Thursday, 31 December 2009

Last Post (2009)

This afternoon we came back home to Manchester, but not until we'd had our last walk for the year/decade on Tynemouth beach. The tide was rolling in, the sea wild again. Today a solitary surfer had decided to try his luck but didn't look as if his heart was in it. 
We visited a favourite haunt - Tynemouth outdoor pool. 
Built in the 1920's, it fell into disuse/was condemned and filled with sand and rocks during the 90's. When the tide is high the waves crash around it in a spectacular fashion. There are thrills and spills dodging the waves as they threaten from over the railings.
Old swimming pools fascinate me, I love the architectural features -
- but the thought of encountering this inlet while swimming underwater both thrills and terrifies me! 
I've seen Youtube footage of people having fun in the pool during its heyday. It's a shame that it's been pensioned off
as I'm sure there are outdoor swimmers aplenty in the North East who'd happily make full use of this facility and build up their resistance to the cold by swimming here!
I've enjoyed taking photos with my phone recently, but the cost of sending them to my blog has started to tot up. I'm going to get a decent camera in 2010 and improve the picture quality and keep costs down.
I want to give the final word for this year to Seamus Heaney. This poem is one of my absolute favourites. I take permission from it to ignore the impulse to reach for the camera sometimes, and  just enjoy the moment!
Happy New Year!!

And some time make the time to drive out west
Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,
In September or October, when the wind
And the light are working off each other
So that the ocean on one side is wild
With foam and glitter, and inland among stones
The surface of a slate-grey lake is lit
By the earthed lightning of a flock of swans,
Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white,
Their fully grown headstrong-looking heads
Tucked or cresting or busy underwater.
Useless to think you'll park and capture it
More thoroughly. You are neither here nor there,
A hurry through which known and strange things pass
As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.

Seamus Heaney
from ‘The Spirit Level’.

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

St Mary's Island

Another bitterly cold day at Whitley Bay. On the seafront, no beach to be seen, just white horses hurling themselves against the promenade wall. We drive to St Mary's Island to see the lighthouse, now retired from active service, but a well-loved landmark. The causeway is submerged under a boisterous sea. I take some photos which turn out better than I'd thought possible in the spray. I ponder how long a swimmer could survive these conditions. Grace Darling, lighthouse-keeper's daughter and local heroine from Bamburgh, just a few miles up the coast, rowed a boat out in seas like these to save desperate passengers from ships wrecked on the rocky coast. They must have been thrilled to see her! A wild wave crashes against the railings and soaks us, so we save our skins and race to the shelter of the car.  
We make our way down the coast to Tynemouth to check if the surfers are mad enough to brave these elements. It turns out they are not mad after all. Although the sea is less ferocious than at the lighthouse, it's still scary and no surfers are chancing it today. Thank goodness!
A very large ferry is easing out of the Tyne into the open sea and huge waves buffer the front of the ship. If I were the pilot, I'd turn back at this point but s/he is obviously made of sterner stuff than me!
Our final  port of call before heading for home is Spanish Battery, where the Tyne flows into the North Sea. Here's another view of the lighthouses that I wrote about earlier in the week. The sea looks deceptively tame.

Monday, 28 December 2009

Two Lighthouses

From the beach we could see the lighthouses at the mouth of the Tyne, flashing clearly in the background. This picture doesn't do them justice, I just managed to catch one. Seeing them made me remember this poem - I think that these are the actual lighthouses which inspired Julia Darling

Two Lighthouses

I would like us to live like two lighthouses
at the mouth of a river, each with her own lamp.

We could see each other across the water,
which would be dangerous, and uncrossable.

I could watch your shape, your warm shadow,
moving in the upper rooms. We would have jokes.

Jokes that were only ours, signs and secrets,
flares on birthdays, a rocket at Christmas.

Clouds would be cities, we would look for omens,
and learn the impossible language of birds.

We would meet, of course, in cinemas, cafes,
but then, we would return to our towers,

knowing the other was the light on the water,
a beam of alignment. It would never be broken.

Julia Darling
from ‘Apology for Absence’

Surf's Up

We're up in the  North East for a few days. Tynemouth beach was a popular spot when we went down for a late afternoon walk. The air was brisk, the sand crunchy with frost underfoot, but there was a big swell, so those fearless surfers were out there making the most of the choppy sea. I didn't bring the wetsuits up here with us on purpose - I didn't want to torture myself with the question of whether I should or shouldn't swim. My thumbs stung with cold just from taking these photos. I enjoyed simply walking and watching as the sky grew darker and the moon cast a picturebook light off the rolling waves. It made me think of sea illustrations by the artist Hilda Boswell - I loved her books when I was a child.

