Monday, 20 August 2012

Swimming girls in lipstick and pearls

It was the day of the 'official' Burgh Island Race, organised by the owners of the art deco hotel. The hotel has a strong tradition of dressing up and formality - guests wear black tie for dinner - so Kari thought we should also make a bit of an effort. So on went the warpaint and the jewels; we were certainly a contrast to the rubber-clad triathletes. It didn't impede Kari's progress though; she came 3rd in the elite section with a speedy time of just 33 minutes. I, on the other hand, took a rather more leisurely 47 minutes. Part of that time was spent in a synchro swimming session just before the end with Matt, Aaron and Sue. We had a secret rehearsal round the back of the island before revealing our Olympic-inspired routine, complete with Mo Farah and Usain Bolt moves, to the waiting crowds as we finished the race. A huge thank you to Deborah and all at the hotel for such a brilliant event, which is done with such style and generosity.

Sunday, 19 August 2012

Ahem, fifty shades of grey

The phrase 'fifty shades of grey' came to mind as we arrived at Ness Cove at dawn. (ok I'm reading the bonkbuster, but it's still a good phrase). The idea was to swim as the sun rose, but instead we were shrouded in mysterious mist. The sea was warm and glassy, with a slight roll. It was a bit like swimming at night. Everything was slightly blurred, and being in the water was just pure sensation, because visually everything was toned down. Occasionally a yellow buoy appeared through the mist, and seagulls, silhouettes of dark grey, flew overhead. I had been disappointed that we wouldn't catch a sunrise, but this was still a memorable way to start the day.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Adorable Elberry

As we approached Elberry Cove in Paignton, the sun miraculously came out, illuminating the sparkling emerald water. I had wanted to show the children the eel grass, by swimming out over it, but unfortunately the visibility was hopeless in the middle of the bay, where the grass is found, because of the rain and the recent Easterlies. So we swam close in around the rocks towards Broadsands instead, where the water was clearer, and saw lots of wrasse and sand eels. Then, as we stood drying ourselves on the beach afterwards, we saw shoals of fish breaking the smooth surface of the water, like sudden pulses of electricity. I assume these fish were mackerel, but does anyone know why they break the surface from time to time?

Monday, 13 August 2012


After a night of thunder and repeated lightning, it still felt oppressive. We trudged along the Dart from Newbridge, getting hotter and hotter as we clambered the last bit of the journey to Bellpool. At this bit of the Dart, just below Sharrah Pool, the river splits around three islands. Bellpool is on a bend fed by a cascade known by canoeists as Euthanasia, and has an enormous rock platform, accessed by a metal ladder, great for jumping. The water was delicious, silky and warm (for the Dart at least); just the thing on a muggy day. As we left we saw a plastic-encased note, along with a bunch of flowers, tied to a branch above the pool, saying "For Andrew my beloved son. Tranquil waters now. Love Mum". They say the Dart claims a life every year. I don't know if that's where Andrew died, but wherever he is I hope he rests in peace.

Saturday, 11 August 2012

A swim to Nowhere

An Olympic artwork, Nowhere Island, is touring the South West coast. It anchors off ports and sets up a corresponding "Embassy" on shore. Just one problem - no one's allowed on it. Talk about throwing down the gauntlet. A swimmers' coup d'etat was in order. We set off at sunset from Jennycliff Beach in Plymouth Sound. stormed the island, raised a pirate flag, unfurled a banner, and then dived off, leaving some settlers to colonise.