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Swimming in a bikini with seals at the Farnes


So this is what I did today!

I went on a boat out to the Farne Isles with the always fabulous Billy Shiels boat company, who gave me extra special permission to jump in and swim with just my bikini on...note everyone else in wetsuits! I have been on many of his trips and I wouldn’t go with anyone else, always knowledgeable, always friendly and professional. Covid safe too 👍🏻

I hadn’t actually intended to go in just my bikini, but my super swimmy, supportive and enthusiastic friend Jane Hardy (first English woman to swim a kilometre in the Antarctic in just a swimming costume no less...I blame her for most of my crackers challenges) suggested it as a good addition to my challenge..and we all know how much I like to step out of my comfort zone...

After the Bikini Top Floating Off Debacle of the other day, my main concern, apart from the leap in off the boat (also Jane’s idea...) was that my bikini top would fly off and I’d give everyone an eyeful of my raisins. So I duly leapt in, clutching my bosom like a quaint lady of yesteryear, usual cold water gasp, and off I went to see if I could find any seals. The Farne Isles is a breeding ground for grey seals, and pupping season has started.

I swam about for a little bit, having the usual game with the seals - who always, without fail, pop up behind you, pantomime cries of “they’re behind you,” filling the air as swimmers and seals tried to outwit each other. I approached the shore, but still more than 30 metres away (you never, ever go onto the land, and disturbing the seals is strictly prohibited) and was suddenly faced with 3 curious young seals, all of which swam towards me for a closer look. I must admit I lost my nerve at this point, and back pedalled furiously, catching my breath as I did so. There were seals swimming and bobbing all around, and I’m really pleased I captured some of it on my video...footage up next.

After almost 20 minutes I decided I’d had enough, and didn’t want to risk getting cold out at sea, so swam towards the boat. By now I was on my own in the deep sea, the other swimmers still bobbing further out, so there was a little distance between me and the boat. My mind played tricks on me and I’m not afraid to say that I did have the old panic again. I swam quicker, heart beating until I reached the safety of the boat ladder. I really had to battle to stop from shrieking “get me out of the bloody water NOW!” 😳😬 This is still a huge HUGE improvement on my sea fear of a couple of years ago, but I do get caught out every now and then if I’m on my own. Still bloody did it though!

Up I went, to a barrage of cameras (ok, two), which made me laugh out loud - I felt like a celebrity, albeit a very poor one without the benefit of plastic surgery.

The only downside of the trip was that I was desperate for a wee all the way on the boat, but the shock of jumping in caused all orifices to contract at an alarming I was still desperate all the way back. A small price to pay for another magical evening at the Farne Isles, with a teeny tiny white seal pup spotted as we sailed back in.

Huge thank you to William and his team for supporting me by letting me do my bikini challenge, very much appreciated.

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