Lock-down has been a time to sift through photographs, diaries and journals and recall far flung travelling and adventures. Yesterday, it was a short piece that transported me from my cottage in Scotland to wild water swimming in Oxfordshire. A memory worth savouring. A memory from what seems like ‘another life’.
Sunday July 23rd 2017.
“I’m home from France and I’m keen to hold to my resolution ‘Interesting old dogs learn a new trick every week’. July’s challenge for me is wild swimming in the River Thames. I’ve been considering wild swimming for the last ten years and have always put it off with the promise, ‘I’ll do it next week, next month, next year……. When the weather is warm……’
This weekend was a family one in Wallingford. I’ve grown to love the way the river flows gently through the town before meandering onwards, through unspoilt Oxfordshire countryside, towards London. I’d packed my swimming costume, in case an opportunity arose – and it did. Late on the Sunday afternoon my daughter Jennie and I headed along the towpath. The river was calling. What a wonderful sense of excitement, freedom and magic. We found a suitable grassy bank and slid gently into the water. It was startlingly cold and, as they say, ‘very refreshing’! At first, I was apprehensive, my heart rate increased and I kept within easy striking distance of the riverbank. But the water was calm, with no evidence of current or fast flowing water and I quickly felt at ease. Jennie swims here regularly and I knew I was being looked after and watched carefully! I love the way roles reverse as we age, and our children grow.
As I grew more confident it was a sheer delight to strike out and swim over the dark reeds, between floating lilies, towards the shafts of sunlight in the centre of the calm, benevolent river. We were quickly joined by a nosy assortment of moorhens, ducks and swans. We floated, we laughed and splashed together and enjoyed the simplicity of mother and daughter wild swimming. What a wonderful experience.
Tonight, as I reach to put off my bed-side light, I have a warm glow of achievement. I realise I’ve finally done my first-ever wild swimming in the River Thames and this Grandma feels pretty good.’
Three years later, reading my journal, I can still feel the magic of that summer Sunday. Who knew wild river swimming would follow grandma into this future?
What a joyful memory to brighten a lockdown day.