It’s been a very long time since I’ve been as excited about something as much as I was this morning.
You know, that feeling you used to have as a kid, when you knew you were going on an adventure, maybe something you’d never done before, and something you knew you were going to love? I was so excited.
Up in inverness for the first Saturday in ages, if arranged to meet up with my friend and ex colleague Pennie. We were going to maybe go swimming in a loch, maybe a cycle, or a dog walk… or maybe even kayaking. And of course we’d catch up and have a lovely chat too.
It came to the day and once Pennie had checked the weather we decided it was a great day for kayaking, and maybe even a swim too. Pennie lives at one of the ends of Loch Ness, with an amazing view down it. I’ve been to her house before and I was in awe then, and I was again today. What a view!
I drove up her drive, and I almost cried with excitement and emotion, but managed to calm it a bit.
I’m just so happy right now, having had some time out, spent time with good people who I care about and people I know care about me. It really has been a special time for me. Everything feels like it’s all finally falling into place after far too long. It’s great!
Anyway, excited like a 10 year old who had been let out to play, Pennie explained what we’d be doing and I was well up for it. I met her new puppies, two young but very well behaved labradors – Eddie and Charlie. They’re very cute and lovely.
The kayaks were a short walk away down a small hill, on the waters edge, and I should stay in the kayak, and should stay dry, so I went down in my trainers, shorts and vest; with some spare clothes in a bag.
We got the kayaks ready and before I knew it I had my life jacket on, and Pennie was pushing me in the kayak into Loch Ness… to find Nessie perhaps? She showed me how to paddle, get going, and stop and turn and what to do if the kayak turned over. I’m a strong swimmer, so I knew I’d be ok.
Probably what I noticed first was how low and close to the water you are. It’s spectacular. And the scenery up and around Loch Ness is properly awesome.
We spent two hours out kayaking on the loch, up to the mouth of the canal/river at Dochgarroch, and back, chatting so comfortably as we went. It was great. I got a little wet, but the day was warm and I dried off in no time.
After that we went back up to Pennie’s house and had a good portion of left over pizza abs olives and some water, before we decided it too nice a day not to have a swim in Loch Ness. I’d bought a wetsuit a few weeks ago and was itching to try it out.
Here’s where we paddled…
For just over 2 hours, or about 8km / 5 miles if my Garmin is correct.
Pennie often swims in Loch Ness and other lochs locally so I thought what better person to show me the ropes on my first open water swim in my new wetsuit. After lunch I changed into my tri suit under my clothes and we took our wetsuits down to the waters edge.
(Note the puppy at the waters edge here, and Pennie out in the loch). 😂
We squeezed into our wetsuits, and I watched as Pennie confidently went into the water, showing me how to get in bum first so you can float out and avoid hitting any of your limbs off the rocks. The waters edge was a bit rocky, and before I knew it I was carefully trying to get into the water.
Just before I got in Pennie reminded me I still had my sunglasses on my head, which I wouldn’t need, so I put them with my stuff and tried to get in.
(Note the puppy – Eddie, again!)
I clambered in to the shallow depths, sort of on my hands and knees until I could position myself to sit on my bum and float out, all of a sudden little Eddie was next to me, getting involved, sniffing me and my face, seeing what I was up to in these 2 inches of water.
I was getting a bit warm in the sun by now, my feet in the cold water though, trying so hard to be careful not to slip and fall, and holding everything in and up, sort of conscious of my gammy leg maybe not playing ball, but it did ok…. then Eddie started LICKING my face….
And all I heard from out in the loch was the lovely Pennie laughing hilariously at what she was witnessing. It was a lovely sound… and I almost wanted to stay where I was, just to keep her laughing (at me!). Ha. It was really funny.
Pennie may have called Eddie off, or Eddie decided to leave me on his own accord, I’m not sure. But whatever happened, I then managed to get into the right position to float backwards into the loch and avoided any bumps too.
(Here’s me very happy after the swim).
We swam for a bit chatting, it was a bit cold to start but I soon warmed up in my wetsuit and with some swimming. Then I braved it a bit and got my mask on and my head in, to do some front crawl.
I was a bit surprised (and a little scared) by the dark peaty water, but Pennie explained it, and I got my big girl pants on and kept swimming (still close to the shore, and close to where the dogs were on the small stony beach).
After about 27 minutes or so, I still felt good, and warm, but I could feel my bare feet getting a little cold, and we were ready to get out. I’d originally thought I might be in for between 20-30 minutes, so this was good timing.
I got out very tentatively with my (cold) bare feet, conscious that they might not work too well, but they were ok. I have some neoprene socks at home which I’ll likely try / use for my next outdoor swim.
So at the ripe old age of nearly 41, I had an excellent treat of two firsts today – my first kayaking adventure and my first open water swim in my new wetsuit! And they were both great!
(Oh and I’m afraid to say I didn’t meet / see Nessie today, maybe next time though.)
I got my trainers on and dried off a bit before walking the short walk back up the hill to Pennie’s house. I had a quick shower and some more chat with Pennie, before I left her in the nice purple poncho / towel I’d bought her as a present when I knew she loved to swim in the loch.
Just after I left, I found a nice little spot to drop one of my little elephants, in memory of my Granny, but also in recognition of Saturday 5th June 2021 – the day I had a great kayaking and swimming adventure on Loch Ness with Pennie (and her cute dogs too).
After an amazing 5 hours with Pennie, I then went back to my friends house that I’m staying at to get ready…
… Before going to another good friends house for a dinner from my childhood / teenage years… macaroni cheese with the family here in inverness who probably saved my life when I was growing up as a teenager. Perhaps that’s over dramatic, but they certainly shaped me into the happy and settled Lorn I am today (along with a few others, who know who they are).
We caught up for a few hours and then I went back to my friends house, for an ice cream and some cuddles with Holly the cat.
And on the drive back, I beamed with joy, and a little emotion, when I saw this little rainbow in front of me. The day couldn’t have been much better, and I look forward to many more in the future.
The little part of the rainbow, south of the A9, seemed so very apt, perhaps the world (and my Granny) just telling me that everything is magical, and will be great in the next few weeks, months and years hopefully. It feels like my time to shine again. As my ex radio colleagues are telling me, Super Lorn is back!
After what felt like a magical day and a good couple of weeks relaxing / taking time out, I feel like I’ve got my spark back and my twinkle in my eyes back too. Looking forward some more magic and fun ahead.