The beach was dark within half an hour so we retreated to the welcoming lights of Crusoe's Cafe for a hot chocolate.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Christmas Present

Tonight it's raining, the air temperature is rising and the snow will soon be gone if it doesn't freeze over again during the night. So maybe I will go for a lake swim on New Year's Day after all. Cold water doesn't seem as daunting if the air temperature is kinder. 
Here are my lovely swim-related Christmas presents (thank you - thank you!)

I'm looking forward to reading this full history of the Victoria Baths. 
And another treat - an analysis of my swimming style - including a video recording from four different angles - at Tri Central in Manchester. A coach will critique my stroke and offer tips for improvement. Perhaps I will be swimming with the elites in 2010!!

Thursday, 24 December 2009

Midwinter Blues

When icicles hang by the wall
And Dick the shepherd blows his nail
And Tom bears logs into the hall,
And milk comes frozen home in pail,
When Blood is nipped and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
Tu-whit, tu-who: a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.
When all aloud the wind doth blow,
And coughing drowns the parson's saw,
And birds sit brooding in the snow,
And Marian's nose looks red and raw
When roasted crabs hiss in the bowl,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
Tu-whit, tu-who: a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.
William Shakespeare

I'll write about swimming again soon, but it's just too cold at the moment.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

More Billy Collins

Laureate Carol Ann Duffy praises Billy Collins when she describes him as one of her favourite poets. I enjoy his take on life and his suggestions for how to go about reading poetry

Introduction to Poetry
I ask them to take a poem
and hold it to the light
like a color slide
or press an ear against its hive.
I say drop a mouse into a poem
and watch him probe his way out,
or walk inside the poem's room
and feel the walls for a light switch.
I want them to waterski
across the surface of a poem
waving at the author's name on the shore.
But all they want to do
is tie the poem to a chair with rope
and torture a confession out of it.
They begin beating it with a hose
to find out what it really means.

Billy Collins
from 'The Apple that Astonished Paris'

Tuesday, 22 December 2009

Sumer Is Icumen In

Yesterday was the shortest day. Now the lazy, hazy summer is just around 
the corner. Hurrah! 
Today everywhere is buried under a few inches of snow. We let our eight 
hens have the run of the garden as they can't peck and dig through ice.
When the snow turned to sleet, then rain, the hens put me in mind of this poem by Billy Collins 

The Student
My poetry instruction book,
which I bought at an outdoor stall along the river,

contains many rules
about what to avoid and what to follow.

More than two people in a poem
is a crowd, is one.

Mention the clothes you are wearing
as you compose, is another.

Avoid the word vortex,
the word velvety, and the word cicada.

When at a loss for an ending,
have some brown hens standing in the rain.

Never admit that you revise.
And - always keep your poem in one season.

I try to be mindful,
but in these last days of summer

whenever I look up from my page
and see a burn-mark of yellow leaves,

I think of the icy winds
that will soon be knifing through my jacket.

Billy Collins
from 'The Trouble with Poetry' .

Monday, 21 December 2009

A Little Mermaid

Here's Nancy in the top pool at Center Parcs modelling her Christmas present from us - a glamorous flowery swimming hat. She looks so absolutely gorgeous I simply must have one too! 

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Winter Wonderland

Our last night here for this year - a crescent moon, clear skies, a magical swim, followed by a snowy walk home, marvelling at the local winter wild life 

Christmas Cousins

The kids expressed an interest in diving into my blog. While I was swimming I worked out a way to do it using my phone. All my best ideas surface when I'm swimming!
The Kids United
Gabe, Geno, Becca (Honorary Cousin), Maeve, Eddie, Eve, Nancy, Nell, Immy, Malachy, Jem.

Woodland Retreat

It's become something of a tradition in our family to descend upon Center Parcs for a festive get-together the weekend before Christmas. This year we are also celebrating my godmother's eightieth birthday, so here we are, in our forest dwellings, gathered from as far afield as Australia and various points in the UK. Yesterday our eldest daughter flew in from the United States to complete the party, getting away just before the east coast snow storms really took hold. 
Swimming for pleasure is most definitely the order of the day! On Friday night we floated around under a starry sky in this pool at the spa -

Later this morning I will clock up a few laps in the lane swimming pool, then tonight we will be riding the wild water rapids when it's dark and frosty and the crowds have thinned out.

