Saturday, 26 April 2014

Low Tide02:39 (0.50m)
High Tide09:22 (2.40m)
Low Tide15:03 (0.90m)
High Tide21:04 (2.40m)

Sea temperature: not taken
Sea conditions: exciting
Weather: a cold wind strengthening
Joined by: DK and The Pirate (natch), The LE, and Abs, The Artist briefly (TBC was playing golf at 6am and Sara and The Poet are still on spanish safari).
HUGE welcome back to Abs, who had not swum since October 14th - the day of The Incident, so it was with some trepidation that she approached the beach, only to find the wind up and the waves 'exciting'. We walked to the beach across the pastures and to the river together before joining the others at the beach and discussed The Incident at length, hoping this would help her to put the experience behind her and to get a fresh perspective. Again we mulled over whether it had made anyone more cautious and agreed that if had, then some good had come from it. That she had to make a decision to get herself to safety first had been the hardest thing for her, and something that Mertz and I had discussed only yesterday, as I swim on my own more and more regularly these days. I had been surprised that he felt I was safer on my own, but he'd explained that if there was none else to save if they got into trouble then statistically I was better off as I am, apparently, risk averse. I did reason that if I drowned on my own there'd be no one to save me and he'd never know I'd drowned but he pointed out that the pile of clothes on the beach would be a bit of a give away. Abs found the water very cold, having not been in for so long and sensibly got out quickly and patrolled up and down as we had a bit of a struggle getting out. 
It must be the first day of Summer as not only did she return, along with the swallows, who are in full mob mode on the pasture, but Mertz swam this afternoon. He was buoyed by a few beers and a belly full of paella, as well as a house full of boys to egg him on. He asked me to take a photograph as proof.
DK had a stressful morning due to the foam rolling along the beach, which is to Mabel as rabbits to Luna. As I went in for a second dip with The Pirate and jumped waves I noticed DK swimming north, faster that the tide would naturally take him, and as we got out it became apparent that he had a repeat performance of the day Mabel took off and I had to carry her back. DK went in cold pursuit - swimming a way up the beach then getting out, still in his trunks, and began zigzagging across the shingle after her. I took heed of Abs and looked after myself first, getting dressed and picking up Mabel's lead before jogging up the beach after him. By the time I reached him he had her under his arm and was clearly freezing so I full-on bullied him into giving me the dog and putting my North Face 700 on over his trunks. An elegant outfit, complete with his yellow neoprene gloves.
The LE and I discussed a plan to update the village horticultural show that she has hatched, partly due to her own garden being a dog playground at the moment. She's proposing a garden photography element to the competitive part of the show, which I've offered to host on the Village website. She is going to communicate with one of the LOTV's, who is in charge. If you were writing a script for Midsummer Murders you couldn't come up with a better name for the head of the Horticultural Show Committee: Betsy Lemon.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

High Tide 04:24 (2.20m)
Low Tide 10:08 (0.90m)
High Tide 16:32 (2.30m)
Low Tide 23:04 (0.70m)
Sea temperature: not taken, but I wish we had - it felt 'stay in longer' temperature
Sea conditions: a bit lairy, but safe in the trough
Weather: blustery, with fog being blown off the edges
Joined by: EVENTUALLY The Usual Suspects
Topics of conversation: these were split today as The LE and I were on time, The LE was doing her Tai Chi on the flat sand as I arrived and we stood around waiting for the others as the water was a bit lively, but they were on the drag to such an extent that we got bored waiting and went in without them. This always winds DK up, who insists that he is never late, but clearly was, so blamed it on Radio 4.
The LE and I mainly discussed her new bike, which I have now seen and have stuffed the substantial basket with rhubarb as she has been awarded official LOTV status. Apparently when one is a LOTV one can park one's bike in the village hall with a basket full of rhubarb, there were 2 of them this morning as the dynoband class took place. The Canadian helped her to buy it on eBay, being an expert in both bikes and eBay and he's done her proud, it's even got a proper dynamo, a built in lock and a frock guard. All LOTVs' bikes need a frock guard so that they can float around the village with a regal air, in their frocks without fear of 'doing an Isadora', so The LE will need to rethink her wardrobe if she intends to retain such a status. There's stiff competition from the Real Pashley Brigade, one of whom also parked inside the hall this morning, but the stiffest competition comes from The Canon. I'd seen him on Sunday (he's retired these days) attempting to get to the shop on his motorbike, a genuine work of art by Frank Beanland that's been in an exhibition and everything, but he was finding it difficult as it cuts out every 40 seconds or so. He'd also had to throw away the matching helmet, so was contemplating wearing his pith one.

