Monday 3 October 2011

Never Say Never Again

A surreal weekend which seemed to last a long time in spite of being good fun - a rare combination. The record-breaking weather inspires a final flurry of summer (summer?) activity. On Saturday I ascend into the foothills of the Black Mountain, that bleak and unnoticed western portion of the Brecon Beacons National Park, to swim in the upper reaches of the Usk - about a mile below the source and 55 miles above its muddy end in Newport.

Thirty years ago I camped illicitly with college friends at this pool and in the morning was confronted by an irate official in a silly uniform reminiscent of the Park Warden whom Yogi Bear routinely outsmarts in Jellystone National Park. But this jobsworth was not outsmarted because he asked who was in charge and an idiot friend gave him my real name (instead of "Ludwig Wittgenstein" as we usually said when cornered by the authorities - I recall on another reprehensible occasion finding it difficult to keep a straight face when asked to spell it by a different kind of uniformed official with notebook in hand - and now you know why I'm against bringing in national identity cards) so I spent a nervous few days awaiting some kind of oppressive contact from the law - none came of course. I think today I would be more resilient and defensive: I'm not sure I could anyway take seriously anybody telling me I couldn't camp out in the wilds (quite the rebel, eh?).

On Sunday I'm swimming again, this time in the sea next to County Hall in Swansea. High tide is at 10.20 am and the water is already comfortably warm. You really have to take every chance you get - we didn't get much luck in August so swimming in October is an unexpected gift. I guess this will be the last opportunity this year but you never know...