Oh! The drama of a Monday morning. The footpath to our usual swimming beach is closed for three days for ‘ Tree Work’. Seems it is not just humans who need a bit of a trim after another long lockdown. This is going to discombobulate the ‘ bobbers’. We have become creatures or indeed Merthings of habit. The pesky and ever changing currents of Firestone Bay are best observed from the high level footpath that runs 12 feet or so above the beach. We ponder them from above, then decide on the route for the day and then return to the footpath afterwards to change and cogitate over the swim and life events while warming up. The raised footpath gives the perfect vantage point to view the whole of Firestone Bay and Plymouth Sound beyond. It can also provide interesting images.
Today we will be swimming and chattering from the beach next to the tidal pool.
Another Friday swim day with the Bobbers. A tiny Whats app group of 5 people has expanded to 12 regular swimmers and one land based Andy who keeps an eye on everything on land and in the sea. The swimming is the primary function of Bobbers but also loud natterings on any subject. Some of the natterings would make a nun blush, especially as we base ourselves below the perimeter wall of a convent.
There was a fine show of tugs today.
This one sailed out just before we plunged into the somewhat chilly sea. Sometimes if the conditions are right you can feel the resonant thrum of moving tugs when you are in the water. Not the case today. This busy tug sailed out before we got in and then back in again pulling a Royal Navy Survey vessel after we got out.
The reward for swimming yesterday was a tiny chocolate biscuit shaped like a penguin. Another unexpected treat is a visit to the same beach today at extreme low tide to hunt for goggles which were lost during the talking phase of the swim. Not a phase usually shown in swimming events but one in which the ‘ Bobbers’ excel.
Later, on a regular dog walk we chanced upon a new import being brought into Plymouth Fish Market.
If only I had known you could buy this stuff. I’ve had many unavoidable colleagues and huge numbers of equally unavoidable patients who could have done with a big dose of this stuff. Humans with no discernible traces of charisma are all over the place. As soon as this product becomes available on the retail market, I’m getting a pocket spray , the use of which the pandemic has made entirely acceptable. I am assuming it has a similar transmission but without the fatality of Novichok. When I meet those all too frequent people who have no manners or any measurable social graces, a quick squirt, will sort them out, probably only briefly, but for as long as I am forced to endure them.
Once the pandemic is over we could even repurpose all the sanitizer dispensers and make all our lives a little easier when interacting with increasing numbers of other humans. Charisma dispensers would really make emerging into the post pandemic world a little easier.
With a four day weekend in hand and still restricted by Pandemic protocols the only thing to do is start the day with a swim. A good number of ‘bobbers’ today and the added bonus of a government funded wave machine.
Which made bobbing bobbier.
Fast forward to the end of the day when we were walking on the Hoe and we learned a little bit of history. In 997 Viking long boats sailed past our swimming area , presumably making waves, and on up the Tamar for their habitual rape and pillage. Let me just say that if the bobbers had been bobbing in 997 history may have been very different. Ten women in fluorescent hats with luminous buoys might have been all it took to frighten the Vikings off. We would have looked like fearsome Sea Nereids protecting Britannia and may well have become the source of Viking Myths and legends.
But we weren’t there to frighten off the Vikings and history is as it is. Today we found a stone which marks 1000 years since the Vikings invaded.
And so the sun sets on another day in a peculiar year.
A gift has arrived for the administration of our Bobbing sessions. A cardboard wheel chart that can give me the times of low and high tides without having to use google for the next two years!
For two of us ‘bobbers’, wheel charts have been an intrinsic part of our professional lives. We were both Obstetric Sonographers and the Gestational wheel chart was a vital part of our diagnostic tool box. Spinning the wheel to work out an approximate birth date was one of the many bullet points to be added to our diagnostic reports. A lesser known and not recorded date that the wheel can predict is the approximate conception date. It was not unusual to be begged by our patients to alter the anticipated birth date in our reports; so that the conception date would be better suited to the man that they wanted to be the father of their child rather than the man they suspected was the father. No such complexities with a Tide Time Wheel. A tide is just a tide.
