Adventures in Paris……aka guerilla swimming in fountains……

Wow. What a busy few months. Too busy to even keep up with the blog! Actually that’s not 100% true – I started writing it and half way through my laptop crashed and it wiped everything and I couldn’t face starting again until now!

One of my challenges this year was to swim the Dart 10k (this takes place in Devon for those of you from abroad) It’s a beautiful part of the world and the river itself goes from Dartmoor to Dartmouth. For more info – check out this page: http://www.bbc.co.uk/devon/discovering/rivers/dart.shtml

I needed to focus on my training and up the distances – I was confident that I could manage it though. Then back in May time I spotted an ad for a swim through the middle of Paris – Paris a la Nage………the first swim through Paris in 60 years. What a wonderful opportunity and an excuse for a few days away! So I signed up along with a few other swimmers that I know via Facebook. Long hours spent in the pool in preparation – up and down up and down – 25m of repetitive boredom and over hot pool water! Getting back into fresh open water was such a relief – into the Cam or the Chelmer – lovely! About 1 month before the Paris swim a friend organised a social swim in the Nene – the opportunity to do a point to point of up to 10k. I planned on doing around 6k but as it turned out managed the entire 10k and a bit more! The relief that I could manage and still feel good at the end was massive – I was ready for the Paris swim and the Dart!

Then about 3 weeks before the event – the French authorities cancelled it…..they stated that there was a water quality issue and that we would be too disruptive to boat traffic along the Seine…….the organisers tried in vain to get them to change their minds but it was not to be……..So in defiance myself and a few other swimmers decided to take on Paris Guerilla style. We took on the biggest fountain under the most iconic landmark of all!!!

(please ignore the double chins!!)

A video was expertly filmed by Aaron Kitts and our support team included Kate Allen and Christine Newbury ( guarding our discarded clothing!!)    

I hope that you enjoy the film – the excerpt at the end for some reason, edited – someone said a rude word and you tube decided that they should censor us!

just before the swim commenced

danger of death? pah – I laugh in the face of death me!

the 3 musketeers!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

All in all the Paris guerilla swim was amazing fun and it was a pleasure to spend time with swimming friends! We wanted to show that the British spirit was alive and well and we wouldn’t be defeated by the authorities!!! Oh. And we also made the BBC news http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-devon-19478400

My next adventure was the Dart 10k…. next blog on its way…….

Morandi contemplations and still life in oil.

I have been attending a weekly art class in my home town for the past few years. I believe that I have improved a little bit but i could probably get a bit better!!!

We were recently set a project in which we had to copy painting and then eventually paint our own picture but in the style of our chosen artist. There was a selection of pictures to choose from. I was very tempted with a Matisse but settled on a picture (see below) by Georgio Morandi – someone I had never heard of.

My first attempt on a sheet of borrowed acrylic paper turned into more of a challenge than id anticipated. The seemingly basic colours took an age to mix correctly leaving me with enough wasted paint than  could shake a stick at! Initially I was a little disappointed with the result – as i don’t like the flatness and dull quality that acrylic has. I decided to do another version but in oils.

Image

Over the course of the week I kept looking at the acrylic version and have decided that I really like it!

The second attempt ‘felt’ better – but still there was a struggle with the colours. After sitting with the two paintings I am still coming down on the side of the acrylic.

Image

So the final project was to paint my own still life. This was the set up…..Image   

and this is the resulting part finished painting           Image                              Image

I have thoroughly enjoyed this project and am pleased with the result. I am learning to enjoy sharing my art work – i know that its not the greatest ( this is not a cue for any sympathy – just a statement of fact!) but it is something that i feel is important to me and challenges me on a different level.

Jubilee June Japes

I spent a lovely afternoon today with friends in the River Nene. As it is a Bank Holiday here in the UK to celebrate the Queens Jubilee – it was a brilliant opportunity to meet up and mess about on the river.

Silly games were invented – they basically involved leaping or diving from the jetty as many times as possible!

Swim relays, diving through a hoola hoop and apple bobbing as well as the ‘best dive bomb’  competition ensued. I don’t think anyone knows who won what or that anyone even cares!

                                          

Thanks to all for making it a lovely and very fun afternoon!

(I must apologise for my camera – I had it on some kind of elongate or stretch setting!)

Deal or pass………

 

Deal was the destination for a massage course the other week. A great opportunity to throw myself into the Channel! A few miles down the road from Dover it is possible to see France on a clear day!

I wasn’t too convinced about the temperatures of the sea so wussed out and purchased a pair of neoprene gloves and boots! The morning of the first day dawned and I was up early moving my car – I had intended to do an AM swim but it was blinking freezing and just looked at the beautiful view!

