We got to Ullswater on Saturday morning, in the wind and rain. Rosie and Francine were already swimming, right out across Glencoyne bay, nearly invisible to the naked eye if they hadn’t had tow-floats as well. They were not, however, invisible to the naked ear, swimming as they were at a steady rate of about 100 words a minute. As they came back they passed by the spot where Glencoyne Beck lets into the lake, its cool waters running straight down from the fells, and though it may be June now we could hear quite clearly: it’s still quite cold in Ullswater.
(with apologies to triathlon friends and Richard!)
“I thought that was you”, Richard Smith said to me on Thursday afterwards.
…there was careful cold water acclimatization going on, triathletes emerging from their winter hibernation, technical discussions, comparison of wetsuits and swim trackers… “I saw this person in a bikini barge* through with an attitude of “…just going for a swim…” ”
(he did say barge, but I think he meant it in a good way, I did not actually elbow anyone off the ramp)
I’ve seen triathletes swimming: some of them don’t seem to like the water very much, they like to have a fight with it. And they do like wetsuits or their legs sink, with all that bike riding and running about: too much muscle, not enough fat!
But whatever you have to do that gets you in the water: and they are getting in the water now. They nearly all overtook me, of course, but I don’t care, I’ve got all year, they’ve only got a few months!
And apologies also to Vobster: it’s definitely not all triathlon swimmers, as it sometimes has a reputation for being: there is a dedicated bunch of year-round swimmers, both skins and neoprened, and it’s the best water in Somerset! …come and join us: https://www.facebook.com/groups/988659817829090/
I am painting teeny weeny swimmers!
These are more 4 inch square ‘Mini Swimmers’. The mini swimmers all started when Glastonbury Galleries put on an ‘Anonymous Art’ show two years ago, where they asked lots of artists to create 4 inch square artworks, and sold them all framed the same size and unsigned. I did paintings in watercolour and gold leaf. These ones are not the actual paintings I’m putting in this year’s exhibition, I’ve done something slightly different… though you will all probably guess which mine are in any case I expect.
These paintings will be for sale in the end, but there is a lot of work to do before they are finished…. I know you like a bit of work in progress.
Oh, and I even have a few paintings of chaps as well, but not many as the un-wetsuited ones I know mostly swim at Clevedon and that’s rubbish for underwater photography!
Sunday 12th May, 7pm
The Curzon – Clevedon’s community cinema – opens its doors again for a second swimming-themed evening. I cannot put it better than the text from their own website – below – though I was tempted to use Emma’s write-up instead, which describes my hats as ‘legendary’.
This evening is expected to sell out, so make sure you book if you want to come.
“In the second of our popular open water swimming events, on Sunday May the 12th we combine a screening of The Ponds with an exhibition of early 20th century photographs of the very pools that this charming film depicts. Before and after the film we have talks from Emma Pusill and John Myatt, two engaging local open water swimmers with quite different stories to tell.
In ‘Travels with My Towel’, Emma will take you on a tour of some of the pools she visited when researching her recently completed book. The Lido Guide (featuring Clevedon Marine Lake), is a practical, beautiful and inspiring guide to the open air pools of the UK & Channel Islands.
In the second talk, in his inimitable style, John Myatt discusses swimming 1km in zero degree water, unconventional Russian recovery techniques, and how the right mind-set led him to his rightful place on the podium at the World Ice Swimming Championships in Murmansk this year.
Nancy Farmer will be selling her exquisite swimming caps, calendars and other works of wet art, and the bar (which sells cake, naturally), will be open before, during and after the event.
Water belongs outdoors!
This event is part of our Curzon Roof Festival, a series of events with the aim of raising funds to repair our leaky roof and save this wonderful cinema.
The Ponds is a film about the brilliant community of outdoor swimming. In a world of constant flux and chaos, it’s almost a shock to discover some experiences remain natural, unhurried and unchanged. In the middle of metropolitan London lies Hampstead Heath, 320 hectares of forest, parkland, wildlife plus three swimming ponds. People swim in them all year round, whatever the weather, just as they did in the time of Keats and Constable, and our cameras filmed them over 12 months as they swam, laughed, sang, complained, ruminated, philosophised and simply sought respite from all that life threw at them.”
Join us for a fantastic evening of talk, Q&A, live music, and cake!
