Gradually I found that, rather than dreading the next assault, I was beginning to anticipate it with a small amount of glee. ‘Bring it on!’ I shouted as the next wave reared up in front of me and, spinning myself around, I rode the surge in to the shore.
Yes it’s true. I was swimming, sans wetsuit, in water that had seen nothing more than icebergs on its way up from the Antarctic. It had taken me a good six minutes of teetering on the edge and then easing myself in girlishly but now I was feeling more alive than I had since, well, the last time I’d braved a dip in these waters.
It was Christmas Day and years ago I had decided it was important to swim in the sea on this one day of the year if none other. Frankly, having made the move to the southern hemisphere, the ‘normal’ traditions of Christmas were out and we decided we must establish new traditions for the future. This was my contribution. And I discovered an enormously beneficial side effect to what Neill still regards an act of folly.
Christmas Eve had been a fun evening with a group of friends in Kommetjie. It wasn’t intended to be a hugely boozy affair, but as a long balmy afternoon tipped into a golden sunset and a soft evening, “just one more” became the chorus of an increasingly hearty song. The following morning I had sat through the ripping open of Christmas stockings with a fixed smile and a thudding head but now, after a good frolic in the waves at Llandudno I felt as young and carefree as a ten year old as I skipped, laughing, out of the water. There are millions (probably) of dollars spent every year on the search for the perfect hangover cure and yet, people, a dip in the sea off Cape Town is all it takes.
So next year don’t worry about stocking up on liver salts and aspirin, and save yourselves the hassle of a huge roast lunch and entertaining the in-laws. Invest in a ticket to Cape Town instead. It reaches the places other Christmases can’t. Bring on New Year!
Wishing you an invigorating 2008,