Saturday, 31 May 2014

High Tide 00:55 (2.40m)
Low Tide 06:41 (0.70m)
High Tide 13:01 (2.50m)
Low Tide 19:12 (0.60m)
Sea temperature: last time it was taken 14.5
Sea conditions: like a mill pond
Weather: Glorious
Joined by: The Usual Suspects AND THE ARTIST
Topics of conversation:
The Artist had her first swim of the year. Most of us were already in the water when she arrived and didn't realise that she intended to swim, but once I saw her stripping off we raised cheers and whoops. We went back to meet her and guided her to the warmth of the shallow pool where she would be close to the changing area and could languish with her 'support', the banana. It was SO wonderful to have her back with us and the glow she immediately took on is proof that even if you've been stricken with ill health and new medication has been playing havoc with your immune system, there is nothing to compare with Dr. Sea! Oh, and she's 80 - just look at her! She's an inspiration. The LE sent me this image this morning, commenting that she looks as if she may be opening the local branch of MacDonald's  she just needs another banana. 
Sara and I met on the way to the beach as I was running without the dogs and had taken the marsh route, she was walking that way from her house and we stopped briefly to discuss our dog dramas, one of mine had been sick on the door mat, and Jess had crapped in the house. She's got an excuse, she's old and having a few senior moments recently (Jess, not Sara), but nonetheless, it's not a great way to start the day. 
DK is off 'down town' to a showbiz bash tomorrow, the 70th birthday party of his old mucka Robert Powell, he's always been my favourite Jesus.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Additional post

I've been kept in the loop whilst not swimming with The Swimmers recently by regular texts from The LE, some have included pictures, so here's a round up:

.... this morning.
The usual suspects foregathered – except The Poet, who’s in Colchester. But Sara had a younger man in tow. Rachel’s Fiance, the lanky and lovely Murdo from Dumfries & Galloway.
Just as we went in, Sara spotted a DOOR thrashing about in the shallows.
She and I  went in to drag it up. Boy, was that hard. There’s the suction, dragging it down to the shingle and the sheer weight of it.
We had a real struggle – all this, while the others were chatting about golf and obscure song lyrics  and taking no notice.
We finally staggered out and hauled the door upright – at which point Jess decided to stand under it and wouldn’t move.
Noooo........!!! We were losing our grip. Would it crash down on Jess’s slender and elderly head?
Fortunately, Murdo to the rescue. He came and helped us drag it up above the high water mark.
Finally went back in for lovely swim but completely knackered by salvage operation!

Not sure who takes things like that off the beach. Council? Coastguard? Tibbles? (The Poet dragged it over the tide line and I helped him lift it into a safe place)
See you tomorrow!
May have Gavin’s ex PA from SHE Magazine with us. She writes a lot now for gardening magazines....
Her name’s Paula. (Not here it's not - she's the She-woman from now on)
Off to the shops

The She-woman

The next day there was a 

A surfeit of S's in the surf

Low Tide 03:11 (0.60m)
High Tide 09:48 (2.40m)
Low Tide 15:35 (0.80m)
High Tide 21:40 (2.40m)
Sea temperature: not taken but it must be over 15 by now
Sea conditions: good, if a little murky
Weather: fine
Joined by: we overslept today so were late to the beach but all The Usual Suspect were there.
Topics of conversation: not much as I went to change in the hut, having left my swimming shoes there yesterday after an evening swim, and the othrs were leaving. (There's also been an issue with Blogger not talking to iPhoto since I did an upgrade this week so I've not posted since Wednesday as new readers to the blog will point out - won't they SBPFG?)
I'd played my joker yesterday, having a lie-in and sleeping through till 8.30, DK is horrified that I could do such thing, but around twice a year it is my ritual. The Sunday lie in. Mertz can't do it, so he sleeps in the spare room and lets the dogs out first thing, leaving me to snooze. It's bliss, primarily because it feels so very indulgent and as I'd been gardening all day Saturday and Sunday I felt I'd earned it (as did my back).
This morning was the first proper swim morning too, I swam from the huts to the swimmers and back, without feeling cold at all, next week it will be time to dig out the goggles so that I can put my head fully under and get into some proper distance. Also time to invest in some Five Finger running shoes and get back into pounding the beach before swim time, with these I can run into the sea and keep going. The dogs and I need to improve our fitness levels and running before the swim is possible for about 3 months, starting now!

