Day 231/366 : Falling off the wagon

Well, it happened.  I totally fell off the new clothes buying ban wagon big-style and went mad in the Lindy Bop sale.

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This is the Twiggy shift dress. I absolutely love it.

I knew if a failure of willpower was going to happen in my year of no spending that it would be big, but perhaps not as big as it actually was. I bought six dresses, three cardigans and a top that I’m keeping and I’m sending back five dresses, 2 shrugs and a jacket because of fit issues.

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This is the Ariel, it’s got such an amazing shape

Up until now I’ve been SO good for the whole of this year about not browsing in shops that it’s become second nature not to head into the clothes section of supermarkets or just going into town on a Saturday afternoon for a mooch around to see what’s on the rails.

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The pattern of this fabric is so beautiful

I’ve been quite unwell since the start of August and have spent nearly three weeks at home off work, mostly in bed. Frustration and boredom has led to a spending spree starting with buying perfume, shoes and boots online along with various dresses from Facebook selling pages. I can’t stop and have gone well over what I should have spent.

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This is a lovely dress, really nice thick stretchy cotton

So this spree has ended (I hope) with me raiding the Lindy Bop sale.  I feel hugely disappointed with myself, but I also feel that I have picked up some really lovely dresses at bargain prices as the sales at Lindy Bop are known for large discounts – all my dresses were between £12 and £15 and the cardigans were £10 or less.

So there you go, I lasted 226 days of the 366 of 2016, pretty much 2/3 of the year which isn’t all that bad.  I’m not going to go back to buying new things though, although I’m giving myself a free pass for the Curve Fashion Festival in Liverpool on 10th September.

I’m hoping that once I feel better and I’m back at work and not frustrated and ill at home that I will be in a better place for both my head and for my wallet.  Keep your fingers crossed for me that I can scramble back onto the wagon and ride it until the end of the year.

Day 212: I really don’t know what happened there

OK, so I haven’t blogged since April, but this doesn’t mean that I’ve given up.  I have kept to the letter of my promise not to buy any new clothes this year from shops or Ebay, but perhaps not really to the spirit of it.  I’ll explain.

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Lady V London dress via Facebook selling community called Horne’s Curvaceous Hunnies

In April I discovered selling communities on Facebook and these have really been a bit of a downfall as I have bought a quite a lot of clothes from several different sites over the past three months.  What is really good about them (and also really bad for my willpower) is that it’s mostly people selling lovely dresses in plus sizes.  There is such temptation!   I have also continued to buy clothes from charity shops as I do enjoy the thrill of the chase.

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Dress from Evans via a Facebook page called Plus Size Night Market

 

The problem is that probably half of the things I’ve bought from the selling communities don’t fit, or don’t suit me.  And as they are usually a bit more expensive than buying from charity shops (where at least I can try on the clothes).  This has meant that I now find myself with a number of dresses which I can’t wear.  So I’m now trying to sell some of these on but not having too much success.

Yours dress
“Tess dress” from Yours via Betty Pamper’s Instagram selling page

I have also decided to sell or give away many of the clothes that I don’t feel comfortable wearing, but have kept because I like the idea of them or that they were expensive.  There is one dress in particular that I wore to a really, really horrible meeting, and then later on, on the same day, I got stuck in a lift in it.  It brings me no pleasure to look at or wear the dress despite the fact it’s really lovely.  So that’s on my for sale list now with a sense of relief. It’s unnerving how much an inanimate object can project so many bad feelings.

Tu dress
Dress from Tu via aforementioned selling page.  I altered this a lot to get it to fit, but I think it was worth it as it’s such a fabulous pattern. 

So, yes I am still wearing my wardrobe, but it is a wardrobe supplemented by clothes from charity shops and selling communities.  Maybe I should have just said I wouldn’t buy any clothes full stop this year.

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Another dress from Tu – I love this and have worn it to work a number of times.  Best of all it has pockets.

I’ll do a rundown of all the amazing things I’ve got from charity shops in another post and also update on how I’m getting on wearing my unworn and unloved clothes – a sneak peek below of something I bought last year and didn’t wear. I have now worn this gorgeous dress several times already this year.

Joe Browns dress
Joe Browns dress via Depop last year – worn today for an outing to an exhibition of pottery art.

