In the swim

I do hope you’ll forgive me for writing about rivers twice in two columns. It’s just that when I got back from Wales, turned on a TV for the first time in a fortnight, and saw Griff Rhys Jones voyaging down the Wye and the Severn I found myself instantly transfixed. This is what happens when you’ve been cast out of paradise (aka been on holiday): you want to prolong the experience for as long as possible, even if only by artificial means.

Rivers. If I see one — unless it’s totally crocodile-infested or it’s below zero — I pretty much have to swim in it. My recent-ish conquests include the Nether Rhine (research trip to Arnhem, obviously), the Usk, the Derwent (tombstoning off the bridge by Kirkham Priory), the Wye (Pen-doll Rocks in Builth; The Warren, near Hay) and at the end of August I’ll be swimming as I always do in the Dee, catching a chill and engendering an annoying, low-level, strep-throaty type thing which will make me miserable for several weeks. That’s how much I like river swimming. Even what I said about crocodiles isn’t quite true. I definitely wouldn’t do it in, say, northern Australia where the salties are truly evil. But I’ve done it in the Congo and the Nile (both Blue and White), all in places where I could easily have been crocked, but where I got away with just bilharzia instead.

Why am I telling you this? Because one, maybe two, of you will be nodding your head beneficently and thinking, ‘Hey. He’s just like me!’

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