Tag Archives: self-portrait

Self-Portrait in Red Tarn

Self-Portrait, in Red Tarn

I’ve walked to the top of Helvellyn an uncounted number of times over the last 30… 35… years, but I’ve never swum in Red Tarn, although I’ve often wanted to. I am usually with people who tell me this would be ridiculous, or it is freezing, or I do not fancy walking home in soaking wet pants, or I have taken other ways up to the peak which have afforded a bird’s-eye-view, but do not take me actually past this tarn, one of the highest in England, Google tells me.

This time I came prepared, not only with costume but shoes to swim in (so as to avoid this sort of scene). But it is one thing to want to leap into the clear, cold, deep and gloomy-blue waters of the tarn; and quite another thing to actually be there, staring into her inky depths.

I did one loop of the edge and it was a glorious cool kilometre or so, but I wouldn’t cross the middle, not on my own. I never did discover why she is called Red…

Self-Portrait in Red Tarn

Self-Portrait in Red Tarn

The Trouble with Tarns

The Trouble with Tarns

[Note: apologies for on-going lack of cats. I am on holiday and there are no cats here!]

Yesterday I returned to Grisedale Tarn, the site, last June, of my least elegant exit from water ever. Anyone who has ventured into the chilly waters of a mountain tarn will appreciate the difficulty of getting oneself across several metres of slimy sharp rocks with cold feet, through water just a few inches deep. I imagine it was an entertaining sight but I chose to believe the whoops from the other side of the tarn were nothing to do with my predicament. Fortunately the other side is a fair way off.

So the drawing is my memory of last year. This year I took shoes I could swim in, though it was much colder: this time what I hadn’t anticipated was that the effect on my feet of going from hot walking boots straight into water about 6 or 7 degrees would make them very unhappy. Again. Just can’t please some feet…..

The Trouble with Tarns

The Trouble with Tarns

 

Today I shall be wearing Aluminium

Today I shall be wearing aluminium foil

It is the new look. It stops the aliens reading my mind.

In the summer I had highlights brought on by gardening in the sun, now they are growing out and I have never had highlights put in by human hand before. I have been sat in front of a mirror looking like this, there was really only one thing for it.

Today I shall be wearing Aluminium

Today I shall be wearing Aluminium

Swimming into December...

Swimming through December

Vobster in December.
Here are Ruth and I… and before you ask, yes I made it up, I have no idea what we actually looked like but I was inspired to draw this because when I look down I am always struck by the look of remarkably pale legs reaching into the greeny-black gloom of a 40metre deep lake. I failed to capture this effect in the end, but still, some sort of drawing seemed to be required to mark the passage into December and us still in our swimsuits. Today the temperature had dropped below 10 degrees. Apologies to Jim who was there and didn’t get into the picture – he didn’t have pale legs that would have showed up, though, he had black rubber-clad ones! Some might call this sensible.

Swimming into December...

Swimming through December…

Buttermere, by myself

Buttermere, by myself, 28th October

Buttermere, by myself

Buttermere, by myself

The last of my Lake District sketches (for a while). This is me, swimming the length of Buttermere, and somewhat over half way back again. At which point I finally spotted Mum, who I was unaware had followed me along the lakeside on foot for the whole length of the lake (a little over 2K). I wasn’t looking out for her because she hadn’t been going to do that, and she was wearing a nicely camouflaged forest-green waterproof…

I wimped out at this point and admitted that by now it had got a a teeny bit boring swimming all on my own in the cold and the rain. I am not particularly a fan of swimming in wetsuits, but it was only about 10 or 11 degrees, and passing by the torrents pouring off the fells it was quite a bit colder. Walking was a dubious idea, since I did that in cold wet feet with only little plastic ballet pumps on, through a number of merrily gurgling icy streams: with hindsight not the wimpy option, but the company was better 🙂

People have been confused as to how I can draw a picture of myself and have asked whether I have used photographs. This is odd, because nobody is confused when I turn out pictures of fairies and demons. People, it’s very simple: there are no photos and I make it all up 🙂 It did happen like this, but this is only how I think it might have looked.

One exchange between other walkers and Mum is worth relating I think, as some passers-by noticed her watching me:
“Is he with you?”
“He’s a she. Yes, that’s my daughter”
“Oh. How old is she?”
“44”
“Oh… oh dear, that’s the same age as me” …said in the voice of one who was hoping to be told I was something silly and frivolous like 25 😉

The shoes were in the tow-float, by the way – the orange thing that was slightly irritatingly bouncing on my bottom for a lot of the swim, but is actually an awesome object for being visible, and for carrying stuff. The very nice Chillswim people make them.