Wild West

It’s been four days since I last swam, which for me feels like a life time. This hiatus is due to a rather nasty encounter I had with some tiny creatures of the sea during my attempt to swim to Castle Bryher.

Sea lice, the mind boggles and the skin crawls, I bet you are already itching! Well, thank goodness they are no relation to lice, getting their unfortunate name during the 1950s. They are indeed the larvae of two types of jellyfish. Too tiny to see, but oh boy do you feel them once they’ve found you! I won’t subject you to all the gory details but needless to say I’ve felt rather uncomfortable for the past few days, Google them if you desire to know more.

I think they normally reside on the Gulf Coast near Florida and whether or not in these recent storms they have blown this way, combined with the fact that our waters are lovely and warm right now means they’ve found their way to the western coast of Bryher.

Today I have felt better enough to venture back out for a swim, not without a little trepidation I must admit. The strandline along Green Bay is high with a dark line of kelp and wrack, ripped up from the sea bed and washed ashore in the high swells. I am reminded that it will soon be time for us to cut and weed the asparagus ready for its winter duvet of a seaweed mulch.

I feel like an exuberant child that has been kept indoors for too long, now released into the open air. I dive down into the cool sea letting the pleasure of the water on my skin bring a smile to my mind.

I feel like I need a powerful swim today and stretch my shoulder blades out, pulling the water back alongside me, tightening my abdomen and elongating my body as best I can. Rolling and breathing, rolling and breathing. All the way along the bay until I reach the point at which it arcs around to the quay.

I pop my head up and right there in front of me is a young, grey shag, bobbing along on the surface. Beady eye and hooked beak, he is beautiful and not at all surprised to see me there, I wonder if he’s been swimming alongside me without me knowing.

Turning back I find my rhythm again, now going against the wind, it’s a bit more choppy and splashy and so much fun. As I reach the shore I cant resist a dive to the sea bed and tumble turn in a daze of bubbles.

It feels so good to be back in the sea, although I am relieved to come out without my little friends of the West and for now I shall be sticking to the eastern side of Bryher.

Seaweed strand at high tide

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