Day 101/366: the first one hundred days

I thought I would look back on the first one hundred days of Wearing My Wardrobe in 2016. Outfit pictures are from Instagram over the past month or so.

  • I have NOT bought any new clothes so far in 2016.  I would class this as a major achievement for me as I never thought I would make it this far.

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  • I have not bought new clothes despite having been to Preston, Manchester and London for work.  Usually I would have made time to check out the shops, but this year I haven’t done this.  It make the visits less eagerly anticipated though which is a bit of a shame.

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  • I have also not bought anything on the internet despite having had a pretty stressful year so far. Internet shopping has been a real bad habit for me in the past during times of stress so I’m pretty pleased about this. Unsubscribing from all the clothing companies’ emails and their feeds on Instagram and Facebook has been a huge help
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I found this AXParis Curve dress in a charity shop in Penrith.  I think it’s the best thing I’ve bought this year, I really like it.
  • I’ve not bought any new boots or shoes.  This wasn’t an aim for the year, but I’m happy with what I’ve got, and not shopping for clothes means that I haven’t been exposed to new  shoes either.

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  • I have not gone overdrawn yet this year because I’ve spent too much money on clothes which was happening with more regularity over the past couple of years

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  • I’ve not worn the same outfit twice (except for scruffy clothes for working at the allotment or housecleaning, but they don’t count!)

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  • I have been motivated to sell clothes on Ebay and have so far sold 24 items of clothing and some unused perfumes.
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This skirt is an ancient Monsoon sale purchase. Having to find new outfits in one’s wardrobe really makes you look through everything you own quite carefully and there are some real gems in mine.
  • I have found out that I don’t actually like some of my clothes very much and these have either been Ebayed, given to friends or donated to charity shops.  It seems that being critical of one’s wardrobe is actually quite cathartic

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  • I have altered quite a lot of my clothes to make them fit better
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I altered this skirt to make it more of a wiggle style (altered on right), I think it looks significantly better now!
  • I have discovered the joy of hunting for interesting clothes and jewellery in charity shops and have started doing a bit of charity shop tourism when I visit other towns.  The thrill of charity shops is that you never know what you’ll find and there’s something new every week.  I have to admit that I may have to stop visiting the shops quite so often as I almost always come away with something to wear.
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I absolutely LOVE this jumper – it’s by Oasis and I would never normally even bother looking in Oasis as the clothes are usually small, but it caught my eye in a charity shop and I think it looks great!
  • I’m looking forward to going through all my summer clothes and wearing my favourites (and also passing on those that I’m not so keen on)

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  • I really don’t like the KonMari method (sorry Cassie and Leah!!)

 

Day 99/366: feeling low

I’m putting on weight.  For all the body/fat acceptance work that I have done with myself, I still feel awful and ashamed about it.  I have been on a particular medication for two years and I was taken off it at the end of February, and I think this is what is causing the weight increase, as I lost weight (unexpectedly and without trying) when I started taking it, going from a solid size 20 to a 16/18.

Add to this nearly losing our dog Marley to an attack of ideopathic vestibulitis two weeks ago, grief from losing Bella and extreme work stress,  I feel terrible both mentally and physically.  Marley still isn’t quite well although he is a lot better and back on his feet.  As he’s so old, I worried that we are keeping him alive for our sake rather than his (although he is so much better now and is definitely still interested in life).  It’s a really hard call, but he didn’t tell us that he was ready to go even when at his sickest two weeks ago, unlike Bella did two months ago.

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Poor sick Marley

The question is, why is my sense of self worth so tied up with my weight?  I do wonder if the huge amount of stress and grief I’m going through at the moment is actually making my emotional reaction to my (so far very small) weight gain worse.  I have observed in the past that when I’m feeling low my attitude to my body is far more negative.  It’s that classic “I feel fat” feeling which really should be more accurately interpreted as “I’m stressed/scared/tired/anxious/upset”.

The problem with documenting my outfits on social media is that I can see the difference between me this year and me early last year.  I wore the dress in the picture below on Tuesday to a meeting and I spent the day feeling incredibly self-conscious about myself.  When I wore the same dress this time last year, I felt wonderful.  Looking at the two images, there are differences, but they are very subtle, so why do I feel them so acutely? Why do I feel ashamed of how I look on the left, but happy and confident on the right?

