7 beach bivvy problems… and some VERY sensible outdoory solutions.

Five women, one fire, a drizzly evening and a LOT of crisps. I’m grinning from a 24 hour ago beach bivvy adventure with girl mates. All the best adventures and expeditions have their moments, and this was no exception, but we employed a solution focused approach…

Problem 1 – Bivvy spot not as lovely looking as anticipated or remembered (my responsibility as I proposed it). In fact, is covered in storm debris of muddy wood, strewn plastic bottles and Portuguese Man o’ Wars (potentially deadly not-jellyfish –  fabulous colours, not good for hugging) as far up the shore as grass level (it was very windy this week).

Solution – Arrive in failing light so as to have minimal visual contact with plastic bottles and deadly non-jellyfish. Light fire (see problems 2 and 4) to make surrounding seem darker more quickly. Cover deadly non-jellyfish with rocks (they’re dead anyway) to avoid rolling on them in the night.

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Portuguese Man ‘o War – definitely not a jellyfish

Problem 2 – Damp  firewood collected near bivvy spot. There is plenty (it’s been very stormy and so the beach is very flotsam-jetsam-y) but every piece is coated and soaked in brown slimey sea goo (an actual thing) due to the dank mizzle.

Solution – Take a handful of coal and some very dry kindling from home (ensure very experienced fire-making girl mate’s equally adventurous husband has chosen and chopped this kindling with a fine axe). The coal-hot centred fire will dry out the slimiest of drifted pallet wood and be wonderful for hours! In addition it’ll burn so hot that dinner can cook on it, and there will be no semi-burnt bits left in the morning. Not even a pile of ash…complete combustion (that’s fire science btw).

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Always Exploring… Bel is victorious in her search for fuel

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An excellent, coal centred fire

Problem 3 – Running out of wine a bit early.

Solution – Ensure excellent and long-time outdoorsy friend turning up in the (very) dark, two hours after the advance party. Said friend arrives with more wine, and a cheese course, despite themselves having had to leave their children with a neighbour and borrow a torch from a friend in the nearest civilisation on their way here. Priorities are everything in this situation.

Ace mates (pic credit must be Fi Darby as she’s not in this one!)

Problem 4 – The fire and/or blonde bivvy maidens potentially luring entire shipfuls of sailors onto the rocks. Or more likely attracting the attention of people who own large and exclusive coastal properties nearby (who may or may not be really quite famous), and who did not pay millions of squids to have cackling woman-bivvyers hanging out at the bottom of their very expensive sea-view.

Solution – Make fire in a ring of stones high enough to be a reconstructed Dartmoor hut circle. Choose bivvy spot tucked behind an extra-high rock to reduce line-of-sight to large shipping. Cackle quietly, or make sure bivvy spot is well away from any houses. Cackling loudly is fine if it is very windy (it was).  This was the only dynamic risk assessment we allowed ourselves (enough of that in the day job).

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Early stages of fire. Note lack of ships being lured. Entirely down to wall structure.

Problem 5 – Sandhopper in ear, and/or others popcorning against inside of bivvy bag noisily, then hiding in bivvy/sleeping bag until you get home – consequently pinging all over the bedroom when unloading rucksack.

Solutions – earplugs apparently sorts the first two issues as well as guarding against the wave and wind noise.

  • N.B. 1 – from fabulously sensible outdoor girl bivvy mate – waves do not turn off at night. Like those trees that still make a noise falling down, even if no-one is there.
  • N.B. 2 – to self – unpack in the garden in future.
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Sandhoppers lurking…

Problem 6 – Sleeping (not doing it). Caused by all manner of things…(see problem 5) plus;

  • Beach incorrectly inclined so slippage down bivvy bag – foot circulation compromised.
  • Forecast cloud clearing to provide starscape deserving of gawpage.
  • Large marine mammals definitely coming up the beach at 3am to nibble toes.

Solution – self-congratulate on each and every wake up (ie. a lot). Because it means there’s been sleep. Even if body and mind say that diddly sleep has gone on.

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Happy after a long and deep sleep…or slightly delirious with tiredness?

Problem…Pervading smoky smell of bag/clothes/hair/insert other items here.

Solution – embrace said smell, allowing yourself a knowing and satisfied smile as you stink out the train/bus en route home (tried and tested by outstanding girl bivvy mate). Days later your olfactory memory will be thrown into disarray as you brush past your airing sleeping bag or coat and reactivate Eau d’Bivvy (Yankee Candle will be all over this methinks!).

