“My Head Feels Like Velvet Now”

“My Head Feels Like Velvet Now” – pencil drawing by Nancy Farmer

or: How To Jump Into Cold Water

There was some discussion on Facebook this morning about Wim Hof getting a load of celebrities jumping into cold water on TV and whether this was a good idea. I haven’t seen it, I just thought you’d like to see how a pro jumps into cold water. This is Hilary Jenkins-Spangler who was fantasticality accommodating enough to suggest jumping off the island in Clevedon Marine Lake last month… just because I wanted to practice drawing portraits*.

Hillary was already thoroughly acclimatized. She jumped from the island, and you cannot jump from the island without first swimming to it. Cold shock response – that gasping, heart racing that occurs when you first enter cold water – is triggered by a rapid decrease in skin temperature. It’s the initial gasp that is dangerous, because if you jump in so that your head is under water when you first gasp, you will gasp a lungful of water.

But cold shock happens only at the moment of cooling, and then it passes. If you get out and immediately jump in again, you don’t gasp a second time. It does not mean you won’t suffer an attack of classic Ice Cream Head however. Cold water on your face can cause that sudden splitting headache. I am told the sudden pain is actually the cold hitting the vagus nerve just about at the bridge of your nose. It also passes, but I know a lot of swimmers who won’t put their faces in until the water warms up.

This is a series of portraits of Hilary, it’s also a series of portraits of Ice Cream Head. “My head feels like velvet now” said Hilary, only a minute or two later.

These pictures are framed because I have an exhibition coming up in Ilminster, in August. More on that soon.

*Yes, of course, the portraits were drawn afterwards, at home, from photos.


    1. Definitely Chris! I would be delighted to do another sequence… and I get complaints that I don’t draw enough blokes. Actually I have a nice drawing of you taking your hat off, but I quite liked the sequence idea… we shall talk on the next available Monday… (but not this coming one, am away)


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s