Kerry who blogs at Ruby Thunder blog (http://www.rubythunder.com/) posted a video on Facebook earlier today.  Its called Embrace and is a trailer for a documentary by Taryn Brumfitt of the Body Image Movement (http://bodyimagemovement.com).  I sat and watched it and cried my eyes out as it pinpoints the fact that most women feel awful about themselves and how they look and that it’s such a complete waste of energy and emotion.

The part that set me off was when the majority of women that Taryn interviewed in the street and asked to describe how they feel about themselves said negative things about themselves.  There were at least five women who called themselves disgusting.  No one should feel that their body or appearance disgusting, but we are living in a society that encourages people to pick on their flaws rather than celebrate the diversity of human appearance.

This is such a sad state of affairs for us, so much negative energy spent telling ourselves that we don’t meet arbitrary societal standards rather than putting that energy into making life better for ourselves and others, or having more fun, or volunteering or baking or doing art or making music.  We spend too much time staring in the mirror pinching our flesh and criticising the vessel that carries us around; feeling inadequate, or thinking that people are staring at us and criticising us for our appearance.

And yet, I know that I don’t go around looking at people in the streets or at meetings or in the pub and thinking critical things about their appearance.  I’m more likely to be concerned about what they do, how they act and how they treat people. So why do I think that other people are looking at me critically.

I seriously need to get myself out of this negative self talk as my work life is unlikely to get better or less stressful over the next two years and my appearance has nothing to do with how I cope with what’s going on. I have had a period of four or five years where I have felt significantly better about myself, partly down to reading wonderful fat acceptance blogs and actually meeting some of these amazing, positive women who have created this social movement for self-acceptance.  I feel like I need to go back to the beginning and start again.

 

Day 80/366: Plus 40 Fabulous – what am I most proud of?

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Thanks to Cathy for this month’s theme: what are you most proud of?

Most people probably won’t know that I’m actually Dr Kate.  My proudest achievement is that I carried out five years of research during my 20s and early 30s and was awarded a PhD in Landscape Ecology in 2002.

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Great robes, absolutely terrible outfit underneath!!

One of my (many) reasons for doing the PhD was to prove to myself (and others) that fat women aren’t stupid and lazy, a message that I had received all of my life.  I knew I wasn’t stupid and lazy, but I wanted to demonstrate to the world that I was more than how I looked and that judging people by appearance is generally a ridiculous thing to do.

I always loved studying geography.  It was my favourite subject at school and I went off to university in 1990 and did a physical geography degree.  I loved my time at university, but I was having too much fun to really put the time in to studying, and I scraped by with a 2:1.  I wanted to go on and do more, but it wasn’t to be; so between 1994 and 1996 I worked and spent some time volunteering for a conservation charity to enhance my skills.

In August 1996 I was offered a funded PhD jointly between Liverpool University and Chester College (now Chester University).  The funding was provided to study in the semi-desert Almeria Province in southern Spain looking at the landscapes of badlands and their vegetation.  I was to be provided with remotely sensed data of the area by the Natural Environment Research Council who had undertaken flights over the site in early 1996.

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Remotely sensed data of one of my field sites overlaid on a digital elevation model.  Looks similar to Google Earth, but I had to process all the data myself, it took MONTHS

Within a week of moving to Chester, I found myself in a small field study centre called Urra in the middle of nowhere in the wilds of southern Spain at a conference!  It was all very, very intimidating, all these academics, mostly middle aged white men and there I was a small, chubby 24 year old daring to think I could join their ranks.

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Urra Field Study Centre, SE Spain

I spent five field seasons out at Urra where I “ground truthed” the remotely sensed data that had not yet turned up.  This meant that I went out to the sites I was studying and recorded plant and soil data in 5m square quadrats.  What I was aiming to do with this information was to use it to help train the software I was using to recognise different plant communities by analysing the data.

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Perched like a gnome on top of a badland
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Looking hot in my fieldwork gear and essential hat

I spent a lot of time standing in terraced fields counting plants!  I didn’t mind though as the scenery was absolutely mind-blowingly incredible.  The rock and soil of the area is so easily washed away by torrential rain that that huge gulleys form in the sides of the hills, and sometimes enormous pipes form under the soil where material has been washed away under the surface.  It was an utterly fascinating landscape to study in.

