You'll never do a whole lot unless you're brave enough to try

once said the indomitable icon that is Dolly Parton, and as I thought about this, I wondered if dear Dolly would ever have considered plunging into the Moray Firth on a grey murky morning, with the outside temperature lurking just below double figures. She probaby would if you asked her, she seems like that kinda gal.

So yes, I'm still going in but the quote about bravery is not about the daily dip. The bravery bit or lack of it in my case, refers to the next step of actually getting my face in the water and having a look around. As I said before, I'm actually afraid of the water but I'd convinced myself that if I donned the goggles, I could tick off another challenge. Sadly, I haven't cracked it yet. I can get my face under, just, but I can't open my eyes. It's so frustrating. I go to open my eyes and it seems to set off some wierd automatic reaction with my breathing. I just can't coordinate the two. Some fears, it seems, are not that easy to conquer.

It's been a good ten days though and the morning walk has been lovely. We've had close encounters with several deer and Roxy has a new favourite game of flushing out pheasants. It's amazing, she can smell them a mile away. Apparently she is part Vizsla and they love to flush out birds but please don't worry and don't start writing in, no pheasants have been killed or injured in the writing of this artical. Somehow, as dim and tiny brained as they are, they always get away.

On the swimming front, however, I am happy to report that I've been in every day apart from two, when life got in the way and I just didn't have time, and to be honest, I really missed it. It's definitly getting colder outside and there is a touch of autumn in the air, but actually the water is still warm and I am a much better person for the rest of the day if I go in. Roxy is getting quite good now, although I am starting to sense a little reluctance as the weather takes a turn. and to be honest I was a little annoyed with her yesterday.

Being a Sunday, it started a little lazily and I was behind schedule for my dip. I like to get down to my spot early, preferably before 7.30am as the beach is always completely empty. This is not a modesty thing on my part, it's purely due to the fact that, should Roxy see another dog, she will always take off to say hello and I have no desire to have to come running out of the water, more Julie Walters than Halle Berry, and chase her along the beach in my cossie. Bo Derek I am not. So lying in bed with a cuppa, I persuaded the old man to accompany me so that I could swim and he could keep control of the dog, hand me my towel and be in charge of the coffee and biscuits. I tried to persuade him to go in, he's a really good swimmer, but he told me to bugger off. He also ridiculed my pink flamingo swimming shorts, which belong to my son but are easy to throw on and off over my cossie, and told me they looked great with a wax jacket, golf cap and a pair of goggles.

Anyway the reason for telling you this, is because when we got down to the beach and I ran in with abandon, trying my best to look like Ursula Andress, Roxy refused to come in. She made a pathetic attempt and promptly decided that she preferred the warmth of dry land, the old man and a tennis ball. I was so disappointed. Afterwards, when moaning about it with my coffee and biscuit, I mentioned the fact that she usually runs in when I start swimming.

"Thats because she thinks youre drowning" said Hubby "and obviously as I wasnt bothered she didn't see the point."

I wasn't sure how to take that. Luckily I'm still alive.

So, I still haven't opened my eyes, which I really need to get sorted, although as I was getting out of the water the other day, a small fish scuttled along the sand and buried itself. I looked it up when I got home and scarily I came across a picture of a Weever fish, which apparently lurks around on sand banks and has a really nasty sting if you stand on its fin. I called my dad. "It's possibly a dab" he said reassuringly. "Thats a relief" I said, "I thought it might be a weever fish". "Well it could be, maybe you should wear shoes!" On further investigation, my father-in-law offered up what they used to call a Sand Fluke, a type of flounder. Perfectly harmless apparently and loves sandy bottoms. I'll take both dab and fluke. I'll forget about the Weever. And that’s maybe the problem with opening my eyes. If I do open them, I might terrify myself and never go in again. It's a bit of a dilemma. Blissful ignorance or death by Jelly but I so want to be brave enough to become one with the ocean. In my dreams I'm a sort of Jacques Cousteau of the Moray Firth. Reality can sometimes be very cruel mistress. Trying to be helpful, Hubby's has suggested snorkle and full face goggles. "It might just stop that big nose of yours snorting up the water" he joked. I laughed, but having thought about it, it just might be the answer.

The other good thing about having the old man in tow yesterday, apart from his fabulous wit and reapartee, was the fact that he could take a couple of photos to prove to you my friends, that I really am going in. Unenthusiastically, because his hands were cold, he snapped away.

"It's not your best look" he offered encouragingly. "I've seen you look better."

"Yes, but I'm 55, it's a Sunday morning and I've just got out of the North Sea, this is the real thing baby, no airbrushing or editing, this is the real me, I am who I am, I'm not proud."

"Obviously" he said as he put away his phone. "And you'll look even better when you've got your full face mask and snorkel."

And as he walked away with Roxy, leaving me to grapple with my socks, I thought about the bet thats he's having with himself. He's bet with himself my "giving up on sea swimming date." He won't tell me what it is, of course, because he knows that I'll have to keep on going. He knows I'm not very brave but he does know that I'm stubborn. I wont be able to help myself. I won't be able to give in.

I really need to order that wetsuit. This could be a very long winter.

Sam Derbyshire is the author of What Goes on Tour, Text Me No Lies and Trust Me, I’m a Personal Trainer, due for release in September.

#positiveattitude #swimming #labrador #seaswimming #fiftysomething #beach #scotland #scottishwriter #Agewell #writer #fear #bravery #midlifecrisis #Weeverfish #wetsuit #snorkel #DollyParton #women #Ageing

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