Sunday, 28 February 2010

Home from the Hill

Before bidding a fond farewell to the Lake District for this visit, we had a wander round Grasmere - the village, then Grasmere - the frozen lake.

Saturday, 27 February 2010

Wandering Lonely as Clouds

Helm Crag - The Lion and The Lamb
Jean Sprackland's poetry workshop today in Grasmere was wonderful. I find classes like this more than a wee bit scary, but as she is such an inspiring and encouraging tutor, I felt challenged yet safe enough to come away with some very satisfying work - considerably more than the foundations for at least three poems, and some good ideas for sustaining and encouraging the creative process - thank you Jean! 
This evening we had a pre-booked cinema deal at Zeffirellis in Ambleside - a two course meal in the very classy restaurant, followed by a film in a charming retro cinema - all for £17.95 each. The film we watched was An Education - back at Zeffirellis by popular demand - a great end to an exciting day.
Grasmere (Lake) continues to be iced over, there are some ice-free patches in Rydal Water, but hey! Spring is round the corner (I've spotted several lambs in the fields) and we'll just have to come back for another weekend that is dedicated to swimming rather than poetry!

Friday, 26 February 2010

Off the Hook

Isn't technology great?!! (to paraphrase The Fast Show). I am in Grasmere, with my laptop, posting as if I was tucked up at home! 
Tomorrow I am going to a poetry workshop with the poet Jean Sprackland. We are making a weekend of it and having a couple of nights in one of our favourite parts of the world. Our cosy little B&B is in the shadow of the Lion and the Lamb, currently dusted with snow and occasionally obscured by strands of mist.
For the past two weeks I have been wrestling with the idea of whether we should/shouldn't have a dip in Rydal Water or Grasmere while we are here. has been so cold of late!! This morning I said - let's not take the wetsuits. There was no protest whatsoever!
Windermere looked as beautiful and tranquil as ever as we drove past. (Photo above is from last October). Rydalwater and Grasmere were both covered in a layer of ice. So I don't need to feel guilty about not being brave enough to take the plunge.....on this occasion. Phew!! 

Saturday, 20 February 2010


Well, what a day to remember! 
Today we've been babysitting our nephew because this morning his mum - my sister - was giving birth to his baby sister - born at 12.15. Welcome to the world, darling little girl! 
The phone message that the birth process was underway at 10.40 went unheeded because we'd gone for a later Saturday swim than usual. When the mobile rang in the locker room we were in the pool clocking up a mile! When we got out, it was action stations, taking our nephew to our house and waiting for the news - which arrived in record time!! We had a trip down memory lane this afternoon entertaining a tiny tot - lucky we've still got lots of our children's toddler toys to play with!

And as for the goggles...
the Barracudas are great - comfortable, no leaks, no fogging, minimal marks on eye sockets, so a great choice as far as I'm concerned.
(I'm also keeping the Aquasphere mask as an alternative option, and our son wants the Aquasphere goggles, so none will be going back to Swimming Without Stress - satisfied customers all round!)

Friday, 19 February 2010


It's half term and we decided to go crazy and swim every day! So we've been up with the larks, for an early morning fix. 
My goggles have been getting on my nerves, the seal on the left eye has been letting in water and I've had to stop every few lengths to bale out. They also leave me with red rings which take ages to calm down, so I decided this week that enough was enough! The time has come to invest in some new ones. 
But where to get them, what to choose? The options are mind boggling. On my trawls around the internet, I came across this excellent website, whose very name seems like a declaration of intent! 
I phoned to get advice and a helpful, knowledgeable sales person suggested three models which come highly recommended. She suggested I order all three, try them by wearing them around the house and then keep the ones which are most comfortable.
So these are the contenders:
Aquasphere Kaiman - £11.99

Aquasphere Vista - £18.99

Barracuda Ultimate - £14.99

After a dry run of each model, I am leaning towards the Barracuda. I'll make my final decision later today in preparation for tomorrow morning's dip!  

Friday, 12 February 2010

Virtual Pool

Speaking of armchair swimming - come for a tour of one of my favourite places - Manchester's Water Palace - the Victoria Baths. It's eerily atmospheric, n'est ce pas?!

(And I like Richard E. Grant's comment about what you could do at the baths if they were restored!!)

Thursday, 11 February 2010

The Freestylin' Aquamarina

One of my Christmas presents was an analysis of my swimming at TriCentral in Manchester. I'm currently preparing myself for this treat - psychologically and physically!
I'm swimming about three or four times a week and my freestyle is improving. This time last year I could swim breaststroke powerfully over long(ish) distances but I certainly didn't have the stamina for freestyle which I've built up over the last nine months.
I like this teaching gadget for focusing on the different components of the stroke. I find watching it quite hypnotic and restful - ideal for armchair swimmers!

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Bathed in Moonlight

Puzzled by Sunday's large moon, I've been doing some investigating. I'm pursuing this topic on the blog because poets like howling at the moon, I'm pleased to say.

Apparently, the huge moon phenomenon is an optical/psychological illusion: the moon is the same size as usual, but that's not how we perceive it. This accounts for why my camera just kept taking pictures which didn't record what I seemed to be seeing.
Now for the interesting bit. To prove the theory, stand with your back to the outsized moon, with your legs apart. Lean forward and down, and look through the gap between your legs at the moon. What you see should be a normal-sized moon. If you aren't as agile as you used to be, you might also be seeing stars at this point. Go inside, sit down and enjoy a well-earned cup of tea. 
I haven't tried this experiment yet, but I will report back in due course. Please feel free to let me know how you get on!

Mr Moon, Mr Moon
You're out too soon
The sun is in the sky.

Go back to your bed
and cover up your head
and wait till the day goes by.

Pip pip!

Monday, 1 February 2010


Last night the rising moon was wonderful, hanging in the sky like a huge golden ball. How does it do that?! This morning at 7.40 it was still fantastic - a morning moon against a chilly blue sky as people emerged into the quiet streets. 
I found this image of the moon on a website about the planets, sadly, my camera wasn't up to the task of photographing it. I was tracking its progress on our way back from swimming. Another kilometer, in addition to  one we clocked up on Friday. 
Getting up at 6am was a struggle as usual, but going out into the world was surprisingly easy, despite the darkness and the layer of frost on the car. The UK is bitterly cold again after a milder week. Snow at the weekend, though not as much as last time. And today's swimming was very satisfying - 20 x 50m flashed by without any effort. How come? The longer distance seemed to give me the space to think, without all the constant turning. And sometimes 40 x 25m fits the bill just fine as well, so there you go.
January has been a productive month - I've written one essay, one short story and one poem, a great start to the year!
Hello February! I can hardly believe you're here already!