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Huge gulleys cut through what used to be agricultural terraces, where most of the soil has been washed away
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Typical badland formations looking north to the Sierra de los Filabres in the background

The first year went well, I gathered my field data, I analysed soil in the lab and I learnt to use a Unix computer (scary).  However, the promised data didn’t arrive.  It also didn’t arrive in 1998 by which time I was running into my third year and my funding was about to end.  I was seriously depressed by this and decided that as the promised data was now two and a half years late, I would never finish my PhD, so I decided to look for a job.

I applied for and got a job.  Of course life being what it is, in-between being offered the job and starting it, the data arrived in Feb 1999.  My PhD supervisor, a very kind and supportive man called Alex suggested that I at least write up what I had already done to get an MPhil degree so that I and the university got some benefit from the work carried out.  I decided to take six months off the PhD to concentrate on my new job, and then go back to writing up.  But meanwhile, I managed to get hold of the remote sensing software for my home computer and I started to analyse the data and tie it in with my fieldwork.

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Classification of the remotely sensed vegetation data. Class 1 is bare soil, class 6 is dense vegetation

The results were so interesting that I really wanted to research it properly which is how I ended up both working full time and finishing off my research and writing up my PhD.  I had so much support from Alex, I couldn’t have done it without him.

2000 – 2002 was possibly the most stressful period in my entire life as during the two years it took me to finish the work on my PhD and write it up we also bought a house, got married and I was severely bullied by my manager.  So all in all I am most proud of having had the fortitude and resilience to work through this absolutely fraught period of time and come out of it with my sanity (mostly) intact.

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Obligatory wedding photo.

One highlight in this rather terrible period was our honeymoon which was a trip to SE Spain to help me finish off my fieldwork.  We got the ferry  from Plymouth to Santander in northern Spain and then drove our Ford Ka down through central Spain to Almeria.  We had a wonderful time even if we did spend one week of the three out in the terraces counting plants (well I did this and Dave went to sleep in the sunshine!)

I graduated in November 2002 in Chester Cathedral.  There were buglers and a choir and it was an amazing experience which I will never forget.

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The completed thesis; I still can’t believe I wrote 100,000 words about something!

And whilst a thorough knowledge of the vegetation and geomorphology of a small part of SE Spain doesn’t actually sound particularly useful for someone who lives in the Lake District, I am able to apply an awful lot of what I learnt about how landscapes function and change to my job now.  I’m so lucky to work doing something I’m interested in which is intellectually stimulating and related to my thesis.

Check out the other lovely bloggers writing about what makes them proud🙂

Cathy: http://www.southernyacht.blogspot.co.uk/
Christy: http://www.sprintingwithscissors.blogspot.co.uk/
Daisy: http://daisysays.co.uk
Kate: https://wearingmywardrobein2016.wordpress.com
Kath: https://fatheffalump.wordpress.com
Leah: http://www.justmeleah.co.uk
Lee: http://www.pinkybellesshed.co.uk/
Lisa: http://www.kitandkoboodle75.blogspot.co.uk/
Mookie: http://www.mookieslife.com/
Nikki :http://www.nattynikki.com/
Perelandra: http://www.pamperandcurves.com/
Sarah: http://www.plussizeproud.co.uk
Steph: http://www.misskittenheel.com

Vicky: http://therandomnessoftwee.blogspot.co.uk
Yvonne: http://woosangwashere.blogspot.com

PS The Abstract for my thesis is copied below in case anyone is interested….

ABSTRACT

The Sorbas basin lies within the Betic Cordillera of south-east Spain. It is a recently uplifted sedimentary basin with readjustment of drainage systems still occurring, and hence intense erosion is found in places. This erosion, coupled with a semi-arid climate and a history of human impact has lead to a variably patchy vegetation cover throughout the catchment. This thesis examines controls on vegetation cover patchiness in a pair of adjacent catchments using a landscape ecology approach. These catchments display contrasting patterns of landcover and represent two stages in an erosion-stabilisation cycle driven by base level change on the Rio Aguas into which they both drain.

Cover and species type data were collected in the field along with soil samples. The vegetation analysis programs DECORANA and TWINSPAN were used to explore the cover and species data collected in the field. Results of the analyses were correlated with environmental variables to identify controls on distribution. Airborne Thematic Mapper (ATM) data were acquired from a NERC ARSF flight in 1996 along with aerial photographs of the study area. The ATM data were used to produce a clustered landcover image based upon the clustering of an NDVI image followed by interpretation of the six end groups using the cover data collected in the field. The aerial photography was used to produce a digital elevation model, and from this the environmental variables aspect, slope gradient and wetness were derived. The digital elevation model was also used in conjunction with the aerial photographs to produce an orthorectified image of the study area.