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When you’ve seen this as you open your eyes, it’s ok to be grinning for at least a few hours

And there it is. There were problems, we found solutions. I might read this book before the next one, or maybe we should write our own…

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Mi amigas…real outdoor women!

On an internet search for ‘outdoor women’ or ‘adventure women’ it would be easy to be a magpie to the glossy scenery of an Instagram shot with someone in shiny kit, posing during an ‘adventure’. To be a female adventurer might initially appear to involve a certain length of hair, a perfect (Pantone 2171c if you’re asking) shade of blue sky, a particular set of vital physical statistics, and most definitely a chunky beanie hat, probably bobbled. 

There is also a refreshing flush of what some of us might consider to be more realistic public figures in adventure and expeditions (and frankly I’m not too fussed whether they’re female, male or anything else as long as it’s genuine and inspiring). For me these might include people like Ann Daniels, Bruce Parry, and Felicity Aston, and for his committing expeditions (rather than his childrens’ TV) Steve Backshall.  Closer to achievable by ‘normal’ folk might be the gutsy but FUN FUN FUN exploits of Faye Shepherd and Anna McNuff (the latter’s book ‘The Pants of Perspective’ newly inspiring a movement of Adventure Queens – real women, sleeping in fields all over the place!). 

My close adventurey friends suggest an alternative image to the one provided by social media – between us we have everything from long blonde(ish) to short brown curly hair, unshaven legs (just me?) and sometimes other bits, are impressively curvy in all sorts of places, sometimes bespectacled, wearing non-matching clothing, mended, dirty and well worn kit, and are definitely out in all weathers whatever the glamour-scale. We’re all doing our outdoor thing in the name of our own mental and physical health, as part of our jobs or hobbies, and fitting it in with family life and the financial necessity of ‘other’ work, as well as spreading the word to anyone we can that outdoors is where the magic happens…I’ve written this in response to feeling very lucky to have these awesome women around me in my mid-40s. 

The amigas of the title remain nameless here, but I’m sure they (and others) might work out who is who if they read on – and maybe you’ll be thinking about the encouraging and inspiring people that you’re lucky enough to know in person as you read this.

Amigo A – I’ve known for two years – she was the first person to welcome me into our local bunch of sea swimmers, and has been a consistent presence through two summers and winters, swimming whatever the weather. Her catchphrase ‘you never regret a swim’, is often repeated, and never loses impact. She has inadvertently got me (willingly!) out of bed at 5.30am on many occasions in the time we’ve been friends – and I am not an early riser. Each time has been to meet on a street corner, and walk or share a lift to a swim – in the cold April sea for a sunrise breakfast, or to have a remote pool on the moor to ourselves before summer crowds arrive. Her adventurous spirit is infectious, and her disregard for conventional middle-aged behaviour gives huge encouragement for the next decade or two of my own life. She’s also super creative, a self-made artist, and very tech-savvy – we’ve had regular ‘beer mat life planning’ sessions, with plans for adventures, creative businesses and social events. These two years have brought me a life outside teaching, and she has been instrumental in that process – Thankyou!!

Amigo B I met nearly five years ago in a pub after a DofE event. She was a friend of a friend (Amiga C) – we had teaching in common, as well as a love of Dartmoor, the outdoors, and facilitating expeditions for young people in the British hills. There have since been shared laughs in bunkhouses (“It’s the three am side of half past-two!”), night navving, and much twittering. Since last autumn when she came on her first moonlit sea swim, we have got to know each other far more – mostly through the character-building (Type 2 fun) of winter skins swimming, and the consequent chilly changes on a windy sea front. We wild camped on Dartmoor back in February with Amiga D (see below), and there was muchos cackling, tent snacks and lots of talk about ablutions and being real outdoor women (we definitely are). I am in awe of her ability to keep on going when the poo hits the fan, and very glad that as well as outdoors we are now confirmed ‘kitchen table coffee and cake’ friends as well (if you don’t have one of those I suggest you sort that out asap).  

Amiga C is the other half of Amiga B…by that I mean they are two. This half of the pair is equally up for bunkhouse shenanigans, night nav exploits, alongside getting out in the hills with others young and older, for all the right reasons. She owns some impressively matchy outdoor clothing, and works very very hard with young people outdoors in various ways. 

