Last weekend I was staying at the Spa Hotel, Tunbridge Wells (which I previously visited in 1997 for my sister’s hen weekend). Their pool is very, very pretty – lovely tiling, loads of natural light (and it was a gloriously sunny day) and spotless of course – but very, very small. I went straight to use it as soon as I’d checked in (and I actually arrived at the hotel early for this very purpose) and there was one person in there, who wasn’t swimming and who got out after a bit. It took a while to get up speed as the pool is completely square and I would suggest only marginally bigger than the double bed in our room (well it was a king size) but I had a really good swim, and I was looking forward to pre-breakfast dip the next morning. There were two weddings and a hen night in the hotel on the Saturday and people were still making noise when I went to bed, so I could not believe my eyes when I saw 5 people already in the pool at 8am the next day. Seven of us only fitted in because one man wasn’t actually swimming. Surely I’m the only person mad enough to go swimming after a rowdy night out? I just about managed 15 minutes, continually bumping into someone doing crawl (three strokes and a tumbleturn) before I gave up. Still, if people keep using hotel swimming pools, then hotels will continue to open with these very expensive, unenvironmentally friendly resources!
I try not to use this blog to sound off about my fellow pool-users (well not too often, anyway) but I’m really annoyed with my sisters in fitness at Usual Pool. As part of their rather ancient plumbing, they have somewhat inadequate drainage for the three showers. There’s a filter over the single plug-hole from which I regularly remove clods of hair before I shower (reasoning I’m about to get clean anyway). Somone obviously had the bright idea of putting a bit of welly into the drainage speed by removing this filter. As a result of which, a load of old hair and product residue has gone straight down the pipe and become blocked, too far down for me to pull anything out and my hands are not big. So thank you ladies. I don’t mind being one among a few who keeps the filter clear, but there was a reason for it being there. As plumbing issues aren’t trivial in this building this is likely to mean the closure of the showers and the presence of Men in the Changing Rooms for more than one day. Well done!
After a five and a half month gap, I returned to the river Lez last weekend and took the opportunity to have two dips. While not as cold as it was on 30th December, I must say it was pretty chilly still, but so beautiful. You can hear the autoroute in the background, but everything is hidden by cliffs and trees and because this particular spot is on a bend, it actually feels like a pond rather than a river. Which is probably why I had a shock on Friday when, after stroking my way upriver for a bit, I had a right old struggle to get back again – I’d had no idea I was swimming with the tide – I don’t remember there being a tide in December! On Sunday morning the sun was out (although if anything, it was colder in the water) and I really did feel like I was in an enchanted watering hole. The downside? Well it’s summer now, so the heating wasn’t on when I got back in the house. And someone was in the shower.. suffice to say a very vigorous rub with the towel to remove pondweed and I was dressed in every item I had with me. Three mugs of tea in quick succession saw off the shivering in a trice.
The corporation of London has finally taken money from me for a season ticket after a month of walking around town with a crumpled application form and two passport photos of a middle-aged woman claiming to be me in my handbag. My last few attempts have either met with the lido being closed (my fault) or being open but there being no staff to process the form. Anyway, I am legal now.
Although the pond temperature is still only 11 degrees, I did a good ten minutes today and still don’t quite have feeling back in my extremities. It felt great though – I’d love to have done longer but common sense pulled me out. I think I’ve managed to miss some intervening slightly warmer water and even Mr Mandarin Duck wasn’t swimming today.
On Saturday I made my first trip to London Fields Lido (or Haggerston Lido as Hackney-dwelling ex-pool attendant boyfriend says it should be called) and really enjoyed it! The water was just the right temperature and the lovely wide lanes weren’t full atall – besides, it’s a pool with real charm and character. I didn’t quite get the lockers-by-the-pool thing – my usual routine of keeping my shower things out of the locker was made redundant as I prefer a segregated shower to showering in my swimsuit – but the showers in the changing room were warm and the whole thing was clean and pleasant. I have heard some bad stories about the lifeguards here, but they were fine (if a little bored and chilly looking) on my visit. On the basis that I’ll probably be using this lido and the Clissold pool a fair amount, plus Swiss Cottage, The Oasis and Kentish Town when it opens, I have bitten the bullet and got a swim london card. I can always cancel the direct debit if I don’t think I’m getting use but as most GLL pools are £4 a pop without it, it won’t take long to get value, even if I’m still using Usual Pool until the autumn.
Finally, Outdoor Swimming Friend has finally surpassed herself in nutty intrepidness. She’ll be making up part of a relay team completing the Enduro challenge – a sort of mega-triathlon encompassing a run from London to Dover, a channel swim and then a cycle to Paris, apparently largely favoured by the employees of major investment banks. Two hour-long swims in the channel in her cozzie won’t be particularly hard for this lady, but in the context of two 6-mile runs and a fair old bit of cycling, all using different muscles, it is a challenge indeed. More than happy to raise my glass from the sidelines. Brava!