66 – Edouard Dupont and the Aquathlon Championships

July 1939

Dear Lucy,

I’ve had a most enjoyable last week staying with Edouard Dupont on the North Island of Vent du Sud.  We’ve spent most days descending the depths of the North Passage rock pools aboard Edouards diving bell, Nautilus One, which he designed and built with his brother Gustave.

Edouard descends the passage most days, weather permitting, to do scientific stuff like testing the temperature and salt content of the water as well as making sure all the local aquatic life are happy and healthy.  The starfish tend to complain on a regular basis but generally most inhabitants are quite content.  Some time back Edouard discovered a new species of seaweed, which he now farms in select patches on the seabed and sells in Edouard’s Epicerie run by his wife and cousin.  ‘Algues au Fromage’ which roughly translates as ‘Cheesy Seaweed’ is, as you can imagine, very popular with the mice on the islands.  Most islanders prefer to slice the weed thinly then deep fry to release its subtle cheesy aroma but it can also be boiled up with potatoes to make a warming cheesy broth in winter.

On Thursday the pools were pretty busy as we were joined by the ‘South Island Ladies Mermouse Swimming Team’ who were busy practising for the Summer Aquathlon Championships.  As far as I could gather, with regard to the rules of aquathlon, two teams of five mice compete to be the first to get a Sea Urchin shell through all six hoops hanging in the interconnecting rock pools.  Each team consists of two ‘shooters’ who’s objective is to swim through the hoops with said shell, one ‘whacker’ who’s job it is to slap anyone on the opposing team with a piece of seaweed and two defenders who catch and pass the shell to the shooters.  Anyone in possession of the shell at the time of being slapped by a ‘whacker’ has to immediately drop the ball, so to speak, which leaves the game wide open for an all out scrum.  Extra game points are awarded for aquatic technique and fancy spins so there’s a lot of practise to be done before each tournament.  It’s a pretty exciting game and I’m a bit miffed that I wont be around to catch the championships.

Tomorrow I’ve got to be up early to catch the steamer back home so I best finish up and get to bed.  I hear it’s pretty hot back home, Millie wrote last week and said that she’d had to install some emergency paddling pools down at the depot to help the workers cool off.  Apparently there have been a few frayed tempers in the sorting rooms due to everyone getting pissed off with the heat!



Health and Safety First – Morris would just like to point out that the South Island Ladies Mermouse Swimming Team are highly experienced swimmers who undertook rigorous training with a qualified instructor in order to learn how to swim with their mermouse tails. Never buy a tail and swim alone, always have a responsible adult looking out for you and if possible join a recognised club if you’re thinking of taking up mermaid swimming. Keep safe!

Would you be brave enough to try Algues au Fromage?  Morris would love to hear from you, so please feel free to drop him a line here or under his Instagram, Facebook or Twitter shares.

Thanks again to Andy for the fabulous hand printed Vent du Sud stamps.  Check out his work here at andyenglish.com.

© All images and story content copyright of lynncf

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