Yesterday evening was the first time for a few weeks that I was able to walk along the coastal path nearest to the swimming beach that the ‘bobbers’ prefer to use. The beaches and the coastal path beyond the Artillery Tower have been closed for essential maintenance. Although the path is now open, the steps and slopes that allow us to get into the water at high tide are being refurbished.
We often joke that our ‘free’ hobby is anything but free as we buy various bits of equipment to make winter swimming easier and safer to achieve. But for our local council maintaining the concrete against twice daily tides and winter storms must be a huge budgetary responsibility.
Looking at the amount of work that has been done I’m pretty grateful that my only responsibility before winter is to get a wetsuit. But for now October is still being kind to us.
Devon threw out all the Greek vibes this Monday morning. Bobbers were a split pack today with two sessions, one at 10am and one at 7pm. This glorious blue tidal pool welcomed the morning bobbers. Meanwhile post the Burgh Island swim we were at Beesands. The lobster boats were also feeling a bit greek too
Hugo and Lola have no idea what Greek is but they struck a heroic pose regardless.
Meanwhile back with the early bobbers the summer clouds just kept drifting across the sky.
The 7 pm bobbers didn’t quite get the Greek treatment from the weather. But a high tide and warm water is all we need and that is pretty much what we got.
The second day of this weekend with lots of colour and a little bit of anxiety. Coupled with some charity fund raising, this time a swim around Burgh Island just off the South Devon coast. Under normal circumstances Jenna would not be abseiling without full family support or Hannah swimming around an island without the same. Pandemic rescheduling has concentrated so much into the 4 weekends of September that everyone is spread a little too thinly to cover all commitments.
An early start at Bigbury gave us two seasons in the space of half an hour, summer glory then autumnal gloom. Thankfully the summer glory won through for the actual swim.
The land bound support team tucked into scones Devon style.
Whilst the sea swimmers confidently circumnavigated the island and returned to us, very happy with their achievement.
The route, what you cant see is that at least half of the swim was through waves more traditionally used for surfing.
Almost overnight in mid-September the days have got short enough to affect the timings of our evening swim. With one year of year-round swimming done, we are a lot braver than this time last September. Last night was our first planned moonlight swim, it suited the tide and work commitments. Tides this week are very low at our optimum evening swimming time so there is far more contact with seaweed than we would normally choose. While we were swimming a sail training ship slipped into port under the moonlight. No cameras were available to capture the moment. (Waterproof bags have been tried, the bags work just fine but camera phones dont respond to our cold fingers) Witnessing the ship in the Sound did give a little shiver of watching history sail past.
Dar Mlodzeizy, owned by the Maritime University of Gdynia is from the Polish city that is twinned with Plymouth. Good timing to arrive as a new Polish supermarket has just opened here. By coincidence we had had blueberry and curd pierogis from the new supermarket yesterday. Hannah lived in Chicago, a city with a big Polish community which introduced her to pierogis, years ago and now we have Polish family members to extend our knowledge and love of the little dumplings.
Too many dumplings would not be good before a swim however. They might fuel an over active imagination which is the only slight downside to swimming in the dark…
We had a fabulous bob this morning. The sea was cool and bumpy and we had two invisiting bobbers from Oxford, both with the skills required, bobbing obviously and nattering. The more gregarious of the two guest bobbers got into conversation with a gentleman who had, he said, retired from the glamour industry. Women writhing to keep their bits covered up must have been quite a novelty for him.
Writhing occurs during the changing phase. Relatively easy during the dry change but post swim all sorts of curious movements occur, sea water and cold skin can be a sticky pairing. Even the simplest garment can become a tenaciously gripping piece of fabric, intent on clinging in the wrong place.
In other news a new cook book has arrived @theoldmortuary . Med by Claudia Rodin. The waves in the blog come from the cookbook not Plymouth Sound.
There is an update on Pandemic Pondering #524.
