Saturday, July 29, 2006

Swimming in the sea

Swimming in the sea is not a common pastime for the Scots (see previous entry - Life's a Beach), even in the summer months. Next stop Iceland or Norway, depending on which coast you’re on, is the framework of understanding when it comes to maritime temperatures. So perhaps it’s not that surprising that my son should be eleven years old and in a foreign country before his first experience of swimming in salt water with waves.

Having grown up in Southern England and South Wales I, on the other hand, get an irresistible urge to paddle, or even leap in whenever I visit a beach. Childhood memories of spending all day on Pendine Sands, diving through waves, attempting to surf on rubber rings, and getting sunburnt to the point of peeling skin, flood back as soon as the water washes over my toes. This is usually followed by a yelp of surprise at just how bloody cold it is.

For one reason or another, whether it has been the tides are at the wrong point in their cycle, we’ve been off visiting other parts of Brittany, or the weather has been a bit dodgy, we’ve not been swimming this holiday despite renting a cottage within ambling distance of the sea. We’ve strolled along the water’s edge picking up interesting looking shells several times, and on one occasion Rogan and I built sandcastles against the incoming tide, but we hadn’t had a proper swim. So Friday morning, the last real day of the holiday, we set aside to catch the incoming tide and go for a swim.

The sun was shining through the window as we woke and it looked like it was going to be idyllic. However, by the time we’d had breakfast, changed into our costumes and reached the sand, the wind had picked up and the sun was obscured by thick strata of grey cloud.

Maggie sat on the beach wearing several layers and a thick jacket; being a Scot, not only was she slightly mystified by the whole leaping-in-the-sea idea, she also had an eye for the more practical approach of dealing with beaches on cool, windy, grey days. Meg had been determined to go swimming but once those toes had been caressed by the cold touch of Poseidon’s domain she rather wisely joined her mother under the beach blanket.

Driven on by testosterone and general male foolhardiness, Rogan and I waded into the sea, stopping every few feet to shout out in distress, especially when the water reached the dangly bits. Determined that I would not back down I strode deeper, allowing the waves to crash over me before finally plunging in. Once my body had acclimatised I was hit with a sudden explosion of endorphins; I was strong, I was powerful, I was the Lord of the Ocean. I started swimming up and down, diving through waves and whooping with joy. Exhilarated? I was ecstatic; for about three minutes anyway. Then it slowly dawned on me that I was losing sensation in my extremities and it was all taking far more out of me than I’d realised. Gently I worked my way back to the shore and up the beach to where a patient Maggie was waiting with a towel at the ready.

The fenced off stones at Carnac
Driven on by testosterone and general male foolhardiness

Rogan had a whale of a time, loving the waves, the extra buoyancy offered by salt water and the space to kick and splash about without having to worry about other swimmers, or lifeguards telling you not to pee in the pool.

Back at the cottage the less than adequate shower eventually rinsed the salt, sand and seaweed off our bodies and Maggie made sure we were warmed up by hot drinks. The next time I decide to do more than just paddle in the sea I think I’ll choose somewhere a bit warmer, like the Mediterranean, the Caribbean, or just off the shore of an active volcanic Island.

16 comments:

Attila The Mom said...

Oh My God---that picture is absolutely priceless!

I really love reading about your vacation. It's almost like being there in person.

Kim Ayres said...

Thanks Atilla - I'm glad you've enjoyed this batch. I've been getting lot less comments than usual so I'm not sure whether everyone's on holiday, or they're all bored stiff.

With regard to the picture I was amazed that Maggie managed to catch that instant (while warmly wrapped up back on the beach). I was so impressed I realised I had to use it for my avatar.

Andraste said...

It is a great photo, expresses a lot.

I think you're right, Kim. Many are on holiday, though I suspect some are feeling a bit uninspired by blogging lately.

It comes in waves. Ahhhahahahahaha!

See what I did there? Waves? Huh?