Geology was found to be the most significant control on cover type distribution, closely followed by geomorphology and soil chemistry. Species type distribution is also strongly controlled by geology with geomorphological history being almost as significant, and soil chemistry controlling the distribution at a fine scale. Slope gradient and aspect were not particularly associated with either cover or species distribution. The clustered landcover image, in which the six classes of cover ranged from very sparse to very densely vegetated, was analysed in conjunction with aspect, slope gradient and wetness to identify which of variable had the closest relationship with cover distribution. It was found that aspect had greatest association with cover, and wetness the least. However, all three show a statistically significantly relationship to cover class. The clustered landcover image was then used in conjunction with FRAGSTATS, a landscape metrics program, and a class buffering technique was used in order to quantify the landcover patterns in the two catchments. The quantification of pattern enabled an assessment of the relative controls of each of the environmental variables on the cover pattern in both catchments. Geology was found to be the most important control on the cover distribution, with geomorphological history and aspect important at a finer scale. Slope gradient, wetness and soil chemistry were not found to be very significant controlling factors.


 

 

 

Day 74/366: charity shopping is fun

So, my resolution not to buy clothes this year was not buying clothes anywhere apart from in charity shops. This means I have now become an avid charity shopper, popping into the shops in Kendal most weeks and whenever I visit a different town, I look out for the charity shops. This website http://www.charityretail.org.uk/find-a-charity-shop/ is a wonderful tool for finding charity shops and I discovered three new ones in Penrith that I hadn’t come across before as they are in a back street.

These are two of my first three buys this year a Laura Ashley shrug and a purple sweater from M+S.  The third is a 100% cashmere jumper which is not at all smart but very warm so is great for slobbing out at home.  All of these three came from the Salvation Army shop in Kendal.

 Kendal has an Oxfam, British Heart Foundation, Scope, Salvation Army, Barnardos, a tiny Age Concern, RSPCA shop and a tiny Age Concern.  I have had the most success in Oxfam, Scope and Salvation Army and have yet to ever buy clothing in Barnardos as the choice there is truly awful (although they do have a good range of books and DVDs).

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Per Una brown cord coat

This coat is fab. It’s a little small for me, but as I’m wanting to wear it in the spring, I won’t necessarily need to do it up and it fits well everywhere else.  I altered the button position and also took the top button off and sewed up the button hole as it just wouldn’t fit across my bust. Also took up the sleeves, but I have to do this on every single coat I ever buy.

So far, Penrith has afforded the most spoils at the lowest prices, the charity shops in Kendal do seem to be more expensive – they are happy to charge £10 for a dress which I do think is a bit over the top to be honest.  I went to a number of charity shops in Islington when I was in London a couple of weeks ago and was horrified at the prices, and even more horrified that the largest item of clothing was a size 16 (and that there was only one of them).  Obviously charity shopping is not for the poor or fat in the capital.

Some of my Penrith charity shop finds

 

I paid too much for these too dresses (£10  for the Monsoon dress and £8 for the Tu dress), although I do like them both

This cardigan isn’t necessarily my style, but it’s lambswool and has the most amazing decorative cuffs!

One of the things I have made sure I do is actually wear the clothes I purchase from the charity shops as I have in the past been known to buy items and then not wear them, so I have really been trying hard to get them all worn.

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Brand New AXParis Curve dress – I love this the most of everything I’ve bought so far

One of the things I love the most about charity shop shopping is the thrill of the chase, will I find something amazing that someone else has discarded that I can take and make my own, and love and give a new lease of life to.  I really have had some successes this year, and I’m hugely enjoying the challenge as it’s making shopping exciting for me, and it also means that I’m not buying new, I’m helping to reuse clothes that are still very wearable, and that I’m donating to charity at the same time.  There is nothing not to like about this!

