Tag Archives: ice swimming

Polar Bear Plunge! 2019 at Bude Sea Pool

Welcome to the Silly Season

In truth the Silly Season has been going on since about December if you are a cold water swimmer. If you are not, you may well have considered it to be silly to swim outside since September, if not earlier. The actual swimming, however, is not the silly part. Welcome to the season of Winter Events, where wetsuits are often banned, but chicken costumes considered perfectly appropriate attire.
This is the Polar Bear Plunge! 2019, at Bude Sea Pool

Polar Bear Plunge! 2019 at Bude Sea Pool

Polar Bear Plunge! 2019 at Bude Sea Pool

(note: this is all one pic – since they updated the software and I updated the hardware I seem to have a load more pixels to play with, so I thought you might like to see some close-ups since I spent ages putting all this in….)

Close-up detail 1

Close-up detail – the chickens and the tiger

Close-up detail 2

Close-up detail – medals for everyone!

Close-up detail 3

Close-up detail – Lucy, Neptune and the unimpressed dog.

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

Two point five degrees

Two Point Five Degrees

Two point five degrees

Two point five degrees: gouache, watercolour, aluminium, gold and palladium leaf, mica powder

Not as flattering as my last paintings of swimmers, but I was trying to convey the feeling of the water, bright and icy. The photograph that I used for reference in this painting was taken on a day when the water was indeed 2.5°C. I’ve left the painting a little unfinished compared to what I would usually do – the patchiness of her pink skin, the remains of white paint around the edges that was actually a mask of white paint protecting the figure while I added the grey, all added to the feeling of rawness, so I left it like that.

The piece is particularly difficult to photograph: what shows up as dark grey on a scanner is actually aluminium leaf (and a few shreds of gold and palladium leaf), and it catches the light. The grey paint also has mica powder added to it which gives it a lustre. Photographed at an angle – below – you can see the shine off the aluminium. I’ve also inexpertly taken a film clip of the light catching it.

Having once been a goldsmith, I have to admit to a certain metals snobbery. Though aluminium was briefly – about the time of Napoleon – the latest big thing, it now seems something like sacrilege to use gold and aluminium leaf together. And it handles differently – it’s much thicker, so that you can actually pick it up with fingers, but it needs more stickiness to attach it to the paper. Gold sticks with the tiniest hint of stickiness, and brushes away where it’s not wanted. Aluminium tends to shred and pull off in pieces where it was supposed to be stuck. Which is how I came to be filling in the gaps with gold leaf, though I quite like this effect. But I could still get to like the aluminium leaf, it is very much shinier than palladium or white gold, and white gold would eventually tarnish, and it doesn’t cost a fortune to use this much.

Another close-up

Another close-up

photo taken at an angle to catch the light

photo taken at an angle to catch the light

Two point five degrees - close-up

Two point five degrees – close-up

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

'Getting Out' ...after 4 degrees!

Getting Out

The lake was 4 degrees the other day, cold enough to make the nerves in hands and wrists fizz and ping. After 10 minutes getting out was welcome, removing goggles a little more complex, with hands that seemed to have forgotten the exact location of individual fingers.

'Getting Out' ...after 4 degrees!

‘Getting Out’ …after 4 degrees in Clevedon Marine Lake