My Favourite Rocks

by Elaine

From a young age I was allowed to play in the bar alone. It was judged a safe swimming area, protected by a sea wall jetty on the left, a strong rope covered with floating buoys on the far right in case of rips, and a low reef out to sea which stopped large pounding waves. Three big rocks became my play mates.

First was BIGGIE. A humped shaped rock, like a whale with easy footholds; closest to the sand. I always climbed from back to front, easily scampering along the nooks and crevices with my bare feet .My feet were familiar and certain with the footholds, the grainy texture and the support. What a joy at high tide to perch right on the edge of BIGGIE and leap into the slow moving swell, always assessing and judging the most perfect time!!

Next was FLATTY, further out and on from biggie. I had to swim out and often couldn’t touch the bottom. Flatty was smooth with silky seaweed and rested mostly underwater. The surge of waves made it difficult to get on and stay on. It was hilarious fun , slipping, sliding and holding firm under the pressure of the swirling currents. Always testing my strength and ability to balance.

Third was ARMCHAIR by far the most difficult and challenging rock. It lay further out again ; closer to the reef and covered in sharp barnacles and brown weed. I had to plan my assault; best to approach from the side of the sea and allow the current to wash me onto the rock. It was very hard to climb onto the seat and gain a finger and toe hold. However once on top of the thin back of the chair I would give an almighty leap. Scared and thrilled; often worried I would be backwashed onto the barnacles.

One truly magical day, sun filled with pristine turquoise water, I set my self a challenge to swim underwater from Flatty to the rope buoys right across the width of the bar. It was a long way for a nine year old. Each effort I would leave a stone as my marker on the sandy seabed .With each effort I got a little bit further, holding my breath longer and longer, pulling strongly underwater breaststroke. How I remember the pleasure and satisfaction of trying over and over. I never got whole way.

The buoys on the rope were always fun to share with a friend. We would mount the rectangular slightly slimy floats like a horsy and rock them back and forth; sometimes they would spin sideways and we would tumble into the water screaming and shouting really loudly.

When I turned ten years old and double numbers I was then allowed to swim in the big surf on my own. So I ventured further beyond the breaking reef , testing my water skills on surfoplanes and the sandbanks of Bar Beach. Throughout my teen age years I often returned to the safe bar and sometimes introduced my rock friends to whoever might be interested. I loved to share them.