Another swimming blog! Unapologetically , not just because I can use Friday mornings pictures . But because we decided as a group that the coldest of the winter is behind us. There is no science behind this and we could just be feeling skittish because Spring is about to be sprung. Woolly hats were discarded this morning. Less layers of Thermal underwear packed, for the socially distanced swimming after-party. We are imagining altered horizons! All this on an early morning diet of Horlicks, Hot Chocolate, tea and coffee with a side order of caterpillars.
Not a Crazy South American mind expanding hallucinogenic gathering. Just sensible body warming steps to avoid ‘ after drop’ ( Sudden coarse shivering , a reaction that isn’t pleasant and can occur after cold water immersion) . The Caterpillars were an added bonus not a regular habit.
But for now, post- caterpillars, this is the reality in March 2021.
March 1st St Davids Day. Monday . The last full month of Lockdown in Britain …
Meanwhile Fools Spring is still in full swing . To avoid too many people we set off for the beach early and were rewarded with a Mediterranean style morning coffee just west of Plymouths Ferry Port on wartime concrete set into the cliffs.
10,000 or so steps later we returned for an evening swim.
We are lucky, now, that we only have tide times and the weather to consider. Sunrise and Sunset have pushed back enough for them not to be a concern. The bright evening sunlight gave us an interesting moment. Is this the oldest Co-op shop in Britain?
Yesterdays ‘ Bob’ events happened either end of the day. Mr Stan was off to the groomers so his swimming parents had to swim early in the morning.
The day started well for them.
The later swimmers took the sunset slot.
The evening swim was epic.
But unknown to us , something was afoot.
David Partner, a world renowned photographer was collecting images for a project he is working on. Here we are swimming off, oblivious to man in small speedos. Also oblivious to man with large Hasellblad. Just oblivious really!
On returning to land David Partner asked our permission to take photographs of us for his project. Obviously we stripped off to reveal our gorgeously honed bodies and our thong bikinis. Just a slick of lippy and we were camera ready. You will be relieved to know the last two sentences are pure fabrication.
Just a regular ‘ bob’ at Firestone Bay.
Links to David Partner and Plymouth Open Water Swimming below.
The Nearly There Trees get a second outing this month simply because ‘Nearly There’ is my bonus point on my game of Boris Bingo . A game played by matching words used by the Prime Minister during a press conference.
As it happens ‘ Nearly There’ didnt come up! I don’t have a painting called ‘Some Way to go still’ Not as prepared as I thought I was!
By contrast our sea swim was a huge success . Blue, twinkly with plenty of sunshine.
We had a fabulous half hour in the water and the sunshine on our faces was a massive boost.
Our Vitamin D harvest took very little effort today. The water was still a bit grubby from the weekend storms but calm enough that we were joined by paddle boarders and Kayakers.
Not too bad for the middle of February.
P.S my failure at Boris Bingo can probably be explained by the Prime Minister taking on a new team of advisers. I had planned for the Cockwaffle Protocol. I was not prepared for the change!
At no time in the last week or so would we have chosen to stand in this location . A cold wind has been blowing in from the East, today it was gone and a watery sun suggested that a taste of Spring was the style of the day.
This visit was not a ‘ Bobbing’ visit but we very much regretted not having our swimming stuff with us. Progressive as Plymouth is trying really hard to be I doubt if skinny dipping from a prestigious tourist destination would go unnoticed. So walking and talking was the focus of the morning 10,000 steps. Conversations were wide ranging but centred for the most part on what the future holds for us after the Pandemic. You can read the serious stuff elsewhere but consider this. What happens when we share an actual exercise room with other people. Will they be willing to see us stretching and moving in our pyjamas? No sports bra keeping our bouncing parts under control. Pilates! Pilates is well known for being one of the more fart producing classes. Doing it on- line in your own sitting room allows a certain casualness about such things. After nearly a year of a looser bottom etiquette, at home , the first few communal sessions may be windier than our last weekend.
We did return later for a swim, appropriately dressed. The weak sun had changed and the currents were not too kind. A good ‘Bob’ was had but it started on our usual beach and finished further to the west.
The tunnel, later, had a different light but was still wind free. Maybe Spring is lurking.