The beach had been heaving yesterday and I'd spotted a young lad trying to dig out old posts on the dunes for a fire, we've been trying to get them out for years as they are partially submerged and are lethal, so I left him to it. He was with a large family group who had wind breaks, canoes, picnic rugs etc. so I assumed he wouldn't vandalise the huts. This was a mistake. After we'd left he obviously decided to take the nice new shiny posts that have been put up to replace the old ones and the evidence was still smouldering on the beach, complete with molten plastic, drinks cans and all manner of detritus when I got to the hut. Only in this village can such an incident be sorted by 11am - Mrs. Tibbles is on it already and is getting Whisk to put some new ones in and wire them up so that it's harder to pull them out.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

High Tide 04:20 (2.30m)
Low Tide 09:56 (0.90m)
High Tide 16:16 (2.40m)
Low Tide 22:56 (0.60m)
Sea temperature: not taken - see below

Sea conditions: wonderful
Weather: cloudy, still, warm
Joined by: no one
Topics of conversation: none
I'm on the early routine for the foreseeable, not just due to work start times but because we have builders climbing all over the roof next door. The roof that overlooks the bathroom Velux window, thereby giving the team a view inside and meaning that the upstairs bedroom and bathroom are behaving much like a drum kit. This makes it hard to shower and meditate after my swim, so if I get home by 7.15 I can do both in peace. This morning however I could have swum at 5.30am as I was woken, for the first time ever, by Willow coming upstairs and standing in the doorway of the bedroom making small 'buf' sounds.  I have no idea why she did this, she doesn't do stairs, I trained them with a water pistol when they were little and they think the stairs squirt water at them, but today she clearly wanted me to get up, so I did - it was a lovely morning. As I type and feel the house starting to quake I suspect she knew this storm was on its way.
I tried out my new Summer clothing routine this morning as I use the beach hut when I'm on my own and don't need the big rucksack/stool. The idea is to stop having to carry stuff and involves wearing swimming shoes to the beach, costume under towelling robe thing, no gloves and thin towel round my neck. It worked well apart from the walking back home in the wet swim shoes, they picked up all the dust and muck from the road. I think I need a sheep dip style trough outside the front door.
There was a sense of the calm before the storm on the beach, a wonderful deep and brooding sky and a lack of movement in the water.

Saturday, 17 May 2014

High Tide 00:45 (2.50m)
Low Tide 06:47 (0.60m)
High Tide 13:03 (2.50m)
Low Tide 19:15 (0.50m)
Sea temperature: 13.7

Sea conditions: on the turn
Weather: grey but warm, oddly calm
Joined by: The Usual Suspects (apart from The LE), Abs, The Artist, Sara, The Pirate's Wife, The Pirate's Granddaughter and a man called Mark.
Topics of conversation: 
Abs and I had met on the green and walked round the block to the beach and caught up on life and the universe, and most excitingly her previous evening's entertainment. She'd been to a circus performance at a theatre of The Ancient Mariner, in attempting to describe its brilliance she become tongue tied and so told me she'd asked her son (an 11 year old with the gift of the gab) to describe it in one word. He couldn't but had made a noise that sounded something like whhhhiiioosshhhhP! Here's a link to a taster from the company that is touring it: Rime - Square Peg
The tide was way, way out and Abs and I studied the shapes and depths and compared them to the way the shore was when we were kids and there was a spit from the end of the harbour. Children would often get marooned, as The Artist had, but much further out. We compared the changes we experience here with the changes inland, when swimming through the seasons. DK would have the wildlife, trees and plants at the edge of the ponds, when he swam there and their seasonal fluctuations  are so much more blatant than the subtle changes in the vegetation on the shore. The skies can be deceiving here too, dark and heavy in mid summer, with clouds whizzing across the sky and then a February day can present blue, clear horizons - only the temperature is consistent with the time of year. Abs remembered it being 14 degrees in and out of the water on the 14th of November last year and today seems a 13 kinda day.

The Pirate's Granddaughter made busy on the beach in her blue PJs and TBC and I decided that she looked like a sea sprite, tidying up the shoreline with Mabel.
As I type The LE must be walking, in fact she will probably be walking most of the day on her Hampton Court Pink Ribbon walk, fingers crossed for her. Mertz is also walking today, his biannual walk with his best man is in Essex this spring and whilst he's away I have B  staying. We're hoping to have a beach supper, now that the sun has come out, with food input from The Architect, the GGBs and Legs. Paella, cheese and brownies are on the list so far...

