Category Archives: showcase

The BBC are on Clevedon Beach again

The BBC are on the beach again!

It’s been a funny time down at Clevedon Beach. Suddenly you can’t go for a swim without tripping over a BBC camera man, so it was about time that a drawing appeared to commemorate it.

So far as I was involved, it all started when a request appeared on Facebook from the BBC for people to be filmed swimming in the sea, on a damp and grey Tuesday in late November. Paying very little attention to what the filming was for, this being the sort of thing that I was happy to do anyway regardless of camera crew, I happily agreed and toddled along on the appointed day.

waiting for the BBC again...

waiting for the BBC again… last Monday it was Countryfile.

There was faffing. Much has been mentioned about the ability of cold water swimmers to faff, but let me tell you the combination of cold water swimmers and film crew pushed this to new heights. Which was just as well, since the appointed meeting time was 10.30am, with a high but neap tide due at 1pm. Not one but all 14 swimmers probably pointed out, individually and at various times when action looked like it was about to happen, that this meant that nobody was going to be able to get in the actual sea until getting on for 12. This is the Bristol Channel after all. The ‘sea’ must first come in, approaching Clevedon across sinking mud and rocks, and slow down a bit, before there is any question of actually getting in it.

Time enough for bacon sandwiches, a second round of coffee, and a third check that none of us sported any trace of logos about our person. Time for a trip to the beach and back to the meeting room at the Pier, and back to the beach again. Whereupon I should say that the BBC, concerned for the welfare of their subjects, offered hot water bottles, in fluffy glittery coats (the water bottles had the coats on, the BBC also did, but they were not glittery).

Anyway, to cut a long story short, I was a little surprised to find that come January 1st, I was in most of the newspapers and my bottom was all over BBC1, repeatedly, that we had been photographed by Martin Parr, a famous photographer, and that everyone I know had noticed. And the Twitterati were upset about the loss of hippos. It was slightly surreal.

Since then we have had two more lots of BBC camera people getting us to re-create the scene, partly I think to prove that it wasn’t just a one-off and we really do swim all year. It looked just the same, except for a proliferation of gloves… it is January now, some small concession to the English climate is allowable.

This particular drawing was inspired by Countryfile, on Monday of last week. Traffic on the M5 had meant I was nearly 20 minutes late, but fortunately the faffing was in full swing and I joined in like I’d been there all the time.

And if you still haven’t seen my bottom on BBC1, here you go: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-38486283
(I’m in the blue snowflake costume, and for the record, no, I don’t have a bruise on my bottom, it’s dent where I hit a tree, sledging, when I was about 14…)

BBC idents in action!

BBC idents in action!

BBC idents - still shot

BBC idents – still shot

New Year's Day at Clevedon Marine Lake, 2017

New Year’s Day 2017

Clevedon Marine Lake

Quite unlike the Last Swim of 2016, the first swim of 2017 was a mass affair. More shrieking than swimming, especially from those who believe a new year’s resolution is all it takes, to get into 5 degrees as if you like it. They didn’t last. Though to be fair, some might: our Clevedon Lake and Sea Swimmers group is growing all the time, new faces popping up even through the winter and some of them stay, and surprise themselves.

The local media was there too, and plenty of umbrella’d watchers. Determined to have a proper swim, I swam off to the far end, and by the time I got back it was all over. A stiff wind and a determined drizzle had blown a lot of them straight into the pub.

New Year's Day at Clevedon Marine Lake, 2017

New Year’s Day at Clevedon Marine Lake, 2017

Last Swim of 2016

Last Swim of 2016, or: ‘Why do you do it?’

‘Why do you do it?’ said the diver, struggling into her drysuit and eyeing my swimming costume with a tinge of horror. Because this is what it looked like; because being in a wetsuit is not the same as being in the water; because I can.

I do admit to wearing gloves yesterday, I had forgotten that, when I drew this. Particularly good for chilly swims when you can’t help but stop and take photos. I had a slight dilemma about adding people to this picture, so I finished two versions.

Last Swim of 2016

Last Swim of 2016

 

Last Swim of 2016 ii

Last Swim of 2016 ii

A bouncy day at Poole

A Bouncy Day at Poole

On Friday I drove down to Poole, to swim in the sea with the lovely ladies – and two gentlemen – from Beyond the Blue. The weather came out to play, too. Used to the silty Bristol channel, the greeny-see-through waves were a delight. Late November, and we splashed about in the waves like it was high summer. Except, of course, for the quantity of woolly hats and scarves that appeared afterwards… but then again, this is England: woolly hats are hardly ever out of fashion.

A bouncy day at Poole

A bouncy day at Poole

The Transformation at Clevedon Marine Lake

The Transformation

I have several jumper-dresses, which I mostly live in through the winter – a single item of clothing that takes seconds to put on. Combined with leggings for after swimming they are chosen for maximum covering-power in minimum time and loose enough to use as a changing-tent to remove a cossie from beneath.

