One of the fun things about sea swimming is meeting people. We’ve said it before but it genuinely is a fascination and joy to meet a wide range of people all heading to the coast to plunge into the sea. Some are only around during the warmest of months of the year whilst others plough through frosts and snow to swim daily whatever… and all those in between. On the whole sea swimmers are a very jolly bunch, even if you don’t remember one another’s names (or even know their name)or recognise them three weeks after meeting them.
There are some swimmers though that you just can’t forget, even if you only see them one or two times. During the summer months last year we encountered an older chap swimming alone. As we were getting ready to go in, he had just come out, resplendent in a pair of large traditional swimming trunks something akin to those worn in the 1970’s. He had left his belongings on the beach some 10m in front of where we had sat down at ‘our’ hut and said a cheery ‘hello’ as he approached his towel. He then picked up his changing robe which matched his trunks in that ‘70’s vibe. It was one of those draw-stringed towelling affairs that goes over the head like a large laundry bag and gathers around the neck making the wearer look like an enormous vintage toilet roll cover. Unlike the recently invented dry robes etc, in the original version there are no arm holes – your head sticks out at the top and your arms are kept inside to enable changing. As long as a) you don’t mind looking like a trapped ferret in a sack or b) manage not to fall over, it’s probably a garment that still functions. However, the man we were watching evidently felt the need to see what he was actually doing under the robe whilst changing. Why this was the case we’re not quite sure as he was definitely the only one in there as far we knew, but what it meant was that he withdrew his head into the sack. By doing this the towel garment became a LOT shorter. Coupled with the action of bending over in an attempt to get his underwear on we were treated with a full view of everything! Karen and I looked at one another, laughed, agreed we couldn’t decide if this was in part deliberate or a terribly embarrassing faux pas on his behalf and promptly walked straight passed him into the sea. It put me right off buying a sack of onions for a few days that’s for sure and made me extra pleased to be swimming with a friend.
Gurnard is quite a busy beach – but if he didn’t know he might have thought no-one else would be swimming? He may well be a leftover from the Isle of Wight Festivals of the 1970’s, one of many who have never quite made it back off the Island? But either way we haven’t seen Mr Vegetable Sack (as he has become known) again … but then would we recognise him with his clothes on?!