Sunday 19th May 7.30pm
Cossham Hall, Chapel Street, Thornbury, BS35 2BJ
Professor Andy Wolf recently retired from a career in medicine and proudly became the oldest
man to solo swim the English Channel in 2018 whilst raising funds for revolutionary 3D printing
technology for children’s cardiac surgery at the Bristol Children’s Hospital.
In his fascinating talk Prof Wolf will take us through the trials and tribulations of the training and competition of his Channel swimming exploits.
We will also be treated to explanations about the revolutionary 3D printing technology that Prof
Wolf is helping to fund-raise for and develop which is enabling surgeons at the Bristol Children’s
Hospital to print exact models of patient’s hearts so that they can plan and practice complex
surgeries. The 3D printing will also allow surgeons to bio-print using stem-cells, meaning that
the implanted organ grows with the child and never needs replacing.
Prof Wolf’s talk will be interspersed with live music on a watery theme from local musicians and
the opportunity to enjoy some lovely homemade cakes followed by Q&A
I will not say that this happened, this is merely a hypothesis.
If it had happened, if it had happened that close on a dozen girls had skinny dipped in the lake, in a place remarkably close to the centre of a seaside town… if they had, they might have found that the cover of darkness is quite exceptional, the bright lights being all around, but not actually in that place. If they had, there would only have been the squealing of delight to give them away. They would have been invisible, but not, it is true, inaudible. But the Outside is a big place, and giggling would have carried only so far. The Outside is good for swimming.
If they had swum there. Hypothetically.
Little commission I completed a few weeks ago – a digital drawing. And yes, you can ask me to match your wallpaper / paintwork as Sophia did, as long as you can send me a sample of the colour.
A little point here – I do know some artists would be outraged at the very thought of being asked to create art to match the decor, but seriously, would you go into a gallery and say, “I’d like to buy that painting, it’s lovely and it will look absolutely awful in my front room”. If it‘s a commission, an artist should be able to fulfil a brief be it subject, colour, size or whatever, or they are just pleasing themselves… and there’s another word for that 😉
Just saying this, as sometimes I think people are worried about getting a stroppy reply if they ask a question like that. If you do, find someone else to ask….
Changing a brief half way thorough is another matter we needn’t go into here (because this was not the case!). This was a lovely drawing to do, helped in part because of the natural grace in the initial photos I worked from.
Mind you, I can invent grace, where necessary. Trust me, I’m an artist 😉
It was a little breezy down at Clevedon Beach this morning. Not as bad as it had been yesterday: a couple of floating trees, a bent iron bar on the beach and multiple heaps of seaweed up on the road above the sea wall bore witness to the weekend weather, but still, the water had that washing machine look to it. And it was a chill wind.
So as well as my cossie I also brought my sketchbook. I had a cold which came back for an encore, and wanting to discourage it from a second curtain call, I still managed to feel that the journey up the M5 was worth it by drawing everyone else getting in instead. There may have been just a little shrieking…
Of course the company, coffee and cake was worth the journey on its own. Especially the company, and being nice and dry and able to enjoy watching the shrieking!
This isn’t new artwork I just wanted to post this photo, courtesy of Joanna Richardson. This is a panel I designed for Marlens (the charity which maintains the Marine Lake at Clevedon), one of three printed onto tiles and installed at the lake. Usually it’s not underwater, but on Friday it was a very, very high tide. And below is me on a different day, next to it, just for reference!
I’m an artist: I’m not obliged to be politically correct, or even accurate, but there is a difference between girls and boys when it comes to cold water swimming. There is one thing that girls are so much better at. Faffing.
People ask me why there aren’t many pictures of men in my paintings, there aren’t actually many of the male persuasion in our group, it is true, but another of the reasons for it is they simply aren’t there. We’ve no sooner arrived at our lake, said hello, caught up on the week, the weather, measured the temperature of the water, discussed the possibility of wearing gloves or not wearing gloves, admired a new bobble hat or two, a bikini, somebody’s homemade cake, repeated the water temperature to newcomers, compared the readings on a couple of auxiliary thermometers, discussed the water temperature with those leaving the vicinity and shared a couple of hilarious stories about pants…. and we look up and find that the boys have just got in and started swimming! There they are, half way to the other side of the lake. And we have so far succeeded in removing our bobble hats and locating our cossies. If we are organized.
So now you know. One thing boys aren’t very good at.
This is Chris on the steps and Andy, already swimming. Andy was last year’s oldest person to swim the English Channel, solo, and he probably didn’t stop to swap stories about pants even then.