#91 theoldmortuary ponders

Not every ‘bob’ renders a blogworthy photo. Todays sea temperature was 10 degrees and despite it looking like a murky, bumpy ride, it was a pretty good swim. The currents though were something else. A moments inattention and one current swept us off towards the rocks. The swim back then took us into another current which pulled us quickly in the opposite direction. This area is not called Devils Point for nothing. Fortunately we are all more than one year experienced at swimming from Tranquility Bay and know well enough the tricksy currents and the need to carefully look out for one another.

My pre swimming energy came from a festive breakfast cereal.

We didn’t manage to eat any of them during the festive season. I’m not sure I particularly need to buy them again except that they provide the most glorious whiff of nostalgia if you plunge your nose into the packet before pouring them into a cereal bowl. I am hugely nose orientated. For inexplicable festive reasons we also have a mulled wine spice air freshener for the loo. No sane person on the planet needs their bathroom to smell like a bar in December, it just needs not to smell of poo. I am a festive smell marketing directors favourite shopper…

In other news I remember that pre-Christmas I wittered on about a sewing project but couldnt reveal too much as the item created was a gift. May I introduce you to Madame Cholet. A Womble of Wimbledon Common who gathers the left over embellishments from a man who brings huge joy to some of the streets of London.

https://wombles.fandom.com/wiki/Madame_Cholet

Should you be wildy interested in Wombles the link above gives you the Madame Cholet official biography.

My Madame Cholet was created from completely recycled fabrics. Her eyes are the only new thing about her. I bought an original and second hand sewing pattern from EBay.

The fabrics came from my own stash. The stash of a friend and fellow artist, Tess.

Home

And the wonderful organisation, Plymouth Scrap Store

https://www.facebook.com/plymouthscrapstore/

The whole project was inspired by a man who brings so much joy to the London streets that he cycles on. Wombles are keen recyclers and as this amazing man, who has turned tragedy into joy, cycled past me I wondered what the wombles would make of any bits that might blow off his bike or costumes. ( I suspect he is a master craftsman and bits do not really drop off) You can find him on Instagram.

Is there a point to this blog I hear myself and many other people thinking. I’m writing it as I warm up, it could end up as complete nonsense, which is exactly what we talk as we thaw out.

There is. This meandering blog comes from a very dull January day from an entirely average person who has never excelled at anything.

Writing a daily blog is about stitching any old stuff together to tell a story.

Making a womble out of mine and other peoples cast offs is more or less the same.

Swimming in cold water really is no big deal.

Most of us are ordinary,there really is no need to be special to achieve things.

Anyone can turn nothing into something. We all just need a tiny scrap of inspiration.

#90 theoldmortuary ponders

Yesterday started and ended with the sea.

My morning walk, at dawn, was a chilly experience. I was wrapped up snuggly but the wintery wind nibbled, coldly, at my fingers and ears. From this picture you can see that there were already hardy types out swimming. I was so grateful to be warm inside layers of winter clothing. My mind was elsewhere as I also knew that I had plans to be swimming at sunset. Nothing seems quite so contrary as knowing that a well and appropriately dressed walk is pretty cold and yet there are plans afoot to take a swim later in the day

My first day back at the museum, post Christmas, was the usual lovely mix of talking to visitors and catching up with colleagues. With all afternoon breaks covered and a last loooooooong conversation with a visitor it was time to rush home for a quick dog walk and a slow enrobement of my winter swimming wet suit. My legs and feet, tired from a day of many steps in museum galleries just wanted a cup of tea and ten minutes on the sofa. Instead they were forced into constraining neoprene and forced to walk again, this time to the beach.

There were only three bobbers available for the sunset swim. We were the lucky ones, the sea was as calm as a mill pond and the light was quite magical. The tide was coming in, everything conspired towards a very succesful bob. While swimming we didn’t particularly notice the water temperature of 11 degrees and had longer in the water than we would usually do at this time of year. Getting out was a bit of a shock, our feet were all a bit useless at walking on dry land and the dressing process was hampered by fingers that felt like ice cold silky sausages. No words can describe just how good it feels once our clothes are back on and we have warm drinks to hand. Looking out over the bay, as we nattered, made a January evening look gorgeous.

#71 theoldmortuary ponders

Oh these silky waters were a fabulous swim on Friday morning. Miss Spearmint, the seal, was away swimming near the Hoe so there were no sudden departures,from the sea, required of swimmers to give her space. Today was a birthday swim so there was cake and conversations to follow once we were dressed. The richness of the aquatic wildlife in Plymouth Sound was one such conversation.I managed to find this picture of a specimen jar to illustrate the conversation in a festive way.

And then later in the day we found some more underwater creatures all gussied up ready for the festive season.

