Summer exhibitions: 2 of 6

Here we are again, 10 days later on our second show. As Julie, Beth, Polly and I line up outside the gallery after our opening night we are greeted by a warm blast of summer wind to liven things up. The attending artist is Ellen Watson who has had a great launch to her summer exhibition and who looks suitably pleased (if somewhat wind blasted!)
My outfit for the evening is great little find from my favourite charity shop in Truro. It's by Coast and am not sure if it's ever been worn as the dress straps were still attached to the inside of the dress in their plastic sleeve. It would be perfect as a wedding outfit too, so may well appear again sometime. I've teamed it up with a rather special necklace by Magpie Vintage. These pieces are all sourced from genuine vintage necklaces and brooches which are dis-assembled and reworked with pearls and gemstones to make a unique piece of jewellery. It's a great piece to jazz up a simple black dress too and is really paying it's way as far as cost per wear goes.

Dress and jacket : Coast (charity shop). Necklace : Magpie Vintage. Shoes : Debenhams.


Suited and booted


It was my day off, the sun was shining, the tide high, all in all perfect conditions for a long sea swim. My training has been erratic of late probably due to it being the height of the summer and the pressures of work encroaching onto my free time, but today I decided would be a me day. Once I was suited and booted I slipped into the water at New Grimsby and headed off. My plan was to swim further today than before, hopefully around the South end of the island and onto the Eastern beach of Pentle Bay. Pentle is an amazing sweep of beach where I've had many a leisurely swim over the years. With a view across to the Eastern Isles it's like something out of a movie set and has been used for many postcards, paintings and magazine shoots featuring these islands.

So that was the plan as I struck out. The sea temperature is noticeably warmer now although I'm not sure what the exact figures are. When I think back to the mornings where I would be sandblasted in the icy North winds during the winter months these summer swims are positively balmy, with some spots akin to bathwater. The greatest difference of course is the fact that for my long swims I'm now covered in neoprene from neck to toes and fingertips. Swimming cap and goggles add another line of defence so really it's only the submersion of my face that is feeling the true water temperature. That said, it's not bitterly cold and after a while I'm acclimatised and breathing steadily. It's a source of frustration to me that I'm still using breast stroke when I thought I'd be well along with my freestyle training. Time is slipping away but the only way this will happen is by making the effort and putting some practise in.

These thoughts fill my mind as I swim steadily onwards enjoying the lack of boat traffic and more importantly very little wind nor sea chop. Although not exactly a mill pond along this Western edge of the island, I think it will be beautifully calm once I reach the other side. As I round the rocks at Appletree Point I can see a couple of small craft moored up along the water's edge. Picnic time on the beach - what could be more perfect? I start to cut across the bay heading South keeping an eye out for passing boats while noticing tiny figures playing Frisbee on the sand. I'm occasionally aware of a ripple of cool water present at the back of a knee or a trickle down my spine inside my wetsuit. As I swim across the shallow waters I sometimes see a crab scuttle shyly away under a clump of seaweed. The sea is a clear turquoise today under the bright, almost cloudless sky.

I set off before midday and have no idea of the time, but hope to miss the lunchtime tripper boats as I round Carn Near within the next 15 minutes. As I'm thinking this I'm suddenly aware of a speedboat slicing through the water ahead of me. Every time I surface to take a breath I check the boat's progress and can see it's cutting across the bay in front of me, probably to stop on the beach. I forge on but keep an eye out. A few figures jump off, then as the boat draws back, another figure dives into the water and something is launched after him. A donut. My biggest dread is being in the water in the middle of this type of water play. I worry that the drivers attention will be only on steering one moment and glimpsing behind the next to check if they still have donut and occupant intact. The fateful day when Kirstie MacColl was hit in the water by a speedboat after a scuba dive with her sons in the  waters off the island of Cozumel, Mexico has plagued my imagination ever since she died. I stop swimming and bob about in an effort to be as obvious as possible. The boat approaches slowly and on seeing me veers away before throttling up creating a whoop of excitement from the passenger atop the donut.

I head on toward the narrow neck of weed and rocks which will lead me to Carn Near. It's no longer high tide and the rubbery seaweed lies like a raft across the sea. I could swim further out but as this would put me more into the boating lane I decide to push on, and pushing is pretty much what I have to do at some points. I feel a bubble of laughter rise in me at how ridiculous this is proving. I make slow progress across the weed but it's strangely enjoyable to have a different challenge within the day's swim. As I round the neck I can see a tripper boat leaving the quayside. Great timing. I wouldn't have liked to be there as it was coming in. The majority of the quay is under water so I have to swim along its length until I reach the end and can turn back in towards the land. The next part of my swim is more of a puzzle as I know the beaches and land very well, but haven't much knowledge of the rocks and ledges here. I circumnavigate a huge outcrop only to discover when I get past it that I could have swum inland more easily.