Sunday, 13 December 2009

The Devil's Swimming Pool

Being a cautious type, I am terrified, yet strangely drawn by these photos. They depict what must be one of the scariest swimming spots on earth. It's perched on the edge of one of the natural wonders of the world - the Victoria Falls / Mosi-oa-Tunya (the Mist that Thunders) - on the Zambezi river between Zambia and Zimbabwe.  Lodged above the 108 meter cascade, it's a naturally formed hole in the riverbed, entered by jumping from the Zambian bank. At this point the river is 1,708 meters wide. Apparently it's very safe in the dry season, with a wide lip which controls the current and keeps these thrill-seekers from plunging to oblivion. Nature's unpredictability would make this a swim too far for me.....

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Flying the Flag

Chris at Lazy Swimmer drew my attention to Australian women swimmers at the turn of the last century. I had to include the photo of this feisty pair on my blog. They are Fanny Durack and Mina Wylie, the first women to represent Australia at swimming in the 1912  Stockholm Olympics. Initially they were refused permission to attend, but after some wrangling they were allowed to take part - on condition they paid their own expenses. They organised their odyssey to Europe and went on to win gold and silver medals for their country. 
Mina's love of swimming was obviously a family affair - her father Henry Alexander Wylie was a champion swimmer himself and established Sydney's well-loved ocean pool - Wylie's Baths - in 1907.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009

The Last Swim

Tonight was the penultimate poetry class before the holiday and our teacher introduced this poem by Michael Laskey. He was in Manchester at the weekend giving a poetry reading and running a writing workshop. I wasn't able to attend, but I will seek out more of his poems as I love the powerful simplicity of his writing.

The Last Swim

September, October ... one thing 
you don't know at the time is when 
you've had your last swim: the weather 
may hold, may keep nudging you in.

Only afterwards, sometimes days on, 
it dawns on you that you've done: 
just the thought of undressing outdoors, 
exposing bare skin, makes you wince.

And that's best, to have gone on swimming 
easily to the end: your crawl 
full of itself, and the future 
no further than your folded towel.
Michael Laskey
From The Tightrope Wedding, 1999
Photo of Hampstead Heath swimming pond by tonyhall used under a Creative Commons License 

Friday, 27 November 2009

Not Drowning But Waving

Woo hoo!!! Big news in our house - we are already signed up and in there! After the popularity of this year's event and the rising profile of open water swimming in the UK, I don't think it will be long until it's fully booked.

The picture is of me and our son on a training splash in Windermere in July. Behind us is the Low Wood Hotel - swim HQ. I like our synchronized wave and the speed limit sign with a 10 in the background. 2010 here we come! 

Monday, 23 November 2009

The Knitted Poem

Yesterday, for one afternoon only, the Victoria Baths played host to the Knitted Poem. What on earth is that, I hear you ask! 
To mark its centenary, the Poetry Society commissioned more than a thousand volunteers from all over the world to knit squares featuring individual letters. These were sewn together to form a poem whose identity was a closely guarded secret. In October the poem's title was revealed - In My Craft Or Sullen Art by Dylan Thomas. The giant woolly masterpiece (13mx9m) was star of the show for National Poetry Day on October 8 in London. This weekend the poem was on tour in Manchester.
It was displayed in the Second Class Males pool where it could be viewed on the ground and from the gallery above. We went along to gaze in wonder and sneak a peep at the baths - to see how the restoration is coming along before the building goes into hibernation till the weather warms up in April.

In My Craft or Sullen Art

In my craft or sullen art
Exercised in the still night
When only the moon rages
And the lovers lie abed
With all their griefs in their arms,
I labour by singing light
Not for ambition or bread
Or the strut and trade of charms
On the ivory stages
But for the common wages
Of their most secret heart.

Not for the proud man apart
From the raging moon I write
On these spindrift pages
Nor for the towering dead
With their nightingales and psalms
But for the lovers, their arms
Round the griefs of the ages,
Who pay no praise or wages
Nor heed my craft or art. 
Dylan Thomas

Click on this link for some poetry and knitting fun!

