#404 theoldmortuary ponders

This was quite the morning for a bob. Not that the water was quite like this when we were in. Half an hour before this picture,while we were in the water, it was bumpy and grey, 13 degrees in the water and 9 out.

Rainbows were an added bonus. This is how all winter Mondays should start. Then lunch out and an afternoon spent with a carpet cleaning machine, I’m not sure that necessarily is the way the day should have gone but any artistic endeavours involve a man relieving himself in a back street. So the options are not great.Last Monday we were leaving Dublin and a week on I still haven’t nattered on about The Guinness Storehouse. One of Europes best tourist attractions. It was the only truly tourist haunt that we visited. Not exactly the worlds most hardened drinkers the building was definitely the most intriguing aspect of the visit. The whole point of the building is to turn lime green hops and water.

Into black and white porter, in this case Guinness.

The finer points of brewing passed me by but the magisterial building was wonderful.

People who know a whole lot more than me believe that Guinness tastes better in Dublin. At the end of our tour we got a pint each. That is a lot of something to base an opinion on and yet I remain quite unable to tell anyone if a Dublin Guinness is significantly different from one served anywhere else, but regardless it slipped down very well in a very beautiful building.

#383 theoldmortuary ponders

Farewell Gilly Bobber. The bobbers gathered for a goodbye gathering for a bobber who is moving to West Sussex. Gilly has been a musical addition to our bobbing gang for some time. She wears a raspberry beret and cocktail length swimming gloves. Which always promotes the other bobbers into a Prince tribute act.

A good selection of bobbers gathered today to see her off the premises.

Bobbing and bobbers are one of the great positives to have come out of the Covid years. Time to use a fabulous quote from Mark Twain to send Gilly on her way.

Goodbye Gilly from our home bobbing safe harbour.

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This boiling sea was the setting of our final October swim. Storm Claidio was on the way. Looking over the wall into the swirling sea it would have been very easy to turn around and walk back home. But I had already waved to the swimmers in the water. Getting in, was tricky. Being in, was thrilling. Getting out, was a relief. A mug of tea and a Tunnocks Waifer biscuit was the reward.

After the event it was most definitely the most wonderful swim. The turmoil of the water made effective swimming impossible at my, rather low, skill level. Even bobbing about and talking was quite a challenge but the whole experience was fizzy, energising and a great way to see out October, still without a wetsuit. The picture below is a full-colour image of the water as we got out, not a spot of colour to be seen.

#378 theoldmortuary ponders.

Only our second plunge into cold seas during October 2022. Since beginning year-round swimming in 2020 we have swum, or bobbed as we call it, at least twice a week. We have gathered a merry band of bobbers around us. October 2022 took us to London for the birth of a grandchild, a fine reason to give up bobbing for a while. In the planning stage we thought we would be taking trips to the Ladies Pond at Hampstead. The reality was that I read a good book about the ponds and stayed as dry as a bone.

Today’s ‘bob’ was fabulous at a water temperature of 14 degrees and bright sunshine. Strangely in 14 degrees there were two incidents of Jellyfish stings, not what anyone expects in chilly waters.

There were many bobbers gathered at Tranquility Bay.

Slightly bittersweet as we start a long goodbye to a bobber who is moving to West Sussex next week, there will be tears and laughter over the next week. There will almost certainly be cake and bubbles too.

At this time of year passers-by always ask us “How do you get into water when it is that cold?”Later in the year they just tell us we are mad. A chance to use my favourite Latin quote.

Not exactly as it is philosophically intended but a pragmatic answer never-the-less.

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October the first has blown in on the coattails of Hurricane Ian. We have had our first winter style swim. A really rough swim in rainy conditions. The sea was warmer than the outside temperature and it was wonderful. After the swim we felt so full of good vibes, a healthy dose of free radicals and positive ions set us up for a busy day of doing things. We powered through a list of jobs and then at around 5pm the energy left us, almost as swiftly as we had gathered it. There was nothing left in the tank.

Winter swims are just the best thing, even in the autumn!

#314 theoldmortuary ponders.

