You Are Here


“For the way I feel about you
Paradise not lost, it’s in you
On a permanent basis
I apologize
But I am going to sing

Sing it out loud and sing it to you
Am I lost out at sea
‘Til a tide wash me up off the Westway”

Rowntree/Albarn/James/Coxon  (Blur – Under The Westway )

Normally on a Sunday morning I am in bed , daydreaming, until noon, when I saunter downstairs to put on a fry, have several cups of proper tea , whilst listening to the best playlist on Spotify, the  SuperJetRobotDinosaurs one.

Last Sunday however, I was up at the crack of 9 am to drive to Newmills in Donegal for a Wim Hof Method Fundamentals course with my Soulmate.

Can you guess whose idea it was ?

Correct !

But I decided on two things very early on.

Firstly I was NOT going to be cynical or sarcastic about it…despite the fact that it seemed to focus heavily on breathing, and I’m quite sure that I’ve managed that without the aid of a class in Donegal before.

And secondly that I was really, really, really NOT going to be sarcastic. God knows my poor Soulmate has followed me in enough of my brilliant adventures over the years, so it was only fair that I not ruin this one of hers.

And thirdly , I was not going to be sarcastic about it. Yes I said I’d decide on two things, and this is the third, and they all relate to my sarcasm ….but I am incredibly sarcastic.

It was due to start at noon.

So we arrived at noon.

We parked beside a couple of ladies from Derry who we chatted to as we got our towels, pillows, and comfort blankets out of the car.

My Soulmate asked one of the ladies if she’d ever done anything like this before, and she replied that she hadn’t done a Wim Hof event before but that she had spent time with the Inuits and had done cold water exercises with them. She asked my Soulmate if she’d done any cold water stuff, and she replied that she was a regular lake/sea dipper.

She then asked me if I had done any cold water stuff.

“Not intentionally…and I’ve certainly never paid anyone to do it.”

She laughed , thinking I was joking.

We made our way to the room where we’d be doing the class, passing two ladies filling a large tub with water and bags of ice. I shivered.

There were about twenty of us and we all said hello as we got our yoga mats and found a space for ourselves on the floor and then Hannah, our instructor for the day explained what we’d be doing and asked us to each say a few words about ourselves and why we were here. Some said that they had read Wim Hof’s book, or seen a video, and were curious. My Soulmate said that she’d done a bit of cold water dipping and wanted to learn more.

I said “My name is Paul, I’m Eileen’s partner and I honestly have no idea why I’m here.” This caused some laughter. “ But last year I had cancer and I learned not to say no to anything.”

Hannah then gave a talk on the Wim Hof method and her own voyage of discovery. Her passion and enthusiasm were infectious and she had such a gorgeous northern accent that I imagine she could make a reading of Ulysses enjoyable.

We had a short break and then Hannah led us through some breathing exercises. You might think that trying to relax and connect with a more peaceful version of yourself wouldn’t be possible in a room with 19 others.. and initially it was a bit confusing , as my neighbour was breathing very enthusiastically , I nicknamed him Jimmy The Hoover, and then I giggled a bit in my own breath work…and then…then I was in a very peaceful state. I could still hear Hannah guiding us , and Jimmy The Hoover, but at a distance. It’s hard to explain, but I was aware of all of my surroundings, but felt as if I was elsewhere.

It seemed to last a while, but couldn’t really have, and when we were guided to the end and did a few exercises, I felt very calm, comfortable, and at peace.

We had another break, and Hannah and her friend started to fill the tub outside with a bajillion party bags of ice. I wanted to get something from my car, and as I walked past them, I said “That was really lovely, thanks very much, I’m away now, can you give Eileen a lift into the bus station when you’re finished ?”

“You’re leaving ???”

“I wish…”

Everyone changed into their togs and we all queued to get into the ice bath. One by one Hannah helped each person in and helped them with their breathing, and they stayed in for 2 minutes. We all clapped as each person got out. My Soulmate went just ahead of me and calmly lowered herself into the water and smiled serenely until her 2 minutes passed, and then it was my turn.

I stood into the icebath and as I lowered myself I said, loudly “Oh my God , I am heartily sorry for all of my sins….” They all laughed…the warm dry bastards !

Hannah held my hands.

My mind went completely blank for a moment, and the 2 minutes were up before I knew it. I got out and walked around in the sun for a moment. I felt great for having done it.

When everyone had had their dip and got changed we gathered again in the hall and had a short Q&A about the day. Everyone seemed to have enjoyed it.

As we drove home Eileen asked what I thought of it and I said I wasn’t entirely sure what I particularly enjoyed about the whole day, but simply that I had thoroughly enjoyed the whole day.

I have tried the breathing exercises a couple of times this week…and yesterday at the end of my shower I turned the water to cold…and screamed like a banshee !

On Wednesday I went to visit a lady whom I met on the Crocus Creative Writing course who had asked me to give her a hand with a few short stories she wanted to put together. She keeps saying that she’s putting me to a lot of trouble, and that she’s taking up my time, but her love of writing , and her dedication to preserving her stories have actually encouraged me to get my finger out and get back into a few of my own writing projects.

Saying yes to helping her has helped me.

And yesterday , out of nowhere, my friend Benny messaged me to say that he had to meet a few people in town to discuss the Harvest Blues Festival, and that it would be a shame to go all that way and not have a few pints. So Elliott and I met him for dinner in the Pig, and we were later joined by Laura Hannon and we chatted about everything and anything…literally, buying an airplane , why the sea is salty, CMAT, the Flat Lake Festival, meeting Jo Whiley, and combine harvesters. Oh and we may now be putting together an eclectic festival of our own next year…

So, say ‘Yes’.

You are here.



Author: paul

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