December Photo Challenge 2018 – Day Fifteen

Day Fifteen: For today’s prompt of Hygge I decided to post a picture of our living room all aglow. It is undoubtedly a picture that encompasses all things Hygge, of being warm and cosy. The fireplace is lit, the lights on the Christmas tree twinkle and I sit listening to some warming Christmas music, protected from the cold dark night outside.

cosy at christmas time

Have you adopted Hygge this wintertime? If so how?

Thanks for reading,

Christine x

An Introduction to Wild Swimming

via An Introduction to Wild Swimming

I’ve never Pressed This before, so hope this works!

I just thought I would update my Introduction to Wild Swimming post as I have recently made an addition to my swim kit, with the purchase of a tow float, affectionately named Doughnut!

Tow floats are safety devices that make the swimmer visible to other water users. They are also great for when having a rest. Instead of treading water you can just lean on the float and drift about. I even used Doughnut as a float during my most recent swim at Llyn Dinas and paddled along the shoreline.

The tow float I purchased from Lomo was relatively inexpensive at £18, inclusive of postage (other models/makes available). I purchased a small tow float (there are larger ones available), with top dry pouch to house items such as a phone or keys. I was very happy with my purchase and couldn’t wait to take it on my next swim to test it out.

That time came when we holidayed in the Lake District for a few days this June. Of course I took in a few wild swims and Doughnut’s first outing was at Stickle Tarn. The tow float has a connecting waist strap to safely connect the tow float to the swimmer. My phone remained dry within the dry pouch, but I placed it in an extra dry bag just to be on the safe side.

Doughnut has accompanied me on all my recent swims. I think it is a great addition to my wild swim kit and would suggest any newcomers to wild swimming to invest in one. It’s a relatively inexpensive visual device to keep the swimmer more safe in the water.

What are your views (if any) on tow floats?

Thanks for reading,

Christine x

An Introduction to Wild Swimming

I was thinking the other day, that of all the wild swims I have posted about, I have not included a beginners guide. So here’s how I read and learned about the wonderful ‘sport’ of wild swimming.

After the initial interest, (visiting the shores of Llyn Idwal and Derwentwater) and of being tempted into the silky waters. I Googled whether it was indeed acceptable to go swimming outdoors in the UK. I discovered that there was a time when there were hundreds of lidos (outdoor pools) in the UK and people didn’t bat an eyelid if you were spotted swimming along a river or paddling in a lake. Today’s mindset that swimming outdoors is dangerous, comes from after WW2 when heated indoor pools became the norm. Thankfully people like Kate Rew, The Wild Swimming Brothers and even Robson Green, are helping swimming outdoors, known as wild swimming, become much more acceptable.

My first port of call for research was Kate Rew’s book Wild Swim, and Daniel Start’s Wild Swimming. Both books, (with stunning photographs) offer insightful recommendations on places to swim by region.

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Kate Rew is founder of The Outdoor Swimming Society, an invaluable website with information for anyone interested in wild swimming. Part of the website is a Wild Swim map, an interactive map of the UK where people post reviews on swims with helpful hints, (I’ve even added a couple!)

Many Google searches came up with information on safe swimming. One was by the NHS, and another from The Lake District National Park, which gave a list of lakes that you could swim in and those that you couldn’t! It’s a website that has informed my many Lake District wild swims.

Another website on Lake District swimming that I frequent is the blog Swimming the Lakes. This lady planned to swim across all the lakes and tarns in the Lake District. Her blog posts have once again helped in my wild swimming choices.

YouTube was another invaluable resource. Just search swimming in the Lake District and you get hundreds of hits! One channel that whetted my appetite for swimming in the Lake District was Trek and Run Online. Their videos of swimming in Buttermere and Derwentwater inspired me to take a dip in both lakes myself, resulting in happy memories.

One aspect of wild swimming I have not covered is of course hypothermia. Though not a blog I followed from the beginning, Open Water Woman has this topic covered. Her detailed post is well worth a read and very insightful.

So my research determined that I could go wild swimming, but what should I wear? What equipment did I need? I did not like the idea of wearing a wet-suit so that was out of the equation. I wanted to feel the cool water lapping at my skin. So skins it was then.

I can’t explain the excitement I had when I went shopping for clothing for my first swim in 2016. I had a basic list.

  • A swimsuit
  • Goggles (which I have never worn)
  • Neoprene boots/shoes (I didn’t want to cut my feet on rocks and stones as I waded into the water)

David thought I was insane but humoured me.

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First swim at Derwentwater

Since my initial swims, my ‘kit’ has expanded. A simple bathing suit is ok for swimming in summer but come autumn, when temperatures drop you find your body needs extra protection.

  • Neoprene gloves are a must for colder waters. My hands burned when I swam in Derwentwater during October, enough for me to research hand protection.
  • A towel from home is just too bulky. I now have two microfiber towels from Mountain Warehouse. They are easier to carry in my rucksack when going on a hike before a swim.
  • To document my swims, David gifted me a GoPro type waterproof camera. The quality of video is excellent! I named it Wilson (of Cast Away fame) as I almost lost it on a swim in Ullswater.
  • A thermometer is a must if you want to know what temperature of water you are swimming in. I purchased a quirky child’s tortoise thermometer who I have called Terrence.
  • Since purchasing my first swimsuit. I have bought many tankini’s. I prefer the fit of shorts and top to an all in one.