Monday, 21 April 2014

High Tide 03:20 (2.30m)
Low Tide 09:12 (0.80m)
High Tide 15:34 (2.30m)
Low Tide 21:49 (0.70m)
Sea temperature: 9.9
Sea conditions: calm but low
Weather: fine, a crisp breeze but sunny and whisky clouds blowing away
Joined by: The Usual Suspects and The artist, Sara and Mertz as bystanders
Ulysses and the Sirens - Herbert James Draper
Would we swim in the trough or not? As the bystanders watched it must have looked strange as we all filed into the narrow strip and swam in a straight line along the deepest bit. The girls all got slightly ahead of The Pirate and as we did so I remembered that I'd been woken by the sound of emergency sirens at 5am, they had continued on and off for the next hour so I asked if anyone had heard them or where the sirens came from. The Pirate, catching the end of the question replied "Sirens...? I'm swimming with them." Depending upon which story of the Sirens you a re more familiar with this could have been a wonderful compliment or a rather barbed insult, I'm not sure which was his intention. 
“Next, where the Sirens dwell, you plough the seas;
their song is death, and makes destruction please
(in verdant meads they sport) and wide around
lie human bones that whiten all the ground.
The ground polluted floats with human gore
and human carnage taints the dreadful shore.
Fly swift the dangerous coast: let every ear
be stopp’d against the song! ’tis death to hear!”
Alexander Pope, 1725
Turning the tables I'll simply point out that Herbert James Draper seems to have The Pirate's likeness rather finely captured in this depiction. 
There were a couple of melodramas this morning; firstly Mertz had come to say good morning and intended to walk the dogs across the marsh whilst I swam. He set off as we went into the water but as I came out Luna was running back down the beach on her own. Minor panic. Had Mertz and Willow fallen in a ditch and sent her back Lassie style "Go Lassie... fetch help... Tell them we've fallen in a ditch"? Had Luna decided to stay with me and the other 2 hadn't realised and would not do so till miles from anywhere, then panic too? Fortunately Sara was able to see Mertz as she had her glasses, he was heading away from us purposefully, so I rang him, texted him, shouted in vain, so had to assume that he knew where she was and still had Willow. Sara reassured me and said she was sure he was aware, but I told her about the night before when I nearly had to sleep in the beach hut. I'd been out to see a friend's Americana/skiffle band and Neil Brand play a live score to a 1927 silent Russian movie about a jail break in Argentina (it worked) and had come home to find myself locked out of the house. It seemed he'd gone to bed and temporarily forgotten I lived there, so it's was quite possible he hadn't noticed that one dog was missing. 
Meanwhile TBC had lost her car keys. We all searched her changing spot but there was no sign. She went back to the car to check they weren't there, we marked the spot she'd occupied with a heart stone and carried on searching till she returned. 

They weren't in the car so she returned saying the only other place to look was inside the poo bag... the full poo bag. We thought it through quickly before she had a chance to undo the bag and suggested she may have put the keys down in her rush to poo pick on the beach. Sara had remembered where the fouling happened and found them straight away - phew. 
DK, The LE and I discussed our day ahead, he's busy with his theatre work and is finding it rather stressful. He'd been bothered all day by the screaming hoards in the playground-sized garden next door and had finally had enough by the early evening so called the family's housekeeper/PA to ask if she could put a stop to it. Within seconds the neighbourhood fell silent so he texted to ask her how she'd managed it, "they are playing silent tag!" came the reply. Hopefully they will be playing silent tag, silent football, silent basketball and even silent trampolining today. The LE was off to collect her new bike today, and was very excited, I've just had a text from her to say it's home and being tested as I type. I've got one of those days that comes along once in a blue moon and that I get more excited about than is probably healthy, I'd forgotten it was a Bank holiday:

Saturday, 19 April 2014

High Tide 01:43 (2.50m)
Low Tide 07:44 (0.60m)
High Tide 14:01 (2.40m)
Low Tide 20:06 (0.60m)
Sea temperature: hovering around 9

Sea conditions: today was very shallow and had a massive undertow that caught us unawares
Weather: blustery, sunny as we arrived but the big heavy clouds soon sped over
Joined by: The Usual Suspects
I know when I haven't blogged for a while when I have to log in to Blogger, and this time it's because I've been swimming on my own for the last week, hence no 'topic of conversation' slot to fill. It's been safe to swim alone, calm and warm enough not to have concerns about cramp or currents. Owing to work commitments, doctor and other appointments I've missed the team, but this weekend I'm able to catch up on the week's events although it was too cold to hang about chatting for long as the boys took their time getting dressed, as is their wont.
I've been keeping in touch more easily with what's going on in Legs's life as a the One Woman Beckett Care System in the US as she's got a new blog: Waiting for god knows... and now that DK has found it he is up to speed too as Face Time has let them down over the last 24 hrs.

