Yesterday was a Bobbers birthday. Bobber Birthdays have evolved over the more than two years that we have been swimming as a group year round.
Inexplicably, the Bobber whose birthday it was, opted for a spa day rather than joining us at Tranquility Bay. Maybe the message above informed that decision. She missed out on a lot. A warship arrived to give her a sail past and there were the usual cakes and hot drinks. Because she was missing out on her birthday dip we called her and sang happy birthday down the phone. That mellifluous sound must have torn through the tranquility of the spa like a wax strip on lady parts
At Tranquility Bay though it was sung with enthusiasm and affection for an absent friend. The singing took our minds off chilly fingers and toes and inadequately dried crevices. What even is a Spa Day?
The was a touch of the Mediterranean and some mythology to last nights’ swim.
Mythology because it was a bobbers birthday and the cake was so soft and gorgeous that it required cake forks. Definately styled on Neptunes Trident if Neptune would ever have considered a collaboration with Laura Ashley.
Mediterranean because the beach looked like this at 6:30 pm.
I’ve always been envious of summer birthdays, especially now I am a year round sea swimmer. Winter bobbing birthdays have their own vibe but a summer, bobbing, birthday has a far more relaxed feel. Less scrabbling into clothes more relaxed chattering.
Last night had perfect conditions but even without perfection the sea has been filling up with swimmers, this month, as the water slowly warms up. An average June temperature of 14 degrees was boosted a little, last night to 15 degrees. Suddenly the sea has the intimacy of a swimming pool, we are close enough to other swimmers to converse with people other than our little band of bobbers. Even the proper out to the third buoy swimmers had a little more competition for sea space. Now we have done a full second winter of sea swimming there is a familiarity to the circling of the sun. The topic of conversation in early June is how many of us can fit in two swims on the summer solstice and achieve the real life commitments of families and work. Sea swimming became so popular during the Covid lockdowns; now they can, cafes are opening early to offer early morning breakfast to the swimmers who are up for a 4:45 swim. What fabulous luxury, no more wrestling with baps, bacon and tinfoil before the early morning dip. Just the regular bap wrestling that is an integral part of getting dressed in the public domaine after a sea swim. One last watery image to clear your minds of the bap wrestling. Maybe the first day of summer in Stonehouse.
And a psychedelic birthday cake.
This slightly crazy image exactly replicates the lemony gorgeousness of last nights cake.
A birthday bob yesterday with some of the usual surprise guests. A warship sailing past as we are waiting to get in. We love a busy swim. However it may appear, we were not lined up to wave to homecoming sailors but were waiting for Spearmint the seal to swim away from our bay so we could start our swim. We love her but she is not invited to our Gatherings because there are restrictions and responsibilities that protect her. There was far more action in the next bay and attracted by the noise she swam off. We jumped in but probably had only ten minutes in the water before she returned. Current advice is to get out of the water and give her 100 metres space.
Clearly she was going nowhere this time, so we retreated to eat birthday cake. Some of us had hardly got our shoulders wet. There was great disappointment but copious amounts of cake cheered everyone up and nature provided the perfect birthday card.
This greetings card has a flavour of our Sunday morning.
Our view this morning is timeless, this view was a favourite of the author, Enid Blyton who chose this hotel for her holidays in the 1930’s and 40’s. She always chose the room next door. Have a good and gentle Sunday.
Goodness me, another late blog for the best of reasons!
November is my birthday month so I always get a boost of love and gifts in one of the darkest months.
November 2019 was pretty stormy and in November most normal human beings knew little of what the next 4 months would do to the whole of the worlds population. At a more granular level we certainly thought life would evolve and change at a fairly normal pace. In November 2019 we got our kicks on my birthday walking on stormy beaches Then a pandemic happened and strange and unsettling things changed our lives forever. Wind on two years and we get our kicks swimming in stormy seas in November and any other month. What started as an alternative to swimming in swimming pools during lockdown has become at least a twice a week habit. Winter swimming in particular is addictive and hugely rewarding, the buzz after a winter swim is hard to explain.
Todays swim was pretty rough and bouncy but enormously energising.
And then the bobbers had a surprise in store, and this is the reason for the late blog. After our 9:30 swim we had an 11:00 birthday party. The sugar and carb rush of party food on top of the post swimming high is an extraordinary feeling. We may never give this sea swimming malarkey up and with 14 of us in our group now there will always be the occasional party!
You might think that a day spent pondering the interior decoration of two rooms would be a day without incident.
The new house is a few minutes walk from a street filled with repair garages, workshops and Trade Counters for various essential items to the marine and building trades.
Armed with a fair idea of what we needed we went to one of the Trade shops for decorators needs. There was an instant, underlying hum of manliness as we walked in. There were few other customers in the store, all men. Their fleeces told the stories of their masculinity. ‘Babcock’ only needs a small wrinkle of fabric before it looks like Bob cock. Some men wore t-shirts bearing the name Princess Yachts. The word Princess stretched across impossibly toned trapezius, deltoid and pectoral muscles. A sure warning that calling the owner ‘Princess’ might be ill advised.
