodle for the event, and I'm quite relieved that I we had the conversation about dress code as dresses are not really my thing and we agreed that it was OK to wear trousers, especially if you are going to be on your hands and knees cabling a barn. Legs and I recently had our biannual lovely time at TK and I wish I could've had the courage to wear something I tried on - a jungle print jumpsuit, that'd have done nicely and it fitted like a glove - but I don't know the team well enough for that level of statement yet.
In other dog news Jagger had succeeded in breaking the barrier with Willow this morning and for the first time they went off hunting together, at least I think that's what they were doing, The Ellies weren't convinced he'd quite understood 'rabbits!!!' but off they went at speed. He came as far as the beach hut with us but as soon as I opened the door he scarpered, perhaps he though I was going to lock him in. Luna and Willow are going to stay with Jess today, whilst I'm away from home and they are very lucky that their garden is full of rabbits, Jess is a good rabbiter but she's beyond the age of seeing it as a daily task, so it was lovely to drop them off and seeing them all quartering the garden together too. Where does that expression 'it's a dogs life ' come from?
Happy birthday Legs! DK has many, many brownie points - Tiffany earrings - result. 
Oh crap, it's thundering, best take a brolly.

Sunday, 15 June 2014

High Tide 00:34 (2.50m)
Low Tide 06:32 (0.60m)
High Tide 12:47 (2.60m)
Low Tide 19:08 (0.40m)
Sea temperature: 16.5
Sea conditions: hugely powerful undertoad, waves beneath the surface occasionally breaking through - seaweed
Weather: grey and windy, but warm
Joined by: The Usual Suspects, which now includes The Vicar's Wife who joins for the summer months.
Topics of conversation:
The strength of the tow, it was deceptively strong first thing and I've just been for a second dip with The Osteopath, who called in on the off chance of having swimming company, and the water was at it's deepest and most powerful. Not a time to swim alone so we stayed near each other and when I got out her partner, The Birder, stayed guard. Whilst he was there he spotted a male eider duck flying over the water, I wasn't sure I'd recognise one in flight so I've looked it up on ARKive and there's some great footage here, where they aren't flying but do the most perfect ice flow walk and make that sound that sounds as if they are fascinated by what each other has to say: Eider ducks 

I stayed in for too long this morning, it was not distance swimming conditions so there was not much by way of exercise and the blood didn't get pumping. This meant that by the time I got home my hands were numb and the shower water hurt. It's easily done and it would've been a perfect sauna day, but I hadn't been in the mood to light it. Next week I'm going to force myself to do so as it's worth the effort and would keep my injured back more mobile.
Jess was looking majestic as always.

The Ellies, Legs and I had been to the Southwold Picture Palace last night, where we'd bumped into the Vicar's Wife and The Vicar. None of us had enjoyed the film, which was a shame as I'd been really looking forward to it. We saw Inside Llewyn Davis, the first Coen Brothers film I've taken against. I wasn't the only one, although we all agreed that seeing it at the Picture Palace wasn't the best place - it couldn't take an interval, certainly not an interval with chat, wine and a short film. Although we all agreed that the best bit was the Tom and Jerry cartoon before hand, which had been chosen because there's a cat in the main feature. IMDB's storyline section describes the film thus:
Follow a week in the life of a young folk singer as he navigates the Greenwich Village folk scene of 1961. Guitar in tow, huddled against the unforgiving New York winter, he is struggling to make it as a musician against seemingly insurmountable obstacles -- some of them of his own making.
Well actually they are all of his own making, he is a completely unsympathetic character, if they were trying to create someone who's just a bit shit at everything; relationships, looks, empathy with animals and ultimately music, they succeeded. Carey Mulligan's character Jean neatly sums him up with the unforgettable line: Everything you touch turns to shit, you're like king Midas's idiot brother.
The evening was saved by the Two Magpies Bakery, a bakery that turns pizza place in the evening. I don't like pizza but the Brooklyn Gazette Eggstra, with cavolo nero, thick squishy wild mushrooms, lashings of shavings of garlic and sweet peppers was delicious, I hesitate to say excellent as there were so many 'egg' jokes being banded about and the chef clearly got carried away too.
I wanted to buy us each one of their vast pillowy meringues to take into the cinema and make people drool, but we decided it wasn't fair. 
The Vicar and his wife had cycled home and had seen the first glow worm of the year, a real sign that summer is here. The Poet was asking about them and there is a survey currently running in Scotland to see how they are doing up there, they give this great concise description:
There are two species of glow worms in the UK. The ‘common’ Glow worm (Lamphyris noctiluca) and the rare Lesser glow worm (Phosphaenus hemipterus), that is only know from a few sites in Hampshire and Sussex.
Glow worms are actually beetles rather than worms. 
From June to August, the wingless females climb-up grass stems at dusk and begin to glow with a pale-green light (bioluminescence) to attract the flying males. The males look much more like a ‘real’ beetle than the females- which don’t have wing cases. The males, larvae and even the eggs can ‘twinkle’ occasionally.