Tuesday, 13 May 2014

Low Tide 03:59 (0.60m)
High Tide 10:31 (2.40m)
Low Tide 16:19 (0.80m)
High Tide 22:34 (2.40m
Sea temperature: 11.7

Sea conditions: deep and calm, a bit murky
Weather: cloudy, cooler with the sun trying to break through
Joined by: The Usual Suspects (full team)
Topics of conversation:
We hadn't all been together for a while so there was catching up to do. Although I'd been in London last week and not swum at all I'd had Andrew Fusek Peters's book Dip: Wild Swims from the Borderlands with me and had dipped vicariously as I read the monthly chapters, finding myself floating in unknown waters of the west. The book had me by the heart from the first page and it became clear, as I made my way through his year, that the author is a kindred spirit. So much resonated with me, his sense of  a profound connection with nature upon submerging oneself and the urge and compulsion to swim outdoors rather than in a chlorinated pool in particular. His daughter's photographs of his swims, along with those he's taken of the local inhabitants of riverbanks and lakesides all add to the accessibility of his story, although the Kindle probably doesn't do them justice. I haven't swum in rivers much since I was kid and the book also served to remind me how very different and deliciously terrifying it is. I have very clear memories of swimming in rivers and lakes in the grounds of a stately pile in North Suffolk with friends and being totally relaxed and carefree till that moment when we all suddenly realised we couldn't see the bottom and the reeds below the surface were at least 6 ft long. As I travelled home with my river swimming memories refreshed I became so much more aware of the seductive silvery veins of water that criss-cross the straight route I so often take through East Anglia, noting clear water and nettle free banks for weekend adventures with my towel. My first plan is to start exploring the River Deben in June, if it's good enough for shellfish to thrive in it's good enough for me.
The sea was welcoming today though, as if to say "don't be unfaithful, I'm always here for you", but the draw of freshwater is strong in me now. The sea had warmed to a very delightful 11.7 and the tide was just right, allowing us to get up to our necks quickly and then levelling out; perfect for swimming and walking against the current.

The others encountered a photo shoot on the way down to the beach and there was much speculation about what it was all about, was she famous, was it a model showing a collection? etc. but as she only seemed to change once, in full view but the boys missed it, we decided it must be an actress. The Pirate said she looked familiar, but then that didn't mean much, everyone pretty and blond looked famous to him. The Poet told us about his son's classmate, Lily Cole, earning millions modelling during her time at school and everyone agreed she was somewhat more than a model these days, having such a successful cultural career. She also supports World Land Trust Indian Elephant Corridor appeal, so she's got to be OK. 

The LE and TBC were off on a practice walk today, I hope they made it home safely and without blisters...

Monday, 5 May 2014

High Tide 03:23 (2.20m)
Low Tide 08:47 (0.90m)
High Tide 15:15 (2.30m)
Low Tide 21:30 (0.70m)
Sea temperature: 11
Sea conditions: good, very clear
Weather: sunny, crisp breeze
Joined by: The Usual Suspects (minus DK) and Mertz
Topics of conversation:
The water was clear, clearer than it has been for a very long time and we could see our feet.
Welcome back The Poet, he and Sara have been on a family pilgrimage to Spain and his brother-in-law has kept the world informed of their movements through every social media and photo sharing application available, so we know all about the wonderful places they've been. Still looking forward to catching up on the human side though.
Welcome back also to The Pirate, they had been at another lovely event, the naming ceremony and marriage blessing for The Buddhist, his wife and child. The Pirate has the honour of being one of the child's Protectors, a role akin to a guardian or godparent. She now has a small group of people who will be responsible for ensuring that 'she grows up to be good' and I can't think of a better choice than The Pirate to do such a thing. We joked that he could also be called The Budfather and that the term 'Protector' had a ring of Harry Potter about it - perhaps they all have to meet yearly to conduct rituals. The actual ceremony sounded wonderful, it involved tying a red threat around all the Protectors and the child, which they held and then the thread was tied off and cut so that a bracelet was formed on each of them, and which The Pirate had added to his 2 others.
I was given a ticking off in the pub last night for not blogging often enough by the local PR guru, a regular reader, so we did her proud this morning as one of her clients is ASDA. Mertz and I were both sporting out new ADSA cosies - they are by far the best reasonably priced swimwear, and although I have a large number of swimming outfits these days, theirs are my favourite: ASDA swimwear for women Perhaps she can arrange for us to test the entire women's range, now that there are 3 regular women in the group...
I'm sorry PR guru though, I won't be blogging for a few days as I am working away from home next week. It's the 25th Anniversary of World Land Trust and we have a number of events as well as the International Symposium at the Royal Botanical Gardens at Kew. Whilst I will be filming most of the time I'm hoping to have a chance to look around as I haven't been for years, I'm not going to attempt to find somewhere to swim during my stay though, so no blog. I suspect that attempting to film all 21 project partners in their breaks will be challenging enough, especially as I have to conduct 2 of the interviews in Spanish, which I haven't spoken properly since I was 8 - must practice!
Mertz is on holiday. He has next week off whilst I'm away and he explained to the assembled company that he was in pursuit of manly things during the week, involving walking, skimming, and cycling with other dudes. The Pirate, sitting at the other end of the row, then heard him further defining this manliness as including talking football and drinking beer and said "I don't do manly". Mertz asked if The Poet would like to join him on one of his walks to Dunwich and we all tried to work out how far there and back would be, using our favoured route. The LE is taking part in the Hampton Court Pink Ribbon Walk on May 17th, and is working her way up (perhaps that should be walking her way up) to the 10 mile mark. We are all being morally supportive and should you wish to be financially supportive of this worthy cause her JustGiving page can be found here:

