I have struggled recently to sit and write an entry for the blog. I am still swimming, of course, and Bryher still beats life alongside the sea, but inspiration for words have eluded me. I have instead been writing some flash fiction, an entry for the Bath Flash Fiction competition. So pencil still flows across paper, and words still jumble in mind, just not a tale to tell on here. Until today.

It has been a day of nothing to note. Drizzle and a weak wind this morning, darkness meeting the eyes upon wakening. No dazzling sunrise to set the world and soul alight. My mood has felt of nothing to note too. No holiday this year to look forward to, normally by now we are counting down to our annual family trip off Scilly, not this year. It seems unlikely that as an island we will be able to enjoy all the normal social get togethers that our winter months provide. It could be a long and lonely winter. So, there I sat, feeling a little low, a little uninspired.

After coffee I make myself get out and help Graham cut the hedges, a monumental task each year, but always a satisfying achievement as each long linear green windbreak is tidied for the year ahead. I walk, jog and cycle, ticking off miles that are there to challenge me. I have signed up to The Lighthouse Challenge which entails swimming, cycling and running a certain number of miles over the next six months. It is an opportunity to stay engaged and social as much as helping to stay fit.

Feeling hot and in need of the cooling, muscle-freeing sea, I trundle along the sandy track to Great Par. Past groups of birdwatchers dressed from head to toe in layers of camouflage gear and waterproof clothing. How strange they must think I am, dressed only in a swimming costume and towel. Their lenses and binoculars point skyward and into hedges, but my eyes and mind are on one thing only and that is wading into that blue-grey water. A slight breeze chops the surface and chills the skin.

I have nearly completed a small loop of the bay, when a snorting blow of air catches my attention. I know that sound, turn, and stare right into the face of a male seal. Another, smaller, speckled-grey seal surfaces, no more that ten feet away. My heart is lifted instantly by their captivating eyes and dog-like whiskers. The world melts away and I am wholly enchanted by them.

I swim slowly towards them and at that point I would expect them to swim away, but they don't. They stay, staring back at me. A lungful of breath and I dive, swim along the seabed, eyes searching for their shapes ahead of me. Then there, right beside me, the young seal with speckled skin, dipping and swirling, face peering at mine as we momentarily swim alongside each other. Surfacing for air, we once again stare, noses just above the water level, before diving and twisting in the green under-water-land. She much more graceful than I.

I feel perfectly alive and content. Nature has thrown me a magical lifeline.

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