Swimming and Walking

My Mum sent me this postcard after she had walked across Spain. It is an illustration from a Russian Fairy story, “Feather Of Finist Falcon” by Ivan Bilibin.

Feather Of Finist Falcon by Ivan Bilibin
Feather Of Finist Falcon by Ivan Bilibin

I am reading Robert MacFarlane‘s, “The Old Ways, A Journey On Foot”. I love it. I have had to regularly pause so that I could tangentially read about the characters MacFarlane cites.

For example the hale and hearty George Borrow who spoke twelve languages, as a young man, and went on to learn many more on his travels. He had a particular affinity for his fellow nomads the Romany. George appears to have walked the length and breadth of Ireland, Europe and Russia on beer, milk and bread-rolls.

MacFarlane’s descriptions of the highways, pathways and hollow-ways of England and Europe make me miss the land I grew up in. I suspect he and other writers like him inspired the trend for ‘Wild Places’ I noticed when I was last in the UK.

When I last visited my Mum I remember there was a ‘Wild Runners’ group in Totnes. Lacking litarary pretensions as a kid we always called it ‘Cross Country’. Nonetheless I tried to join the Totnes ‘Wild Runners’ but nobody turned up. I went for a run anyway, it wasn’t very wild. I ended it with a freezing and life affirming swim in the Dart.

I believe my Mum and my beloved nieces are regular ‘Wild Swimmers’. How I would love to join them. Instead I have the late Roger Deakin‘s book, “Waterlogged” which has taken me on a varied splash through the waterways of the British Isles. Australia is not the home of the first half of my life but it has provided me with endless adventures for swimming (cycling and walking).

This is young H watching a helicopter in a bay in Vanuatu. Most decidedly not the Dart
This is young H watching a helicopter in a bay in Vanuatu. Most decidedly not the Dart

The weather in my part of the world is generally delightfully warm which makes the cool water so much more inviting. I love to swim and dive beneath the surface, imagining myself transforming, like Kay Harker from “The Box of Delights” … into a fish:

… there in the coolness and dimness, wavering as the water wavered, and feeling a cold spring gurgling up just underneath them and tickling their tummies.

Streams of light and water are truly sublime.