Published 14th March 2023
“Last one in’s a sissy!” shouts Dad, as we rush to strip down to our swimwear as quickly as possible, sprinting down to the water’s edge, looking around to see who’s winning. High knee action over the waves rolling in and then head-first dive into the drink.
Rain or shine, that was the ritual call to action of childhood beach trips (best to get in the sea if it’s raining, you’re getting wet anyway). Mum rolling her eyes at us, but inevitably following us at her more sedate, and let’s face it dignified, pace. I didn’t grow up by the sea, but I always longed for it. Longed for that refreshing feeling of having your day washed away with each wave, of your worries floating away with the current, of being a tiny insignificant thing bobbing around in a vast body of water.
But as an adult living in London, a swim in the sea was often a pipe dream. The upside being, it felt luxurious, a rare treat, and something to indulge in all year around. A wise friend and adventure buddy once rightly told me (whilst shivering on a cold beach in December) “you’ll never regret a swim.” – and to this day, in my book, she’s been proven right.
You can see why then, when my parents, brother and his family finally made Devon their home, I was thrilled. It seemed an inevitability that sooner or later, I would follow suit. After all, is it a coincidence my father captained ships and my brother served as a Royal Marines Commando? I don’t think so. Or a happy accident that I started my career in the maritime sector, spending time on beaches and boats? Nope.
Is it sheer luck that my lifelong friends are the ones either coming in the sea with me or willing to wait whilst I do? Probably not. And is it happenstance that just as I was
deciding to leave London, I met a big-hearted half Cornish half Mauritian man with a surf lifestyle clothing brand*, about to relocate to the south west too?
What do you think?!
Now, having relocated to Devon, there’s an opportunity to build a more regular practice, getting in, on or near the sea. Because ultimately, the sea brings us together; sharing stories of waves caught or shivering that didn’t stop, over pints in pubs or coffee in coastal cafes. It shapes our life decisions, defines what we call fun, provides a life ring to stay afloat during tough times and offers that immersive sensation many of us need to heal.
And my Mum and Dad? Well, now in their golden years, they don’t swim as much as they used to, but I still enjoy the smiles on their faces, the palpable look of relief from arthritic joints, when a little cajoling gets them in.
Last one in’s a sissy!
*if it wasn’t clear, it’s MikieRad and Radical. Check ‘em out!