The only sounds are my breathing and the odd engine in the distance, mostly boats but sometimes a plane overhead on it's way to land on St Mary's. Company in the water is scarce too, just the odd glimpse of silver as a fish darts away. I spot a white carrier bag floating in the current  below me and note that it's the first one I've seen this year. It reminds of the scene in American Beauty where a paper bag is dancing and skimming around in a gentle vortex of wind.  I'm nearing another clump of rocks which are unfamiliar to me from the sea, but which I do know have a lot of sea current running through them at certain states of the tide. I keep as near to the shore as possible and encounter a different type of seaweed which seems to throw bubbles up as I traverse it, causing my humour button to be activated again. This was more fun than I expected.

I round the next little sweep of beach then rocks and suddenly here I am on home ground, Pentle Bay. The sea is azure and I feel I could be swimming somewhere tropical amongst the eddies of warm water. I relax into the familiar territory and experience what I can only explain as a state of flow ; blissful swimming which required no thought to the breath or effort in the stroke. I had become a swimming machine, at one with my surroundings, relaxed, fearless and enjoying every moment of the rhythm. It was joyful, and being aware of the uniqueness of of the experience I observed it and locked it away to feed me during harder swims . From time to time a lilac globe pulsed past me, part of the host of jellyfish which had been washed up on my home beach. Their translucent beauty was easier to admire as they regally drifted by in the clear green waters.

Before long I had powered past Pentle Bay which I had planned to be my destination. The ease of the swimming led me on and I realised that there were only a couple of smaller bays to go and I could arrive at Old Grimsby within a short while. A family in a small punt and outboard skimmed past me and a second little boat approached from the other direction. We passed in a shallow bay and I was knocked out of my reverie by the wash of the boats slopping over my head and pushing me sideways. The humour of the moment never lost on me, I laughed and ingested a gulp of seawater which dampened me down. A cough and splutter and on I went. Blockhouse Castle revealed itself around the next cove and I knew I had almost arrived. Suddenly I didn't want the swim to end. It had felt like an epic event, separate from my normal life, like an adventure which I had amazingly created within a midweek day off work. By the time I arrived at Old Grimsby the state of the tide was my indicator as to how long I must have been swimming. It was no longer high tide but was clearly half tide. I must have been swimming for about 3 hours. When I reached the shore I stood up, or at least tried to and immediately fell over. Some children paddling nearby took no notice. I rolled onto my back and waited. Perhaps this had been a bigger undertaking than I had realised. After a few minutes I staggered to my feet and wobbled my way up the beach. I'd swum more that half way around the island. Time for a late lunch and a rest in the sun I think.

Pistachio peplum top

The great thing about running this blog is the daily challenge to put clothes together to create great outfits, sometimes which even I've never seen. This is one of these. The peplum top has hung in my wardrobe for the past 2 years begging to be paired up with something, but what? I love this bright pistachio green and also love a peplum top as it's such a cute shape. But it's not an easy item to find the partner to. I thought a pencil skirt would be good and probably would be (maybe next time) but today was going to be a day for moving lots of art and hanging paintings too, so I needed something practical too.
The culottes are a fairly recent purchase and I've worn them on my Sunday shift at work when I tend to be a tad more casual. They are really comfortable, cool on hot days and I hate to admit it, but they have a fully elasticated waist. Maybe it's ok to do an elastic waist as long as the material isn't (taking a real retro step back) crimpelene? 

Culottes : H&M. Peplum top : H&M. Vest top : Primark. Sandals : TK Maxx. Necklace : Leju. Lemon stone dress ring : Martin James. Brown stone dress ring : East.


Lilac, the shade of the day

 When I chose today's outfit little did I know my shirt would be echoing the lilac jewels we found on the shoreline during our photo session. I had swum in the early morning, but luckily on that other side of the island the current hadn't brought these jellyfish into the bay. I don't know if they sting, but I will be keeping my eyes peeled when I head off for my next training session.
I've put this ensemble together from a few favourite items which have not yet been aired and I'm really pleased with the finished look. The piece I particularly love is my necklace which is rose quartz and amethyst and is quite heavy, but in a lovely substantial and reassuring way, if you get what I mean. I bought this quite a few years ago, but don't often find the right outfits to wear it with as I'm not really a pink girl. I've just read a great article in the July edition of Vogue re pink girls "The PINK vote" which was a real insight into the whole pink girly thing. Anyway, I bought this lilac shirt in Hobbs sale with a view to teaming it up with my statement piece and I think it works a treat.

Shirt : Hobbs. Skirt : Boden (eBay). Shoes : Office. Handbag : charity shop. Necklace : Emily Nixon. Pink bracelet and bangle : gifts. Big silver ring : charity shop. Opaque white stone ring : New Look. Sun glasses : Quay Australia.

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