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.
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.
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.
The bobbers have effortlessly slipped back into the usual routine of three dips, into the sea, a week after a period of very stormy weather . Right now the water is 10 degrees but the outside temperature is only 4 degrees. This is a strange combination to get our heads around, but right now it is almost worse for Andy our regular coach/safety man. He stands on the shore keeping an eye out for Spearmint the seal or anything else untoward. It is really cold just standing still and watching. Last nights bob had three other non swimming onlookers so they all kept each other warm by chattering. Spearmint kept away, so the chatting was not interrupted by safety issues.
The sunset last night was rather gorgeous. The sun sent out an evening sunbeam to slightly warm us up, post swim.
Before slipping away into a golden dusk.
Something three bobbers celebrated with tea in bone china cups.
Daily blogging started as an exercise between two parts of a blogging course. Covid 19 stepped in and the exercise stretched from 8 weeks to being indefinite. Doing something daily for just a few minutes for 18 months becomes a habit. If there was a plan it was always to record the mundane in a ‘normal’ persons life. After blogging for 18 months during the height of the Covid 19 pandemic I saw little reason to stop daily blogging once the ‘advanced’ part of the course was completed. The picture above may well have been in todays blog, simply because the ship and its tugs were very close to our swimming area. As usual in a blog about the mundane I would have told you that I missed a really great picture because I was picking up a dog poo, which was true. Yesterday was different though, Russia invaded Ukraine and the story takes a twist. Normally I would check which ship I was seeing on a Marine Tracking App. Yesterday the tracking App told me my eyes deceived me. There was no ship, just a big gap between two tugs.Big world events reflected on a very normal dog walk.
Bad weather has stopped bobbing for a week or so. We’ve all missed our regular dunking in the Atlantic edges. Over the 18 months or so we have been bobbing some not inconsiderable skills have been gained, talents that should not be allowed to go to waste simply because the weather is having some bad days. A Dry Bob was called. Cake and conversation without the bother of getting cold and wet. Really the only things we could safely do while Firestone Bay is quite so unwelcoming.
Our cake and conversation is fully primed and up to speed for when the sun comes out again.
Not exactly another blog about bobbing but possibly a blog about plans, chance and expensive serendipity. Everything came together for this blog. The tide was perfect for bobbing at midday. The sun was scheduled to come out between 12 noon and 1pm and Spearmint the seal was hauled up a mile away . There is reason this picture is a little bit unusual, and the reason I have allowed myself to bore you all with another blog about bobbing. You might notice that there are gentle undulating waves for two of the bobbers to swim on. This is far from normal in our little bay. Friday was serendipitously not a normal day nautically. Out to sea, beyond our field of view there were many Nato warships taking part in an exercise. In the hour or so that we were bobbing or drying off, there were many tugs going in and out of the dockyard to help the larger ships navigate the complexities of Plymouth Sound. Almost certainly a very expensive way to provide us with gentle rolling waves for the duration of our bob. Serendipity at its serendipitous best.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Illumination in the countdown to Christmas. Rain, Petrol and a rusty gulley. Whats not to love! Rain was the predominant weather today and would have featured somehow. The plan was to write a bobbing blog with accompanying rain seascapes. Nature thwarted me. We met at high tide, which coincided with dreadful rain. We procrastinated a good bit. The thought of a plunge into cold water while being drenched by cold rain was not enticing. The precipitation was persistent but eventually we shrugged off our warm dry clothes to a certain fate of getting damp while we swam, not a great help when trying to dress. Beyond getting out and dry I had also planned some gorgeously grey shots of Plymouth Sound. When my hands had warned up enough to take a post swim photo the weather decided to put on its party face.
Not what I had planned at all but useful as another Illumination shot on the countdown to Christmas.
And there’s more.
You just can’t trust the weather, I’m sure to get gloom sometime soon