First February Swim 2020

So here I am, sea swimming in February once again. Last February’s memories of swimming are still vivid in my mind, it was my first winter swimming in skins (no wetsuit) and I had started keeping a swimming diary.

At the very beginning of my first notebook I wrote; “swimming has inspired me to try to put into thoughts and words the feelings and experiences I have when out in the sea. There are so many aspects to life on Bryher that I could write about, ponder on; the psychology of island life, the community spirit, the age-long grudges, the effects of climate change on our delicate ecosystem. The positives and guilts of bringing up our children here, the struggles the joys. So much that I find it a little overwhelming and therefor seem to write nothing at all. Maybe I will focus on one thing at a time, and at the moment my soul is captured by the sea, the swimming, the total immersion into a force much greater than myself”.

And there began my swim diary.

I thought I would put on the blog one of the entries from February 2019, only this one isn’t about swimming. We were staying on Tresco for the half term week, which we will be doing again this year. There were spring tides making high tide very high and low tide empty.

We adventure into uncharted territory, seabed mid-channel, sand our strides have never covered. Rock pools of mysterious purple shells, pink, green, orange seaweed. They are exposed to a world usually unknown to them too.

The children giggle and shriek as razor clams squirt salty jets of water into the air before retreating into the pale sand. It makes me think of Icelandic geezers or pavements in city squares that shoot water at people.

We wade through lagoons of lazily drifting kelp, wet boots, wet toes. The wind cools our March against the tide.

Our arrival at Puffin Island is heralded by mass squawking of gulls and we feel intruders on their normally deserted island. A quick sustenance break and then back, mindful of the now incoming tide.

I love reading back through my old diaries, I remember swims, places and people as well as being reminded about why it is I am still swimming.

For February is a hard month to swim in. The darkness has been here for months now, as have the cold winds, the rain and the icy sea. The water temperature is just about at its lowest and although not quite the sub 5° the amazing loch and lake swimmers up north tough it out in, it’s cold enough.

Images of twinkling turquoise seas and hot dusty days cooled by silky swims invade my mind more and more.

Today the animals are fed, the girls are baking in their favourite Sunday attire…pjs, and the boys are pottering with jobs. I’m off for a swim.

The gritty tracks are strewn with soggy leaves and twigs, wind-blown and hedge-cut. Smooth, muddy channels that last night were tiny rivers of rain, slide across the paths spilling into the grass.

The Hebe is in flower, as are the succulants at Veronica farm.


Our honey bees love these

The sun is frosted behind shifting grey cloud, the sea silver and St Mary’s a hazy faded shape on the horizon.

a world of grey and silver

So good I have managed to print it twice.

On Green Bay strandlines of high tides past wiggle their way along the sand, the next high tide in twelve hours time, now the sea slowly ebbs away. Lacy white froth on wet sand comes and goes. Here then gone, there, not there.

Feel the rhythm

A fresh westerly breeze hurries the sea along, seemingly to push it around the rocks on my left and up towards Bar and Cromwells castle. But once in the water I can feel the suck of the tide, pulling me in the opposite direction, down channel towards Samson. I slowly make my way around the little rocky headland. With my back to the sun the sea is now a grey-green, little glass bubbles spreading from my fingertips.

I’m in!

It’s a short swim and my bobble hat stays firmly on in an attempt to keep the chill at bay, but I’m in once again. February for me is just about keeping on going, not giving up and despite the cold, the gloom I always feel wonderful after my swim.

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