I wish this was the last thing I could discuss about wildlife but sadly a bout of food poisoning has wracked my body and mind. The physical aspects do not need to be elaborated on but the mental ones were quite daunting. I must stress that, beyond food, only tap water and tea was ingested all day. After my personal eruption and once I was well enough to return to my bed I was straight off to sleep only to be dumped into a hideous nightmare. Large birds that under normal circumstances adorn our wallpaper started to fly off the wall and wrap themselves wetly around my body. They were warm and wet, as if freshly dipped in hot wallpaper paste and alive but as flat as any wallpaper bird would be. Try as I might I could not stick them back on the wall in the right places. Waking up was the only way to save the situation. A lurid way to welcome the weekend. Of course this morning they are all perched calmly in the right places, catching the first of the morning light.

#67 theoldmortuary ponders

A happy sleeping seal means just one thing. The lunchtime bob/swim will be uninterrupted by Miss Spearmint. Many Bobbers gathered and had a fabulous rough swim in Tranquility Bay. In other news we have finally finished the bulb planting, shelf putting up and the Christmas decorations are finally finished. All somewhat complicated by the odd angles we encounter in this old property.

Obviously bulb planting does not make great photos but the shelves in our tiny utility room could be worthy of a photo or two.

And the fireplace and window are ready to shine.

All in all an effective use of a day. Which is more than we can say for Miss Spearmint who many hours later is still dozing, still flatulently full of fish, safely protected on her own private beach.

#61 theoldmortuary ponders.

Storm Barra delivered a Sea Heart this morning.

An unusually high tide made these liquid hearts on the rocks that litter our swimming beach. The steps further along also got a little magical drenching.

And for now the sun is out. On days like this, wrapped up in lovely warm clothes I wonder why I choose to whip my everythings off and swim in this exact location. But when I’m in it it is the best feeling in the world.

#52 theoldmortuary ponders

New handrails to the sea. There have been some refurbished steps through the rocks into the sea for a couple of months. Yesterday the steps were fitted with new and much improved hand rails. Despite only being a small walk from our usual beach this access point can sometimes be safer if the sea is rough at high tide. The new handrails make it an even safer option. Yesterday Spearmint the seal also chose the safer option for her morning swim.

Flipping things even further a diver had to get out of the sea in order to take underwater photos of her.

For all of us winter swimming has properly started now. The cold water buzz is back.

#51 theoldmortuary ponders

A life before Covid-19 or a ghost of Christmas past? Both really. Carnaby Street in 2018. We had recently returned from South Korea and Hong Kong. In both countries mask wearing in public was a fairly common occurrence but beyond the fastidiousness of some Asian tourists mask wearing in public was unimaginable in the joyous throng of people enjoying the Bohemian Rhapsody, themed lights,of London’s Carnaby Street.

Two years on in 2020 and the World is in full Covid-19 swing and we are one month into,experimental, Winter cold water swimming. A ghost of Christmas future, or more accurately future winters.

As it happens exactly that. One year on from that sunny November beach scene and this is the pot of hot coffee that is pre- warming us before this mornings swim, the croissant is already gone. We are discussing the ‘Are we mad theory’ the same theory that we will discuss this weekend when we return to London to see Christmas Lights.

Were we mad?

Yes we were and it was one of the most tranquil, gorgeous swims of the year. Will we be mad enough to visit some of London’s Christmas lights this weekend. I really hope so.

Wimbledon

#45 theoldmortuary ponders

Todays blog was knocked off the front page by another story of bobbing. This is how tranquil the area was when we went for a dip last night. But what lies underneath?

A playful seal! Spearmint the seal joined the two distance swimmers at the furthest buoy and swam back with them to one of the other swimmers. They calmly warned her that they were not alone. Not trusting them at all she disbelieved them. Calm, was not, in truth, how any of them were feeling . An onlooker who was alerted by their excited chatter said she had never seen anyone swim back to the shore so fast. On arrival back in Tranquility bay Spearmint played around with two other bobbers before noticing that the others were getting out, she joined them in a rush for the beach and the video that follows was her being calm with a background soundtrack of excited chatter.

©Teresa

Teresa, the quick thinking onlooker who filmed this also had a video of Spearmint having her supper.

©Teresa
©Teresa

I think it is safe to say that the whole encounter was a lot more exciting for the humans, Miss Spearmint just takes the whole thing very much in her stride.

©Teresa

Soon after she returned to the sea the water if not the ‘ bobbers’ was entirely tranquil.

#35 theoldmortuary ponders

Our winter swimming- hut had been attacked by vandals overnight. This is the only piece of their graffiti that is reproducible. Strangely prophetic, as,unknown to me, there was a surprise morning party planned to follow the swim. We also regularly eat cake and drink tea in this particular hut. This morning Facebook memories reminded me that 3 years ago I was in South Korea and a quick visit to my photo archive brought up a piece of actual street art that featured tea and cakes.

South Korea also provided us with actual tea and cakes, of course!

And coffee and cakes.

And indeed coffee and breakfast.

Which has nicely removed this blog away from the nasty homophobic, racist, mysogynist, violent graffiti that we were confronted with yesterday, by focusing on the one sentence that offended no-one. Note to the writers of the graffiti, the teachers and word nerds in our swimming group were not impressed with your grammar or punctuation. The artists among us thought your anatomical drawings were pretty rudimental.

#34 theoldmortuary ponders

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!