So my top tips for charity shopping are:

  • Try on things that aren’t in your size.  My finds above include a size 14 dress and a size 20 dress, both of which fit really well
  • Look for good quality fabrics – I’ve had real luck finding woolly jumpers and cardigans.  I rarely buy acrylic/polyester jumpers though unless they look brand new as they are generally bobbly
  • Be prepared to take things up or take them in.  I will need to take in the Monsoon dress as it’s a bit too big on me, but should be able to do this with no problem
  • There are almost always fantastic coats available
  • Dresses are hit and miss, you really have to look carefully to find anything nice and often there isn’t anything appealing
  • Go into your local charity shops every week or so as new things come in all the time
  • I’ve had no luck finding shoes, but I do hear of people who have scored pretty much brand new pairs for not much money
  • Take stuff to donate to charity shops if you’re not wearing it

 

 

Day 65/366: wardrobe (3) weekly

Have had rather a lot going on recently what with a snotty cold, an excruciatingly bad back and the arrival of a new doggy (see first pic!) which has mean that I’ve been feeling (and looking) terrible and really haven’t felt like taking pictures as much as usual.  However, I have still been attempting to remix my wardrobe and so far, have succeeded in wearing something different every day.

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So, be prepared for an image heavy post – have added details of clothes in each photo

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Primark swing dress 2014
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Monsoon skirt 2011, M+S top via Salvation Army charity shop this year
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Per Una cord coat via Oxfam, January
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Nomads Clothing pinafore 2014
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George skirt probably 2007, Clockhouse jumper 2014
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Monsoon dress 2014, White Stuff cardie 2014
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Monsoon dress 2011 or 2012
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George denim skirt 2009-ish Fat Face top 2013
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Peacocks dress 2013, George cardie 2012
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Wrap London skirt 2010, Laura Ashley zip top 2014
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White Stuff cardie 2015, George dress via Mind charity shop this year
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Dorothy Perkins top via Ebay, Fat Face skirt probably 2009
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Pink Clove dress 2013, Beth Ditto for Evans cardie 2009.  This was worn for a birthday party and is totally one of my most favourite outfits ever!
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George denim skirt (again), wool M+S jumper via charity shop 2015
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Dorothy Perkins swing top/dress. This doesn’t fit well so will be going to the charity shop I think

Day 61/366: Help!

61 days since I bought any new clothes and I’m feeling the strain. I really, really want to go out on a spree and try on loads of dresses especially as the Spring collections are coming into the shops. Simply Be keep sending me 25% off tokens and it’s so hard to just stick these in the bin.

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I’m  on my way to London for a meeting today and a training course tomorrow and normally I would use this as an opportunity to go and have a browse in shops that I can’t usually access out in the wilds of the North West. But instead I’m  going to have to ignore the temptation of the shops.

It doesn’t help that I’m feeling quite low about myself and also suffering from a bad back and nerve pain in my legs, so I feel like I need a treat to make me feel better.

HELP! Would appreciate some suggestions about how to deal with this state of mind!

Day 50/366: what makes me feel amazing, happy and excited?

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This month’s Plus 40 Fabulous theme is what really makes us excited, happy and feel amazing. For me, there is one thing that makes me feel this way more than anything which is wild swimming.  For me, this means swimming outdoors in a completely informal setting with no lifeguards and if possible no crowds of people.

I have always been a complete water baby, I can’t remember not being able to swim and I have never felt uncomfortable in the water.  As a child, family holidays generally involved staying with my grandparents who lived near the Kent coast where we would go for proper windbreak-sandcastle-icecream-picnic lunch-shrimping days out at Sandwich Bay or Dymchurch or Westgate.  As a teen we moved to my grandparents’ village and we sometimes used to swim after school or at weekends at Deal or Walmer.

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I would also take every opportunity I could to swim in rivers, swimming pools and the sea.  Wherever we went I would want to find somewhere to swim and often goaded friends into swimming in possibly slightly unsuitable places. I swam through Durdle Door on the Dorset coast aged 14 a truly amazing experience.

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Swimming in Coniston with Marley and Bella

I was lucky enough to go to a school that had an outdoor 25m pool, and this would open in the summer term. One summer term I had a timetable on a Wednesday where I would swim during PE in the morning, swim at lunchtime, swim in Wednesday afternoon games lesson and then after school.  I was obviously slightly obsessed, but I felt that the pool was the only place that I could feel comfortable in my body.  Bizarrely considering how much body shame I lived with as a teenager I never felt ashamed of my body in a swimming costume, probably because swimming was the one exercise I did well and I felt totally at home in the water.

