Halloween Night Light Swim Report

A gathering of Guisers

We had a wonderful still evening for our first night light swim to celebrate Halloween. Gathering in the dark, the excitement was tangible as everyone got their fancy headgear and tow floats ready. Mandatory for this swim, tow floats with lights were a cheery addition to the dark shadows of the beach.

Maree introduced Halloween by outlining some of the traditions that the family had followed, with Sister – Elaine and Mum – Frances adding to the dialogue. It was great to hear some of the other ways that families had celebrated this fun Autumnal evening over the years. Many of us had left our children dressed up and ready to receive little “guisers” or “trick and treaters” – as the Scottish traditions merge with those from the other side of the Atlantic.

The traditional Turnip (tumchie) Lanterns adorned the Groyn rather than the American import of the Pumpkin. The flickering lights of the lanterns were complimented by the many colours created by the lights shining through our various tow floats.

Singing our way to the water.

Maree also introduced the “Guisers” Song, we learnt it and sang our way down the beach to the water. With safety in mind everyone had a bright float and we swam in a circle so that our two coaches could keep a close eye on everyone and we were all within communicating distance of each other. As the rainfall had been pretty severe we were all guided to keep our faces clear of the water.

As everyone’s confidence grew and we settled in to the swim, we were able to enjoy the stark contrasts between the inky blackness towards the East and the lighter charcoal greys created by the lights of the city to the East. The water’s shiny onyx surface broken up on occasions by small turns in the waves as the swell flowed, firmly but gently, past us towards the shore.

The luminous oranges, greens and yellows of the lights reflected on the water lighting up our faces, masks and hats. Everyone had fun, we completed two clockwise circular swims before completing one anti-clockwise, for the Witches amongst us!

On the shore, we were pleased to see the jelly pan fire being lit by Billy and Robbie. The fingers of the flames and sparks being drawn up by the wind lit up Groyn 5 and showed us the way back to the beach, warmth and cake!!! Yet with no wind we were all pleased to be able to get dressed and have a practice of organising the “kit-faff” without actually being able to see properly in the shadowy darkness of the Groyn.

As we gathered around the fire to check we had our belongings, eat some cake and chat through the experience, the sense of achievement was tangible. Another first for many, in a safe and controlled environment.

To finish off our evening we had a few Halloween “turns” from Maree, Elaine and Kirsteen – Scottish in their theme despite no collusion. Maree in her Devil Mask sang “The Deil’s Awa Wi The Exciseman” a Burns song, and gave an account of the background. Elaine recounted the beginnings of the Burns Classic “Tam O’Shanter” to compliment her fancy dress of a “Cutty Sark” – Nightdress. Kirsteen singing “Ally Bally” – a traditional Scottish lullaby that her Dad had sung to her as a child. I believe we may be on our way to being ready for St Andrews Night in November and Burns Night in January!!!!

Thank you to everyone who came along and made this such a special evening.