Amiga D became a Faceplant friend just over a year ago, via the Devon Wild Swimming network. We finally met in early October 2016 (real faces!) at the WAEXPO after a flurry of messaging and trying to work out which of a few hundred outdoory women in a room the other one of us was. Since then we have done moonlit swims and wild camps, and an evening of expeditiony cud-chewing is in the planning. Her energy seems boundless – enthusiasm for outdoorsness, adventure and fun alongside genuine interest in others and what makes them tick makes for a magnetic combination in her personality.

Amiga E...a best buddy for the last 15 years…a free-spirited, low-impact living, creative soul, who is truly at her best outdoors and in particular with her own two young boys – fires on the beach, and moonlit camps on chilly autumn nights amongst the myriad things that they will thank her for when they’re older. Most recently she, Amiga B and I swam the Dart10k (not together but as it turned out only a few minutes apart), and on one chilly evening training swim discussed our impending ‘poo window’ and the need for its fine tuning for the day of the event. I’ve never had ‘poo window’ friends before, but am very very glad I do now. 

And Amiga F – slightly younger yes, outdoorsy in her work and play – often to be found in a boat of some kind, but equally at home in walking  boots and mucking about in a high moorland hostelry. She’s currently planning a mischevious outdoor shop trip for our first descent on her new living location…

Tomorrow I will be at WAEXPO 2017 with BCD and E – we’ll almost certainly be raising the average age a little, having a good cackle and a chat, as well reminding ourselves that being over 40-something and doing this adventure stuff has huge impact on our own lives as well as those of others around us.

Thankyou Amigas!

Tingleskin – and other new words for outdoor swimmers…

Tingleskin‘ came out of my head as I wrote a tweet a few weeks ago, about a particularly refreshing dawn sea swim. Over the past few weeks a few more descriptive words have played around in moments of swimmy relaxation. Enjoy, and do let me know your additions to the glossary…

Mingledip – a sort of less swimmy swim, where a few people bob up and down and have a chat, swapping chat buddies as the time (may only be 5 minutes) goes on.

Bimbleswim – a different sort of less swimmy swim, involving more bobbing and more chat, maybe just with two people.

Two people bimbleswimming. Well maybe mingledipping as I was there too…

Icymersion – the feeling of icy yet hot needles being prickled all over you as you take your first strokes in the winter sea. Interestingly the same prickly sting can be achieved by salt water swimming within 12 hours of shaving your legs…(a swimmy friend warned me, and I chose to ignore it, to my cost!).

Tingleskin – as a result of icymersion (specifically in salt water), and a brisk wind , tingleskin can be felt up to 10 hours after swimming. Some like it, some do not – the former often delay showering for a day in order to maximise the feeling (oh, just me?!).

Frozeytoes – Blue ones. Hours later. Sometimes white…and always hurty.

Left toes taking longer to come back, despite warm floor. Excuse the sandy toenail.

Sandycrack – ‘crevice is a positively filthy word’ said Captain Melchett, and he was correct. Only sand is generally not filthy, just scratchy…

Soggytogs – the normal state of up to three lots of swim kit at a time in my house – either just washed, and drying properly, or hastily rinsed of salt and hung up in a vain attempt to be dryish before another swim later. Clammy cossie anyone?

Shiversnacks – cake, chocolate, biscuits, anything shary, sugary and squarey. (That’s basically a food poem right there!).

Porridge in a flask – not squarey, or sharey, but very warming…

Cheekyswigs – a couple of our local shoalers are often armed with small flasks of brandyesque concotions to add to flasked coffee. How civilised. (And slightly naughty at 10am on a Saturday morning).

If two swimmers get into the sea and no photos are taken, did the swim still happen?

We may have met by a tunnel…

We may have walked onto the beach…

We may have chatted, and got changed slowly…

We may have remarked on a lack of motivation…

We may have walked into the waves, wincing…

We may have said “just a quick dip”… 

We may have done several head-up-breaststroke ‘lengths’ of the beach (well, part of it!)…

We may have stayed in a few minutes too long because it was actually rather wonderful… 

We may have warmed up a bit, with hot blackcurrant, and sea glass hunting…

We may have warmed up some more, with a hot pasty and a cup of tea… 

But there are no photos, so it may not have happened at all… 

Amazing Day Project

In November 2016 the band Coldplay asked fans to film 20 seconds of their day. The best clips picked up from the hashtag  #Coldplayamazingday on social media were to be compiled into a film, with the soundtrack of their song Amazing Day.