Friday, 20 November 2009

Victoria Baths - Manchester's Water Palace

Another swimless week. My cold flared up again and now I have earache. Unlike the waterlogged UK, my dry spell will continue for a bit longer, I think. Anyway, swotting up on women Channel swimmers has been a fascinating swimming substitute! 

In an earlier post I mentioned the Victoria Baths, where Sunny Lowry used to swim

This amazing amenity was opened in 1906. It was a hub in the local community, with a first class mens' gala pool

second class men's pool, ladies' pool

as well as Turkish baths

and bathing and laundry facilities. 
Despite desperate efforts, it was shut down in 1993. 

In 2003, the Victoria Baths' fortune changed - they featured in a reality TV show: Restoration. Out of a selection of deserving but doomed buildings, Manchester's Water Palace stole the hearts of TV viewers, who voted to give it a new lease of life. It received a grant of £3million which was the cash injection needed to get it on the road to recovery. 
The plan is that the gala pool and Turkish baths should re-open to the public. Other areas of the building will be available for exhibitions and functions. 

There isn't a happy ending yet. The actual total needed for the whole project is £20million, so there's still a way to go and the baths aren't useable, although they're open regularly for the public to come and see for themselves the progress as it happens. 

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Forces To Be Reckoned With

I've been back in the archives today and found these pictures. I think they speak for themselves.

Annette Kellermann

Wednesday, 18 November 2009

Channel Icons - The Sequel

Ever the obsessive, I've been unable to leave the mystery of which UK woman was the first to swim the Channel. Here are my latest research findings:
1.   1927 - 7 October  - Mercedes Gleitze - 15h 15m
2.   1927 - 13 October  - Ivy Gill - 15h 09m
3.   1928 - 10 August - Ivy Hawke - 19h 16m
4.   1928 - 24 August - Hilda Winifred Sharp - 14h 58m
5.   1933 - 28/29 August - Ethel 'Sunny' Lowry - 15h 41m

Monday, 16 November 2009

Channel Icons

Here's another Channel mermaid - Ethel 'Sunny' Lowry (1911-2008) - who swam the Channel in 1933 when she was 22 years old. It was her third go, having been thwarted by storms and tides on her first two attempts. She swam from Cap Gris Nez in France to St. Margaret's Bay, Dover and completed in 15 hours 41 minutes. Born and raised in Manchester, she was a cousin of the artist LS Lowry. She swam at the Victoria Baths in Manchester and was an ardent champion of the baths which were closed in 1993. In 2003 they featured on the BBC TV programme 'Restoration'. From a selection of buildings facing dereliction, the baths were voted by the British public to be most deserving of a £3 million grant to set them on the road to restoration and recovery. More about them later.  
But here's a little mystery which I can't seem to solve. As a Mancunian, I like the fact that Sunny made her mark on the Channel, for women and for Manchester. She is frequently referred to as the first British woman to swim the Channel. Yet where does the woman in this photograph fit in the English Channel picture? 
She is Mercedes Gleitze (1900-1981), a London typist. She is also referred to as the first English woman to swim the channel. On her eighth attempt, she swam from Cap Gris Nez to St Margaret's Bay on 7 October 1927 - six years before Sunny's attempt - and completed in 15 hours 15 minutes. Shortly afterwards, another woman - Mona McLennan - made the crossing, but it later emerged that Mona's swim was a hoax. Then the legitimacy of Mercedes' record was also called into question. She was greatly upset by the slur and made an attempt to clear up any doubts with a 'vindication swim' on 21 October. She wore a Rolex 'Oyster' watch around her neck. It kept time beautifully, and Rolex used Mercedes' endorsement to publicise their name, but unfortunately for Mercedes, the sea conditions were so brutal that her attempt failed. Her successful crossing is listed in the records of the Cross Channel Association, so I'm puzzled as to how all the pieces of Sunny's and Mercedes' stories fit together. Great women, great swimmers, both of them, whatever the details may be.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Back in the Swim

After a break of over two weeks - the longest break from swimming I've had this year - I got back in the pool and swam a mile yesterday. I've had a cold bug for the last fortnight which wiped me out, so I'd decided to give myself plenty of time to recover before getting back to it.

I certainly haven't missed the early morning starts as the weather has been depressingly cold and wet, but by yesterday I felt ready for a gentle afternoon reintroduction to the water. I wasn't as out of practice as I'd feared. My goal was 40 lengths which felt manageable, so I did another 10, then reasoned it would be a pity not to do another 14, to make a neat and tidy mile. Easy peasy! I find that swimming in blocks of 10x25m breaks the task into bite-sized chunks and also seems to free my mind up to muse about other things. I've been thinking about channel swimmers and how they occupy their minds during their marathon swims - real psychological stamina!

