Today is World Ocean Day. Those of you that have the dubious pleasure of working with me will know I love to mark a specific day – my fave still being International Women’s Day. But I’m quite happy to celebrate Pie Day, St David’s Day and Yorkshire Day – I’d merrily celebrate Martini Day but it doesn’t exist…yet.
My family have all been drawn to the coast in various parts of the world so I guess it must’ve been in our blood somewhere along the line.
Over the years I’ve had various tangles with the sea, probably the most notable was the incident I alluded to previously when on holiday in Portugal.
It was my first foreign holiday with OH back in 1998. We already lived together so it wasn’t as if he didn’t know I was a bit of a wuss when it came to outdoor activities, but he was Mr Super Fit so I may have exaggerated my swimming skills to make it look like I at least did some form of exercise.
We stayed in Montechoro which was a pretty new resort at the time, just down the coast from Alvor and Albufeira. It was late September so the weather was perfect for my pale skin but also meant the sea could be quite rough.
I had swum in the sea most days so my confidence was high. The tide was erratic and often a big wave would hit the beach unexpectedly, sending sun worshipers scurrying for all their belongings before they got swept away.
This particular day we were both in the sea but OH was actually further in than me. We were jumping the waves as they came in. Suddenly a huge wave came out of nowhere and over OH’s head. He is 6ft. I remember him turning towards me and in that split second I decided, stupidly, that I would try to leap the wave!!
Of course, that meant my feet were no longer on the ground and I was part of the wave. I would love to tell you I looked like I was surfing the wave. Actually the wave picked me up, smashed me onto the sea bed, picked me back up and deposited me back on the beach.
It was over in seconds. OH ran out of the sea to find me sitting on the beach, covered in shingle, legs bleeding and bikini half off. I also couldn’t hear a damn thing in one ear. I wanted to cry – OH probably wanted to laugh looking at the state of me. We hobbled up the beach, packed up and went back to the apartment.
It soon became apparent – when my ear started to bleed – that all was not well and a few cocktails was not actually the cure. We found a doctor who prescribed Tramal. I figured I’d had Tramil before so it would be fine. Wrong! He advised me to take them straight away with some water and get some sleep. We headed back to our pool, got into a shady spot under a parasol and I went to sleep.
As if the day had not already been mortifying enough, there was more to come. I had a VERY bad reaction to the drugs. We were still poolside and I needed to throw up quickly. I knew I couldn’t make it to our apartment so I had to go to the pool bar toilets. In I went only to discover two girls in there touching up their already perfect make up. I was pouring with sweat and probably green. They stared at me with outright disgust. I rushed into the loo and threw up a weeks worth of Portuguese dinners.
It gets worse. I heard them saying to each other ‘she’s had far too much to drink’ and ‘you think she’d know better’. Honestly, I don’t know which was worse – the fact they thought I couldn’t hold my drink or that they thought I was clearly older than them and should know better.
All of that said, I still adore the sea and the fact that I now live next to the Atlantic Ocean is a constant source of joy to me.
Our move to Ireland has not been as we had hoped. My melanoma diagnosis, the subsequent ongoing treatment, losing the Ginger Prince and then Covid. But here’s the thing, in amongst all of that I have made some wonderful new friends, reconnected with old friends, told friends how much I love them AND discovered that I am brave enough to swim in the ocean when it’s 11 degrees and chucking it down with rain.
My next step is the consultant and another scan. My blood pressure is down and, even though I am exhausted some days, my leg is less swollen, I do 10,000 steps every day and I’ve not killed myself on the trampoline.
Always find the little triumphs every day.