Friday, 31 January 2014

Low Tide 03:30 (0.50m)
High Tide 09:52 (2.50m)
Low Tide 15:48 (0.70m) 
High Tide 22:00 (2.60m)
Sea temperature: 6.5

Sea conditions: calmer
Weather: Cold, light wind, some sun breaking through as we got out
Joined by: The Usual Suspects
Topics of conversation:
Forgive me blogosphere, for I have sinned, it has been 11 days since my last blog. There are reasons/excuses/mitigating circumstances including: being away, having food poisoning and being disinclined to blog when I haven't been in the water, even though I've been down to the shore whenever I've been able. Yesterday we stood, again, and contemplated the water and discussed whether the weather really has been that much worse or whether we have become more cautious since 'The incident'. My feeling is that it's 10% more cautious and the rest is wind, waves and currents being stronger this year than for the last 3. Certainly looking back at the blog for this time last year we were in the midst of sunny days with thick snow on the ground, thick enough to make snowmen. One of the main purposes of this blog is to record the conditions so that we can make these comparisons and we certainly hadn't been sent home by the wind as much last winter. Yesterday DK and The Poet dipped in but said it was scary, with 'the strongest current of the year', which I think meant the winter.
The Pirate contemplating the current yesterday

By contrast - today's sunrise

Today was a different matter altogether, beautiful weather, calmer, but still deep sea, and I went back in for a quick dip. The Poet was late and apparently he could hear me squealing with delight on the other side of the dunes, I have no recollection of this. It was good to be back, but I kept it short as I'm still not 100%, so I really felt the cold and was glad to have my electric hand warmers.
The wind had changed direction yesterday, we seldom have it coming straight off the sea and it whips the water up when it does. The Pirate's bedroom is dual aspect and they had woken to hear the wind and rain on the window as he has many times of late, only to realise that is was coming from a different window. Yesterday, Luna and I sheltered in the hut, Willow and Raffi hunted in the dunes. They have become almost feral since they have been living together again for the last 2 weeks, Raffi regularly presents me with 'breakfast', be it fur or feather, and they have developed clear roles of search and attack. He's also claimed my Father's old chair, which he's not normally allowed to do, but he just looked so comfy.
Shame they didn't get the large pheasant on the common yesterday, before it flew through The Architect's window. The Poet and I were doing our weekly stint with the volunteers when I received a text from Legs who had cut through his garden and seen a sodding great hole in his kitchen window. As she approached to see what the cause was the pheasant flew out of the kitchen, back through the hole, scaring the living daylights out of Legs, Mabel and itself. We met The Architect, who then had to spend the next couple of hours clueing up the broken glass and crockery and birdshit and trying to find a glazier.
We are at a stage of everyone being on different episodes of The Bridge, so talk must be of the characters and the actors, The LE had seen them on breakfast TV and told us about the chemistry between the leads. A clip can be seen here: The Bridge double act
As I type the rain is lashing against the skylights, the wind is gusting, keeping the usual evening flyover of geese away and it's cold enough to have the fire lit early, but the BBC forecast for tomorrow afternoon and Sunday is great. 

Monday, 20 January 2014

High Tide 00:34 (2.60m)
Low Tide 06:47 (0.60m)
High Tide 13:04 (2.30m)
Low Tide 18:37 (0.80m)
Sea temperature: 6
Sea conditions: calm
Weather: cold, frosty, no wind - at last
Joined by: The Poet and The LE
Topics of conversation:
DK is not well - such a shame as Legs is finally home for a stay of execution. Get well soon.
The shifting shape of the beach - there has been a dramatic change in the shingle bank overnight, we now have a small cliff of stones near the river and sand seems to be returning with the tide. Islands of smooth and very soft sand have appeared and we had to do a double dip this morning in order to reach the deep stuff. And no, I haven't messed with the colours of these shots from my phone, the sky colour was changing by the minute.

I got my timings wrong today and was in a rush to get off - no need after all, hence time to do this post. I'm off on a jolly today to do some research, visit an exhibition and meet my BGF to celebrate her birthday as her husband has bought her a spa day for 2, and I'm lucky to be her 'sparring partner', as The Pirate put it. The exhibition is part of the Arts Catalyst and based on artists examining our relationship with the moon.

The above is taken from work by one artist who is responding to a story from 1630's by Bishop Francis Godwin about a journey to the moon in a chariot towed by geese. As we the others swam we were joined by both the moon and a skien of geese reminding me that inspiration driven by nature is timeless, something I'm exploring with a new project.