One of the fishing boats on the beach

Early morning in Deal

After the course finished that day I raced back to my B + B – threw on my wetsuit and hot footed it to the pebble beach.

It took a moment or two to brave it but gingerly walking over the pebbles ( why aren’t all beaches sand?!) and into the water. Utterly surprised at the temperature – I couldn’t put my face into the water but overall it was quite pleasant. I lasted 5 minutes – really just floated about – and then out.

 

I have to thank a friend for taking the next 3 pictures for me!

practising my stroke!

 

Looking for France....its out there somewhere!

Day 2 was just as enjoyable but a bit more successful in terms of length of time in the water! 10 minutes in total day 2 and I was able to immerse my face without feeling like it was going to fall off!

Overall a lovely few days and the sea was a joy…… roll on the next swim!

Post swim - tingly and very happy!

 

 

 

springtime and a bit of an itch…..

So I thought it was about time I wrote and kept you all up to date with what’s going on!

The winter really has been a time of hibernation but in my case mainly on the word-press front! Now that the days are growing longer and the daffodils are blooming I can feel the itch to get back into the water creeping back.

It really is an itch though and not a full blown need to scratch! Unlike some of my fellow swimmers I am still a warm weather swimmer – however much I may covet a cold water swimming hat like my friend Carl Reynolds – he of the Aquatic Ape fame  I am still in the cowardly stage of my swimming life and I will have to work on being a bit braver this coming year!

I have plans though and at the end of March I am attending a Abdominal Sacral massage course in Deal Kent – its a small town on the English channel and plan on dusting down the wetsuit and venturing into the sea at least once. I am very much looking forward to it and am hoping that the air temp will be double figures and so will the water temperature – that also may simply be wishful thinking!

I have also entered the Dart 10k in September. The training was going really well until I overdid some lateral pulls and irritated my shoulder – that kept me out of the water for about a week. I then found I was getting calf aching – I thought that it was simply from doing push – offs from the edge of the pool – makes sense – but it got worse and travelled up to my hamstring and then the foot went numb…………..off to the physio again! My suspicions about a disk problem looks correct and he is pretty sure that I have a L5 – S1 disk bulge. An MRI is the only sure way to diagnose but I’m going to hold off on that for a bit. I have had some treatment and have kept out of the pool since Monday night – however I had a gentle swim yesterday and felt pretty good. I will just have to see how it goes but I am not going to let this stop me!!!

Other news – includes a fabulous session with a Total Immersion swim coach called Stefan – last Sunday.I felt that it was of so much benefit that I have booked up a few more with him…..more on this to follow!

 

 

 

http://musingsofanaquaticape.wordpress.com/2012/03/09/early-start/

http://www.aboutdeal.co.uk/

http://www.totalimmersion.net/

 

Traditional Chinese Acupuncture – a new low cost clinic…….

I am pleased to announce that I am now running a low cost Traditional Acupuncture clinic alongside my usual clinic.Charges will directly relate to the household income of the patient.

The purpose of this scheme is to make acupuncture more widely available to all sectors of the community.

The Association of Community and Multibed Acupuncture Clinics (ACMAC) represents a growing group of acupuncture clinics and practitioners who seek to make acupuncture accessible to as many people as possible. Affordability is a defining aspect of accessibility: in community/multibed clinics, several patients are treated together in one space. This reduces overhead costs and these savings can then be passed to the patients. Equally important as the reduced cost of treatment, however, is the powerfully nurturing atmosphere produced when many people are treated together.

The clinic will run on Tuesdays 11am til 2pm and Thursday mornings 930am til 1.30pm.

Prices range from £18 for those with an annual household income of below £15, 000 up to £30 for those with an annual household income below £30, 000.

If you think that you or someone you know may be eligible then please ask me for details.

Harlow Leisurezone, Second Avenue, Harlow, Essex, CM20 3DT, 07760435279, info@nicolacourt.co.uk

2012…….bob fleming, tumble turns, the Dart 10k and the Chinese year of the Water Dragon.

So 2012 arrived and the plans I had to go and ‘do’ a New Years Day swim down in Cornwall, thwarted by poor weather – a nephew that’d had an asthma attack and was best kept inside and the thought of heading off to the beach alone meant that I stayed inside. I regularly looked outside to see if the sky was clearing but it just horrid. Oh well…..maybe next year!

One of my best presents this year was from my lovely boyfriend who got me the waterproof camera that id hinted about. Still not used it yet but hoping maybe to give it a try at the London Fields Lido meeting in February.

Following  the visit to my lovely family in Cornwall a chest infection developed. Coughing like a good ‘un for a week- and with remarkable similarity to Mr Bob Fleming!!!

