Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Wild swimming...

We've had several gloriously sunny days here in Lincolnshire. I know I keep on about it but I can hardly believe my luck to have found a whole nature reserve less than a mile from home and pretty much all to myself in the week. It's been really good for the soul. If I'm not smiling at the dogs I'm smiling at the clouds or the wild flowers...yes I know this is starting to sound quite mad.

It occurred to me yesterday, whilst Harvey was doing thirty laps of the lake, that the water looked extremely inviting. I was hot from the walk and it would have been refreshing to take a dip. There were two problems though, one is that I've never swum in a river or lake before and don't like the thought of swimming with fish or other slimy creatures and two there was a big sign saying 'no swimming'.

When my brother and I were small we'd frequently see people swimming in the river, with all the danger of boats and propellers, weeds, pollution etc. We were happy to stay dry in our little boat (pretending to be Swallows and Amazons) only having to worry about running out of fuel or losing the oars in the water.

I remember one quite scary incident with a lake that involved a friend and her dog. It must have been one of the winter months because the dog swam out into the middle of a lake in the woods behind our houses and suddenly lost the use of his back legs. My friend quickly stripped off her trainers and socks and waded in, by the time she got to the middle of the lake it was too deep to stand. Bear in mind here that she was a good swimmer and I only had my width badge (which was about ten metres!). Quick as a flash I was thinking about them both getting into difficulties or catching pneumonia. It was very frightening. Luckily this adventure had a happy ending. Both friend and dog made it back to the shore. We ran back to her house and wrapped her and the dog up in towels and then duvets. We didn't tell our parents until we were safely into adulthood.

I dread to think what my own children would do in a similar situation. They don't seem to have the common sense that my generation had because they have played in such a different way, mostly under the watchful eye of Mummy. I've never let them go off and play in woodland by themselves because of the society that we live in now, and that is a tragedy in itself. That's not to say that I haven't done my best to encourage imaginative play.

The biggest laugh today was watching Riley try to swim. Harvey glides through the water with the gracefulness of a seal. Riley on the other hand hasn't worked out that doggy paddle needs to be undertaken beneath the water level in order to be propelled forward. Hence the style looks similar to that of a drowning dog (see top pic)! In fact the first time we saw him swim we did think he was drowning and I was getting ready to take my shoes and socks off! Today Harvey must have decided that the lake was the perfect way to cool down. He ran at speed to the edge and launched himself into the air before splashing down a couple of metres from the bank. It was quite spectacular.

The cherry on the cake was spotting a Heron near the river bank on our way back. You can never get close to them and it spotted us long before we spotted him and took off with his ungainly body versus wings ratio. He was still rather more spectacular than Harvey's bomb diving!


  1. Riley really does look as if he's drowning, bless him. That's a great photo of the heron.

  2. someone drowned on a beach here yesterday trying to rescue their dog...........