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 previously overlooked. On Monday morning The Great Crab Release occurred. 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 conscientiously 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.
Apologies if the sudden name change has caused any confusion, I posted a couple of weeks ago about changes to this site, and it is now re-named Waterdrawn.com (and not ‘Art for Swimmers’ as I had suggested earlier). It’s my new site for swimming-related artwork. Other artwork will be posted on www.nancyfarmer.wordpress.com.
Meanwhile, here is a little commission I was asked for a few weeks ago, commemorating a very cheeky swim in the marine lake, in full view of the innocent seagulls (and quite possibly associated dog-walkers!)
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.
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!
On Wednesday the marine lake had dropped to 9.5 degrees. This is not an unpleasant temperature at which to swim for a while, but it still seems important to give the water a hard contemplative stare before getting in, just in case. Winter is coming…
We had our correct hats on, Clare and I. Perfectly synchronized with each other and with the view.
The hat, if you missed it, is one I designed nearly a year ago and appeared on my main site… got to have a team hat! It features the Pier at Clevedon, as you can see. We are in the Marine Lake, I have probably bent the pier to get it in at this angle, but it’s always there, part of the view of our swims. Unlike the Welsh hills, which come and go with the weather. (Sorry, after two print runs they are again sold out. If there is a lot of demand I may get them re-printed sometime, so if you’re interested send me an email and I’ll make a list. At present I don’t have plans to re-print, but if I get enough enquiries….)
And I will admit, a little ‘cheating’ went on here: the hats in the picture are my actual design for the hat, worked into the picture. Because I don’t see why I should draw something twice!
Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against a nice warm swim at 20 degrees in the summer, nothing at all. But on Thursday Michelle got into the marine lake before 7 in the morning, I got out at nearly midday. In the middle of the morning, we were in the lake at the same time for about 20 minutes, doing laps. All I see of some of my swimming friends at the moment is a passing splash and a flash of goggles, and yet in the winter we huddle in the pub over hot chocolate and spend longer talking than we do swimming.
I am enjoying the warmth, I am not complaining, but we are ships that pass at mid-morning. The winter has its good points too.
Ships that pass at mid-morning, at Clevedon 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….
I’m in Cumbria but this is not Cumbria. Catching up on some swimming moments as work has been too busy lately. This was last Tuesday in Clevedon marine lake. Don’t be misled by the blue sky and cute white puffy clouds, a vicious Arctic wind was howling onshore. This time the seagulls did not stand on the wall observing me, they surfed the gale, watching with curiosity to see if the foolish human would freeze. I wished I’d worn gloves.
The Silly Hat Swim at Clevedon Marine Lake Opening
At Clevedon Marine Lake Grand Opening
On 2nd April 2016 the Marine Lake was officially re-opened, following an extensive repair and re-vamping project. It had in fact been open since November of 2015, but few people other than our band of hardy swimmers had been using it through the winter. The Silly Hat Swim was our contribution to the general celebrations and goings-on in the lake, it was a very simple and silly idea, quite possibly because it was my idea: Hats must be made, not bought, and the hat wearers be able to swim around the pontoon in the middle of the lake and back again, whilst still wearing their hat. The pontoon is in fact quite near the deep end and the swim was probably less than 100 yards, the idea being that anyone could join in and not freeze, even those who hadn’t been swimming in the lake all winter. Prizes were awarded for exceptional hats.
And I’ve been busy ever since, which is why this drawing is rather late. This does not excuse the fact that right at the front I put a swimmer in a flatcap, which, if you’ve been paying attention to the rules, is disqualified for not having been hand made, but I just could not resist it. There I was, swimming my best most careful head-up breaststroke to keep my own hat on my head, and across my field of view swam a chap in a wetsuit, shades and a flat cap. This doesn’t happen very often. So I had to put him in even though there were many more fantastic hats than I have included.
My hat is slipping out of the frame in the bottom right hand corner: a Viking paper boat collaged into the image from the drawing that I used for the actual paper hat. More on this on my main website shortly.
And the day was glorious, the weather perfect, and much fun and silliness was had.