My Passion: Into the blue where no work emails can get through

Simon Rispin of SMR Architects
Simon Rispin of SMR Architects
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Working in a fast paced industry, where developing our built environment is part and parcel of everyday life, what better way to get away from it all than disappearing underwater and enjoying nature’s own, very different, environment?

I’ve scuba dived for over ten years and been fortunate enough to enjoy the underwater world, around the world.

Over 70 per cent of the earth’s surface is water, so through architecture and building as a principal architect I make a very small impact on the remaining 30 per cent.

Spending any holiday I can exploring the other 70 per cent started at a cold slate quarry in North Wales, has led to exploring a sunken warship as part of my stag do and swimming with beautiful manta rays, with a wingspan wider than some buildings we’ve designed, and whale sharks larger than double decker buses.

The clear blue waters of Thailand and Egypt are a far cry from breaking through the thin layer of ice in that Welsh quarry.

The whole idea of getting away from it – there are certainly no emails coming through at 40m deep – is a big attraction, along with it being a very sociable sport.

Dive clubs up and down the country can be seen every weekend kitting up in the rain ready to explore the array of creatures and sea life, and their natural habitats, and that’s just in the UK.

From experience I know following the last dive of the day, it won’t be the water that people are drinking – and scuba diving gets people from all walks of life involved, so rarely is the day job discussed.

In their own built environment, you get to enjoy and experience the minutiae of nudibranchs, smaller than your fingernail, floating effortlessly in the current. Beside them, clown fish (Nemo to most) dart around flowing coral.

A turtle may swim past without a care in the world and looking out to the blue, you might just glimpse the big stuff. It’s these when you mention you dive that people are most interested in; and yes, I’ve been close to all kinds of sharks, and no, I’ve never been bitten.

But for me it’s the whole experience, peering in – but not affecting – the vibrant and colourful world that scuba diving lets you explore. I would implore anyone to get to their local dive shop or club and do some basic training. Then, rather than stick on dry land, go explore.