Sophie Apnée‎ in Paris, photo by Manon of Blue Parallax

Distant snowflakes

My snowflakes / swimflakes hats are getting about a bit, I just wanted to show you a couple of photos that I particularly loved – in Paris and Siberia.

I’ve sold out of these hats now, but people have suggested mermaid hats several times so I’m thinking about that for the spring. Also, anyone who wanted a Clevedon Pier hat – I have a few of those coming in the next couple of weeks. If you want to get a very rare email about when I have new stuff, feel free to add yourself to the mailing list – see link above.

Paris photos by Manan of Blue Parallax

How to get into Cold Water

How to get into Cold Water

A few tried and tested methods…

Some enter the water while raising arms in an attempt to remain as dry as possible. This works, for a very very, very short time. An alternative technique is to splash your face – or all of you – with water, which is rater the opposite: get wet before you have to get wet. It’s not for me, but I’ve seen people do this happily! Then there are those who like to inch into the water bit by bit, drawing out the appalling process for several minutes. It often helps to swear a lot. I used to be an arm-raiser, but I’ve slowly come to the conclusion that if it is very cold the best thing is to get the whole dreadful experience over as fast as possible, wade in and then plunge and swim as fast as possible until it stops being awful. For the sake of caution I should add this last method is not a beginners choice: do make sure you can breathe before you can swim!

It’s lovely once you’re in!

How to get into Cold Water

How to get into Cold Water

Portishead Popsicle swim cap

Portishead Popsicle swim cap

Portishead Popsicle swim cap

Portishead Popsicle swim cap

Behold the Portishead Popsicle swim cap!

I think I got most of the important things into the picture:
The water will be cold. Very cold.
Despite this, many happy people will be swimming in it.
They will not be diving in! (see point one)
There are different classes for wetsuit and non-wetsuit, unlike many winter events where all rubber is banned.
There will be cake.
There may be silly hats (a stretch this one, I admit, but it’s not often you see someone in a pool with a bobble hat).
It’s at the lovely friendly community run Portishead Lido

The Portishead Popsicle happens on 16th December.

… and I believe you can still enter the events. The shortest distance is 30 metres, you know you can do it! You can certainly still order a hat till this Sunday (26th November). I will be there too, if anyone would like their hat signed. For more information visit the Facebook event page: https://www.facebook.com/events/1181288338683926/

Emma's swimmer tattoo

A Swimmer Tattoo

It’s not often people ask me for artwork they are going to wear for the rest of their lives, so I am delighted to show you this little lady which I designed for Emma Cummings. It was a piece of work which I did last year. The brief was that she liked a line drawing, but also a watercolour-type loose colouring, so I combined the two, refining the line drawing and leaving the colour as a more random effect. Here’s the final effect, which may or may not have more colour added later. Besides, she seems an appropriate colour for an outdoor swimmer this time of year anyway! (even though, as we know well, we actually go bright pink, not blue…)

Emma's swimmer tattoo

Emma’s swimmer tattoo

Coloured swimmer

Coloured swimmer

Sketch for tattoo design

Sketch for tattoo design

Emma's swimmer tattoo

Emma’s swimmer tattoo

The Duck Thermometer

The Duck says it’s 9 degrees

…But we think it’s much warmer. My thermometer claims it’s nearly 10.5. Winter swimmers will understand the difference.
Once it gets colder I like to know the temperature, partly I feel it’s safer, having an idea of the actual temperature, because my skin finds it hard to distinguish between the sensation of ‘cold and wet’ and ‘really really cold …and wet’. For some reason the duck shaped thermometers always seem to read low, but as long as you are used to adjusting for duck pessimism it doesn’t matter what thermometer you have if it’s the same one each time.

The Duck Thermometer

The Duck Thermometer

It was summer, only just now…

The first leaves began to fall, it seems like only yesterday. It was a few weeks ago in fact when I drew this one but it somehow got forgotten. I swam in Ullswater with Francine, Derwent water with Jackie. This is the drawing that was inspired by both those swims, though the scene is my memory of the Ullswater swim: there was no denying the leaves really had begun to fall, so had the temperature. We had brought warm clothes, but there was no real hurry to get into them: still time for faffing, still capable of holding a conversation and stringing words into sentences. But winter is coming…

The leaves had begun to fall, and so had the temperature.

The leaves had begun to fall, and so had the temperature.

The Great Crab Release

The Perils of Half Term Holiday Swimming

It helps to know when the school holidays are, if only because the traffic is different and sometimes everyone heads to the coast all at once. However, this was a peril I had previoulsy overlooked. On Monday morning The Great Crab Release occured. At a still relatively toasty 11.5 degrees in the lake, changing back into warm clothes would otherwise have been safe and simple. It was nippier than expected!

By chance, I wasn’t the hapless swimmer exiting the water: I was the one running around with a camera saying ‘Oh Look! Crabs!’ and taking photos of them. It was an impressive haul, the crabs were concientiously counted out of the bucket and there were over 30 of them, caught in little more than half an hour. They are back in the marine lake now, but some of you may not wish to know that.

The Great Crab Release

The Great Crab Release