I promised I'd share a couple of shots from the canine photo shoot last weekend as Luna and Willow were used as test models by Kerry Jordan, the photographer, who very kindly sent me these. She captured their nature perfectly and they were enchanted by her. Whippets Snippets is her site for dog photography, and this is her other work:

The LE and I caught up on our mutual experience of meeting the new(ish) GP at our surgery. The Pirate had amused me some while ago by saying he'd been to see her about his ear infection and carefully explained that he was big and brave and as he swam in the sea every day and was disappointed that she didn't seem impressed. This could have something to do with the fact that she's swum The Channel. The LE and I tried to work out how we could get her to hang around for ever as she is a breath of fresh air, straight talking and seems to share our sense of humour. She also made me aware that I don't have to put up with the pain of gout for the rest of my life as, apparently, one can take drugs as a preventative measure - phew. And no, it's not because I drink too much port.

I'd read the list of foods that should be avoided, all of which are my staple diet. Living without Marmite, herring, tomato, aubergine, liver, scallops, mussels, sardines, tuna (especially sashimi) and of course alcohol is not a future I was looking forward to. It seems wholly unfair that the healthily diet I thought I was eating was actually making it worse. I'd managed to cram nearly all of the forbidden foods into one day last weekend, topped off with a few glasses of wine at wonderful evening, hosted by the GGB's and including most of the smalls of the village. The atmosphere was wonderful, rather as it used to be in the old days when Jude's mum held court from her armchair and all generations floated in and out. But I'd paid for it with a gout attack at 2am. That toe looks almost normal, but it felt as if someone was roasting it on a spit all night, occasionally sticking a skewer in to make sure it was done.
On the subject of spits - the sand spit has moved and this morning it was really obvious that the precise point at which we swim is actually the shallowest now. I'd waded out into the deep yesterday whilst the others swum in the trough, but today we all made our way out only to find that the current was very powerful and the undertoad was too much for TBC and I, who tried to find another safer spot to swim in. As we were coming out a man with 2 young children was approaching and we warned him not to let them out of his sight, it was very deceptive and as the tide was turning we wouldn't want them having the same fate as The Artist either.

Safe in the shallows
I returned to the beach once I'd thawed out and restocked the hut with water, cleared out The Vicar's Wife's hut and connected up the new gas supply, which had been kindly donated by the photographer's wrangler. It feels as if it's time to think about the first Swimmers breakfast of the season soon. Once the wind has died down and the hoards have gone home and we celebrate our magical month of May in the village with coffee and bacon sandwiches, fried eggs and porridge, but no kippers... bugger.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

High Tide 06:22 (2.10m)
Low Tide 11:17 (1.20m)
High Tide17:53 (2.10m)
Sea temperature: not taken
Sea conditions: deep and a bit murky
Weather: very fresh wind, sun struggling through
Joined by: The Usual Suspects
Topics of conversation:
The icy breeze, it was coming from the west and I managed to persuade DK to move to the more sheltered area in front of the huts (the others needed little persuading but DK is always a little reluctant to break with tradition). From this vantage point TBC spotted our first seal of the year, who was bobbing about in the shallows. It didn't hang around to swim with us, so maybe it wasn't our old friend.
Had there been another unexploded shell, we wondered? There were tracks on the shingle and sand, leading south towards the usual spot where they are washed up, but no one had heard any report, or indeed any explosions.
Jess's wobbles - Jess, our eldest canine companion, had been a bit wobbly recently and the vet had diagnosed a slight blood sugar issue. As she doesn't like to eat before her morning marathon to the beach we had been discussing how to get her to at least have a tiny morsel, so I'd made her a batch of liver treats. The Poet was grateful and I even had a text from Jess herself to say thank you to her fairy dog mother! In case anyone fancies making a batch for their four legged friends the recipe is very simple:
Cut one large, raw pigs liver into slices, add 3 tablespoons of flour (I use gram flour, which is gluten free and seems to work best but any flour will do) and a splash of olive oil. Place all the ingredients into a food processor or liquidiser and blitz till you have a smooth paste. Dollop this into a shallow, greased, lined baking tray and level out to a thickness of about 1cm. Place in an oven for 20 minutes at a high heat (whilst you are roasting something else) or a low oven for an hour. Cool and cut into squares.
Before we all left the beach DK reminded us that The Pirate is off on a jaunt to Scotland for a week or so, and the question of kilts was brought up - cue smut from DK - then the Pirate got kisses from TBC and The LE, coming out with a true Pirate quote, "Everyone's kissing me and I haven't even got any trousers on!" 

Was it going to rain or wasn't it....? There was a rainbow and the clouds were gathering inland but we were briefly bathed in sunlight, true April weather.
The LE and The Pirate were discussing a poem, which The LE has since sent me as it is an appropriate hymn to our mornings:
April Rise
If ever I saw blessing in the air 
I see it now in this still early day 
Where lemon-green the vaporous morning drips 
Wet sunlight on the powder of my eye. 

