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.
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.
This weekend was the wonderful, fantastic event The Big Chill Swim, a winter swimming gala in Windermere, Cumbria, run by Colin Hill and the Chillswim team, to whom massive thanks for doing such a superb job!
Fellow winter swimmers will no doubt recognize the sight of heavy fleece-lined waterproofs, woolly hats and extremely scanty clothing (often on the same person), as perfectly normal. ‘Not too cold actually, well above 6 degrees’ when assessing the water temperature, would likewise be an attitude only unsurprising amongst winter swimmers.
There were so many images I could have drawn but these two chaps, deep in conversation in their anoraks and budgie-smugglers, were too good to resist! I don’t know who they are, but they know I photographed them so if anyone recognizes them please let me know, I did say I might draw them.
And for the record, I won two gold medals! First in category (female age 45 – 50) in the 450m freestyle and 30m head-up breaststroke, and in the latter I was 2nd female over all. Don’t knock it till you’ve tried it 😉
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 in Clevedon Marine Lake
The leaves are just beginning to turn, but they aren’t in the lake yet. What was in the lake was suddenly an impressive amount of rain, the mist that seemed to lie on the surface of the lake was not actual mist, but the view across the surface of the water through a million splashing raindrops – my eyes being mere inches above the water. This was Vobster on Tuesday; it’s still warmish – above 15 – but it’s cooling down now. Winter is coming!
Raindrops on water, at Vobster Quay
I have just listed a lot of swimming drawings as greetings cards in my Etsy shop, click here to view them.
Clevedon, early yesterday morning. These were the colours of our swim, and they were beautiful. Soft, muted blues, yellows and greys, and the smoky Welsh hills just across the other side, because this is the Bristol Channel, this is the colour that it is, and it’s better to see the beauty in what you have got, than to complain that elsewhere people have blue water to swim in. My swimming companions seemed also to have chosen their colours to match the scene. All except me, who had on a bright red had and a bright orange float. I haven’t put me in: I clashed!
(Next year’s swimming calendars still selling by the way, but more than three quarters sold or reserved)
This is the drawing I meant to do two months ago, the start of one of Vobster’s Aquathalons. That’s me, the odd one out – the one without a wetsuit and who has no intention of going for a run either. It’s always good fun though and the presence of lots of frantically thrashing neoprened bodies makes me swim a little bit faster!
Yesterday was August’s Aquathalon, and I have to admit I skipped it in favour of swimming a lot more laps, but I was there in the lake at the same time, doing my own thing.
Anyone without a knowledge of perspective and wetsuits may fail to spot the subtle fact that I am lower in the water than everyone else, so I just thought I’d draw it to your attention. Of course that may just be because of the cake I ate first …
And anyone who was there, I know you all had white hats on not red ones, but red looked better: Beauty is Truth, Keats said so.
Waiting for Kitten Food:
Outside is a beautiful day, but Percy is lurking in my studio in the hope that the bowl of kitten food that I have hidden will magically re-appear. Freyja is lurking in my studio in the hope that Percy will do something interesting. it is a sort of three-way stand-off. We shall see who breaks first.
It’s six o’clock on a fair August evening, and the kid had been shut inside again. Arthur and Percy can hang out and ablute in peace, without fear of being pounced upon by small and enthusiastic kittens.