Pandemic Pondering #385

Yesterday England took a partial step out of Covid Lockdown. Among other changes non essential shops opened and food and drink suppliers could serve customers in outdoor seated areas. The media this morning are reporting a Monday like no other, ever, with people queueing to enjoy retail therapy and socialising, after a very long period of restrictions.

Not much changed @theoldmortuary. Our lockdown routine will probably only change with small incremental adaptations. Our swimming, ‘ bobbing’ life changed immediately though . The scone and landscape picture at the top of the blog represents absent friends, who were unable to swim last night because they were free to travel and stay away. Or had work commitments that were no longer screen based or as flexible as they have been during lockdown.

A campsite over looking Plymouth Sound
©Kevin Lindsey

Not only were there less ‘ Bobbers’ last night, there were less swimmers in general. The Firestone Bay seal had huge portions of the sea to himself. He/she is the small dot in line diagonal with the two bouys.

The second scone picture of the day sums this transitional period up. There is some certainty and clarity in the immediate foreground but we can’t clearly see the outline of the future.

Pandemic Pondering #382

©Debs Bobber

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.

Tug Spotting

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.

Pandemic Pondering #372

Yesterday was bright in our corner of Cornwall/ England. So bright in fact that we largely forgot that there had been some easement in Covid restrictions. We could have met another household in our garden or theirs or any other outdoor space but instead just pottered about in the garden making it ready for Spring. The only loosening of behaviours was on a Zoom meeting where the Bookclub arranged an outdoor real life book club meet up next month. Yesterday we discussed literary connections to foolishness as we are close to April 1st . It was good to see so many readers on screen to discuss nonsense. The day finished with a swim in the sunshine, the water temperature had dropped a bit and the currents were not kind but sunshine on your face makes it easier to cope with these things. The daffodils at the top and bottom of this blog have popped their fancy heads up in the old part of the cemetery near @theoldmortuary. They look like fancy hats ready for a very dressed up occasion.

There is also a fine crop of wild garlic, some of which I will harvest later today if the sun stays out. Yesterday I harvested an image from the Victorian part of the graveyard. An eternal message that has been made abstract by Lichen and illuminated by sunshine.

Pandemic Pondering #371

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.

Who knew such things even existed!

Pandemic Pondering #362

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.

Have a great Saturday .

Pandemic pondering #355

If a picture paints a thousand words then this frame says it all about Lockdown 3. Usually this frame on a wall on The Barbican holds topical graffiti. Currently it stands empty…

A friends retro print, though, might be predicting our 2021 travel plans.

©Marianne Wood

Pictures are the theme of this blog, like many blogs serendipity chose the subject. We did manage a sea swim today. We were super cautious and the weather was not kind.


Really cold fingers after our swim produced this curious image. It looks like a photograph produced on a glass plate from the earliest years of photography. Same location as above.

The ‘ bobbers’ also today at the same location.

©Andy Cole

And finally one last picure, after the swim and the restorative hot drink my warmed fingers found the Silky Water Filter on the camera and the sun came out.

Pandemic Pondering #348

©Tony Batty

Saturday sunshine…

Actually it was Friday sun and the image has been manipulated to make everything a bit more golden. Dreamlike perhaps.

There is a reason for this. Todays blog is about dreamscapes. I’ve noticed over the last week or so that my dreams that are close to reality have started to take place in pandemic world. Nothing dramatic, not nightmares. There are times when my dreams are so dull and humdrum waking up is a relief. It is these non interesting dreams that have shifted into Pandemic World. I’m not really sure why I’ve shared this, but as an observation of the progress of the pandemic I suppose it has some value.

Waking up today was a tiny shock to the system. We planned an early morning swim. Ooh it was chilly.

Have a wonderful weekend.

Pandemic Pondering #341

©Plymouth Open Water Swimmers

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.

Mr Stan, part of the Peverell Posse

The day started well for them.

©Tony Batty

The later swimmers took the sunset slot.

The evening swim was epic.

©Andy Cole

But unknown to us , something was afoot.

©Andy Cole

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.

https://www.davidpartner.co.uk/headsofgovernment

https://www.facebook.com/groups/214153495854310/?ref=share

Pandemic Pondering #330

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.

Pandemic Pondering #320

The sea swimming community in Plymouth is very welcoming.

When you drive along Durnford Street at 10am and see a woman walking along wearing a Tiara, it is a fair assumption, and in this case correct, that she is a sea swimmer celebrating something.

A double celebration as it turns out, a birthday and retirement.

The beauty of this lovely community is that everyone looks out for each other, in or out of the water. It is entirely normal to ask a complete stranger why they are wearing a tiara. Talking to this particular stranger gave me the heart image at the top of this blog. Her husband had made this heart on their gate to celebrate her birthday.

The smiles are not just reserved for Tiara wearing. Just doing a sea swim makes us smile inside and out.

Some other facial expressions!

But mostly smiles.

People are always willing to share their expertise. On this occasion, not swimming related, how to use drainage holes to frame photographs.

Two of our images.

And someone using their newly acquired knowledge.

As it happens within our ‘Bobbers’ group we have had two recent birthdays. Unaware of the informal Tiara rule, we just exchanged cards. (In future, tiaras will be involved!) ‘Bobbers’ also do original art.

Hugo and Lola by Debs Bobber

Sea swimming is an amazing activity. We plan ours using Tide times and weather forecasts.

For local and constantly updated information, we often refer to Plymouth Open Water Swimmers. Link below.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/214153495854310/?ref=share

Some of us have had swimming lessons from Jason at Ace Swimming

https://www.aceswimming.co.uk/

Cold water swimming, it makes us smile. We Love It.