While on shore leave I've been reading The Great Swim by Gavin Mortimer. It's about the early twentieth century race to be the first woman to swim the Channel. It's amazing to read what those gals achieved in the days before sophisticated weather forecasts, purpose-built swimwear and goggles etc etc. And all the while risking social disapproval by cutting their hair short and revealing their knees in outrageous woollen bathing costumes! What fantastic, determined young women! Here's Gertrude Ederle (first woman to swim Channel - August 6, 1926 - 14 hours 30 minutes):

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Windermere Revisited

Sunday was our 23rd wedding anniversary. We arranged to have two nights at the Low Wood Hotel on Windermere - site of the Great North Swim in September. It was wonderful to go back and spend time reminiscing about the event, gazing at the course, sitting at the end of the jetty, wondering if I had the nerve to jump back in and steal a swim (I'd packed the wetsuits, just in case...) I dangled my foot in the water. It was bone-gnawingly chilly (12c), but I knew I had to get in a lake somehow or other while we were here...(And by the way, the hotel is lovely too!)

Yesterday we went on a fact
-finding mission to check out places to park up when we come back to swim next spring. First off, a failed attempt to get into White Moss car park between Grasmere and Rydal Water - absolutely rammed as it's half-term this week, so we headed up to Loughrigg Tarn instead. Remarkably, without any problem, we found a place to park at the side of the road, then took a leisurely stroll, to size up the tarn. My dissatisfaction at not being equipped to jump in heightened. By the time we got back to White Moss it was less crowded, so we set off round Rydal Water. Gradually, the plan emerged - we determined to come back and have an early morning dip.

Friday, 23 October 2009

Thought for the Day (3)

Today - 50x25m lengths in 35 minutes. How about this enigmatic statement:
All good writing is swimming underwater and holding your breath.
F. Scott Fitzgerald
I'll meditate on that tomorrow morning.

Monday, 19 October 2009

Bermuda Vacation

Just back from Monday morning wake-up splash. 20 x 50m lengths in 32 minutes in my new red swimsuit, and a new idea for my poetry assignment, so a good start to the week. 
When I was a kid I loved to play the board game Careers - in fact, I found a pre-loved set a few years ago on ebay and it's become a favourite with my family too. Each player starts by deciding on a personal formula which is a mixture of cash, fame and happiness. The purpose of the game is to make your way round the board, accumulating ££ (cash), **(fame) and hearts (happiness) to match your winning formula in the various careers on offer. One feature of the game is the Bermuda Vacation which yields a high quota of hearts. I never really got it when I was a kid - the Bermuda Vacation seemed a bit boring compared with the other activities on offer. 
Anyhoo, I've just read about Bermuda's Round the Sound swim and suddenly it all makes perfect sense. The swim takes place every October in Harrington Sound, Bermuda and has swims for all levels of ability and endurance, from 0.8k right through to 10k for a tougher challenge. It's been going for the past 19 years and although it's a long haul from the UK, it ticks all my boxes, combining clear, sparkling turquoisey blue waters with the great outdoors. Beautiful fish and plants make keeping the eyes open underwater an attractive option too. I'll need to have stopped working to be free to do it in October.....or maybe I could go out there at another time of year and swim the course on my own........
Meanwhile back in the real world, I'll need a few more £££ in the bank to fund the adventure - or a lottery win - or perhaps an advantageous card coming my way from the good old Community Chest? 

Friday, 16 October 2009

My own private pool

This afternoon I felt like cutting loose, sneaking a crazy break from routine. I headed down to the 25m pool where I used to swim before I got addicted to 50m laps. I love this pool, it's featured in my life for the last 20 odd years so it has a cosy familiarity. All the signs were promising for a quiet swim - tumbleweed blowing through the car park, empty changing room and a dry floor - always such a luxury! When I walked out to the pool, sure enough, there were only two other swimmers and a lifeguard lounging on his umpire stool. Hurrah! A length or two of breaststroke, then I got straight down to crawl and it was fantastic. After 50metre lengths, 25m feels so neat and achievable, not at all intimidating anymore. Ten minutes later the other swimmers got out and the whole pool was mine, mine, mine! 