Blown bubble-film of blue, the sky wraps round 
Weeds of warm light whose every root and rod 
Splutters with soapy green, and all the world 
Sweats with the bead of summer in its bud. 

If ever I heard blessing it is there 
Where birds in trees that shoals and shadows are 
Splash with their hidden wings and drops of sound 
Break on my ears their crests of throbbing air. 

Pure in the haze the emerald sun dilates, 
The lips of sparrows milk the mossy stones, 
While white as water by the lake a girl 
Swims her green hand among the gathered swans. 

Now, as the almond burns its smoking wick, 
Dropping small flames to light the candled grass; 
Now, as my low blood scales its second chance, 
If ever world were blessed, now it is. 
Laurie Lee

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

High Tide 00:38 (2.70m)
Low Tide 06:57 (0.40m)
High Tide 13:08 (2.50m)
Low Tide 19:07 (0.50m)
Sea temperature: not taken
Sea conditions: good, very low tide (see above) coming in fast (see below)
Weather: misty and slightly damp
Joined by: The Usual Suspects
Topics of conversation:
All were forgotten due to the activities of The Artist, who joined us this morning to take in the majesty of the tide, she was not swimming so looked very stylish in her huge, black, felt swing-backed coat and beret (how does she manage to look so stunning first thing?) and was not dressed for getting wet. This was something she should have considered when she walked with us across the sand spit, to the water's edge. We all swam and Jess walked with The Artist to make sure The Poet was safe, as she often does. She came back with him, Jess that is, not The Artist. The Artist remained on the spit, looking artistic and creating a wonderful silhouette agains the silver sky. We began to get changed and I noticed Jess looking concerned and trotting up and down in front of us, and I commented to The Poet that she seemed to be worried about The Artist. Moments later it became apparent that there was reason for Jess's concern as she became cut off by the rising tide and was marooned on the rapidly decreasing spit. Quick as a flash The Poet ran to her rescue, whilst it could have been serious our tides are shallow and we did have a laugh... sorry about 'wobbly-cam' I was laughing too much...

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

White rabbits 
Low Tide 06:18 (0.30m)
High Tide 12:29 (2.50m)
Low Tide 18:28 (0.50m)
Sea temperature: 8.5
Sea conditions: glassy water reflecting the low sun, slightly eerie as a result.
Weather: warm, gentle breeze misty inland but clearing out to sea.
Joined by: The Usual Suspects
Topics of conversation:
The LE was already on the beach doing her Tai Chi when the dogs and I arrived and I thought I was late, but it was just the girls to start with. The dogs and I are now taking our longer route down to the beach, across the low field, and the mist had given me a false sense of cold - by the time we were all assembled it was warm enough for us to comment on it and for The Poet to forget his gloves, or was that yesterday? I can't remember, but I do remember that later in the day The LE and I discussed getting our faces wet again as the temperature has continued to rise.

A new pattern is emerging with the boys dawdling and chatting on the shingle (only just on the shingle as DK was keen to note - he doesn't allow us to camp on the sand) and the girls getting in, out and off. This means I get to take shots like this, (which reminds me that a lovely lady took photos of us all the other day and I gave her the address of the blog, so hopefully we will get to see some of us all in the sea together one day).

The LE told us about her lovely Mother's Day picnic on the beach with her daughter on Sunday, it sounded idyllic. A friend had visited me on Saturday, cycling for 2 hours to get here and finding me also in the dunes, but digging the sand out of our 'terrace' where it collects each winter, I reckon I shifted about a ton of sand by the time she arrived so we both felt we'd earned a drink in the pub, where DK's son had just finished his first shift behind the bar. 
We all agreed that it was a good time of year to live here; before the hoards arrive, whilst the sun is still low in the sky whilst we swim. Spades were the order of the weekend for many of us - half the village seemed to be down at the huts with the contents emptied out in the sun whilst we cleaned, cleared and dug out or piled up sand, and the the other half were working hard on their allotments. One of the allotments has been taken over by The GGB's (Gorgeous Glamour Boys), and blimey - what a transformation! 

It looks like something from Country Living, they've done such an amazing job, makes me feel such a wimp for giving up on my main veg plot, but the mare's tail just got into my soul, wrapped its tiny hairy roots around it and squeezed till it hurt. I'm only doing squashes, chillies and corn this year. Well my Mother's doing the chillies, she's the expert, and I HOPE to be doing corn, if Legs gets home in time (or pops some seed in the post - hint, hint). I'm tempted to live vicariously through the GGB's 'lottie, as I walk past each day, and post photos of it throughout the season. Perhaps if I make them more alcoholic ice cream they'll bring us the odd spud....