Sea caves, islands and 26 degree water. What more can an open water swimming enthusiast want? A bikini that you can actually swim properly in would be good and dolphins would have been a bonus.

Just had my first swim in the Channel after 10 days swimming all day in the Adriatic, and it was …. Weedy; opaque; chilly, but great fun as always. It felt very odd swimming in a wetsuit after 10 days of swimming in a mix and match bikini! Why can’t anyone sell boyleg bikinis with tops that you can actually swim properly in! After one attempt to swim in my only vaguely trendy bikini I decided that I didn’t want the whole beach to see down my top, so had to swap to using the top from my cheap Slazenger back-up. Unfortunately, it had skimpy bottoms! Hence the mix and match. There’s a hole in the market here that someone should fill. I hate skimpy bottoms.

But I have to say. Verduela near Pula in Croatia was the perfect place to go for an active beach holiday, without jet skis etc to ruin everything. I hate jet skis even more than skimpy bikini bottoms (for reasons other than the risk to my own safety as a swimmer). I hate even more than that the motorised paddle boards that people ride in the swimming zone where I live, but let’s leave that there and get back to Croatia (if only!)

This was the view from our balcony at the Park Plaza. A thoroughly civilised and relaxing way to start and end the day.

We went past the island opposite on a glass-bottomed boat and saw the coolest massive vertically-growing clam type things. They grow to over 2 feet tall sometimes, apparently. Can’t remember what they’re called though…. and the photo didn’t come out.

The abundance of marine life we saw in the bays around our hotel was quite phenomenal. The fish weren’t of the bright, tropical, flashy variety, but the diversity down there was amazing, and the underwater limestone landscape was quite dramatic, with lots of little canyons and lava-like rocks harbouring all sorts of fish/urchins/corals/crabs.

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There are also turtles about, though we didn’t see any in the wild, fortunately, because that close to shore and they risk being injured by boats. The Pula aquarium does an excellent job of rescuing injured turtles and releasing them, though, and we just missed the next release. It’s such a shame that tourism is responsible for so many injuries to these and other creatures. The Dolphins don’t come into the bays anymore, because they have sensibly realised that motor boats are dangerous. This is my main reason for me hating jet skis. They and motorboats are so damaging to marine mammals because they’re too fast for them to move away from. We don’t do motorboat or jet skis for those reasons. Obviously, plastics and fishing nets are the other key threats to marine life that we pose. I’m working on reducing our plastic use, but it’s so hard when everything comes wrapped in it! Fish I only buy from certified sources, but even those are likely to leave some ‘ghost gear’, as it’s referred to in the water.   This is one of the main themes I’m trying to raise in The Longhand Chronicles – the destruction that is we are inflicting on our environment. I’m blaming the Lord of Darkness for enchanting humans because it’s so horrible to admit that it’s our species that do all the damage.  It is, though! As a biology teacher, I have to conclude that we as a species are trying to naturally select against ourselves. But enough of my ranting.

On the subject of ‘The Longhand Chronicles’, I really have done nothing useful for weeks.  I finally updated the cover for  ‘The Seagull’, and I have left the name as it is for the moment to avoid confusion.

I also wrote the first draft of chapter one of book two – The Host and the Oak Tree, but I haven’t started draft two of book one. I think if I’m going to enter it in the Watty awards, that’s what  I need to do. You can only enter stories published there since August 17, so there’s only one chance.  I might as well take it.  My husband, an avid fantasy reader, has raised lots of points that I need to sort out in addition to those raised through all the helpful feedback I’ve had on Wattpad. I figure that if I can redraft the first five chapters by the deadline of August 1, that will help but it is a year off, so I’m not going to stress.

Dunn is still on schedule for release at the end of July and that was the main goal for this year. The cover is agreed, it’s gone to print, and the ebook is being prepared. In fact, it just came through to be checked now. so that’s the beginning of next week sorted. So back to Croatia.

 

We did a couple of trips in addition to the amazing glass-bottomed boat, one another boat trip which involved me swimming in to a sea cave. It’s to the right of the swimmers below. I’m second from the front in my mismatched bikini. My son could have swum the distance easily, but you had to swim under a rocky overhang to get into the cave with very little air above and he wouldn’t have liked it. The cave was amazing, but there were too many people in there. I beat a hasty retreat and went out to play around in the waves in the 8M water around our boat. After that we went on to the Kamenjak islands and had a lovely lunch on the boat, attracting some familiar guests.

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The other trip we went on was a mammoth 7.30am until 10.30 pm epic to the Plitvice lake national park. This place is amazing.  It’s a totally unique mass of limestone, waterfalls, lakes and fish, spread over a series of hills, covered in beautiful forest.

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The lakes had so many different shades of blue and green in them, and the waterfalls pouring out of tree roots and moss and down limestone cliffs were awe-inspiring. Thunder overhead added to the drama.

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It really did remind me of parts of my book. Shame we spent a very flying visit there. I would have loved to spend proper quality time there, dreaming up new water sprites for the Longhand Chronicles, but if you get a chance go. Unique is the only way to describe it.

We spent most of our time in the sea, but couldn’t miss the opportunity to inflict some Roman ruins on our son as he’s done them at school

P1000765Unfortunately, he hates Roman’s, they’re stupid, and just wanted to get back to the fish.

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Another amazing trip and somewhere I would definitely go back to – preferably on a wildlife trip to try to find the elusive Lynx, Wolves and black bears that live in the vast forests that cover everything, but definitely back to swim in that gorgeous sea with all its life. A totally cool country.

 

 

 

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