It wasn’t the last swim. My daughter, Lydia and I had a spontaneous swim yesterday, it was so warm and still by the sea. It was a vest and pants venture as we hadn’t gone prepared and it was terribly cold going in, but once in, the water was as delightful and exhilarating as it has been all summer. And getting dry was easy, no nasty breezes freezing your parts, the only difficulty was the little orange shape in the corner of the picture.
It was a man with a kayak. He lurked around 200m or so out to sea, of little interest to us, we were more concerned with stopping William eating stones. He’d have a pear in one hand and a pebble in another and forget which was which. But kayak-man was keen to show us his paddling prowess and floated right up to where we were sitting. We sat, she on the changing mat and me on my purple pilgrim coat, air drying, gently swathed in the remainder of our clothes, ie not much and all getting rather damp. Hoping we looked like those Victorian beauties discreetly veiled, we decided not to make a big do of our state of undress and sit in a composed fashion pretending everything was fine. Which it was but he was determined to make contact and beached himself and the kayak sideways on the stones and toppled out. He was wearing middle aged hiking gear, a look I am very familiar with, including a khaki body warmer and taupe cargo shorts. Big thick glasses. No idea of social cues. We are not giving eye contact. Snapping back polite but short answers. I was virtually throwing stones at him but still he advanced.
Bless him, he was very excited as it was his first venture out to sea, having only been on the canal before. It must have been lovely except for the last part when he fell sideways and got soaked. But as we said, no one was watching. We thought no one watched us swim, but I was suddenly aware of a woman stripping down to her bra and pants and entering the water. It was like an advert – one minute she looked all office worker, lipstick and shirt-waister, the next, there she was doing back stroke across the bay. Excellent. Another day stolen from the predations of winter.
Live while you are alive.