Scottish Life Magazine
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Notes from the Isles

An Island Journal by Kate Francis

Our Christmas Day follows an established pattern. A leisurely breakfast; Mass in the parish church; present-opening round the fire with champagne and eats; and then...everyone off to the beach to swim in the Atlantic Ocean. This year I announced very firmly that I wouldn't join in the swim. My excuse was that if I did, it would be for the sole purpose of then being able to boast about it to everyone I met: "Look at me, in my 80s, swimming in the Atlantic on December 25th without a wet suit...." It would, therefore, be an act of self-promotion and boastful egotism. I really meant it and was delighted to have found such a worthy excuse.

However, as the cars bumped along the machair towards the beach, an inner voice -- maybe my beloved Douglas's -- said: "Don't be so feeble." I always heed that inner voice, but I knew that if I said I'd changed my mind, the family would make a fuss and try to stop me and tell me I'd have a heart attack or seizure. So, when the cars stopped above the beach and everyone else climbed out and started taking off their outer clothes, I opened the door of my car and stood behind it, out of sight. I stripped off down to my underwear, not having come prepared, and then ran down the beach past all the rest of them -- quite fast so they couldn't stop me -- and into the sea.

The full text of this article is available in the Spring 2020 issue of Scottish Life.

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