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What do you do when you're at sea?

Updated: May 30, 2019

I started 2019 at sea.

Like many winters I felt disconnected from my choices. I have so many questions about what it means to belong to a place and live through the seasons of life as a creative. A friend reassured me:

you will find your anchor.

The sea is rolling in gently onto rocks and sand. It's an early evening clear sky.
Coppet hall, Pembrokeshire. Photo by Heather Birnie

When I was little, I remember feeling lucky to live somewhere others chose to go on holiday. It may be my first and lasting memory of feeling gratitude. I lived in Marseille, by the sea.

Having grown in a warm place, I wasn’t equipped for the unpredictable nature of the Welsh weather, but I’ve never stopped loving the water and here I fell I love with the wilderness.

This year I started swimming a little bit earlier than previous years.

Last autumn I pushed the season a little later than years before.

One day soon, I’m hoping to make both ends meet.

Being in the water through the seasons is a chance for me to belong to this amazing landscape that is my home now. It gives me the opportunity to feel the minute changes the rolling time brings and appreciate them.

When I make clothes, I experience a similar feeling of connection. I am engaged throughout the whole process as I make decision about how it will look, how it will feel and what kind of impact it will have on the environment. It forces an intimate relation and understanding of how my body changes, grow, shrinks or fold and it give me power over the changes.

As I bobbed in the winter sea for the first time in March with the excellent companionship of Ceridigion blue-tits I was once again struck with appreciation for the self-employed creative life I am able to have in Wales.

So I embarked on a little project with my dear friend and talented photographer Heather Birnie to challenge ourselves to swim all year round and use our weekly meet up as respective creative prompt.

The idea:

we would meet once a week to photograph the handmade wardrobe I'm sewing through the seasons followed by a swim.

We started in April 2019 and will aim to swim all the way through to April 2020, as long as we can in swimsuit.

Our backdrop would be the incredibly diverse landscape you can swim in wales from rivers to sea.

Eager to start we packed an underwater film camera for the sea and Heather's main digital one for the shore.

Other accessories may include hot water bottle, coffee flask, swim boots and gloves.

Photography felt like a natural choice to document the repetitive act of running into water to capture the subtle changes in the season and the two goofs of protagonists we are. Beyond that I knew Heather’s force of character and talent made her the perfect companion.

(I won’t expand on her heated van that pours coffee at the end of each swim… )

The promise of a swims has been the perfect prompt to finish some clothes (start on some much-needed swimwear) and continue to sew myself a wardrobe that will equip me for all the seasons.

Now I’m at sea but swimming.

Hop over to swim#1 to continue reading.

If you want to join us for a swim we would love to share a dip with you.

Contact me at

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