Among wild swimmers, indoor pools often get bad press, there's a disdain for swimming in chlorinated boxes. I agree that swimming outdoors is something else, but I love the sparkling, turquoisey blueness of indoor pools, the predictable smells, the contained regularity and the comforting neatness of the tiles and the lines on the floor. 

I worked hard, but 64 laps flew by today. I was so dosed up with endorphins by the time I left that I couldn't resist buying a new swimsuit which had caught my eye on the way in. It was half the price of my old favourite which is starting to stretch a bit, so as I'm spending so much time in the water of late, I thought - why not?

(There wasn't really any tumbleweed in the car park, that was poetic licence).

Saturday, 10 October 2009

That's my boy!!!

Arrived at the pool at 7.15 anticipating that joyful mile. The camera screens behind reception showed a virtually empty pool. What? Whoopee! 
'Swimming's in the diving pool this morning.' 
Oh. So that's why the 50m pool's traffic free. 
As we trudged to the diving pool we could see the slow lane was jammed. Like anxious dreams where I arrive at a pool only to find it's two feet deep and frantic with swimmers, seething like tadpoles. Well, the reality today wasn't quite that bad. We decided to do 40 lengths and quit. I swooped straight across into the medium lane which was also busy. A man in front of me was on his back floating a leisurely float. So now, a dilemma - stay here and stoke up my grumpy old woman, or get ideas above my station and duck into one of the two fast lanes, both of which had only three occupants? Dammit, I ducked! A mile was back on the cards! Woohoo!! 
I'd settled by 15. At that point I thought - challenging though this is, it's a breeze compared to what I was up to on this day 15 years ago. Giving birth to our son!! We'd planned a water birth at home. That couldn't happen as he was alternately breech and transverse through the latter half of the pregnancy. Miraculously, by 42 weeks he'd done a tumble turn and got himself into a sensible position for a good push-off into the world! By that stage I was committed to a hospital delivery and when pains started at 7am, I just wanted an epidural in as fast as possible. Which is exactly what happened! I was hooked up to a trace with a printer rattling out black zigzag lines. Intense, hard contractions that I was overjoyed not to feel - Twentieth Century Girl! At 2.03pm our beautiful baby boy (9.4lbs) arrived! He wants to make an appearance on my blog so here he is. Happy Birthday! 
(And today I swam 70x25 - which is 10 lengths short of 2K!!)

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Joy to the world

This morning was even darker than Tuesday and winter's not started yet. 
Another grim 50 First Dates/Groundhog Day moment, so as I walk to the poolside, I ask myself 
-do you like this or not? 
-I like it. 
As I put my foot in the water, I say 
-you can be miserable or joyful, what's it to be? 
-Joyful. I push off. So I am. Which isn't to say that it wasn't hard work - it was. But today I was smiling, that's the difference. 
I didn't get a rhythm till lap 15, but I did 22, so I had 7 laps of (relatively) easy slicing through the water. Unfortunately, midweek there isn't time to do a mile. Another 10 lengths would have been the joyful kind. But hey ho! Hopefully they will be joyful on Saturday morning when the wheel is reinvented and I start all over again.

By the time we come out, the sky is fantastic and rosy pink. When I walk our dog on the meadows, the hedgerows are dripping with dew, sunshine pours through gaps in the trees like saints are standing on the clouds overhead, steam rises up off the brook. 
I took photos on my phone but can't get them onto my laptop as the techy teenager's in bed, so instead here's a joyful picture of Grasmere in the summer when we were swimming around the Lake District in preparation for the big one. These golden moments are the reward for getting up early and persevering when it's dark.

Wednesday, 7 October 2009

Poetry in Motion

Yesterday we were in the pool early and it was a hard slog. When we leave the house now, the mornings are dark, the streets empty and a voice in my head says, 'this is madness, get back to bed. Who do you think you are?!' I feel comforted to see other people out and about, lights in bedrooms, bathrooms, kitchens, other people starting up their days. 

I undermine myself in a similar way when I get up to write in the early morning. A part of me whispers, 'this is dangerous, where will it lead, forget it and stay asleep'.
It's Tuesday night now - that swim seems like an age ago and I miss it. My next scheduled swim is Thursday morning, I can't wait. Tonight I started back at Poetry School. So now the summer's over, class has begun, the weekly assignment is set and the Muse can come back. I was glad to sense her presence beside me in the passenger seat on my drive home tonight.