Well, here they are again. Crazy as lemmings, rushing into the sea on Christmas Day and then just as madly dashing out again. A beautiful morning, with a sky almost as sunny and blue as recorded in these pages this time last year at http://budleighbrewsterunited.blogspot.com/2009/12/yule-find-its-so-bracing.html BUT THIS TIME THE BEACH WAS WHITE!
I remember muttering something about having a go last year, but now that I feel it's my duty to record this incredible scene every year I've got a good excuse to stay on dry land and not spend Boxing Day in bed with double pneumonia.
Speaking to Sarah Lowe from Budleigh and her sister Jennie from Birmingham, pictured above, I could only feel that I was the rational one. "A stupid idea," admitted Sarah when I asked them what they thought of what they were planning to do in a few minutes. "I'd rather jump out of an airplane," added Jennie.
But here they are, all these apparently foolhardy people, clearly enjoying themselves, and once you see that they've survived it looks like a brave and fun thing to do.
There's that nice Amanda Gulbrantson from Littleham whom I spoke to last year, swimming with her dog for the 21st time, and both looking as if it's the most normal thing in the world to do.
For some people it's clearly a bonding experience, like defying death together.
And now I'm even thinking that this woman in a wet suit is a bit of a cheat. That's surely not in the spirit of the Budleigh Christmas Swim.
And by the time I get to speak to Kim Roffey and her sister Kerry, both from Budleigh, I feel a bit of a wimp. Not only are they not shivering, they look extremely pleased with themselves. Yet it was the first time for both of them. And astonishingly, Kerry is terrified of water and can't swim. "It wasn't too bad," was their verdict.
Just as pleased-looking with herself was Louise McCullin who'd taken the plunge with her children Jasmine and April. My admiration was all the greater when I learnt that she'd come from Northern New South Wales in Australia where a snowflake is a bit of a rarity.
So maybe next year... It was well organised with HM Coastguard on hand, and raised money for the RNLI. I do think that the Highways people could have gritted the frozen route to the beach, given the hundreds of spectators and swimmers they knew would be heading to this great Budleigh occasion. I suspect that people felt safer in the sea than they did on the dangerously icy road.