You can read the full details of the project here, and watch the resulting film on their Facebook page here.

As much as the word ‘amazing’ may be overused, the film is a fine antidote to our daily world news – the people on the clips are doing fun, smiley things, things that we’d all like to believe could be our own daily events. Behind the stagefront of a Facebook feed, an Instagram or Twitter profile it is easy to be convinced that this is the case for other people – when of course most of us are living completely normal lives where the average day involves nothing amazing (unless you get in the sea, which is nearly always awesome, never mind amazing!).

Watching the film a second time I realised how few indoor scenes there were. Nearly every clip or shot was outside – beaches, clifftop views, cityscapes, mountains, aerial views, waterfalls, forests, playgrounds, rivers, sports fields, geysers and waves -they’re all there and more. Given the chance, people choose these settings as their own ‘amazing’ places. 

And yes, they’re the staged (or unstaged!), submitted choices from an audience of thousands, whittled down to the ones that fill 3 minutes. But that such a large proportion of the scenes are outdoors is surely indicative of our underlying need for contact with the real world, real air, real land and sea-scapes?
2017 is a year for increasing the proportion of my life I spend outside. If that can be a resolution then I may have made one… 

My top 10 types of sea

All the same sea, but behaving very differently…and there’ll be many others, I know! 

In at number 10…deceptively warm looking yet very icey November sea… (Devon, UK)
Sneaking in at 9 – the ‘too exciting for a swim’ sea (same beach as above); (Devon,UK)
8. Dropping from the top 5 – sparkly mirrored wavelety sea (from the inside); (Devon, UK)


New release at 7 – moody Poldarkian sea…(Cornwall, UK)
Sliding down from the top spot – now at number 6 – poetically sunlit 6am silhouettes sea; (Devon, UK)
Smashing into the top 5 – ‘seaweed where you don’t expect it’ sea…(Devon, UK)
No movement at 4 – lit by crepuscular rays, the grey but reflective sea; (Devon, UK)
Another non-mover at 3 – the ‘where exactly IS the horizon?’  sea…(Kent, UK)

At 2, an ever popular re-release, the ‘U.K. disguised as the Maldives’ sea; (Devon, UK)
And, straight to the top spot – it’s number 1 for the ‘water and sand – nature’s art’ sea…(Devon, UK). 

That’s all pop pickers! 

10 faffs of outdoor swimming (not the only 10!) 

Faff…

  • verb:to spend time in ineffectual activity (‘they faffed about’)
  • noun: a lot of ineffectual activity (‘some faff occurred’). 

My blog post in 2013 described faff in the context of DofE expeditions. But faff is eminently transferable, and over the last 18 months that I have been outdoor swimming there have been many faffs. We swimmers embrace the faff – it usually adds to the experience! Faffs usually fall into one of the 10 faffotypes outlined here…

NB those marked with a star were from a list published by Cambridge University Hill Walking Club, author Rob McQueen – thank you for the stimulus…


1. Transport Faff
 – this can begins some days before a swim further afield. Who will drive? How many seats do they have? What about space for bags? Much discussion via online messages, but no-one will ever be entirely sure what’s happening until the day. 

2. Initial faff* – on arrival at parking spot there will be inevitable minutes spent on hugging fellow swimmers, repacking of bags and waiting for latecomers. Also includes the positioning of bags on beach/wall/riverbank and deciding exactly where to enter the water. 

3. Time-related faffs 

  • Über faff* – prolonged faff for all manner of adjustments, food, tea, sleep etc..may lead to further clothing faff – see 5.
  • Micro faff*- small but often essential faff performed without disrupting the progress of anyone else e.g unpacking/repacking bag so that clothing is in reverse order for changing.
  • Turbo faff*- performed so quickly that even you don’t stop eg. hat on/off whilst walking.

4. Cluster faff* – everyone faffs simultaneously, although over different things. Likely to have a positive feedback loop – faff = more faff = even more faff…

Cluster faff in full flow

5. Clothing faff – any length from turbo to uber, involving any clothing. Usually altering layers having walked too fast (layers off), or having had to pause due to some überfaff (layers on – see above). Clothing faff can also occur at home (what to wear for the inclement weather but allowing for stripping off?), and by the car (what to leave, what to take?). Includes Wetsuit faff – of course this is optional. It is debatable whether the benefits of neoprene once in the water are offset by the a) dry faff when putting it all on and b) the far worse wet/sandy/sticky faff when trying to remove it all with numb hands. 