Until you try it. Cold, uncoordinated, wet, with hands with no strength in them, and no longer sure of the exact finger count of these bright pink appendages, which are certainly not my usual hands. In a stiff wind while balanced on a sodden towel against the freezing concrete.

“Oh, a jumper dress, that’s a good idea!” say two people while I am struggling with this thing that was once clothing, transformed into an enveloping monster from a chilly circle of Hell. “Bloody isn’t”, I think. And then suddenly the Herculean task is done. Unusually, I glance at my watch, and discovered that despite being able to swear that the battle had taken 10 whole minutes, it is in fact a mere 2 minutes since I exited from the water. Odd that, time is a slippery thing when you’re running from the inevitable afterdrop. Come on shivering, ready for you now!

The Transformation at Clevedon Marine Lake

The Transformation at Clevedon Marine Lake

Strata at Lulworth bay

Strata

On Friday we swam from Lulworth Cove to Durdle Door: Fiona, Sara, Marcus, Jim, Chris and I. We had wetsuits, a camera, and overstuffed drybags with our clothes and shoes in them; we took out time and admired the Jurassic coastline. It was a perfect October day, the feeling was more like a picnic than a swim. And then we walked back.

Just west of Lulworth cove there is an arch you can swim under which takes you into an enclosed space of rocks and sea, and at the other end you can swim out through another arch. Visitors on foot can only stand on the cliffs on top, and they did, watching us getting a better view of the fabulous folded rocks.

Strata at Lulworth bay

Strata at Lulworth bay

Vobster Quay's Glow Swim 2016

The Glow Swim at Vobster Quay

September 15th: Vobster Quay’s annual ‘Glow Swim’ and the swimmers are ready to go. Once, twice… four times round the lake for the super-keen, in the dark. The sploosh of swimming loud in the ears, the flash of 80 glow-sticked heads, and the occasional swerve and bump and ‘oops, sorry’ on this surreal nocturnal journey.

Vobster Quay's Glow Swim 2016

Vobster Quay’s Glow Swim 2016

To Wildcat Island…

Chillswim Coniston end-to-end 2016

coniston-2016

On Saturday we swam the five and a quarter mile length of Coniston, me and about 700 others. The drizzle was brightened by a procession of pink and orange tow-floats.

My second time at this fantastic event,  but my first without a wetsuit, and despite the rain I had a fair view,  randomly choosing to swim the majority of it breaststroke having trained front crawl all summer.

It kept me warm. A girl can change her mind.

So for the record: 3 hours 14 minutes, 20 minutes slower than last year,  but most of that is the lack of a wetsuit.  Wetsuits go faster, but they’re not as much fun, not when one has a cossie with ‘some like it cold’ printed on the bum.

This is near the start, on the way towards Peel Island, or Wildcat Island for fans of Swallows and Amazons.

Calendars now available…

…of a new selection of swimming pictures for 2017, see my other blog for details and photos: https://nancyfarmer.wordpress.com/portfolio/2017-calendar-is-it-cold-swimming-drawings-by-nancy-farmer/

Backstroke in Clevedon Marine Lake

Look out behind me!

…backstroke in the Marine Lake

A glorious morning, a quite ridiculous 22 degrees in the water, and I am swimming backstroke. I am not fond of backstroke and I’m not especially good at it, this is partly because I feel my eyes are altogether in the wrong place on my head for such a stroke. But Plum suggested it would be very good for me. I am persevering, and now I’ve clocked up few lengths of the marine lake I find I do not hate it as much as I expected, and almost no water goes up my nose any more. And I only occasionally hit the wall. But look out behind me, I’m coming, I’m not looking, and I’m literally putting blind faith in your ability to see me first….

Backstroke in Clevedon Marine Lake

Backstroke in Clevedon Marine Lake

What to do on a Wet Sunday in Cumbria

Things to do on a Wet Sunday in Cumbria

It is Sunday, the Sunday before a bank holiday Monday no less, and I am in Cumbria. Of course it is like this. If I am going to get wet, I might as well do it properly. Somebody told me the day before that Buttermere was the wettest place in England, officially. But there’s a reason why swimmers are always saying “it’s lovely once you’re in”, it’s because it’s true.

And yes, my friends, I freely admit that that is me with the neoprene gloves and socks on. I have become a convert to them in the last month, in this unseasonally chilly spring when yesterday’s 8.5 degrees was not as bad as I was actually expecting. I shall forgo them as soon as we hit double figures, but until then, I’ve become impatient for small creature comforts.

What to do on a Wet Sunday in Cumbria

What to do on a Wet Sunday in Cumbria