Uncertainty in a Certain World


Wild Swimming


There was one thing I was absolutely certain of this morning; there would be no swimming today.  The sea could not have calmed since yesterday and the weather was set to cold and wet.  So no sense packing any swim kit.

And yet here I am, the wind has backed off, there are intermittent breaks in the cloud, the sea is almost without a ripple and it is quite warm.  So maybe not warm, but warm enough.


Wild Swimming


Even so 20 minutes ago I was still not heading to the beach, but, I could just turn off here and take a quick look, and here I am.  All I need is a towel.

The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy contains much that is apocryphal or at least wildly inaccurate, but there are at least two vitally important pieces of advice.  The first is on the cover where it says in large and friendly letters ‘Don’t Panic’.  The second is contained in the entry on towels where it says that every hitch hiker worth his or her salt should always know where their towel is.  In my case I carry a microfibre towel at all times along with goggles and shorts in a grab bag under the back seat of the car.  Spread out on the rock it has a minimalist look.

After Sunday at the river where the water felt as if it was on the edge of solid the sea is soft and yielding, though I can do no more than shuffle forward sometimes on a patch of sand sometimes on pebbles, now stepping up on a rock hidden in the sand laden water.  I have enough depth to swim so bend at the knees and push off, wincing not at the cold but at the salt water that has just washed into the cut in my hand which is still open and raw from an hour ago.

Clearing the small rocky headland I can see back into the next bay which is even more sheltered and where the water is even calmer, if it is possible for a completely flat thing to be flatter still.  Taking a diagonal slant towards Armchair Rock I suddenly pass a line in the water where there is much less sand and the water shows minty green.  A burst of sunshine behind me casts my shadow into the water surrounded by a glittering halo of sand grains.

My swim turns into a triangle with the long edge parallel to the beach.  The white egret that is often here decides I have come close enough and flaps out to the far headland, legs trailing, whilst 2 oyster catchers chase overhead in a writhing flight and give their whistling cry.  My toes are chilling but that’s all, spring after all is only 3 weeks away now.

The Hitch Hikers Guide also warns that you should ‘expect the unexpected’ and so it has turned out.  That’s three bits of good advice.


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