6. Nav faff – some swimmers love OS maps, others not so much, preferring to work on memory – “I think it’s by this tree that we turn”. Either works, and both have their merits, to be discussed at a later date. 

7. Prandial Faff* – When any type of faff takes sufficiently long that the people waiting decide to eat some food – causing further delay.

8. Photo faff* – time taken to set up a specific picture (usually with social media in mind), retake picture with multiple poses, and alter camera settings in between (“hang on by that seal, I’m just changing it to Pano”).

9. Aquafaff – the water itself rarely causes faff, yet any number of faffs can come from its depths;

  • Seaweed faff – caught round legs, tangled in toes and fingers, masquerading as…
  • Jellyfish faff – even the thought of them can promote an epic faff – moving along the beach, checking from a high vantage point, huge swim diversions around floating plastic bags etc. Actual contact may require medical faff, which is not covered in this post. 
  • Dead seagull faff – ’nuff said. 
  • Seal faff – is that a seal or not? Shall I get in or not? Perhaps I’ll just look on in awe of its swimming ability/teeth for a while…

No faffing about with this pinniped!

    10. Post-swim faff – comes in two parts; 

    1. Changing faff – naked parts are thrown (literally) to the wind in the name of reducing the length of time exposed on a chilly seafront or riverbank. The faff factor is augmented by damp socks, too-small towels, lost pants and numb extremities.
    2. Pre-home faff – once changed/warmed this faff is relished, in the name of extending the enjoyment of good company, fresh air and the afterglow. There are many methods of stretching this period of time, often centred around food, drink and, if conditions allow “maybe just popping down to swim spot X to have a look” on the way home.

    In which case, repeat as above… 

    DofE Diamond Challenge – Residential DONE! 5 days of new experiences… 

    My DofE Diamond Challenge has been a long slow burner…as HRH himself says, a DofE award is a ‘do-it-yourself tool kit for life’. And this year’s life has been different to any other in my adulthood, in large part due to deciding to do this year long replay of my own Gold Award, first completed 25 years ago. This week I’ll round up my year of Diamond Challenge with a blog post for each section of the award that I’ve re-completed.

    • Wed – Skill
    • Thursday – Volunteering and Physical
    • Today – Residential (this one!) and Expedition

    The Gold Residential. Five days, four nights, away from home, new experiences. I know the flow chart off by heart. And after a very busy expedition year with my own DofEers, my heart told me that my family would not be happy if I went jollying off for another five days AND nights…so my plan for this section was to dilute the residential into a family friendly set of resi-day-ntials. Five exciting activities, all very different, and all to be done this autumn…

    Day 1. Sept 10th – BDMLR Marine Medic Training, Living Coasts, Devon.

    I did not even know that this was a ‘thing’ until April this year, after a talk on seals by Sue Sayer, of Cornwall Seals. I booked onto this day and did not know what to expect. It was fun, interesting and practical, with short lectures in the morning, and outdoor (in the water) exercises in the afternoon, with the experienced trainers leading us through various techniques to be used with ill or stranded marine mammals. Since the course I am now on the volunteer medic database, so occasionally receive texts about strandings that need attending to, and in November there was a dolphin that required monitoring, handily on my day off and before the school run!

    Water filled model of Common Dolphin – learning techniques for keeping cool/hydrated and not damaging skin, whilst checking for signs of ill health and lifting to refloat. Learning to re-orientate and turn a life-sized (and weight!) pilot whale, using inflatable boom and sling. Towel used to secure medic from teeth of seal pup (model!). We learnt the technique to keep our fingers safe whilst checking teeth/gums etc. for signs of health. Dolphin that we monitored in Torbay Harbour in late November, having qualified as a BDMLR Marine Medic. It was not seen again after dark that day, and was not reported as stranded elsewhere. Hopefully a happy ending…

     

    Day 2. Sept 25th – Seashore Foraging, East Prawle, Devon.

    Not much to report, and hardly any pictures. But it definitely did happen! I had a book about eating seaweed, and some friends wanted to go and find some, so we spent a lovely day on a windy shore, and found a more diverse selection of creatures than I have ever seen there – we chose not to eat most of them, and so crispy seaweed it was for tea!

