09/03/2017 by Carl Reynolds
I’ve not been in the sea for a couple of weeks now – work in cities, a temporary aversion to getting cold and indolence have conspired against the part of me that wants to enjoy the cold. Or, to be more precise, enjoy the after effects – the bright eyes, energy, sense of recovery. I’ve recently come across another short video about the life enhancing benefits of sea water immersion – an ad for Dulux paint which tells the story of some older Irish folk and their love of swimming in the sea – and a piece of Parisians taking to the canals around the city, despite the prohibition of such acts. In an increasingly unnatural world, we yearn for that which is not. And while the drugs may be cheap, the sea is free.
I remembered to take some warm layers with me. I step out of my front door with more on than I need. It’s a warmish day, the sun is out. Half the town is out with their dogs – pockets stuffed with black plastic – parents are parking up to collect their nippers from school; and a few desultory teenagers are moping about on Fishcombe Beach and tossing the odd stone into the bay. I, and a few locals, swim from the beach. A lot of the other locals and visitors, throw stones into the sea from the beach; as though the act of chucking a stone into the sea, somehow satisfies a primal urge. The stone’ll be back on the next storm. Ready to be chucked again. Makes me think, ‘who plays catch anymore?’.
I hook up my bag, to avoid a deposit from a dog, and walk down the steps. It doesn’t feel as cold as I imagined it would. But it does feel cold. Just not Baltic, like it was the other week. I can swim immediately without catching my breath or wanting, needing to yank my head up and out of an impending ice cream headache. It’s still fresh though. My flanks are tingling. I swim around and around, nervous of seal nip while by myself, keeping an eye on the bottom. I see nothing but stones and boulders. And then I’m out, refreshed, grinning, energised and ready to tackle a dreary report. So I do this instead.