Rainbows

Updated: Mar 1

Todays entry combines my swim of yesterday and today.

Early morning yesterday, dark, grey skies and a watery light, created a faint but wide reaching arc of a rainbow, stretching from Stinky Porth across the bay towards Great Par. The sea on the western side of Bryher was a dark, slate grey, flecked with crisp, white rolling horses.

Despite having been awake for nearly three hours, my head was heavy with a thick blanket of sleepiness that I couldn’t shake. Perhaps a blast of cold sea would help, which of course it did. Nothing like a total immersion into the chilly waters to sharpen the mind.

The rainbows continued through the day, Martha curious about where the rainbow ends and what’s beyond it. Rainbows have the ability to inspire dreams and aspirations.

Today I visited St Mary’s (the largest of the five islands of the archipelago) and met with a friend and fellow sea swimming enthusiast to venture into new waters.

Hugh Town is buzzing with preparations for the Otillo, a world class sporting event that uses the natural environment of the islands to their full potential. It is a gruelling challenge but and inspiring one too. Competitors run and swim their way over a challenging course that covers four of the five islands. There are several different levels of the competition now, even the school children take part in their own mini event.

My much less gruelling challenge today, is to swim out along the little rocky outcrop called Taylor’s Island.

The beach at Porth Loo has the slightly stomach turning stench of rotting seaweed. Sand hoppers and sand flies are thick along the tide line and as we walk down through the layers of sludgy brown weed, it squelches and seeps up between our toes. The tide ebbs and the rocky granite edges of the bay are slowly exposed to the sunshine.

The sky is blue but huge puffs of mountainous culumus clouds drift across the sun periodically. The sea is like liquid pewter, softly and silkily rolling.

We strike out of the bay, the water shallow for a long way, barely a few feet deep, the sand below rippled and dotted with worm casts.

We skim over limpet covered rocks and thick beds of sea lettuce, the seabed turning a bright, grass green.

As we swim further out, the green colour intensifies and becomes ethereal, almost luminescent. We play like wild sea creatures, diving and rolling in joyful freedom.

Further out we go and the sea darkens. Great forests of kelp, writhe, swirl and reach up towards us from the deep. Their long leathery arms brushing against the skin. Periwinkle cling on tightly, as they too are cast this way and that in the gentle swell.

I feel a sense of rising panic as the kelp and thong weed wrap around me, however the wonderful thing about swimming in company, is the distraction it provides from a wild imagination. I soon find that instead of fearing these weeds, I am enjoying their beauty.

We return to the shallows and I am left feeling inspired, enthused and alive.

It is good to challenge ourselves, both body and mind. To leave our comfort zone. We then have to rely on our intuition and inner strength to carry us through.

So with that in mind, and rainbows in the sky that are there to inspire the dreamers in all of us, good luck to everyone who is challenging themselves, either in the Otillo or another venture. Go for it and grow!

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