Burns night - The Ellies are celebrating, one of them being a Scot and all, and we are invited. I've never been to a Burns Night before so I'm very excited, shall have to go and dig out a kilt as I just googled it and this came up: “Setting a dress code can also help get people in the mood so if you’re holding a traditional night then encourage guests to wear something tartan to get in to the spirit of things.”

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Low Tide 01:20 (1.00m)
High Tide 07:46 (2.20m)
Low Tide13:50 (0.90m)
High Tide 20:28 (2.30m)
Sea temperature: 6.8
Sea conditions: perfect
Weather: perfect
Joined by: Just DK and me today, not even my dogs as Luna is on lead walks following an injury. There were a couple of dog walkers on the beach and Mertz joined us as we were getting dressed, by which time he'd given up on the 'lead walk' I gathered, as she came to meet me at the water's edge. Then The Artist appeared over the dunes, it was lovely to see her too and to see that she had cycled down with her cup of tea. She set off on a walk down the beach as DK and I began to feel the effects of the cold air and rushed to get home before our extremities went numb.

Just a quick post today, as we bumped into The LE and Jagger on our evening walk and promised some pictures, but I also promised not to rub it in as she wasn't here this morning. However... today was the best swim of the year so far, (and actually I think I mean since this time last year for me). It had all the elements I desire; cold, mist, frost, calm water, the sun rising as we went in and water that is still unseasonably warm at 6.8 (6.3 in the shallows, as DK pointed out). I'm not sure it can get any better than this.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

High Tide 04:01 (2.40m)
Low Tide 10:40 (0.70m)
High Tide 17:35 (2.20m)
Low Tide 22:43 (1.10m)
Sea temperature: not taken
Sea conditions: very strong current
Weather: windy, rain
Joined by: The Poet and The LE
Topics of conversation:
The sea was doable, but there was a very strong current which made The Poet look like and olympic swimmer as he caught it and whizzed along. The wind was too strong for me to take off my tuareg outfit, which I currently sport to protect my head, so I didn't go in. I made myself useful as a weight for The Pirate's clothes, which were threatening to blow to Southwold. The sky was really laden, with rain clouds moving as fast as I've seen them for a while. This really is the longest stormy season we've had on this coast for a while.

Elderly dogs - one of the best known dogs in the village has just gone to 'doggie heaven' as his owner put it (then paused and said "well I hope he went that way...") and it is the end of an era. A number of dogs coincidentally arrived in the village at the same time around 13 years ago and Bosco is now one of the last remaining elders, although today you wouldn't believe it. He ran home with my two, leaving The Pirate on the beach. He was probably missing Alf, who is in the dog house as he peed on the door frame this morning. The Pirate and been concerned that he had been going deaf, as he was ignoring him, and as he's blind too this could make his life difficult. It seems this is not the case as he came at full pelt when he heard his food being prepared in the kitchen yesterday - so he's selectively deaf like my Father. To be fair my Father was deaf, and had a hearing aid, but he would turn it off so that he couldn't hear "the wittering" of the women gathered regularly in his house to "stitch and bitch" - his words, not mine. Bosco isn't deaf, or blind and this morning he really was full of the joys, he kept up with us all the way home and I let him into the garden in the hope that The Pirate's Wife would hear him coming. 
Bosco and Alf
Worzle Gummage - DK was involved in the TV series and the original stage show, having written all the music and he's hoping to stage a local production soon, starring an actor who lives in the village. He talked about Jon Pertwee and his son Sean is married to friend (who has the finest cheekbones in the land) and I've worked with him too so so we compared notes on Pertwee voices. Pertwee snr. developed that very distinctive voice in the part of Worzle, which became so much part of the character and DK told us how an understudy once went on in his place when he was sick. The make up was obviously heavy, carrot nose prosthetics and all, but the understudy had perfected the voice to such an extent that the audience had no idea that Mr Pertwee wasn't there. Can't wait to see who's understudying locally, there are some perfect candidates...

Sean and Cheekbones

Monday, 6 January 2014

High Tide 01:22 (2.70m)
Low Tide 07:54 (0.40m)
High Tide 14:11 (2.40m)
Low Tide19:52 (0.80m)
Sea temperature: not taken 
Sea conditions: very shallow and quite calm
Weather: windy, warmer - 9 degrees compared with yesterday's 2.
Joined by: TBC and The LE
I didn't chat much today as I had to 'get a wiggle on' as they say in South Norfolk, and was on a different schedule but we were all surprised by the very low tide at 8-ish  It had exposed the geography of the new sea bed which we haven't seen for a while. Not since the surge in fact, and it made me realise how much it has changed since the sand from dunes was dragged out - it's almost as if it's trying to work its way back to land, crawling west, pool by pool. The sun rose as the others came out but I had to leave them there, by 9 horizontal rain was lashing the windows, then by lunchtime it was glorious, it's like April.
New terrain