And finally.

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The last piece of kit that I now own is a dryrobe! I have been after a changing robe for so long but could not justify the cost, as I only dip, not compete. For Christmas David kindly gifted me my very own dryrobe. It’s a kids advanced (as I’m a shortie), and it is spacious enough for me to get dry and changed in. I am eager to get back to swimming to try it out!

Not satisfied with just swimming in the Lake District I went in search for information on swimming in Wales. Vivienne Rickman Poole‘s blog documents her many swims in the llyns of Snowdonia. I’ve managed to do two swims in Wales in 2017, Llyn Cwellyn and Llyn Cau. I hope to add to this tally in 2018.

I’ve found many Facebook pages relating to wild swimming. Outdoor Swimming Society has one, COWS or Cumbria Open Water Swimmers is a good page for the Lake District and nearer to home #ChesterFrosties have an inspiring page too. I’m sure there will be one for your area too!

The take home message of this post is to be informed, swim within your limits, be courteous to others and enjoy the experience. For my first swim at Derwentwater, I felt apprehensive about entering the water, I took my time and slowly edged into the cool May waters. I knew I didn’t have a strong upper body so I kept to the shoreline. It’s only when you feel stronger and confident that you can swim for longer.

I hope this post has been informative? I have accumulated my knowledge over two-three years and will continue to learn. Perhaps I have inspired you to give wild swimming a go? If you do, let me know how you get on?

Thanks for reading and stay safe,

Christine x

Welcome to the Family… Artie!

The newest member of the Connor-Evans family is Artie a nine week old kitten!

And this is his story!

Since the 11th of August I have been following the plight of two little kittens who had been discovered by a volunteer of Liverpool based pet rescue charity Rescue Me Animal Sanctuary. Their facebook wall posts first alerted me of the ‘Country Road’ kittens and their story.

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They had been picked up on Country Road, Liverpool as two little girls were trying to give them away. Heather saw the two kittens were very young and poorly. She managed to take them from the children. In her enquires she found out that the kittens were from a litter of five and the task then was to track down the other three kittens and the mother cat.

They managed to track the remainder of the litter but only took another kitten into their care. The owners decided to keep the other two!

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Then on the 9th of September the rescue posted that the two kittens who had survived from the three, were ready for adoption! I in half jest commented that I wanted one!

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I then posted the picture on David’s Facebook page joking that it was fated that we should get Arthur as we had just come back from Edinburgh and my favourite place to visit is Arthur’s Seat! Add that to the fact that Arthur is David’s middle name, then it must be destined?

David seemed nonplussed. All he said was that Arthur looked ‘mischievous!’ So I never argued the case further.

Then on Sunday, the 14th of September I read their latest post in which they stated that Arthur’s sister was reserved but he was still looking for a home. My mind was made up there and then! The following day, without really consulting David I made a call to the rescue about adopting Arthur. I was anxiously nervous all day, indeed all week really! I was not really thinking I would get a call back and then in the afternoon while at work my phone rang out in the small office! There was no number displayed so I answered and it was my ‘call back’ regarding Arthur! 😀

I arranged a house visit from one of their volunteers, it would be Heather who found Arthur along with his sister! So hurrying back home later that afternoon, all excited and stressed, David and I waited for 7pm and our visit! Unfortunately as is usually the case with us, things did not go according to plan! Heather was sick and could not come. So we arranged another visit for the next day.

So Tuesday came and again with sweaty palms we waited for our visit. Heather, though still not 100% came to visit and told us about Arthur and how he was into ‘everything,’ and the procedure of adopting.

I think David had some reservations but he never voiced them. I don’t think he wanted an energetic kitten, but all kittens are energetic!

Later that evening I got a text off Trisha who was Arthur’s foster carer. He was over on the Wirral! We arranged a 7pm viewing for Wednesday and I was so exited I could hardly sleep!

Wednesday could not come quick enough. In work I was willing the time when I could leave and then when the time came to make our way through the ‘Mersey tunnel,’ my nerves were at breaking point!

It was a trial to find the foster home, as a twenty minute drive turned into forty! But we finally found the street! With cat carrier in hand we nervously knocked on the door and was warmly welcomed into the home.

Arthur was asleep when we arrived but after introductions, he seemed to be receptive to us! We signed the relevant paperwork and handed over the adoption fee. Arthur was then placed into the carrier and was ‘ours’! I was so eager to take him home!

On arriving, we showed Arthur to our living room first. We showed him his new toys, played with him and fed him. We took him with us to our bedroom and he slept between David and I all night. He did have fits of crying but once he saw us lying down for the night he settled down too.

I have had kittens before and I know from experience that they usually want to start to explore come the turning off of the lamplight, but Arthur probably stressed from the move did not wake us until I woke up at 7am! I was amazed!

He has been with us now for two days and has settled in nicely. He has his mad fits of playing and then quiet times when he snuggles up with his dad or me. I love when he follows me from room to room to see what I am doing.

I know he is going to be a treasured member of the family. Even David is happy I pushed to get Artie, as he has been buying him scratching posts and cat boxes!

I have always said a house is not a home without a cat, and Artie certainly makes our ‘new’ house a home! 😀