Wednesday, 11 October 2017

WET AND WILD by Laura Darrall

Having a particularly persistent dog of the black variety, one needs to find certain ways of taming it, of tiring it out, of making it lie still for JUST FIVE MINUTES PLEASE. My trick for taking out my very own anxious black dog- we’ll call her Beryl- is wild swimming. She loves it.

Beryl is hugely preoccupied with the future and absolutely horrendous at making decisions. She becomes completely overwhelmed, drowning in hypotheticals and flooded with panic. Really helpful for getting on in this thing called ‘life’, I hear you cry!

To remedy the bitch, I decided to try wild swimming. I had been working in the Lake District at the most beautiful theatre in the world, aptly named ‘Theatre by the Lake’… you see where I’m going with this. There is a lake. By the theatre. And was encouraged by some regular Wild Swimmers, of the brilliant women variety, to plunge in. And I haven’t looked back since.

Rushing into a body of water somewhere in the country, feeling the cold sensation take over, so that nothing else exists but you and being blooming freezing, is like nothing else on this earth. It is euphoric. So euphoric.

There is a huge sense of achievement in the fact that you’ve actually done it, you have brazenly walked into water that is not in possession of fluorescent lights or chlorine, maybe a spot of algae and a stray perch but not a woggle in sight, and you have SWAM. Or is it swum…

Scientists have proven (don’t ask me which ones but they have) that cold water swimming has an invaluable benefit to your mental health. And I can happily say I concur.

When the world seems too expensive, too expansive, too everything, there is nothing like plunging into freezing cold water and feeling the thoughts quieten with every stroke.

I hate to go philosophical on this, who am I kidding, I will happily paddle in philosophy for the cause, but it makes you feel small. Like there is something far bigger than yourself, which when you are crowded by thoughts and that pesky over anxious dog is jumping at your lap, (BERYL GET DOWN!), it is invaluable. To feel small, to feel a part of something and to be swept away in movement for however long you can stand it, is bliss. Utter bliss.

And for those of us with busy brains, we need to grab those moments of bliss and treasure them. Because let’s face it, dogs like Beryl are KNACKERING, so to be able to knacker HER out for once, feels a bit like you’re in charge again. And from that tiny feeling of being in charge can come relief and release and a little bit of peace.

However, there are hazards to wild swimming. And no, I’m not talking about pneumonia, a big towel and a cuppa afterwards will stave that off. What I’m talking about may only apply to me… On my last outing, into the Brighton sea no less, in my enthusiasm to give Beryl the slip, I ran (not dissimilar to the Hoff in Baywatch) into the surf, splashed about and then, after twenty minutes, gracefully exited the sea. After looking out to the ocean and surveying my conquest, I thought it best to wrap up warm and get changed.

It was then I looked down. In my haste and enthusiasm for the cause, I’d forgotten to take my bra off and my poor Bravissimo cups looked like Medusa’s babies, overflowing with seaweed and weighed down with pebbles. A lesson to us all.

So, give it a go. Grab your 1940’s bathers, a brave friend and shake off that dog. But don’t, unlike me, forget to take off your bra. That goes for you too boys.