Wormy is still around, but currently in favour is Catnip Dynamite, a highly bitable stuffed cloth cylinder attached to a rope with a bell on the end. It is the best thing ever for dragging up and down my studio floor at high speed and then biting. The way to get the better of it is apparently to go into attack mode whilst at the same time attempting to stand one’s head. This catches it out every time.
Meanwhile the Kickeroo (bought for Sergeant Stripes by Tony who had clearly forgotten the Sergeant’s diminutive stature) has become definitely and firmly Percy’s, and he is guarding it. He attacks it with enthusiasm on a nightly basis. It looks a bit like Arthur, but that is only coincidence. Probably.
I have an electric propagator. It is basically a plastic tray with an electric heater beneath its surface, so that when you put pots of seeds on top the steady gentle heat warms the soil and encourages the seeds to germinate. It hasn’t been used much this year, but it’s being put to good use now to help bring on one very tiny, plump cat-seedling.
In my (albeit fairly limited) experience, it is always colder in Ullswater. I don’t know why, but I don’t just mean colder than in Somerset where I live, but colder than the rest of the lakes in the Lake District. We met up on the 2nd May, in driving rain (which I have forgotten to add to the drawing). I was already in the water when Rosie and Jackie got in, so I had a good view of Rosie’s face as she entered the slightly unseasonal 7 degrees. It was a picture. And so it is, now, a picture 😉
A man in a white van stopped, once were were in and acclimatized, and gazed in wonderment; announced, full of male bravado, that he’d join us in 5 minutes… and then drove away very quickly and never returned.
Ullswater, 2nd May, 2017: last cold swim till November
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