Last night I swam in the Irish sea in the rain. The sky was silver and the water was completely calm, with just a slight swell as raindrops smattered the surface. It was cold, still and utterly exhilarating.
Living by the sea is even more magical than I imagined. There is always something to look at, from the hardy early morning swimmers first thing in the morning and the kids hunting for crabs and periwinkles to the kite-surfers in the evening and tentative lines of young canoeists having lessons. And yesterday, there were dolphins out in the bay. When the tide’s out we take cups of tea onto the sand and the kids run around; it’s like being permanently on holiday.
The swimmers change and congregate by the Martello tower, and it’s a wonderfully eccentric sight – a bunch of all ages, all shapes, standing in their pants as they contemplate the icy waters. Locals stroll around the streets and squares in their dressing gowns as they head down to the water. It’s like having a giant open-air swimming pool. And boy, it beats paying an awful lot of cash per month to have water kicked in your face for 20 minutes by the Alpha Male doing messy crawl in front as you plough up and down the chlorinated, sweaty pool.
The feeling when you get out of the sea is fantastic – you feel energized, exhilarated, your skin glowing and tingling – and a cup of tea never tasted so good. Yep, I'm a convert – though ask me again come November....
Talking of the sea, there’s a book festival in Dun Laoghaire from 7-12 September and I’ve booked to see John Banville, Booker winner for the wonderfully evocative and moving The Sea. I'm also seeing Jonathan Coe and Ross Raisin (Raisin’s God’s Own Country is a brilliantly dark first novel set in the moors of Yorkshire).
So far, so very good – and I haven't even told you about the Cake Cafe yet... next time.