Only 24 hours after a few bobbers had watched the cremated remains of an unknown person belatedly drift into the bay, other bobbers visited for an evening swim. Two high and two low tides had occured and had returned the roses to the high tide point. Once again bobbers gently returned the floral tributes to the sea. Whilst we are in thoughtful mode I can share a poem about swimming in a cold sea that Angela Bobber shared on our Bobbing WhatsApp group
The link above takes to you to Samantha Reynolds Instagram page.
Bobbers don’t particularly fill their swims with worries of rocks and sharks. We have smaller fears, eels and seals with caves full of plundered treasures and enchanted seaweed with the power to grab ankles. It’s all in the mind, of course, but we never allow fantasy or fact ruin good conversations or good bobbing.
We had a great Wednesday night bob last night. On leaving the water we realised we were not alone. A person, unknown to us, had had their ashes scattered on the beach earlier in the evening. Obviously the tide had not quite done what their family and friends had intended and they had been dumped, by the retreating tide, near the low water mark.
There were only four bobbers on the beach and it made us a little sad to think of someones loved one just waiting there alone for a final swim into infinity. Then the tide turned and they were off.
Delicate, swirling, white, whisps of ash and sea-water gently leaving the beach and heading for the sunset.
A day of sweet and sour. Three hours in an actual physical bank and the transaction still not completed by the time we left. Not a businesslike bone in the building! The sweetness that started the day came out of boredom as we waited and waited. I had bought some sunflowers and noticed that there were beads of nectar. I also marvelled at the Fibronacci Sequencing of the seed head. The bank was very dull!
Overwhelmed by Fibronacci excitement and curiosity and with plenty of time on my hands I decided to taste the nectar.
Tiny, twinkling beads of sweetness but oh so sticky!
If banks still had piles of money I could have covered my hands with nectar and plunged them into a pile of money and run around the corner and delivered it in person to the bank we were trying to make the transfer to.
Flights of fantasy and Fibronacci wonderment can only get you so far and there are no longer piles of money, obviously waiting for sticky fingered clients, in banks. After three hours we failed to transfer any money from one account to another. Legally or illegally, with or without nectar . Time to head off for afternoon tea in a barn.
Fully charged with sugar and tea there was only a couple of hours of downtime before an evening of questionable entertainment.
Four bobbers went to an outside performance of Jaws. Screened at our local Lido we were surrounded on three sides by water as we visited Amity Island for the 4th of July. We still jumped and screamed. Tomorrows bob will have an extra texture of frisson.
Sometimes we bob at Firestone Bay in very strange weather. Three days ago this was the view over the bay just after we had finished. The swim itself was fairly unremarkable. Yesterday the skies looked entirely benign, the sea, though, was like a boiling cauldron.
Once we swam out beyond the rougher waters the water was more manageable but there could never be the pretence, as there often is that we were swimming in the med. The swim made us all have slightly dodgy balance once we got out, which makes for an interesting walk home. Aesthetically it was the perfect night for over-saturated, silky water settings on the camera.
At home we have finally remedied the significant wifi and broadband problems. A news bulletin has been watched, unbuffered, for the first time in more than 6 weeks. Not a habit that we need to return to necessarily. Just because we can doesn’t mean we should. Radio news has been kinder on the eyes.
Out with a bang, festival over our van was all packed up and ready to go as the fireworks fizzed and twinkled overhead. Just a few hours sleep before we made a swift departure, before dawn, in order to get an early morning swim at Lulworth Cove.
It was lovely to be somewhere quite so beautiful as nature stretched her sleepy limbs to start the day to a soundscape of birdsong.
What lies beneath? From personal experience all sorts of bobbing paraphernalia that we somehow manage to lose during a dip. Even if a bobber notices immediately we never seem to be able to recover the missing item. We joke that there is a cave where the seal keeps all the human trinkets that he finds in the sea that is either lost or caught in the rising tide. Yesterday something caught the eye of a bobber in about 80 cms of water. Someones precious Apple Watch. No one else on the beach and no clue to the owner. We took it home and placed a message on a local lost and found site and a swimmers page.
Nothing happened all day but in the evening a man knocked on our door. He had been tracking his watch and had tried many houses before he got to us. Watch and man were reunited, seemingly very happily.