After the joys of Kenton’s visit and filming with the BBC One Show, we were all on a high. And John O’Groats felt like a next-door-neighbour. But we weren’t quite there. Not quite.
We were catching two tides a day. One in the early morning. Resting in the middle. One in the evening. The problem was that we were crossing an enormous bay in between Dublin and Newcastle (in Ireland not England) and it was totally slack, without current. Sean was feeling pretty flu-like and sick. Jellyfish were in their hundreds in the evening. We weren’t sleeping very well. Things weren’t too easy. Why hadn’t Kenton experienced this?! And on top of that, we had to be in Newcastle to do a live broadcast to the BBC One Show. And we were days away. So we made the decision to motor there, just to make sure we didn’t miss it. But that meant we would have to go backwards once it was all over.
Newcastle. Newcastle. Newcastle. Not only did we do an Outside Broadcast with the BBC One Show which went spectacularly. (Conway pulled it out the bag. Even David Walliams said ‘It’s actually quite annoying’ in response to Sean’s challenge). We were also put up in the Slieve Donard Hotel. In the big dog suites. With use of the spa, pool and all. We went out for curries to celebrate and things were looking up again.
It was good we had lots of energy because we then had to attempt the journey backwards to the bay of doom. Jez fought against strong currents to get there but we just didn’t make it so anchored at Kilkeel for the night. On day 47 we finally made it after 5pm. Jez had barely left the captain seat for two days. And the ginger started getting the miles in. Just our luck, gale warnings were issued on the radio. So we had to hide in Kilkeel, attached to the immense fishing boats (I quite fancy the fishermen) (Jez quite fancies the boats).
While we hid from the storms, which didn’t seem to come, I decided to cause some extra drama and dropped our team wallet in the harbour. I was angelically climbing up the ladder to go and buy breakfast and I heard a little splash. No louder than a goldfish. After nearly squashing myself in between the boats and using every contraption around, a very kind man got into full diving gear and went hunting for it. No luck. I was in the bad books. I’ve decided I will be known on this trip for getting sea sick and losing the wallet. Oh dear. On the plus side we were given beautiful fresh fish, which was filleted for us. And our laundry was done. And we were given lifts to the shops. God people are nice.
The next few days were my favourite explorations over this side of the Irish Sea. With the discovery of brown lemonade with Jez in Annalong. I swam with Sean and phosphorescene (terrified) at 2am in the freezing cold. Finally crossed the slack bay. Visited Killough where some kids thought we were pirates. They raised flags to scare us away. And we left at the same time. So they sent letters to their town informing everyone of their triumph. Brilliant. We made friends in Annalong.
On day 53 we saw Scotland. At around the same time, the yacht battery went bust. And then amazing Simon and Simon came to the rescue. The only two people in the water (on SUP and kayak) and the only car on the beach, had a battery, jump leads and all. Legends. The next few days we raced to get to Scotland. We started crossing over to mainland early. With jellyfish stings up Sean’s nose. Cold cold cold water. Porpoises all around us. Strange eddys in the water and random rushes of waves. We made it 12 miles from Scotland. We could practically touch it.
But ten forced rest days arrived. The expedition was meant to be finished by now. So Jez had to go to London to start his new job in the school as the nutty professor. Owain had some days off with his family and then went home to work from there. I had two days off in Cumbria and then back to Glenarm for admin, walks, sleep and food with the ginger.
We are two thirds of the way through Swimming Britain in distance. And time. Bring on Scotland.