Tuesday was our last swim of the year (I am not counting a visit to the swimming pool yesterday, which was warm and chemical). At Vobster, we ended on a high note of December sunlight, an exceptionally mild 10 degrees, and Fiona’s chocolate caramel shortbread. The two figures in the foreground are Ruth and me though, because I rather thought our swimming attire looked jolly together, and I have amusing writing across my new swimming costume bottom, especially designed and ordered by Plum for a relay race next month. On the front of it there are appropriate snowflakes, but it’s barely even cold yet!
I have no drawing for it but today I also did my first swim of 2016: It was Clevedon New Year’s Day swim, a quite different setting and a mass affair accompanied by much shrieking from those foolhardy enough to think that leaping into 8 degrees does not require a little practice…
There wasn’t just the bonfire, there was the chill-out tent and a massive stack of speakers in the barn. And there was the marquee, where those of us of slightly more mature years ate and drank more than our share, and commented that every track the speakers blared out sounded exactly the same….and did not act our age, though contrived to act a little older than our shoe sizes. It was a good do, Moorlynch style. And a 20 yard walk home.
What I really wanted was to swim in the Roman Baths, but you are not allowed to, so we went to Thermae Bath Spa, as a birthday treat: the water is from the same hot spring. I did have a lovely massage, but the rest was quite strange, like being on a Dr Who set: all these people wandering round in identical dressing gowns, all looking really passive and relaxed. I do not do relaxing so I was the only one paying attention. And the rooftop pool… very strange. Snogging and noodles (the blue foam things are noodles I am told), at an almost un-swimmable 35 degrees. As for the Steam Rooms, well, that is where the alien invasion will begin, you mark my words. They’re all pod people! An interesting experience but they probably have my DNA on file now as a subversive….
On the other hand, I was gawped at today merely because I got into Ullswater. Can’t see why: it was hardly less than 8 degrees.
The weather was a little frisky for our swim on Tuesday and I had to resort to front crawl on the way back from the far end to avoid being smacked round the face by a succession of waves and swallowing more lake than usual. But at 7 degrees it’s still colder than it was at the start of January and front crawl is very cold on the face. There is only on solution to this ongoing problem of what I think is a pretty cold spring: cake is compulsory until the lake reaches at least double figures…
I passed this one on the way up the Tor this morning, clutching ipad and cigarette close to ward off any psychological or physical effect of being out on a fine Sunday morning, up a stunning natural feature of the landscape with the best views for miles around. He didn’t even say good morning when I passed and wished him the same, which in my extensive experience is pretty unusual for visitors to Glastonbury Tor. I imagine he was distracted, updating a spreadsheet: ‘Tor: done’… ‘Stonehenge: pending’.
On the plus side, I also passed a small child with small brown wellies on. The wellies had faces of Minotaurs printed on the toes 🙂
I do not know this cat’s name, but he lives at Blackmore Farm, a fantastic 15th century manor house. His people do dinners for guests sufficiently far-sighted to organize themselves into a group of about 25, and book some months in advance. The guests are entertained in the great hall. They bring their own wine, they are served delicious food and there are unlimited puddings. There are pointy things, suits of armour, and the heads of dead things on the walls, and several cannon balls and mortar shells around the enormous hearth. Sir Cat comes in to check that all is done correctly, and strikes a pose with a nonchalantly lifted front paw.
The Cat of Blackmore
Here is the drawing I did last year, of Sir Cat’s great hall. It doesn’t do the hall justice: on the opposite wall there were far older pointy things than a couple of rifles with bayonets, but there is only so much a person can draw in one sitting without appearing antisocial….
My thermometer says it is still barely six degrees (though discussions with people on site suggest it might be nearly as warm as seven). I will not say getting in is a thing that I find particularly difficult, but still, there is that special thing you do with holding your arms up high as you get in, as if that will keep them from getting wet…
18 minutes round the lake; our first swim of spring. We’ve made it: we swam all through the winter.
I know a certain lady fond of dipping. I would not be surprised if she had swum, summer and winter, in half the rivers and lakes in Somerset. How she gets about to them all is a wonder, not least the question of how she finds them all out in the first place. So I began to wonder if she might have a job involving a lot of local travel, perhaps a sales rep or similar, and drove around the county enthusiastically leaping out of her car, flinging off her clothes and joyously slipping into the local waterways en route to her appointments. I imagined her in a sharp suit, briefcase of sample books in one hand, surreptitiously dripping pond water , with waterlilies in her hair. Though of course she could simply be a secret agent…
A fine and lively evening in the Ring o’ Bells at Moorlinch* last night – the Chalice Morris men came, and sang carols. I have never seen so many feathers in so many caps! On top of that, it being a Thursday, it was Pie Night which is cause in itself for celebration, on a weekly basis.
*The village is of course more properly named Moorlynch, in the opinion of about half the people who have one. Spelt Moorlinch here merely for the benefit of Google, and Ordinance Survey, and other such sticklers.
Vobster at sunrise yesterday! Still mist on the water. Ruth and Jim ahead of me and when I looked up to see where they were, all was suddenly blinding golden light.
We had thought if we put on wetsuits we could go twice round. Not making that mistake again! We could, but as Ruth put it: “none of the endorphins, all of the cold!” No shock to the system, but the pinchy cold was appalling on hands and feet. I won’t say l missed the shivering like an idiot afterwards, but next week it’s back to shorter swims in swimming costumes 🙂
Vobster at Sunrise, with Ruth & Jim (there are two heads here and one orange tow float)