Getting serious with one of the fifty!

Good grief Penfold, has it been that long? Well, yes it has. It’s been months since I last published an update but there is a good reason, I swear!

I have been busy with a new project. The book, The 50 List, was about showing my youngest daughter, who has the same condition as me, CMT, that anything was possible. Each of the activities on the list I completed were basically activities that I tried or sampled. I was never a master of any of the challenges I completed. For example when I made Creme brûlées with Etam I was never going to become a qualified pastry chef nor was I ever going to become a master wood turner with Alan Donnovan, although I did fancy buying a small wood lathe once and having a go, but after trying it I decided that I like my fingers in the vicinity of my hands.

So, I decided to embark on a new challenge. A challenge that will show people that even though you have a disability not only can you have a go and sample an activity you can become qualified in that activity. And the activity I chose was scuba diving.

Me diving at Stoney CoveMyself and my son Matthew have been busy working towards becoming qualified open water divers. This will enable us to dive to a depth of 18 meters with a dive buddy. At the moment all we’re allowed to do is dive to a depth of about 6 to 9 metres and being told where to go by instructors. So far we have mastered quite a few skills and am making good progress. We hope to finish the course this year but, as this is Britain, the weather is a major factor. Diving in winter is not my idea of fun so we may have to finish it when the weather gets a little warmer!

When I attempted this challenge as part of the 50 list it wasn’t a great success. Even though I managed to dive to around 5 metres the visibility was less than a metre. This year I went back out to Italy where I did my first dive and tried again. This time it was a success as I managed two dives the first to 6 metres and the second to 9 metres. Both times I could see for 20 metres or so, observe the sea life, star fish, clams, shoals of brightly coloured fish. The diving itself was much more relaxed as well as I didn’t go through the tedious task of donning a wet-suit as I had done the year before. I recall trying to get into it an absolute nightmare. Vincenzo, my instructor last year, found the only way to get the neoprene wet-suit on was to smother me in suntan oil and during that process Mike Jackson, one of my friends who’d come along to give me a hand, said out loud, “I bet you’ve never been oiled by an Italian before”, laughing only made it more difficult!

When we’re qualified we will be able to go to some fantastic dive sites all over the world and experience freedom in the water, varied and colourful sea life, to prove that once again even with a disability anything is possible.