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I wore a bikini and no-one died

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One of my most amazing swimming memories as a teen is a holiday to the Greek island of Paxos.  The family hired a small boat and we went over to a tiny island to the south called Anti Paxos.  Here we found the most beautiful cove of tiny white pebbles and water so clear that you could hardly see it.  There were fish to look at, and caves to explore.  I wanted to stay there forever and I cried when I left.  I have never been back, but it’s still stuck in my memory thirty years later.

As a student at Lancaster, I was able to visit the Lake District and I was lucky enough to have some amazing swims here in the early 90s.  In 1995 I moved to the central Lakes.  1995 was possibly the best summer since 1976.  From May until September it was hot and sunny, and I was living right on the shores of Windermere.  Sometimes I swam two or three times a day and me and a group of friends explored the gills, tarns and lakes  finding some amazing places.  One weekend we camped in Langstrath and walked and swam up the river all the way to Angle Tarn which we then swam across.  It was incredible.  I also have some wonderful memories of skinny dipping with friends after a couple of beers on a moonlit night in August (warning, this is not sensible!!).

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Swimming in Wastwater, England’s deepest lake

I was lucky that Dave is also a keen swimmer. We have had so many swimming adventures in our 19 years together, and the past few years we have spent holidays exploring the amazing rivers, lakes and coasts of France and Spain as well as impromptu after work swims in our favourite local lakes, Rydal and Coniston.

The advent of waterproof cameras has meant that we have been able to document our swimming adventures, and the publication of three books; Wild Swim, Wild Swim Coast and Wild Swim France has fed our desire to discover amazing new swimming holes.  What was most gratifying is that we had already swum in many of the places  in the books.

We are also lucky enough to have a camper van and this has given us the freedom to tour around the UK and France finding amazing places to stop and swim.  In France, campervans are allowed to park up overnight, and this has meant that we’ve just turned up at places and had the most fantastic swims in the middle of nowhere at sunset or have got up for a sunrise swim.

When I am swimming outdoors in a beautiful lake or river, with eagles or red kites or alpine swifts flying overhead (yes, this has happened on a number of occasions in France) I forget about myself as someone that doesn’t quite fit in, I forget about physical discomfort of medical conditions or the mental pain of depression and anxiety and I actually feel like I belong in the world.  Sometimes it’s almost a meditation or possibly it’s sort of unmindful, without effort mindfulness.  I am allowing myself to just be, to savour the sensations of water and air and sunshine.  The silence of a lake or the rushing water of a river.  There is just something about being in or near water which makes me whole, it reincorporates me and I feel wonderful.

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Other times, it’s like the most fun thing in the whole world.  Dave and I find rocks to jump and dive from, we wear goggles so we can look at the fish, we dive down, do handstands, chase each other or find a rapid and ride it down the river time after time.  It just makes me feel so HAPPY, a childlike uncomplicated delight in just physically being in the water.  Yes we act like children, and no we don’t care.  This is why there are so many photos of me in rivers and lakes grinning from ear to ear like some sort of lunatic.  It’s because  I’m besotted by the water.

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Swimming in the sea in Britanny
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Les Cascades de Sautadet
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Swimming under Pont d’Arc on the Ardeche
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Waterfall swimming in the Lake District
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Gorge d’Herault
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Sillyness in the Chassezac

 

Don’t forget to check out the other fabulous ladies also taking part

Cathy: http://www.southernyacht.blogspot.co.uk/
Christy: http://www.sprintingwithscissors.blogspot.co.uk/
Daisy: http://daisysays.co.uk
Kate: https://wearingmywardrobein2016.wordpress.com
Kath: https://fatheffalump.wordpress.com
Kellie: http://www.bigfashionista.co.uk/
Leah: http://www.justmeleah.co.uk
Lee: http://www.pinkybellesshed.co.uk/
Lisa: http://www.kitandkoboodle75.blogspot.co.uk/
Mookie: http://www.mookieslife.com/
Nikki :http://www.nattynikki.com/
Perelandra: http://www.pamperandcurves.com/
Sarah: http://www.plussizeproud.co.uk
Steph: http://www.misskittenheel.com
Vicky: http://www.therandomnessoftwee.blogspot.co.uk
Yvonne: http://woosangwashere.blogspot.com