The swimmers going in

The Swimmers coming out

Sunday, 5 January 2014

High Tide 00:36 (2.80m)
Low Tide 07:06 (0.30m)
High Tide 13:21 (2.50m)
Low Tide 19:08 (0.70m)
Sea temperature: 6.1
Sea conditions: shallow and calm
Weather: frosty, cold, clear
Joined by: The LE and TBC for a social.
I was good to see TBC, who has had a lurgie, which she thinks was a Christmas gift from her grandchildren, and she's been unwell over the festive period. She is not yet 100% but felt the need to see Dr Sea, as did The Pirate. He very rarely swims on a Sunday as he has holy things to do, but this morning he chose to worship at the watery alter as this was the first time the weather and his health had both been good for a while. There have been so many bugs and aches going round, everyone seems to have had something. I've been fighting it off, along with a strained back, made all the more uncomfortable by a night in the spare room as there was someone sawing down trees with a chain saw in our bedroom last night (this could have had something to do with Mertz having spent the day at the footie and on the town yesterday).

The sun rose as we went in and we were joined by the surfers, without their boards this morning as it was just too calm, and someone photographing the sea as well as a small boat fishing a little way out. The light caught on the waves and it looked like molten lava. I regretted not lighting the sauna before I left as it got quite cold in the water, but we stayed in for longer today as it was so calm and we wanted to make the most of it. The forecast is terrible and as I type the wind is shaking the house and making the fire roar. I doubt very much that we will get in tomorrow. 
The new Hot Rox hand warmers came in very handy though, I can thoroughly recommend them as the charge via USB and are warm the instant you turn them on, they have 2 settings, one for inside the gloves and one for outside and they stayed hot for some time. They are not cheap, but are so much easier than the ones you have to boil and more eco friendly that the ferrous ones, which you throw away after one use.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Low Tide 06:18 (0.30m)
High Tide 12:32 (2.60m)
Low Tide 18:24 (0.70m)
Sea temperature: not taken but it felt pretty similar
Sea conditions: shallow and choppy
Weather: wet and windy
Joined by: it was just DK, The LE and me today and there weather was pretty foul so we used the beach huts to change. 

Miraculously we were also joined by DK's son, who obviously didn't swim but made lots of brouhaha about having been in earlier of course. As I don't think he's ever swum in the sea as an adult this is unlikely, but we all duly nodded and asked how it had been. He hadn't woken early, that really would have been a miracle, he'd just been living on 'cricket time', which I understand means Sydney time, so he's 11 hours ahead of us. There was lots of cricket chat, the only information I'd had was a post online this morning which said "Yawn!! This is so boring!! England team in Ashes!!! Disturbed, Disintegrated, Dismantled, Dismayed, Destroyed, Disgusted and finally Dispatched to oblivion!! Stop the Press! Stop the massacre!" I'm guessing that's not good. (I had to take a photo of Il Faccino as I didn't think anyone would believe he actually came down to the beach, it's blurry, but if you are reading this over there in the good old USofA Legs, there's proof.)
We snuggled into the huts to change and DK had the 'boy's room' to himself whilst The LE and I had the smaller but cosier hut. She and I got chatting about children turning 9 and the way we address the issues they face, in Steiner schools, with a practical curriculum - farming, housebuilding, gardening etc. It's known by Steiner teachers as The Rubicon (and occasionally 'the tummy ache time') and I promised to find details for her interest, there's a great article here: Your 9 year old isn't crazy which approaches it from a parenting angle and I found one book particularly useful when I was teaching in schools and still use it for private tuition: Encountering the Self by Hermann Koepke and the stories of Pippi Longstocking are particularly good for girls, due to the lack of parents in her world.
Once we got down to the water's edge the depth of the trough became apparent, even though the tide was very low we were able to swim where we used to walk as it was up to our necks. The current was very strong, swimming north made me feel like an olympian - gliding through the rough waves towards the river mouth, but once I turned and tried to wade back it was like wading against treacle. It's very unsettling, scary even, so I didn't stay in for long. Il Faccino taunted us for getting out so quickly and nearly saw the back of my very wet, neoprene gloved hand. Not quite a Millwall Brick (yes I've been enjoying Lilyhammer again) but I suspect it would have stung a little.
As we got dressed again the sun did a strange thing to the sky, which wasn't easy to photograph - there was a strange peach coloured glow, which grew and then stronger light burst through like a poor man's aurora. We were transfixed. Then we started to have a mildly philosophical meander about Romeo and Juliet, the sun and the moon, male and female elements, and DK ran for the hills.

