New handrails to the sea. There have been some refurbished steps through the rocks into the sea for a couple of months. Yesterday the steps were fitted with new and much improved hand rails. Despite only being a small walk from our usual beach this access point can sometimes be safer if the sea is rough at high tide. The new handrails make it an even safer option. Yesterday Spearmint the seal also chose the safer option for her morning swim.
Flipping things even further a diver had to get out of the sea in order to take underwater photos of her.
For all of us winter swimming has properly started now. The cold water buzz is back.
A life before Covid-19 or a ghost of Christmas past? Both really. Carnaby Street in 2018. We had recently returned from South Korea and Hong Kong. In both countries mask wearing in public was a fairly common occurrence but beyond the fastidiousness of some Asian tourists mask wearing in public was unimaginable in the joyous throng of people enjoying the Bohemian Rhapsody, themed lights,of London’s Carnaby Street.
Two years on in 2020 and the World is in full Covid-19 swing and we are one month into,experimental, Winter cold water swimming. A ghost of Christmas future, or more accurately future winters.
As it happens exactly that. One year on from that sunny November beach scene and this is the pot of hot coffee that is pre- warming us before this mornings swim, the croissant is already gone. We are discussing the ‘Are we mad theory’ the same theory that we will discuss this weekend when we return to London to see Christmas Lights.
Were we mad?
Yes we were and it was one of the most tranquil, gorgeous swims of the year. Will we be mad enough to visit some of London’s Christmas lights this weekend. I really hope so.
“Perhaps Juliet could illuminate us” was a phrase my English teacher would sometimes use when one of my essays had gone somewhere unexpected.
Lighting him up with a torch would almost certainly not gone down particularly well. In choosing, for myself, the loose working title ‘Illumination in the countdown to Christmas’ for the month before Christmas 2021, I fully expected to use both meanings of the word at various points. Yesterday, Storm Arwen, gave me illuminating photographs that did not at all illuminate what was going on around me.
Nothing in this picture articulates how much effort it took two women and two dogs to get to this point. Even a closer look at the sea gives no hint of the power of the wind.
A stop at our regular coffee shop was a battle against the invisible elements, and a moments foolishness of removing my coffee cup lid gave me a face full of the “flat’ that gives a Flat White its name. Yesterday was the start of another birthday surprise, a trip to Bude. Hugo and Lola were off to visit some friends for some overnight care.
There is absolute peace in this picture, but five minutes before we were unable to get to our friends house. We either had to leave our car at the top of the hill and walk the dogs down to them or tackle the tree which had blown down and blocked our path. The tree had a fragile beauty while laying, languidly broken, across the drive. No match, I thought, for one woman, so despite wearing some lovely clothes I jumped out of the car to move her gently to the side. Appearances can be deceptive and despite being slender and elegant she was going nowhere with one woman power. Two women in lovely clothes and two dogs in the managerial role, of hovering about but doing nothing very effectual,struggled to move the stricken tree. Ultimately we dragged her to one side, not particularly elegantly but effectively enough for us to deliver the dogs for their overnight stay.
The reason for our trip to Bude was an evening ‘Take Over’ by Chef Dan Murray at Temple Cafe.
Illumination in the countdown to Christmas. Rain, Petrol and a rusty gulley. Whats not to love! Rain was the predominant weather today and would have featured somehow. The plan was to write a bobbing blog with accompanying rain seascapes. Nature thwarted me. We met at high tide, which coincided with dreadful rain. We procrastinated a good bit. The thought of a plunge into cold water while being drenched by cold rain was not enticing. The precipitation was persistent but eventually we shrugged off our warm dry clothes to a certain fate of getting damp while we swam, not a great help when trying to dress. Beyond getting out and dry I had also planned some gorgeously grey shots of Plymouth Sound. When my hands had warned up enough to take a post swim photo the weather decided to put on its party face.
Not what I had planned at all but useful as another Illumination shot on the countdown to Christmas.
And there’s more.
You just can’t trust the weather, I’m sure to get gloom sometime soon
There are two static cranes preserved at the Royal William Yard a nod to the former industrial/naval history of this location. As we get nearer to Christmas the area is getting a little bit busier in the early evening as we go for our twilight walk. As part of my countdown to Christmas all I need to do is walk to the other side of the crane.
A burst of cerise lighting lights up the cab. To be fair the cab is lit up all year round but now the days are so short the illumination is a key location on my evening stroll. By complete contrast our morning outing was illuminated with some gorgeous sunshine.
