Well, what a day we had! The sun came out, as it always does for us somehow. And as it did, people gathered on the beach, greeted by the sight of Donna's wonderful made-by-hand bunting, with Alex by her side organising some of the details that go into making this day what it turned out to be - heart-warming and memorable!
And as 12 o'clock struck, more and more people began arriving, until we had about 60 or 70 of us on the beach (I should have counted - but there was definitely 50 in the sea), which made for quite a sight. We put the cake out, made by Gemma who made our very first Selsey Sea Bathing inaugural gathering - it was truly stunning. At this point I also want to thank Natasha again, who came out of nowhere on the Whatsapp group, to offer her creative services free of charge, to create our wonderful new logo, which appeared on the cake and Alex's cupcakes (and our new sew-on badges).
But it didn't end there. Ralph kindly made us another masterpiece of a cake, Melissa made a wonderfully tasty quiche, Alex made cheese straws and some incredible-looking cupcakes with our new logo on and I know Caroline made something, too, and more tasty treats appeared on the table that I've no doubt forgotten to mention. The Prosecco flowed (although amongst 60/70 people, then ok, you only got a small sip!) and all I want to say is, thank you, to all of you who contributed, whether it was with food, bunting, your presence (even braving a hangover to come - you know who you are!!), taking photos, wearing an amazing hat, a smile, helping someone into (or out of) the sea, or anything else I've missed (as there was a lot going on!).
It was also wonderful to have Jenny Landreth come and join us. If you've not read her book, Swell, try and get a copy as it's hugely entertaining as well as being a truly insightful look into the history of women's outdoor swimming and the journey women have taken to get to this point in time where they're able to wear whatever we like (and do whatever they like) when it comes to outdoor swimming. It was a joy to meet her and I hope she'll join us again if she's down our way.
When I gathered some momentum, along with some help from WSCC and Carol Purnell three years ago, I began little community project without knowing what I was doing and how long it would last. All I knew was that I wanted to share my love of the sea with others, help improve people's confidence to get back into the water, and make a few friends along the way. Three years later, some of those people who were there at the very beginning came to celebrate, along with so many others who have joined along the way, to hold hands, share gasps and laughter and joy and togetherness. So many friendships have formed over these 3 years and continue to do so week-by-week. So many stories have been shared, so many cakes and other niceties baked and to celebrate all that is good in the world. At a time when things can look a little bleak out there, there are countless stories like these, shining little beacons of light and offering examples of oneness that keeps our hearts singing and our joy flowing.
One more thing to finish on, is that we have a new little group of more dedicated swimmers (as opposed to dippers/bathers), so if anyone is interested in joining that, you need to be quite confident in swimming up and down somewhere like West Beach (front crawl). Donna is heading that up and posting dips (mostly on West Beach where there are no groynes) and if you get in touch on the main Whatsapp group (or anywhere else) we can give you the link to join that little side group (no doubt that will grow over the summer, too).
With love to you all, here is a little video to showcase our wares from Saturday..