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
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.
The Great Crab Release
On Saturday I swam in Scales Tarn, overlooked by Blencathra, while a crocodile of people plodded on up the tricky way. The tarn was a beautiful azure blue, though in truth you had to be underwater to admire its colour, since the surface reflected the leaden sky. It was cold and wet, but outside of the tarn it was also wet, and quite slippery, and as the people filed past me on their way up Sharp Edge we eyed each other, both safe in the knowledge that the other party was the more foolish.
The Way Up To Sharp Edge
On Sunday I swam at Clevedon. If you’re not an open water swimmer you may be unaware that the subject of Tow-Floats amongst swimmers is a bit like Marmite amongst toast-eaters. But when there’s a stiff wind blowing up the channel against the tide, this is what it’s like to swim here. In the mess of confused waves you can barely see another swimmer yards away, but for a brightly-coloured bobbing float. And this is one reason why most of us at Clevedon like our floats: it’s always reassuring to know that you’re not alone out there, that there are some other nutters with you who think this is a good idea.
I’m told by Channel swimmers that these conditions are good practice for the English Channel. It is not something I ever intend to put to the test, but my three fellow swimmers are waiting for their tide window, having twice got as far as Dover, once even got out on the pilot boat, but the weather’s being uncooperative. So please cross your fingers for the BCH Relay team. You can follow them here: https://twitter.com/BchChannel?s=04. They are a team of ‘mad doctors’ and if you follow the link you can also donate to their cause to fund a specialist bereavement cubicle at the Bristol Royal Hospital for Children
Of Tides & Tow-Floats
Jackie and I went swimming in Ullswater last week. The rain in the morning was so heavy I discovered that, while a Dryrobe is excellent for keeping most of a person dry, under the right conditions it also has an ability to collect all that rain and funnel it straight into one’s boots…
It’s much more fun being soaking wet in a lake.
Jackie, in a bejewelled Ullswater
At high tide Ladye Bay has almost no beach. When we arrived, Sue sat on a handy boulder, perched like a stylish rubber-clad mermaid on this tiny ornamental beach. I am sure I added to this charming scene with my elegant re-entry into the water.
An elegant re-entry at Ladye Bay
Percy is STARVING* and is expressing his anguish with all of the waggling his considerable ears can muster. He can keep this up for the full our between now and actual cat teatime at 5pm, his protest punctuated by a strident “MwaaaH” and finally a gentle claw in the backside.
* For the benefit of cat-lovers, I should add that no cats were in fact starved to make this drawing, that there is actually still food in Percy’s bowl, and that as soon as this sketch was finished I walked Percy to his bowl and he began to tuck in, thereby ensuring me about 20 minutes peace. Percy likes me to accompany him to his dinner bowl at regular intervals throughout the day.
“Listen to my Ears!”