#261 theoldmortuary ponders

©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.

#233 theoldmortuary ponders

Watercolour scraps.

Its been quite the painting day here, but first the morning bob needs a mention purely for its novelty moment. It is not unusual for us to be passed, at some point, by Royal Marines out on training runs. What is unusual, however, is to hear the command, “Shirts off” and just like that the Marines took their shirts off and plunged in the sea.

The Bobbers, of course, were completely cool with this but not so another swimmer. The Marines chose a good day, it was a fabulous swim.

Meanwhile the outside of our house is being given a big makeover. Dark blue masonry paint and a yellow front door. The decision had been made and the paint purchased but moments before the paint was applied I was still checking Pinterest to see if the colour combination worked on other peoples houses.

I was in a deconstructing mood and chopped up a watercolour that had been deliberately painted to be cut up.

The scraps are endlessly fascinating.

Below is the reason for creating all this vivid mess.

These squares represent nearly a year of observing the sea colours on my daily walks on the Stonehouse Peninsular. This is my first experiment with the technique . #1 stacked up in the studio.

#231 theoldmortuary ponders

©Gilly Bobber

The sun sets on an unusual 4 day weekend when the Queen celebrated her Platinum Jubilee.

The bobbers got together in their usual place, Firestone Bay, to have a dry bob. A bob that does not require immersion in the sea but that does involve food and nattering. We gathered for a picnic at Stonehouse Lawn Tennis Club for a picnic overlooking our usual swimming spot.

The topics were, as usual, wide ranging but the Queen was touched upon and South West Film Archive provided vital evidence of one bobber presenting the Queen with a bouquet of flowers, she also, thoughtfully, gave Prince Philip a button hole, carefully wrapped in tin foil to protect his uniform. Posterity did not record that moment but we do have a still from the bouquet presentation.

©SW Film Archive. Shelley Bobber meets the Queen.

Today was a significant moment in history. None of us will ever see a Royal Jubilee again, so full on picnic time it was, with Sandwiches, Sausage Rolls, A cheese, pineapple and silver skin onion hedgehog, Fritatas, Scones, Strawberries and cream, Savoury Pin Wheels, Cherries, Crisps and Prosecco.

Games were played.

Trees were planted, cheers were cheered, and the National Anthem attempted. A good day was had.

#199 theoldmortuary ponders

Sometimes it is hard to know quite how to tie everything together for a blog. Today is one of those days and thank goodness I have this gorgeous rope, found at Delamore Arts earlier in the week, to tie things together.

Today was a huge red letter day for a good friend of ours who went to Buckingham Palace to collect an MBE from the Princess Royal.

On a far less significant scale we got a lovely Whatsapp message saying how much a family member has enjoyed yesterdays blog about St Just in Roseland.

Such a lovely thing to say.

And finally in this odd little blog the dogs had a red letter day because I had a contretemps with a bus on the way to work this morning. Minding my own business in a traffic queue a bus approached from behind and attempted to underpass me in the bus lane and ripped off my wing mirror with an enormous bang. The bus did not pull in or stop. No harm to me at all but I was so cross with myself because I had nothing to hand to take down the bus registration. I vowed to follow it but then a traffic light got between me and my target. This kind of stuff just requires so much admin to resolve and it put me in a grumpy mood. So grumpy that I couldn’t be bothered to pull on my wetsuit to go for the Wednesday evening bob. But that is where the dogs got their red letter day. I decided to take them to the sea for their evening walk while the bobbers were doing their thing. The dogs never usually come with us. I calmed my grumpy soul by sitting on the steps that lead into the sea and the dogs looked on as the bobbers bobbed.

The sea worked its magic, my grumpies left and the dogs had the excitement of welcoming the bobbers back in after a long and challenging swim.

Three very different stories all tied up with a beautiful knot.

#184 theoldmortuary ponders

Bobbers and their dogs left their usual Atlantic location and travelled up the River Tamar last night to celebrate an evening of live music and Coach Andy’s birthday. Bobber Helen was performing after recovering the lower register of her voice, the upper one having been temporarily disabled by Covid.

Bobbers always celebrate birthdays in the sea but Coach Andy is a special bobber because he never gets wet. So a landlocked celebration at the Who’d Have Thought It suited him very well.

Covid has robbed us all of so much but the curiously named pub exactly reflects the sentiments of last night.

