2011 ended sedately – just me and Gareth and The Apartment on DVD, followed by the Edinburgh fireworks from the spare room window. We'd been looking forward to a New Year's Eve party but since we'd been miserable snot monsters over the Christmas period, we didn't want to subject our pals to the dregs of it. I think the quiet (and sober) night really helped and I woke up today feeling so much better.
A few weeks ago the most excellent Tor, an Up & Runner, told me she was doing the Loony Dook. I'd first read about the Dook in a 2004 Sunday Herald article called 100 Things To Do In Scotland Before You Die. I kept the clipping and it's been a tip top source of ideas for exploring the country ever since. From the article:
#53. Do the Loony Dook
In Pamplona, Spanish revellers drink all night before attempting to outrun death and a great big bull. In Scotland the closest we have is the Loony Dook – jumping into the freezing Firth of Forth from the boathouse steps in South Queensferry on New Year's Day. For your goose-pimpling efforts you get a towel, a t-shirt and a pipe band parade through the town*. And probably pneumonia.
* These days you get a swimming cap instead of a towel and t-shirt!
Tor is a very persuasive woman with special voodoo powers that somehow get you doing things you never thought you'd ever do, so I signed up too.
I'd felt so rubbish this past week I'd been thinking I might wuss out. I didn't help the cause by sleeping in til 9.30AM then laying there for another fifteen minutes pondering, should I get up? What will I wear? Why didn't I organise a fancy costume? Can I even get there in time? Icy water or toasty sleep?
Then I thought about how I'd feel if I didn't go. I decided I'd feel like a wuss, and a great murky shadow of wussiness would be cast over my entire 2012. Did I really want to wuss up the year before I'd even got out of bed?
I threw on some trackies, a cycling top and my oldest trainers. I stuffed some Post-Dook clothes into my backpack and pulled a piece of tinsel from the Christmas tree to wrap around my hat to serve as a very rubbish costume.
Halfway across the Forth Road Bridge I realised I'd left my ticket at home. Cue rant at poor Gareth: "Just bloody FORGET IT. Turn the car around! 2012 stinks! This idea was STUPID anyway" etc etc. But we made it in time and the nice lady accepted my email-confirmation-on-phone as my ticket (thanks Tor for thinking of that, my brain was still snoozing!).
There were about 1000 Dookers and they'd made a lot of effort with their costumes (some great pics here). Zombies, nuns, pandas, Smurfs, men in bikinis, cowboys. Just like Halloween but with more shivering.
As promised, the water really was bloody freezing. This seemed to surprise a nearby guy in tiny shorts and an Aussie flag tattoo who bellowed, "JOISUS CHROIST IT'S FARKIN FREEZIN!".
It was almost painful at first, then the legs went numb, then it became strangely thrilling. It was a gorgeous day – clear skies in January? What are the chances? And such a bonkers thing to do – setting an awesome tone for a new year.
Afterwards I found Gareth and discovered I'd stuffed two jackets and no trousers into my backpack, so we went straight home. Must sharpen organising skills in 2012.
Next stop was a hot shower followed by a bacon sarnie.
The Loony Dookers use the splash as a great excuse raise money for all sorts of charities. I'm making a donation to Fife Young Carers, a local charity that supports young carers throughout the region. They rule!
HAPPY NEW YEAR FOLKS!