We were left to our own devices and without too much trouble made our decisions and gathered up our purchases. We waited some time at the counter. Tea was being made for all the customers, not quite all of course. Tea was made for the fleece and t-shirt wearing men! We did not register on anyone’s tea radar. Tea arrived in bright mugs bearing the names of English football clubs. The talk was of standing at football matches and the exact opposite of standing, clearing slime off slipways.
The conversations ranged around and over me. Then one of the men asked my opinion on a product I was buying.
Did I think it was any good, and could he use it to paint body parts. What was I planning to use it for?
Horror flooded my mind, the idea of painting any body part with noxious paint seemed like madness. I suggested that it would be a bad idea. He looked at me as if I was a little crazy, a look that only intensified when I told him I was painting crochet. His mind fixed firmly on the industrial and mine on the creative.
We returned home, made our own tea and started using our various purchases. Then a text message came through for a last minute ‘ bob’ in the sea. A birthday bob for a visiting bobber. Even this simple activity took a turn!
How to make a birthday bob memorable?
For the moment access to our beach is blocked by essential works. The only access is via the grounds of a rest home and convent. Unknown to us there is a curfew on using this route. Our birthday bob was ended by us being seen off the premises. Being thrown out of a convent is a pretty unusual way to mark a birthday.
Better late than never. A Sunday morning blog written on Sunday evening. Standards are dropping here. Today is the second year we have missed a friends birthday. The grand Black Labrador Officer is a quirky gift that has still not been delivered. He was unpacked this morning in a box of both random and essential items. Today has completely been about curtains and torrential rain, neither subject particularly blogworthy.
We took the dogs out when the rain, briefly, cleared. The hedge in the middle of this picture is made up of roses that grow wildly on this cliff. Their fragrance is exactly that of Turkish Delight.
The break in the rain was all too brief. Just one look at this sky made us head for home and another few hours up ladders wrestling heavy fabrics onto curtain polls.
Just one more day of tardy blogging. Tomorrow we should have our broadband service connected and a normal service will resume!
Pondering one of the positives of a Pandemic. The past 18 months have been a tough trot for most humans but for the Bobbers and their guest bobbers a somewhat drenched Phoenix is rising from the unlikely ashes that is a small beach in a city.
Plymouth is known as the Atlantic City. The Bobbers were mostly unknown to each other a year ago. A tiny group of old friends swam together once last June and thought no more about it. Then in September as it became obvious that the Pandemic was a more permanent feature in our lives we did it again. The next stage is as random as a new variant emerging. The tiny group of friends were all dog owners and because we were in a pandemic and talking for longer with people we met on our dog walks, we inevitably started chatting about our swimming activity.
This was happening on either side of the River Tamar, the border between Devon and Cornwall. Talking with other dog walkers covers a wide variety of random subjects with strangers. Strangers who also liked the idea of swimming in our local patch of the Atlantic. Bobbing became a thing, a WhatsApp group was formed. Initially we didnt even know each others names. As dog walkers often do we only knew each other as Ralph’s mum, or dad, Stan’s mums or even the lady who borrows a neighbours dog. About 25 people have swum with the Bobbers now, there is a core membership but guest bobbers are a regular occurance. Dog ownership is not essential, talking to people you don’t know is helpful. We have swum several times a week right through the winter, we have shared life events together. Last night was the first Summertime Birthday Bob, a far less clothed or huddled event than the Wintertime Birthday Bobs.
And for once warm enough for people to pose as a group without freezing their bits off.
May 1st and we have plans to travel a little more than 10 miles!
But first news of the last swim of April. “April is the cruelest month” a line from T.S Eliots’ poem, Wasteland,written after and about a pandemic.”We dared to hope” a line from the poem, exactly matches the optimism of the ‘ bobbers’ as we emerged out of our first winter season of cold water swimming.
April has bitten the bobbers on the bum swimming wise. The weather has improved and the sea water temperatures have started to stabilise, and even rise a little, but we seem to have had some of our most challenging swims recently, most of us succumbing to ‘After drop’ after a swim in April even though we have avoided it throughout the darkest, coldest months.
‘ After drop’ was unknown to Eliot when he published Wasteland in 1922. His poem written after A World War and the Spanish Flu pandemic, it could only have been more glum with a portion of ‘ afterdrop’ included in the narrative.
“Afterdrop” is common after swimming in cold water; you get out and feel fine, and then you start to get colder, sometimes growing faint, shivering violently and feeling unwell.
As you can see from the photographs in this blog, the last bob of April 2021 was a much more joyous affair. Using T.S Eliot as our theme it was more ‘Cats’ ( Old Possums Book of Practical Cats) than Wasteland.
As it happened the last day of April was also a bobbers birthday. Tranquility Bay pulled out all the stops to make our first after-swim, bobbing- birthday picnic a big event. The Bobbing Balcony was available for out door snacking. Street art made the location more vivid.
There was cake.
A Chinook fly past.
Exuberant waving to Sailors returning to port.
Low energy time keeping, to mark time passing.
And a puppy.
Thanks to Helen for having a birthday and serendipity for providing the entertainment.