Who would have thought that fifteen people, most of them strangers to one another, would have created such a bond because of a pandemic. During the dark days of lockdowns in England people were only permitted to travel short distances for exercise. Open water or the sea was the only place that swimming could happen. Crazy as it seems now Bobbing started when we even had to keep our distance in outside environments including the sea. Bobbing requires us all to struggle in and out of our clothes on a public promenade, Coach Andy keeps an eye on piles of clothes and the bobbers in the sea. We swim in an area with very tricksy currents. During lockdown even though travel was restricted to essential or exercise some people saw this as an opportunity to steal phones and valuables from swimmers clothes piles. There was also a Voyeur who would casually cycle up and down the promenade in a high visibility jacket hoping to catch an eyeful of damp flesh as we struggled in or out of our clothes. At one point Coach Andy was supplemented by members of the Police Force who showed the Voyeur the error of his ways and he cycled off never to be seen again. Although as his disguise was a high visibility jacket that statement is not strictly true. Someone, somewhere else is almost certainly seeing him. Coach Andy is an absolute master at wandering off and staring at the horizon for long periods when we get to the damp flesh bit of bobbing. He is also pretty good at a good old natter when other people come to visit the bobbing zone to marvel at the madness that is cold water swimming in all sorts of weather. His emergency finger is never far away from his phone whatever situation he finds himself in

Who would have thought you could put 15 strangers into a very unusual situation and then turn them into friends.

Who would have thought that three dogs could listen so attentively to a night of the Blues . I suspect no high notes may have been the secret.

#181 theoldmortuary ponders

And then the sun came out properly! After 4 days of mist with just an occasional sunny break through, Monday, finally, delivered on some good weather. Our morning walk took us to Mount Wise overlooking Plymouth Sound and the Stonehouse Peninsular. Looking back towards our home and regular swimming, bobbing, location.

We have been home birds for the whole of Easter and we have had many adventures but all the photographs look like this.

This was the view from our Sunday lunch destination, booked for the combination of extensive, breathtaking views and good food. The food did not disappoint. Below is a link to how the view should be.

Fog or mist included we had a great weekend of socialising with family and friends. By Monday evening it was time to get back to normal and an evening ‘bob’ was called. 10 bobbers gathered in the evening sun with tales of Easters elsewhere, and photographs to make us jealous.

Pembrokeshire © Nichola Bobber
Mid-Wales © Gill/Marianne Bobber
East Wittering ©Gilly Bobber

Not that Tranquility Bay put on a bad show last night itself.

Tranquility Bay, though, was in a tricksy mood and had some nasty currents which exhausted one of the bobbers. Last night was a fine lesson in why we are Bobbers who Bob together. Towards the end of our time in the water two bobbers were a little late returning to the chattering zone. After some robust shouting our two strongest swimmers realised there was a problem and took off back to the buoy. Coach Andy has his finger poised to call the emergency services, but the tired and emotional bobber was dragged back to the safe area and we all left the sea, happy that we have each other and that some of the bobbers are good enough swimmers to keep us safe. Easter eggs and hot drinks returned everyone to their normal settings and Coach Andy’s Emergency Finger was returned to his coat pocket until it is next called into action. And with that Easter 2022 was concluded.

#178 theoldmortuary ponders.

We have some friends who live in Down Thomas, a village opposite our swimming beach, not on the island but on the cliffs that are hidden behind the sea fog that was sweeping in yesterday afternoon. I sent them this picture with the question ” Where are you?”

Our late afternoon bob was chilly and bright and looked, but did not feel, Mediterranean.

When we got out I had received a photo back, from our friend, with the same question.

” Where are you?”

#170 theoldmortuary ponders

Planning a bob got a little easier last night. Miss Spearmint the over friendly seal was transported away from Plymouth Sound. Unusually for a seal she craved human company. The Bobbers knew not to swim if she was spotted anywhere near our chosen swimming beach. Checking her whereabouts on a local WhatsApp group became the fourth thing to check when a bob was called.

Tide✓ Weather✓Daylight✓ Seal✓

We were really diligent but despite our best efforts we sometimes had to abandon a bob when she casually swam up and joined us. Other people despite plenty of information locally were not so thoughtful and deliberately interacted with her or fed her, something she seemed to love but that was not good for her.

Earlier this week she took her love of humans to a new level and pulled herself into a small village and chose to take her daily nap under a lorry. For her own safety she will be relocated, again. We can only imagine her reaction when she was told.

Bobbers are going to miss her. Had we known she was going, she could have had one of our special waves.