Based on a true story, The Mermaid and the Cow is a colourful adventure tale, about a mermaid who goes on a quest to clean her river and subsequently makes an unlikely friend along the way. Having lost all my work during Covid, I finally managed to sit down to write and illustrate my story about the time I rescued a cow whilst mermaiding the River Thames. I've been sharing my story with thousands of school children for the last two years but with your support by pre ordering The Mermaid and the Cow today, children will be able to have their very own copy to enjoy at school and at home.
The Mermaid and the Cow is a fun, light hearted story, with splashes of humour, whilst also having an important environmental message.
In November 2018, I swam the length of the non-tidal River Thames as a mermaid for a plastic awareness campaign and subsequently rescued a cow. It was splashed onto page three of a national tabloid the next day. Despite being the first mermaid to ever swim the 120 miles of the Thames, and whilst it was very cold, the media only became interested in my story when I rescued a cow. I suppose they found it amoosing! Six month later, I received an email from the director of a youth drama camp, asking me for permission to use my tale. She said it had all the ingredients of a great children's story. I popped along to watch their performance and was udderly mooved seeing my story brought to life. So, I decided to write a children's book about my story, called The Mermaid and the Cow!
I cut my hand on a tiny piece of plastic whilst free diving in Indonesia. Miles from shore, I realised I was surrounded by tonnes of the brightly coloured manmade stuff. At a similar time a dead whale washed up further along the coast, with SIX kilos of waste found in it's stomach. The 1000 pieces of man made things that the whale had swallowed included: flip-flops, bottles, bags and 115 drinking cups.
Back home in Britain, I realised the issue wasn't much better either. It made me really sad, and I wanted to do something about it. Some free divers don monofins, which reminded me of mermaids. So, I decided to swim the length of the River Thames as a mermaid and hoped it would remind people that creatures live in our waterways and that we're littering their home. My artist friend, Barbara de Moubray, turns waste into wonderful sculptures and made the perfect support kayaker for the expedition. She paddled beside me with a six foot mermaid sculpture, named Samantha, that she'd made from 200 plastic bottles. By stuffing her with all the waste that we cleared along the twenty-two day journey, we highlighted how we're all choking our mermaids and their friends with plastic.
I have visited over a hundred schools sharing adventure stories. When The Mermaid and the Cow is finally published, I will be able to continue doing what I love, sharing stories with young people, and leave a copy behind. I will donate one hundred copies of The Mermaid and the Cow to schools, libraries and groups to inspire them to live adventurously and help save the mermaids and their friends. I never really planned to be a mermaid, it just sort of happened, so I hope The Mermaid and the Cow will also inspire children to be whatever they want to be.
I run environmental and storytelling workshops and encourage students to think about their plastic consumption through fun and engaging activities. Over lockdown, people from the swimming community posted their old discarded swimsuits to me, which would have otherwise gone into landfill. Clare, a fellow swimmer and textile designer, is turning them into a fabulous new tail, so when I do workshops I will be able to highlight how we can reduce consuming things by being more resourceful and reusing what we already own.
You can learn how to turn your own discarded belongings into fabulous new wonders by pledging for the Creative Upcycling Workshop with Clare and me. Money raised in this pledge will go towards Clare's time for making my new upcycled tail.
I became a mermaid quite accidentally. I never anticipated how much children LOVE mermaids. Whilst wearing my tail I have been stroked, squealed after, demanded I read story after story, and had many secrets whispered into my ear. It's also been a great engaging tool to share an important message and inspire children to help save our planet. As a big wild and marathon swimmer I have plans for a series of adventure swims with different environmental themes, accompanying them with The Mermaid and the......book. I've already thought about: the the Polar Bear, the Koala, and the Penguin. Can you think of any good animals, environmental themes and their locations?
- Editors and proof readers
- Digitalising and colour matching the art work
- Designer to lay the text out onto pages and make the book print ready
- Graphic designer for the front and back cover
- Local printing in the UK, on FSC certified environmental paper. The Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) is an organisation dedicated to promoting responsible management of the world’s forests.
- Packaging and distribution
- ISBN number and book listing
- Donation to We Swim Wild to measure the level of micro plastics in the rivers and lakes in Britain's national parks
- Donation of 100 books
- Travel for some of the pledges
- Marketing costs and Clare's time for making my new sustainably made tail
Lindsey is patron of We Swim Wild, a charity which is undertaking essential micro plastic research in our National Parks and urban regions across the UK to encourage cleaner water.
"The Mermaid and the Cow is a timely, true(ish) story that gently inspires a love of nature with a good splash of humour! It's a most magical, meaningful adventure that will have kids gasping and giggling all the way to the litter bin."- Natalie Fee- author of How to Save the World for Free, award-winning environmental campaigner and founder of City to Sea.
Lindsey Cole is an unstoppable Force of Nature, an endlessly enthusiastic cheerleader for outdoor swimming, officially The Nation’s Top Mermaid
and, very occasionally, a saver of cows. -Mark Haddon- outdoor swimmer, parent and author of Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime
"This is a beautiful story about caring for our environment and animals. It shows children how to take positive action to prevent plastic pollution from harming wildlife and why it’s so important. The story is filled with hope, positivity and joy, and the intricate illustrations will have you and your little ones captivated from the first page. What an absolute treat of a book." -Cal Major, Ocean Advocate, World Record Stand up Paddleboarder, Founder of Paddle Against Plastic
"The Mermaid and the Cow is a fun, engaging and colourful book on a very timely topic. It's unique and one of a kind. My 7 year old was especially inspired that it's based on a true story." Laura Sanderson, Founder of We Swim Wild, serial beach cleaner and mum.
"This is a fun-filled book that not only the children will love but their parents too. It's a real hoot." Rowan Clarke, outdoor swim coach, mermaid and mum.
"My nephew will love The Mermaid and the Cow, and I can't wait to read it to him. It's full of joy, fun and humour with an important message."- Jonathan Cowie, Outdoor Swimmer editor, uncle and merman.
There is so much that goes into making a book. Far more than I ever realised. Naivety can sometimes be a blessing. Naivety and good humans. I couldn't have kept going without the support and encouragement of some wonderful people. Laura Sanderson, who is always at the end of the phone, whatever time, offering advice and encouragement. Rowan Clarke, a fellow mermaid who took time out of her day to film my Crowdfund video. Jonna Bjornstjerna, who edited my first manuscript and encouraged me to illustrate the book my self. Jane Porter, who's been a stellar editor. David Stevens, who made the front cover and is neatening up the art work, laying down the text and making it print ready. Gareth at Gomer Printing who's answered a squillion questions from me. Mockingbird Press for digitalising my artwork to an excellent standard. Clare MacTaggart who's created a beautiful mermaid tail out of old discarded swimsuits. Tom Mayhew, who's been my absolute rock and put up with endless conversations about mermaids, cows and the different colour possibilities of grass for FIVE months. He also wrote the music for the Crowdfund video. To everyone who's supported me on social media and answered any of my Insta polls, which has really helped making decisions with the book. To all the children and their parents for lending them to me as I read The Mermaid and the Cow to them at various stages. And finally, to anyone who has got this far and has pledged to pre order a copy of the book. I've never worked so hard on anything and it udderly means the world to me. Thank you!