One woman's wild swimming adventures in the west country

Double Dip

Such a glorious day, so I decided to follow a topical theme and go for a double dip. This morning I dropped Honey off with her Gran and swam around a mile along Plymouth Hoe. The city’s finest were out in force, and I changed near a gang of blokes swigging White Lightning from three-litre bottles, smoking, swearing at each other, and commenting on passing women’s breasts. Luckily, I don’t have any of those…

I swam out past the Lido, and was overtaken by a pilot-boat and then a frigate making a huge racket and presumably on her way back from a detachment. My next encounter was with the ‘One Hour Plymouth Tour’ boat dropping off one lot of passengers and reloading another. I waited for them to pass, and felt rather like an exotic fish in the Aquarium as people pointed at me and exclaimed, I hope because I was wearing my new loud swimsuit – a rather spectacular Uglies.

As I swam back across the buoy-marked swimming area (limit 4kts) the mates of the drunk blokes swept in at full-speed in two boats with in-boards, shaking their tails, enveloping me with a smog of exhaust fumes and almost drowning me in their wake. I was slightly annoyed. A boy belonging to the gang threw stones at a little girl in the shallows, calling her no end of names, while the adults chugged more cider and shouted at each other. The overall impression today was of the kind of uncivilised wildness I’d rather avoid.

Late afternoon: we wander up the East Dart from Grockle Hell, aka Dartmeet, where most people confine themselves to a picnic next to the car. A little way upstream is a lovely dipping pool sheltered by oaks, one of which appears to be executing a theatrical bow; Come in, Come in, he says. This is an altogether nicer experience than this morning’s. The water glistens amber and green and feels like satin. I share the pool with some kids who show me how their swimming shorts blow up underwater, while JJ sits like a Dartmoor Pixie on the rocks having gashed his arm and been banned from the wet. 

And finally, somewhat off-message, I’d like to send the very best of luck to my friends JJ (see photo below – he’s the mop-head who’s not blonde) and Queenie, who will be swimming the English Channel in a two-person relay on Thursday, probably starting at around 4.30am. Their support ship is the Anastasia, which you can follow via this link. Go Twins!    http://www.shipais.com/showship.php?mmsi=235019572

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