Late blog alert. I’m not sure what happened to the early morning. I am in the grip of making Christmas presents that cannot be purchased this year for a variety of reasons. Brexit, Coronovirus, Supply Chain. Like an idiot I thought I would blog about my endeavours and realised mid-morning that that was a pretty mad idea if I am also aiming for an element of surprise. The picture above is a cheeky hint that I have been burning the candle at both ends to source recycled materials to create these gifts.
Giving nothing away I have to comment that my sewing machine needle appears to have shrunk its eye. So tricky was rethreading the needle I wondered if I was sewing by candlelight.
An illuminated magnifying glass, not recycled had to be purchased. The only glitch, so far in my drive to be more sustainable with this project.
Still giving nothing away, some of the recycled or repurposed materials last saw the light of day in 1974 when sewing by candlelight was actually a thing in the 3 day weeks. Electricity use was restricted to conserve energy as Industrial Action by rail and coal workers was limiting the ability to generate enough power for normal activity.
All will be revealed in exactly one month. Counting down to Christmas Now!
A timely reminder that to chose working in the arts is not without its crtitics. But once the scientists have done their bit and pulled or pushed us to the other side of our recent pandemic it is artists and creatives who will give us the good things that add sparkle and embelishment to life.
My Wednesday Ponder, brief and to the point. Enjoy it with your coffee.
Todays blog was knocked off the front page by another story of bobbing. This is how tranquil the area was when we went for a dip last night. But what lies underneath?
A playful seal! Spearmint the seal joined the two distance swimmers at the furthest buoy and swam back with them to one of the other swimmers. They calmly warned her that they were not alone. Not trusting them at all she disbelieved them. Calm, was not, in truth, how any of them were feeling . An onlooker who was alerted by their excited chatter said she had never seen anyone swim back to the shore so fast. On arrival back in Tranquility bay Spearmint played around with two other bobbers before noticing that the others were getting out, she joined them in a rush for the beach and the video that follows was her being calm with a background soundtrack of excited chatter.
Teresa, the quick thinking onlooker who filmed this also had a video of Spearmint having her supper.
I think it is safe to say that the whole encounter was a lot more exciting for the humans, Miss Spearmint just takes the whole thing very much in her stride.
Soon after she returned to the sea the water if not the ‘ bobbers’ was entirely tranquil.
I had known for a little while that this particular blog was going to be about illumination because I had tickets to attend an illumination festival in the Royal William Yard.What I hadn’t expected was that the sunset over our evening swim would be quite so spectacular. Just a tiny tweak on the saturation of this image brought out all these gorgeous colours.
After drying off and warming up we set off to visit the area around Ocean Studios which was the location of Illuminate.
Like lots of things this event has been postponed a few times.
Many of the illuminations were similar to previous years but a new one was a fabulous, luminescent squid called Bobby Dazzler by Kate Crawford and Beth Munro. Visitors were invited to add embelishment to Bobby with fingertips dabbed in luminescent paint.
Outside we could write on a graffiti wall. My rookie error was to seek out a clear piece of wall to advertise this blog without checking the appropriateness of the surrounding marks.
Also new to Illuminate were the thousands of bugs and moths fluttering in the breeze to remind us that we must protect biodiversity and species around the world. There was also the luxury of a cafe serving decent quality late night coffee, always a bonus!
The architecture of the Grade 1 listed buildings lends added texture to projected videos.
And although I failed to record a video the musical pipes and interactive lights were fascinating. Although not particularly musical in our hands.
Returning just for a final comment and illumination to our sunset swim. Here I am wearing my night swimming hat which was a birthday gift last week.
Sunbay morning walk. Meeting and natterings with morning swimmers whilst we were snug and warm in the many layers that are required for an early morning dog walk. Knowing full well that this bright and beautiful morning will progress to an equally bright and beautiful sunset which is when we will plunge into the chilly waters of Firestone Bay for our weekend swim.
I suspect there was a frost this morning, the autumn leaves on the pavements looked a bit ravaged and damp when we set off. They still held a myriad of messages for the dogs to sniff and respond to, which slowed us down a good bit. As did searching for an autumn coloured dog poo ( or two) in the pile of leaves that was chosen for the morning elimination.
There is a new character hanging around in our changing area, taking in the sun while straddling a nail and a limpet shell.