Oh, bugger. I'll just take my coffee to the back porch now.

Diddums said...

Wonderful photo, I'm envious. And, if it's any consolation, I have been wondering exactly the same thing. All my readers disappeared and comments dried up. Maybe it's got something to do with the heatwave - and when the thunderstorms roll round, they switch off altogether (well we don't want our readers electrocuted). Or maybe they decided I'm too weird, or too boring, or I said something offensive without realizing or... no, no, no, that way madness lies. Just enjoy writing your blog. :-)

Came here from Kate's Itisi blog, just in case you wondered. She reaches out and touches somebody, and I spread like a germ. Heh heh.

fatmammycat said...

Great photo Kim, looks like you're both having a ball!

Kim Ayres said...

Andraste - there's something missing. Even Blunt Cogs seems to have fizzled out. I hope there's a new burst of energy soon.

Diddums - welcome to my ramblings! You're right - if I start analysing too much I end up in danger of changing the writing to try and fit a non-existent readership. Better to write as I do and those who like it will hopefully stick around :)

Fatmammycat - it was fun... eventually. I mean, looking back on it I know it was much more fun than when I actually experienced it.

Hmmm... that's either deeply profound or complete bollocks.

Kim Ayres said...

Diddums - in case you come back to read this - I went over to visit your site and was going to leave a comment but it insists that I register and log in before I can. Let me know if there's a way round that.

kats said...

Just read your sidebar - I am quiet no longer - I have wifi on the boat woooohooooooo -

Now I shall sit down and read about your current adventure

Diddums said...

Thanks for visiting! The comment thing is the blog host's policy, I'm afraid - the only way round that is for me to move to Blogger - I've been seriously thinking about it in recent days :-). Well - there's also a guestbook on my blog, but that's not the same as leaving a comment on a post. I know how you feel, as sometimes I get on someone else's blog and it says "only if you are registered with Blogger" or something. I think "how dare it!" and then realize I can hardly complain ;-).

SafeTinspector said...

Land-locked in the massive expanse of North America, I've only ever been in salt water once, and I was distracted by sex and a headache.
We do have these monstrous freshwater bodies laying about here in Michigan, so I've swum in sea-sized waters before. But I remember the one time with salt water being so...damn...salty!

I love your frozen bolas picture.
Reminds me of the time my boss went diving in his nearly frozen pool in a wet suit to fix some crack or some such. The adrenaline rush to his heart scared the bejeezes out of him. He was still cold the next day.

Cherrypie said...

Great pic. I remember holidaying in Northern Brittany. Each beach was different. My favourite was one made up entirely of tiny, exquisite shells.

C'est formidable!

Nikki said...

I have suddenly realised, you are quite insane. LOL

Kim Ayres said...

Kats - I have moved your position in my sidebar out of the sporadic category. Welcome back :)

Diddums - I allow anonymous comments and non-blogger people to comment, but the word verification keeps most of the spammers away and I can delete anyone else if they piss me off too much.

SafeTinspector - Having been born and brought up by the sea, it's like it's in the blood, calling. When I lived in the slightly more landlocked area of Central Scotland (though nothing on the scale of Michigan) I found myself yearning for it.

Cherrypie - walking along the water's edge looking for interesting shells was a favourite pastime most evenings.

Nikki - better late than never :)

Stella said...

I love the pic Kim - it is SO expressive!!! I am wending my way through your holiday posts and enjoying them, just back from 2 weeks in Wexford myself, weather was gorgeous, sea was cold and I, like Maggie, was sensible and sat on the beach and listened to the screams!

Kim Ayres said...

Stella - you're a wiser woman than me :)

Diddums said...

This may seem irrelevant now but I suddenly remembered there IS somewhere else you can comment - I have a blogspot which is mainly used for commenting on those Blogger blogs that only accept Blogger comments. There's also a chance I will move my blog there! No time right now. URL points to my small blogspot.