December 3: Christmas Day dip in the sea

Paul Geater in the 1960s

Paul Geater in the 1960s - Credit: Archant

I’ve only once been swimming in the sea on Christmas Day, writes Paul Geater as he remembers his favourite Christmas memory.

And when I did I stayed in for about an hour (at least).

When I was eight years old my mother and I spent Christmas staying with family friends in Bermuda, about 600 miles from the east coast of the US.

The temperature was in the 80s every day and I think it was the first time I’d ever heard the word barbecue!

It was in the mid-1960s and the family we were staying with (Suffolk teachers who were on fixed-term contract working on the island) had a wonderful new invention . . . colour television.

I don’t recall a great deal about the general Christmas festivities, I expect they were fairly traditional. I’m sure we had turkey as usual for lunch.

The irony of American TV shows showing snow and reindeer while we were sitting in a sub-tropical paradise was probably lost on an eight-year-old.

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But I do remember swimming in the sea on Christmas Day, which seemed like the coolest thing ever for a youngster like me.

My mother joined me in the water to keep an eye on me – the biggest danger was not from weather or the tides – but from the Portuguese Man O War jellyfish that regularly swept on to the beaches. Fortunately none were seen on Christmas Day.

And before anyone gets any ideas of inviting me to repeat my experience at Felixstowe or Aldeburgh, I have a two word answer: Forget it!

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