Thursday, 2 January 2014

Low Tide 04:37 (0.50m)
High Tide 10:52 (2.60m)
Low Tide 16:51 (0.60m)
High Tide 23:04 (2.70m)
Sea temperature: 7.1
Sea conditions: Surfable - see pictures
Weather: glorious
Joined by The Poet and The LE
Topics of conversation:

We were joined by a surfer this morning, that's not a good sign. If the waves are good enough for surfing they are not great for swimming, but as neither The Pirate or I had been in for a while I decided to try it out, as did DK and The Poet. It was 'doable' but not safe and we talked about becoming more cautious in the last year. The Pirate seemed to be intimating that this was a bad thing, it is not. The problem today was not actually the strength of the waves as much as the trough, which has developed just at the point where we go in. There was talk about moving further north, where it is shallow and where Heather swims, sometimes for up to an hour. She swims everyday too, in the afternoon and is often mistaken for a seal by visitors. She has autism and the water brings her a level of release from her struggles, which is beyond anything we experience, even The Pirate. Perhaps we will take a leaf from her book and try the shallows tomorrow, as the forecast is ghastly.
The LE sent me this yesterday, from her diary, suggesting that it could be our winter sea anthem:
Come gather 'round people 
Wherever you roam 
And admit that the waters 
Around you have grown 
And accept it that soon 
You'll be drenched to the bone 
If your time to you 
Is worth savin' 
Then you better start swimmin' 
Or you'll sink like a stone 
For the times they are a-changin'. 

But then, whilst I was trying to film the surfer getting up on his board they all seemed to be singing show tunes, I just can't keep up once DK and The LE are in 'theatre mode'!
We stood and contemplated the water for longer than usual today, having moved us to the late winter swim time of 8am DK was basking in the glory of the sunrise again. Being 'The Sunrise Coast' (according to Lattitude Festival PR types) we do get the rays before most, but according to my tide app we won't have the sun above the horizon before 8am for a while. We are hoping that those of us who have to be at our desks by a certain time once the holiday period is over will still manage to make this doable, otherwise we've agreed to take it back to the 7.45 slot. It's amazing how much difference it can make. We will make sure TBC is kept in the loop, she's been poorly recently (get well soon, and make sure you are proper better before you get wet again!) and sometimes forget to let everyone know, now that there are so many of us. 
DK and I usually take our 20mins to meditate after the swim, he's later than me and I might try changing my timing so that I am not in such a rush afterwards. He's reading David Lynch's Catching the Big Fish at the moment and thoroughly enjoying it, I discovered that it is on You Tube as a full audio book so here's a link for The Artist, who has not be up to coming down to the beach recently and wouldn't even need to turn the pages to feel inspired: Audio Book and some more photos of this morning for her and TBC.
The Poet keeping watch over DK

One for The Cloud Appreciation Society

Sea spray - very effective at coating camera lenses

The Swimmers contemplate the sunrise

Wednesday, 1 January 2014


Low Tide 03:43 (0.60m)
High Tide 09:59 (2.50m)
Low Tide16:01 (0.60m)
High Tide 22:18 (2.60m)
Sea temperature: not taken
Sea conditions: rough, big sea
Weather: we had the best of it
Joined by: The Poet and The LE
Topics of conversation:
My first view of the water this year
Happy New Year - we all wished each other well and there was lots of hugging. The LE produced a present for each of us, which it was tempting not to crack open - the ginger wine would have gone down nicely especially for those who were in need of topping up the levels (not me for a change). Mertz had tried to drink my Waterfont Wine yesterday, The Pirate and his Wife gave each of the swimmers a bottle and it may be delicious but I'd told him that it was mine, and it was for looking at in the beach hut, not for drinking. The LE felt he was within his rights to be mystified and cross. The village fireworks had been spectacular or terrifying, depending on your POV. Our dogs have become more and more terrified as the displays have become more and more ambitious and next year I've resolved to find somewhere to go with them where they can't see or hear them. Interestingly they had not been bothered by the 2 (or was it 3?) huge explosions as the Royal Navy detonated shells, the whole village shook yesterday afternoon.
DK surveyed the water and he and The Poet discussed whether to go in, The Pirate joined them and they looked like a Casper David Friedrich painting as they stared out to sea, The Pirate reminded me of his work, which I hadn't seen for years and it's been good to remind myself of some of the winter landscapes on this dedicated site: Casper David Friedrich

Who needs fireworks when you have this?
 DK and The Poet went in. The Poet dived into a wave, looked terrified and tried getting out straight away but was hampered by the power of the current, DK got bowled over twice. I held my breath and felt sick. I do hope this isn't a portent of 2014's swimming year.