Policemen, Paramedics, A&E staff and Pub Landlords will all testify to the strange effect that a full moon has on people’s behaviour. ‘Course, there’s no scientific evidence for this, but, people do demonstrate unusual and/or bizarre behaviour when it’s a full moon. That’s what I think anyway (As a lad I worked in a casualty department for three years) (Whilst I may have grown up a bit during these three years by the way, I did develop a view that if you had a good idea to do something, you’d best get on with it before something disastrous happens to you and the moment passes – this didn’t acrually prevent many such moments passing by the way…) (Full moons were often much busier nights than the other times and people often had more interesting accidents)
The moon was full (ish) for me and Dawn’s bivi on a certain Northumbrian beach where camping is strictly prohibited (so, we didn’t camp, we just had a long nap under one of Dawn’s many shelters.)
It was the weekend of the North-East Skinny Dip at Druridge Bay on Sunday morning, bright and sharp. But we put up our shelter in a brief rain shower on Friday afternoon – the idea being to have a relaxed time (this is a very good place for relaxed times), and, maybe a dip in the briny by way of emergency climatisation.
The climatisation part didn’t work too well, the weather being breezy and chilly till Saturday afternoon and the sea being in a bad mood with strong, confused currents and some big and scary waves. We tried, nevertheless and, ultimately repaired to Druridge Bay on Saturday afternoon to put up a tent and have a test-dip. This went better than the other place, the sea feeling warmer and friendlier but still with some beefy waves.
At dip time, Brian appeared from his mountain-top fortress in the sky, together with about 600 other people, several looking cold and nervous and several others just looking cold. It was the middle of the night, aka 06:30 in the morning and the sea was a long way out. A long way to run. More evidence of the lunar effect on unlikely and slightly silly behaviour in the huming bean.
Had it not been a full(ish) moon and/or not in a really good cause (proceeds to MIND), or had it not all been quite good, if chilly, fun on the several previous occasions when we’ve attended this event (it’s annual, around the time of the equinox) – I might have stayed cosy in my steaming stink-pit, dreaming of another tussle with Kylie’s awkward bra strap whilst listening to “I should be so lucky” whilst LTD twitched and gruffed a doggy-dream in his doggy bed…
It was, in fact, perishing cold. But, there was no surprise here, we knew that before we began. It’s the North Sea. It’s late September. It’s the autumn equinox. Nenthead had had a frost and I was using my toastie winter sleeping bag and my Not A Onesie and long socks….
We just joined in – after a long wait whilst people gathered and waited for the dawn, people suddenly became naked and there was a brief count-down before a wave of flesh dashed across the wide beach to meet powerful watery waves coming in the opposite direction. There were crashes and splashes and screams and many sharp intakes of breath and some naughty words. Some people’s dips were short whilst others managed a good half an hour or so. I have no idea how they do this. I can manage abot ten minutes at the most, although I have a tactic of going in, coming out again, then going back in. The second time is a lot less uncomfortable. Afterwards, there is a really good feeling - bit of a “high”, in fact, and it lasts for quite a while.
There are some people there who keep their clothes on. These consist mainly of the Coastguard, a coterie of press photographers, some dog-walkers (not sure what they make of this) and a few people forming a small audience and some supporters and others who just don’t want to take their kit off (cos it’s not compulsory)
Afterward the dip, we had bacon and hot tea followed by a second breakfast at Cresswell, just a bit down the coast, and a longish stroll up Druridge Bay, amongst the dog walkers and kite-flyers and joggers. One lady was in the sea having a swim. Brave soul. Only one, though….
I also collected quite a bit of sea-coal which is, basically, just lying about in bands (?seams) on the beach. I can confirm that this stuff burns really well, if a bit quickly. There’s less actual sand than on previous years. It seems to have been stripped off by storms, leaving areas of sandstone slabs and some tree-stumps, which I assume to be specially ancient.
If a thought should ever enjoy the merest suggestion or hint of flashing briefly through your mind what a brill idea it would be to gather on a North-Sea beach at dawn at the atumn equinox, take off all your clothes on command and then run shivering and screaming into some very very cold and salty water which has waves and power which might easily carry you off towards Fife (see a previous blog post) – or, even Denmark, for that matter and you immediately reject the idea because you’re a bit overweight or too skinny, or too short, or hairy, or not hairy, or bits of you are missing or scarred due to having a life, or your idea is that you’re far too shy, or your Mum won’t like it, or anything else that might prevent you actually doing it – then reject all this, get organised and go and do it. It doesn’t last long – only a few minutes for the unclimatised, but it might, just might, change your life for the better. Temporary euphoria is also available due to the release of endorphins, apparently.
I hope there’s repeat next autumn. If there is, and I survive the intervening 12 months, I will be there. Depends of the phase of the moon, obviously…
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