Fundraising for Breast Cancer Care

As The LE, Mertz and I walked home together she told us all about her wonderful day at a local nursery and plant specialist centre yesterday (I'd asked her to look out for a particular plant for me) and Mertz said that as a start to his holiday today he is cycling to meet a friend for the day to drink beer and talk football, and that on the way he was going to stop there to see their iris display. The LE remarked that she didn't really think this fitted the brief of 'manly', but he's going anyway!
I'm particularly proud of these blooms this year from a very old and ignored peony that I found behind a bush and cleared, fed and watered. By way of thank you it has rewarded my with these stunning flowers. I'm contemplating putting in a peony bed as a result.

Thursday, 1 May 2014

High Tide 00:22 (2.50m)
Low Tide 06:31 (0.50m)
High Tide 12:45 (2.50m)
Low Tide 18:49 (0.50m)
Sea temperature: not taken
Sea conditions: glassy calm, very low
Weather: sun burning through the mist, heavy dew
Joined by: No one
Topics of conversation: None - see above
Yesterday The LE and I had discussed a book, Dip: Wild Swims from the Borderlands which was published today and now sits patiently waiting on my Kindle. She'd seen the author interviewed on TV and passed on an article about Andrew Fusek Peters's battle with depression and the importance of swimming in his recovery:

The idea of escaping what wild swimmers describe as ‘chlorinated captivity’ is not new – the Swallows and Amazons did it before breakfast, the Bloomsbury set did it after tea and Andrew has been doing it since childhood. Some of his happiest memories in an often troubled upbringing are centred on the days when he and his elder brother Marc leapt into a river, lake or hidden pool. ‘We didn’t call it wild swimming back then – to us it was just swimming,’ he says. ‘But wild water has often been balm to my overloaded mind.’

‘Swimming is about feeling alive – whatever fear is in my head, as soon as I am in the water, it has gone, slam-splash-dunked. So my children got to see me very ill, but they’ve also seen me get better. I didn’t do what my dad did. I broke the pattern.’
Read more: 

My Guardian Angel on the shore (far right)
As it is the first of May I reminded TBC, as we passed on the car park, that washing your face in the dew is essential to maintain one's youth, I hope she passed this on to the other swimmers. The dew was hanging off the webs, waiting for them.

Here's a question for the Swimmers who read this - what's this?

In other news I have just received an update from The LE, it sounds as if they were on form this morning:
Very, very lovely this morn and sorry we missed you. As TBC said, you told her it was warmer further out and so it proved.
The Pirate and I ventured out and wallowed. TBC and DK swam in the rapidly rising shallows. 
Jagger nearly got caught like The Artist, by lolloping into what he thought was shallow water and then finding it up to his chest. Fortunately The Poet isn't here. Can imagine his reaction to a request to carry Jagger on his shoulders.
 Jagger got out on his own. Largely because I walked off.
Talk on the beach was of Cliff Richard's height. 
TBC said she met him at an airport and wasn't he short?
DK insisted that he was at least 5'10'.
'Everybody looks tall to you', didn't go down too well.
DK insisted he knew him because of course he had met him and also 'I met him after Jackie Irving went out with him.. 
The Pirate (on form) said 'I didn't know you went out with Cliff Richard.'
And if so, (I queried) surely you could measure him, when he was lying down....'
And on and on....