The glow worm spends most of its life as a juvenile. The larvae have pale spots along the sides of their segmented body, and can spend up to 3 years feeding on snails, before turning into an adult. The adults don’t eat and live for only a few weeks, searching for a mate and die shortly after laying their eggs.
The adults and larvae are generally nocturnal, but may be discovered resting under stones or logs during the day. Females tend to start glowing around 10pm until midnight (possibly slightly later in the far north of Scotland where the days are longer and nights shorter in mid-summer).
We talked about the strange drag and I was able to drag-brag that I had experienced navigating through the current as I'd been given the chance to steer Greylag, the beautiful boat jointly owned and cared for by The Architect and the GGB's. The Architect kindly had confidence enough in me to allow me to take control of her on the river and I was amazed at the sensitivity of that stick thing that you use to steer (I'm not good with the nautical terms). She has a fair bit of power too and can turn in a small area so once they know the route a trip up river to the pub is planned. 

Sticky thing with boat runey-type thing drawn into it
The Poet was true to form with his level of jokes this morning and as he approached us in the water he began to scoop up the cling film thin seaweed sheets that were hanging around at waist level, he then chucked them at us, calling "Are you feeling a bit weedy this morning?!". It's his birthday next week, I have just the card....

Monday, 9 June 2014

Just a quick note to say that Dr. Sea worked his magic on my back this morning and I am so much more mobile as a result. I limped down to the beach and almost skipped home after my marine therapy. Feeling very lucky to have Dr. Sea on the doorstep.

Sunday, 8 June 2014

Low Tide 00:56 (0.80m)
High Tide 07:47 (2.10m)
Low Tide 13:06 (1.10m)
High Tide 19:29 (2.20m)
Sea temperature: 14. 6 Saturday 16.4 Sunday
Sea conditions: Scary Saturday, Mill pond calm Sunday
Weather: Warm both days, windy Saturday with rain later, Sunday - best day of the year
Joined by: The Usual Suspects and a couple of LOTVs this morning
Topics of conversation:
This is a weekend round up and so begins with most swimmers feeling a little jaded on Saturday following DK's take over of the village pub on Friday night for 'D-Day with DK', when he entertained the assembled company with songs from the period and songs that began with a D. Only DK could play that hard and fast with the rules and get away with it. As special consideration to those of us who didn't remember most of the songs, Dancing Queen, by Abba was included and the Dancing Queen himself gallantly tried to steer me around and back out of the dining room before I made a complete fool of myself. The evening was very well attended and when I snuck out through the kitchen at 11.30 the Architect and the remaining GGB had just ordered whiskey, as had DK so it wasn't surprising that there wasn't much banter the next day. 
The sea was boiling, there'd been strong winds overnight and it'd really put some strength into the waves. The GGBs and The Architect had planned on taking their beautifully refurbished boat Greylag out to sea but I texted to warn them of the strength of the current. However The Pirate was keen to get in, and whilst I was happy to leave them to it I realised that The Poet, our strongest swimmer, was away, so we all went in en masse. The Pirate promised to stay in the shallows as we couldn't take out feet off the sea bed without being propelled a fews meters in both directions. There was lots of hollering of the usual excited kind but then suddenly there was a squeal. TBC had been floating in the wave when it changed direction and she made contact with The LE. Whilst The LE could see this coming TBC couldn't and so thought she was being approached by a shark, as you do...
The LE and I discussed her upcoming article in a local glossy, for which she need some photos so I'd been wandering around with my camera. Once it's published I'm sure we'll be able to link to it but these pics will give you a flavour of it's topic.

Jagger is in disgrace, he had stolen Sara's googles and eaten them on Friday and today he grabbed one of the LOTV's T-Shirst and took off with it. It was white, but by the time I caught hold of it it wasn't. He's going through his acquisitive phase, Willow did this at his age, she stole anything she could, ate Phillips' wash bag and ate most of it's (Liz Earle) contents - not cheap to replace, and had a penchant for knitting, which unravelled as she carted it around the house whilst I was out. The LE had given her goggles to Sara in the meantime and the ones she was wearing today had tinted glass, which came in very handy as the sun was very, very bright as it bounced off the water.
Today DK decided Mabel should have a swim. We're not sure if she enjoyed it, she looked mightily pissed off as she came out but wagged her tail furiously and ran about with it in the air. She's not on great form this evening though, I've just had Legs on the phone saying she got out and came back most unhappy with a leg problem and shivering, possibly been stung, she's so tiny that a bee sting would be very nasty for her. Hope she's OK tomorrow.
Hope I'm OK tomorrow too, I tweaked my back this morning and am wandering around with an ice pack tied around my waist. It went as I reached up to close the car boot, but I suspect it may have something to do with carrying 9 year old girls around on my shoulders in the sea, whilst a 7 year old climbed up my front and did a summersault. Whichever it was I'm very uncomfortable and had to dip out of a trip to watch Rebel Without a Cause tonight as I thought I might not be able to get up out of my seat at the end. My film club partner has an osteopath staying and she told me to listen to my body, pack the inflammation with ice and keep moving. I told her my body felt like wandering around the orchard in my dressing gown with a glass of wine and she condoned that 100%.