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The Yacht Inn Swim is an ever-growing annual sea swim from Newlyn to the Jubilee Pool (next to the Yacht Inn, hence the name). It is traditional for me to talk about doing the swim every year yet never quite manage to train or make it to the start line. But it’s a classic Penzance event even for spectators and a stirring display of (other people’s) human endeavour – Penzancers of all ages can be found crossing the finish line.

I saw these pictures on flickr and loved their black and white realism, so I asked the author, Julian De Courcy, if he’d allow me to post them on pasties & cream. He kindly said yes; if you like what you see, you can view the full 2013 set here.

I enjoyed the unedited expressions on people’s dripping wet faces – smiles, grimaces, relief, exhaustion – and the refreshing lack of Cornish ‘colour’.

“I do approach this type of subject as documentary,” says the photographer, “I love the old photographs of a gone age – with as much reality as photography allows.”

http://juliandecourcy.weebly.com

Click here to see my video of the 2010 swim.

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Well, it might not be lovely in the strictest sense of the word but it’s as lovely as it’s going to get.

I walked past the poster for the annual Yacht Inn Swim this morning and thought I’d post the details. It takes place this evening – if you’re spectating then be sure to get there for the main race at 7.30pm, as the fastest swimmers reach Battery Rocks  in 16 minutes.

If you’re participating, well, what can say? As you become achy of arm and leaden of leg about 100 metres in, take comfort in the fact that ‘wild swimming’ (er, otherwise known as ‘swimming‘) is totally on trend right now.

I took some pics and video last year, click here to take a look.

penzance harbour wall & battery rocksbattery rocks

As a relatively new blogger, and not a political blogger at that, I have been tentative about wading into the shark-infested waters surrounding the proposed redevelopment of Penzance harbour on pasties & cream.

*braces self* As any Penwith resident will know, the so-called Option A, plans to redevelop large parts of the historic harbour wall and build a ferry terminal on Battery Rocks beach, has been the subject of very heated and embittered debate in Penzance over the past two years, creating the mother of all bad vibes.

At one point, shops were displaying their for or against poster in the window and in one drinking establishment, I even heard about an informal ‘don’t mention the harbour’ policy!

As you may have read, last week the Council waved through these controversial plans – despite the fact the only Penzance councillor on the committee voted against, despite the fact that English Heritage have upped the listed status of the harbour wall, despite the fact there are cheaper, less harmful alternatives on the table – and I feel I can contain my thoughts no longer.

In my humble opinion, there seem to be an array of Bloody Good Points to be made against Option A – all of which are expressed eloquently and reasonably on the Friends of Penzance Harbour website. But my instinctive objection is much simpler and less political.

For me, the aesthetic and historical value of Battery Rocks and the old harbour wall is priceless – and once it has disappeared under concrete and a noisy coach park, it will be lost forever.

Thinking about how best to go about this, my thorniest blog post yet, I decided that since so many words have already been written (even the national press and radio have got involved at various points), and since it is an exquisite blue-skied autumn day, I’d take my camera down to the area in question and photograph what is at stake. Here are the results:

battery rocks penzance - 4battery rocks penzance battery rocks penzance battery rocks penzance

I don’t know about you but I find the idea of losing these things really sad. I swim there in summer. I walk there most days. It’s got the best view in town of St Michael’s Mount.

If you also have an opinion about this either way (or even if you’re on the fence – there’s an ‘I don’t know’ option!), please vote in the online poll being run by the Cornishman this week – you don’t need to register and it takes a millisecond to click your vote.

And if you happen to feel the same way as me about it, you can also sign up for the Friends of Penzance Harbour email updates on ways to help – usually in the form of easy-to-send emails.

battery rocks penzancebattery rocks penzance

On Friday, I winched myself out of the house and down to the bench on Wherrytown Beach to spectate at the annual sea swim race from Newlyn to Battery Rocks. The conditions were ideal – one of those calm, blue late summer evenings that make you get all pretentious and emotional about the Cornish light.

Next to me on the bench was a friendly Newlyn octogenarian, who told me about how ‘when he was a lad’ – ie before the advent of ‘health and safety ‘n’ all that’ – the race started with a dive off Newlyn harbour wall. Wetsuit? ‘Naaaw.. wouldn’t have known the meaning of the word’. We are a bit soft these days, aren’t we? Not his 19-year-old granddaughter, though, who last weekend swam from the Brisons (rock a mile off Cape Cornwall, ie in the Atlantic Ocean) to shore. Hard. Core.

As you can see in the vid above (look for the moving dots), the pack spread out quickly, with the top ten looking impressively bullet-like and splash-free. It was an inspiring sight – it even made me harbour some ambitions, possibly fleeting, about entering next year. But the Brisons, never.

sea swim newlyn to battery rocks

Click through for more pics. Read the rest of this entry »

jubilee pool penzance cornwall

The 1930s deco lido in Penzance is a great source of inspiration to local photographers and artists – the cool curves, cubist steps, and triangular shapes pointing out into the sea are a pretty extraordinary sight.

To celebrate my first ever swim in the Jubilee Pool – so overdue, it was getting quite embarrassing – I thought I’d post my humble interpretation of this iconic monument. This was the view from my towel as I lay sunbathing at the weekend (before, that is, I was told to stop photographing the architecture due to ‘child protection’).

I lay there for at least an hour thinking that if I could just absorb enough rays, it would defend me against the famously cold temperature of the water. I noted with some concern that over half the people in the pool had some sort of expensive-looking swimming protection, including swimming caps made of wetsuit material.

But I have to say the water really was lovely – fresh but manageable, and considerably warmer than the sea proper (I know this because I swam off Battery Rocks on Friday evening sans suit and it was… challenging). The feeling of swimming in a pool of that size (100 metres long at its longest point!) was invigorating – and the unconventional triangular shape liberates you from boring old up-and-down lengths, and makes it feel more like a wild swim.

This year is the 75th anniversary of Jubilee Pool, and there are celebratory flags flying (below) and historic Read the rest of this entry »

p&c january header: artist’s studio Newlyn

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