There's this weird tradition that I've partaken in most of my life, where on New Year's Day, I join hundreds of people, shivering and wrapped in fluffy towels, down to the ocean. The air is tight, bitterly cold with a sense that you're being whipped in the face with an icy cat and nine tails. Usually, it's raining, and all you can think about is why on earth you're standing in your bikini on a blustery, grey beach instead of wrapped up in a dressing gown on your sofa, watching Dawson's Creek reruns. But you're not.
Instead, you charge towards the freezing ocean, lapping lazily at the shore while hundreds of feet dance and stamp into it, realising their mistakes and fast regret of their mission. You hop and jump-run as if you're a cat on a hot tin roof until you're finally submerged in the icy water, your skin red as a lobster, your breathing darted and shallow. For a few minutes, you feel yourself burning, shivering at the same time, gulping the air like a fish on a chopping board and your heart slams like mad.
And then, after a few seconds, it all calms down.
Your limbs begin to settle, letting your legs be moved by the current and your arms float beside you like buoys. The stabbing cold you felt only seconds ago disappears, and your body begins to warm itself up from the bottom of your feet to the tips of your fingers. Your breathing lulls to a deep, meaningful movement, and you're finally at ease. You could stay here for hours, you reckon.
God, I'm so pleased with myself, you think. I went, out of my own free will, for a swim on New Year's day in January when most people would think I'm a lunatic. I deserve a massive cookie after this.
There's no feeling like it, and I can't wait to do it again!