    In which I and a few intrepid wannabe foragers went on a bimble to here…and met a real forager on the beach. 
    And I went home with a large handful of this – which was utterly yummy when quickly fried – crispy seaweed! 

     

    Day 3. October 4th – Mountain Training Association, Transformational Leadership Workshop, Mill on the Brue, Somerset.

    This was an MTA CPD day, which looked interesting, for my role as DofE Leader at school, and also as I am taking 25 students and 3 other staff on a 3.5 week expedition to Peru next year. Dr Samantha McElligot led us through reflection on our own leadership style, case studies, and practical tools for thinking about and applying the theoretical model to teams of our own. I came away from this day really fired up about putting things into our Peru training, and for the staff involved with DofE at school. Highly recommended!

     

    4. October 8th – WAEXPO (Womens’ Adventure EXPO), @Bristol, Bristol. 

    I went to the first WAEXPO in 2015, on a whim, and it was a really great day. So when this year’s popped up on Twitter, I had it in my diary and booked up. It was bigger and brighter for 2016, and to top it off Anna McNuff was MCing (I think this stands for Motivational Chat?!)

    What a day – Sarah Outen‘ s talk, Jo Bradshaw‘s workshop and of course Anna were my highlights. As well as finally meeting Bel Dixon in one of those Facebook messenger “what do you look like?” moments, whilst standing metres apart! The room was buzzing with women of all ages, and a few guys. The photo below has context – asked to capture our ‘best EXPO moment’ and tweet it, I woman-handled Anna into the loos in a recreation of our first meeting the year before -and won! (It must be said that we had had a few chats on Twitter before meeting in 2015!).

    Once again I was left to travel home with a slight sense of ‘did that just really happen?’.  A totally fab day, and I will absolutely be there next year too.

    5. November 26th – Plankton and Printmaking, art/science workshop at The Marine Biological Association, Plymouth. 

    And finally…plankton and art. Surely a winning combination for a biology loving craftster such as myself. And it was. As a busy busy mum, wife, teacher, DofE leader and everything else, to be gifted the day to go and do this was utterly wonderful. A small group of us learnt how to draw observationally, rather than with expectation. We spent time looking at plankton from all over the world down very large microscopes in a very smart lab. Debby Mason, printmaker and our artistic teacher for the day, showed us how to make simple line drawings of our chosen plankton, then turn them into simple lino-style prints in the afternoon. Wonderful stuff, which has led me to draw more in the last month than I have in the past twenty years.

    We began the day by doing some observational drawing, which I’ve done more of since the workshop. Very relaxing! We used proper BIG microscopes (bigger than I’m used to at school). A selection of plankton was transformed into images by the group.My barnacle larva print!

    DofE Diamond Challenge – Physical DONE! 12 months of Swim swim swimming… 

    My DofE Diamond Challenge has been a long slow burner…as HRH himself says, a DofE award is a ‘do-it-yourself tool kit for life’. And this year’s life has been different to any other in my adulthood, in large part due to deciding to do this year long replay of my own Gold Award, first completed 25 years ago. 

    This week I’ll round up my year of Diamond Challenge with a blog post for each section of the award that I’ve re-completed. 

    • Wed – Skill
    • Today – Volunteering and Physical (this one!)
    • Friday – Residential and Expedition 

    Physical – a year of swimming – 12 photos chosen from hundreds…one photo per month in chronological order. I have also spent some time in chlorinated pools (eeeurgh) bettering my stroke (ie. learning how to front crawl gracefully), with the wonderful Kari, who has completed her own Diamond Challenge this year. Watch a little film about her here.

    • Yes it is cold
    • Yes I do it all year
    • No I do not wear a wetsuit. Well, I did once, for the mile swim in Torbay, but it wasn’t a pleasant experience.

    There have been long walks with multiple swims, swims by waterfalls, swims in the dark, swims with the moon, swims in silly hats, swims to wash off the day, swims to sort out thoughts, swims to explore caves, and swims where it is more about the cake, just a little bit.

    In reality the swimming year cannot be scaled down. It has had the biggest impact on my life of anything since getting married and having children. It’s not just physical fitness so much as all round good feeling, and that is from a combination of the cold water, the salt (or the peat!), the fresh air, the friends and the being outdoors.

    More swimming! Thankyou to anyone who has been a swim buddy this year.