The River Swim
Last week we finally got the rest of the family to calm down enough to let us swim in our local river in jolly ol Blighty. My sis in law told us about a lady who fell into the river and died earlier this year so they were ‘you cant’t, you’ll die’. Turns out, she was drunk and fell in near the river mouth and was swept out to sea in February. Its very sad. However, 1. we were not drunk (at least before the swim.) 2. Not near the river mouth (about 10 miles up stream) and 3. it was now July and that water was toasty warm compared to Loch Ness! We’re going whether you like it or not. After much crying (I kid you not) and explaining that we swim miles every week they relented and decided to let us do it. Err OK?!?
The one condition was, that father in law would accompany us in his kayak. I thought this might actually be useful, no need to sight down the river, just follow the boat. Sadly this was not the case. Note to self, never ever ask FIL to kayak for me on a swim. It was a fancy kayak and he had all the gear including a full armed shorty wetsuit on. I told him he was going to roast. I’ll be alright, he wasn’t.
We got ‘tea’ed’ up (Britain runs on tea, you Americans just throw it in the harbor :) at a little cafe near the bridge above. We stripped to our cossies and then waited for the tide to go slack, it was still rising when we arrived. My FIL is not a patient man and decided that we needed to start with the tide still rising?!? I told him we would be swimming to stand still? It’ll be alright! It wasnt! We ended up spending 10mins just getting under the bridge. WTF!
We had a small audience of incredulous on lookers as we started. I felt we were continuing the tradition of odd ball, nutty Britishers doing stupid, crazy things for fun. Or at least Mrs Alt was cos Im with you tea dumpers now. My plan to swim off under the bridge and into the distance did not go so well with the still rising tide but we got under it and things got a little easier.
We stuck to the quieter river bank and about 20mins in, the tide finally went slack. So we were making progress albeit slower than I wanted.
Its a great way to see the country side, that is, three inches from the surface of a river and glimpsing it every second or so. We freestyled it, we breast stroked it. However, the best bit is when you are both freestyling, breathing on opposite sides so that you get to see each other’s big smiley faces with each stroke as you turn for a breathe. Im a born romantic me, I take my lady to all the best places :)
We saw three of the most surprised looking cows on the bank as we passed (wish we had a camera.) Lots of ducks, swans and geese with babies in tow. Waved to folks in boats and on the train as it sped over a bridge.
The tide started to pick up a little and our so called navigator, who just shot off into the distance and then sat waiting until we caught up, told us to be careful and to have an escape route if we got swept along too fast. Err OK, its barely flowing but OK. He also told us that we were just going around the last bend and we would be there. Where there was, Im not sure, I knew we would not be close until we saw the castle on the hill. At this point Mrs Alt unleashed her inner 5 year old and asked ‘are we nearly there?’
'Yes honey, your Dad says its just around the next corner' It wasn't …
We did round a bend to see Mrs Alt’s two sisters and mother on a foot bridge over the river (their pics above) screaming and shouting at us. Another 1/4 mile and there would be a beer waiting at the pub. It is amazing how energized you feel when you see folks you know hollering your name and whooping. That 1/4 mile whizzed by and we were hauling ourselves out in front of a pub load of people who probably also thought we were nuts.
A tad over 4 miles in total and so much fun. I suggested hanging out for six hours and catching the tide back up to the car. I was told, with a few expletives thrown in for good measure, that I was welcome to do that but I’d be on my own.
So we had a beery lunch, at least we had earned it. FIL had sweated out pints I’d imagine, in his fancy schmancy gear so I bought him and extra pint to say thank you.
All jolly good, cleanish fun and great day out.