Anyway it meant that although the training was coming along nicely – up to 90 lengths of the 25m pool – I’ve missed almost a week…. however i popped over there tonight to see if the lungs were up to it and although im still coughing the training is back on! I also thought it would be a good idea to start incorporating the tumble turn into my pool swims so had a go tonight. It has been 25 years since a tumble turn was last attempted by myself and blimey, did it show! Practice makes perfect as they say but it was decidedly off-putting when my costume collected air after the tumble….. balloon bum ensued!

Anyway – enough rambling. Whats the new training in aid of i hear you cry?

The Dart 10k. Make a note in your diaries folks – September 22nd give or take a weekend.

index.php?p=events&s&id=69

Yes yes I know I said I wouldn’t do anything like Helford – but that was last year. This is the year of the Water Dragon. The Chinese believe that Dragons – especially Water Dragons are very auspicious – and so are very welcome. Dragons are very Yang in nature and Yang water is about movement not calmness. Movement =rivers. Calm = lakes – therefore it is destiny that I swim in many rivers this year!!!!

Plum Pudding Dip 2011

 

Managed to leave home late yesterday so was in a high state of anxiety all the way to Gospel Oak – a 20 minute wait for the train to leave Stratford didn’t help either! When I finally reached the Lido there was only 20 minutes to go before the mayhem ensued. I’d missed Edith Bowmans speech at the start but not to worry.

I bumped straight into a swimmer I met at Granchester Meadows  and she pointed me towards the others. It was lovely to see everyone.

 

Eventually there was nothing else to do except strip off and stand around and wait! I did put my Robie on for a couple of minutes but even that had to come off as the start approached!

 

 

Stood at the edge of the aluminium lined pool and ( keeps the pool warmer apparently – but truthfully I doubt if I could have told you if that was actually the case – it was  sodding cold !) holding on tightly to the hands of the people either side – we counted down, accompanied by a brass band playing the theme tune to the Great Escape…. and then jumped……..

I remember very little of the next minute or so except that it was cold! Ones mind seems to retreat into a little warm place whilst the body is wondering  ‘what the hell’  you are doing! I struck out for the far side as fast as I could possibly go – and then turned and headed back. The breathing was an effort at this point – im not actually sure if I even was breathing! I made it 3/4 way back and my legs gave up – they decided they just not enjoying this game anymore and I barely made it to the poolside let alone be able to climb back out! However I had a mad moment of thinking about staying in for a bit longer but then decided that was just stupid.

The cold didn’t hit me for a couple of minutes but when the burning started that wasnt exactly pleasant….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Some kind soul started to hand round ginger wine and then another damson flavoured vodka – at that stage I didn’t care – it was just nice to have some booze! The Outdoor Swimming Society people handed out little shots of port also so I was starting to get a little warm glow!

Once dressed and warmer the Cambridge section of the OSS headed off to the pub for a much-needed warm meal and a pint!

 

What a fabulous day and I’ve already decided that this will be a yearly thing. It’s an open swim – so maybe see you there to?!

 

 

 

 

Next year I will have a go on the slide – I didn’t notice it yesterday until I was half-dressed…..

 

 

 

The human body, at peace …

The human body, at peace with itself, is more precious then the rarest gem. Cherish your body, it is yours this one time only. The human form is won with great difficulty, it is easy to lose. All worldly things are brief, like lightning in the sky; This life you must know as the tiny splash of a raindrop; A thing of beauty that disappears even as it comes into being. Therefore set your goal, make use of every day and night to achieve it. – Tsong Khapa

i wanted to share this quote with you from the Tibetian philosopher – i thought it was really beautiful and hope that you do too.

pause for thought……

cold toes

In preparation for next weeks Outdoor Swimming Society December dip i took myself off to a lovely stretch of the River Ouse near York – a little place called Acaster Malbis.

Donning the wet suit I stood on the edge of the jetty for a good 5 minutes trying to get the nerve to get in. It was tempting to go for the full on dive, but, safety first kids! I didn’t know what was under the water and how deep it was ….. so eventually after letting the cold seep into my feet I gingerly lowered myself off the edge of the jetty.

Blimey it was COLD!!!

I wish I had a thermometer with me but im damned sure it was not much over 5 degrees!!!  I lasted a good 2 minutes or so paddling around near the jetty – and then got out. The current here was pretty strong and I wasnt up for swimming too far away from the jetty.

Next was the stripping off of the neoprene and back in I went!

I lasted about 10 seconds!!!!

At least I have got a taste of what next week will be like and I hope that the excitement and adrenaline will enable me to do the 2 widths of the lido……bring it on!