The summer is over and I’m back working in London. I’m here for a total of nine weeks and 2 weeks have already passed. It’s a job that’s 24/6 so I basically have 24hrs off a week to relax. Now, I’m not the sort of person to do nothing on my days off (see earlier posts of when I was in HK). When I’m working in London, I try and catch up with friends as much as possible.
In August, I messaged a friend to suggest the possibility of a microadventure on one of my days off. She is a fellow MN and we had met for the first time at a Maternity Nurse Conference. I recognised a kindred spirit as we talked about her swimming the Channel (as part of a team) whilst we were doing an exercise during a PND discussion. After a brief conversation about dates, we decided on my second weeks break to catch up. The plan was to meet at Durdle Door in Dorset, along the Jurassic Coast, for a bivvy bag session and a morning dip in the sea. As the days passed I was getting more and more excited. The hot weather had broken and the promised thunderstorms arrived on the friday, but it was looking clear for the Saturday night in Dorset, with the added bonus of a Harvest Moon. Saturday dawned overcast in London. Work finished at 2pm and it wasn’t long before I was in my little car, heading to Dorset.
7pm was our meeting time and I arrived with enough time to have fish and chips in nearby Lulworth Cove before heading up to meet Lucy and her friend, Keith, who had decided to join us too. The sun was starting to set and the sky was turning beautiful shades of red and orange as we walked down the steep hill towards Durdle Door.
The water looked like glass and once we had reached the beach, L was already saying that she needed to get in now. We dropped our stuff and quickly got changed into swimming costumes. L loaned me a Dry Robe to get changed under, with the words that it will change my life (it did; I have to get one) and we walked across the shingle to the shore line. It banks down sharply into the water and you do have to fully commit; there’s no gentle entry. I plunged in and the water was warmer than I expected. I was still a bit hesitant about swimming in sea water (even though I had done Swimtrek the year before which was basically swimming from island to isalnd in Turkey) and decided not to join them on their first entry through the door. I happily swam around, acclimatising and waiting for them to swim back.
The sun was disappearing fast and we quickly got dry then walked further along the beach to find a good spot to set up camp for the night. A campfire was made, fizz was popped and we settled down for the evening, waiting for the moon to rise. We didn’t have the place to ourselves. People were camping at the top of the hill and we would evey now and again see torch light over by the water.
And then, suddenly, I could see a line of light, along the white cliffs in front of me. I watched it as it slowly got larger and larger. The moon was rising. I wandered down towards the waters edge and could see the beautiful full moon rising above the cliff. The beach was bathed in moonshine. I was joined by the other two and we drank in the view. Lucy remarked the Durdle Door had now been turned into a slurping dragon, and it had! Magical. Keith had mentioned earlier about a moonlight swim and the suggestion came up again.
Well, this was a first for me, but I was definitely up for it. After making a joint decision of going swimming costume free, we quickly stripped down and walked to the waters edge in our dryrobes. Lucy had an orange drybag which we put my head torch in. I slipped the belt around my waist and then followed the other two in launching myself into the water. Oh, it was amazing. L said the water felt like velvet and it did, so soft and smooth on the skin. I felt ready to swim through the door now. With K and L on either side of me for reassurance, we swam easily up to the opening. And then we were through. And there was the moon in all her glory. It was the most exhilarating feeling. I felt…. euphoric. We gently bobbed on our backs in the sea, with the moon shining down on us and an orange glow from the dry bag beside me. Eventually, we had to swim back, and we slowly swam through the arch to the shore. The moon was fully up by now and we could easily see the beach and our dying campfire. It was a bit of a battle for me to get back out onto the beach. The shingle hurt! A quick change into warm clothes and then we snuggled down into our sleeping bags, tucked cosily into the bivvy bags with the moon directly above us. It was nearly 1am and time to sleep. The night passed uneventfully. I did feel more of a chill that night, but not enough to keep me awake. Next time I shall be wearing my skiing thermals, as that is apparently the way forward. A few times in the night, I would open my eyes and see the moon tracking slowly above our heads.
Suddenly, it was 7am. And we were no longer alone, as people were already venturing down the steps to greet the morning. Lucy and I decided to walk over the other side to Man of War beach to see if the sun was rising over that side, but it hadn’t started to climb above the cliffs at the point. No worries. We walked back to our campsite, ate an orange for breakfast and then climbed into our wet, cold swimwear. Brrrrr. This time I was ready to swim through the arch and round to the right. For a third time we entered the water and it felt even warmer than last night (probably because our skin was chilly). The three of us struck out towards door and once on the other side we were greeted by the morning sun. It shone in our faces as we lay back in the bobbing waves, lying in the path of the sunrise. All too soon, it was time to think about heading back. Both K and L had parent duties and I had to start my journey back to London. We swam around the arch to the beach, packed our things away, making sure we had left no sign of ourselves and then started the climb back up the steps.
The sun was starting to rise high in the sky as we climbed, stopping every now to get our breath and admire the beauty of the day. A few people had also stayed overnight at Man of War beach, as we could see a tent tucked under the cliffs. “Amateurs” was our joking comment. We had also seen them swim round from this bay, through the door from the other side, but, unlike us, they were wearing wetsuits. 🙂
It was just the most perfect Saturday night. I had done three things for the first time; one of them was a moonlight swim. I had had the best company, with people who embraced life to the fullest. Laughs, wine, crisps, swimming. What’s not to like? It clears the head. Life is just too short, I have observed. Get out there….