We need to talk about Bobbing. Bobbing evolved during the Covid Crisis. The first nugget of a gathering took place on Cawsand Beach 2 years ago. A regular sea swim, maybe once a month, of four friends developed into several times a week swims throughout the year and now involves about 16 people. It is a very rare swim that gets us all in the water but sometimes the number gets to more than 10.

Friday’s swim turned into quite a gala with Hawaiian Leis, cakes, figs, dancing lessons and gathered seaweed.

None of it was planned and I am at a loss to quite explain the serendipity of it. Possibly a natural summer phenomenon of some people returning from holidays and others preparing to take their leave. In two years we have been through quite a bit of ‘ stuff’ together. 16 people thrown together by a pandemic have formed a bond of friendship that supports and celebrates lifes game of snakes and ladders. I read a book a little over two years ago that centred on a group of wild swimmers who found friendship in the chilly waters of a Scottish Loch. At the time I thought it was a charming but fanciful fiction. But here I am writing about such a thing in real life. Who would have predicted such a thing? Our bobbers are lovelier than fiction but maybe a little stranger. Our Whatsapp group messages can be practical with tides and weather updates or crazy with multiple streams of consciousness running parallel with one another or at times crossing wildly into the most obscure, unfiltered conversations.

Todays Whatsapp featured holiday pics. An empty field, a Cornish Cream Tea and a swim in Lake Garda. Bobbers getting about a bit.

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What exactly was in the water last night? A fairly standard bob was called for the late afternoon/early evening. It all started just a little off normal by some random William Shakespeare quotations. A Midsummer Night’s Dream if that is of any interest. The proper swimmers went off to swim and the eponymous bobbers bobbed. But then the proper swimmers got all giddy by one of the buoys and started throwing a high vis safety buoy about. By the time they reached the bobbing zone a mass ‘piggy in the middle’ game had evolved that then sucked up the bobbers. The bobbers tend to swim in the safety of the bay. The combined effect of the number of people involved increasing and the acoustic properties of a cliff surrounded bay,amplified the noise, lowered the inhibitions and multiplied the competitive element of the game. We stayed in, possibly to the dismay of other bay users until our fingers resembled prunes and our salty faces were dried up by the setting sun.

With eyes stinging from too much splashed sea water and a few innocuous injuries the bobbers left the water. Allowing the waters of Tranquility Bay to settle and clear to the level of tranquil that the name suggests.

Calm restored in the bay but the whatsapp bobbing group bubbled and fizzed with the evenings events. Praise awarded and punishments for miscreants all with a hint of Midsummer Night’s Dream

“Lord what fools these mortals be”

“Though she be but little, she is fierce”

Proper quotes from Midsummer Nights Dream

Fake Shakespeare reimagined for Bobbing from the film Shakespeare in Love.

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©Jenny Tsang

Spring tides and slightly warmer waters have brought a little zing to coastal sea swimming.

Kim and I had a Sunday night swim and she returned to the beach with the sensation of a stinging nettle encounter on one arm, neither of us had seen any jellyfish but that seemed the most likely cause of her discomfort.

Yesterday I was working in The Box and was having a natter with a colleague. We were talking about our weekends and were surprised to realise that while I was in the water on Sunday she was basking, like a reptile in the sun, on a boat moored not far from where Kim and I were swimming.

We were not even in the Natural History department when she flashed me the picture of the Compass Jelly Fish she had seen on her return to land. The Sunday mystery sensation explained…

©Jenny Tsang

#246 theoldmortuary ponders

It is an unusual day that sees me up at 4am and straight into my swimming costume, but then Summer Solstice is an unusual day. One where as many Bobbers, who are able, swim at Dawn and Dusk, in the rising and setting sun. The morning bob became quite a dog bobbing session.

Two dogs bobbing and one surfboarding.

The dawn was soft and the water fairly warm, for the time of year.

The evening bob was another lovely experience. Bubbles in both senses of the world were free flowing.

The water appeared to be a little cooler but the prosecco bubbles perked us up a bit. And so, at the opposite end of the day, I was ready for bed straight after my swim.

This is the second year we have marked the Solstice with double dipping sessions, a lovely way to mark time passing and the fellowship of swimming year round.

#240 theoldmortuary ponders.

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.