I’m not much of a completist but, on Friday night, I realised that not only was I swimming in my third different pool in as many days, but that I would be getting wet in two more different ones over the next two days. Time for a seven day, seven pools challenge thought I! Sadly, I need to be in a church in the city at 6.30pm tomorrow so it doesn’t look like I’m going to be able to fit in a swim (doesn’t help that both nearby pools are closed at the moment). I could go tomorrow morning, but given that I did a proper swim at London Fields Lido at 3pm this afternoon, that really would just be doing it for the sake of it. And it would probably be swiss cottage if Idid, so best not really.
So, for the record, my five pools in five days were:
Wednesday: Kentish Town Baths – a proper swim
Thursday: Gospel Oak lido – a 7 minute dip
Friday: The Oasis – a surprisingly pleasurable 30 minutes, only tarnished by the fact that somebody attempted to nick my carrier bag while I was in the pool, but abandoned it in the cafe when they realised it only contained a towel and shampoo and conditioner (the latter extremely nice stuff – fools!)
Saturday: Ladies bathing pond – 5 minutes, fearing an incipient cold before I remembered about hay fever
Sunday: a lovely trip to London Fields Lido for 30 minute swim after many hours lazing about in bed and enjoying the absence of my usual walk
I’m quite tempted to go to the Marshall Street baths on Tuesday evening anyway, which was my original plan for tomorrow. And it will still be six pools in seven days. And who cares about ticking boxes anyway? Well me, obviously, or I wouldn’t have just posted this.
I had a half day yesterday and celebrated by finally making it to the lido for the first time this year. Hurray! The weather was warm and sunny (in a cool, springlike kind of way) so the nearly-empty pool looked like an art-deco postcard. Or possibly a David Hockney painting. I managed about 7 minutes but I have to admit that wearing socks but no mittens, I found the water fairly painful on my hands to begin with. I was hot from running and the pool temperature was a tropical 10 degrees, but clearly it’s not time to go bare-handed yet.
I also picked up my new pass, and was highly amused by Shane the lifeguard saying ‘I thought I recognised the face’. There can’t be that many people having their photopasses processed at this time of year.
This blog is never going to be a William Boot nature column (not least because I can only identify about six birds and my flower knowledge comes from Cicely M Barker) but I was absolutely bowled over by the beauty of the Heath this morning. There had been frost in the night, but the sun was warm and melting it, the trees were in bud and there was birdsong everywhere. The water was 7 degrees and was, no mistake, cold, but the warmth of the sun on the surface and the fact that there was no wind, made it especially pleasant. I also shared the water with my first waterfowl – a coot (that’s one of the six). I have to admit to having been slightly more excited by the fact that while I was running back past the railway line there was the unmistakeable squeak of the points changing, but that’s the kind of geek I am.
On a reference to a previous posting about lane speeds, last night at Kentish Town I saw my very first instance of a lifeguard asking a fast swimmer to move to a faster lane. Just as well, I’d been taken over him so often, I was on the point of moving to the slow lane. I know not everyone says this very often, but good for GLL!
After an uneventful couple of weeks of indoor and outdoor swimming, I caught a textbook cold this week and couldn’t do any proper exercise. However, I did go to the pond today, although I’m definitely still runny-nosed and bunged up (at the same time!). I thought it couldn’t possibly do any harm and actually it did an amazing amount of good. Having slept poorly and feeling thoroughly out of sorts, I felt refreshed and positive after a few minutes in the water. More amazingly, my cold symptoms actually disappeared for about an hour (although they’re back again now – but tempered by the good mood left behind by the cold dip). I remember a similar experience with a hangover last year – total cure after immersion, some return of symptoms about an hour later (although the curative effects were stronger in the hangover – perhaps because they were combined with the only dead cert hangover cure: time). The water was up to 6 degrees although actually felt colder because the air temperature was mild. On the other hand, I walked up wearing lots of clothes (which made me stand out a bit on the heath) instead of running which will have affected my perceptions. Anyway, if I have a terrible relapse tomorrow, I will acquiesce to’I told you so’.
As a teenager I was terribly shy in changing rooms – even to the extent that I used to wear my aertex underneath my school blouse so I wouldn’t have to strip off in front of my schoolmates. This only changed when I went to Budapest for six months and realised how unselfconscious older Hungarian women were in all-female environments. I noticed the same atmosphere when I went to a hammam in Turkey. I haven’t looked back since. I was surprised when, last week , I was left dripping and shivering outside the shower cubicle for 5 minutes while a fellow-swimmer got dressed in there. She was dressed modestly when she emerged, but the changing cubicles were about 4 seconds away and I simply can’t see how a few seconds wearing just her towel in an exclusively female environment could be worth leaving a queue of people outside the showers. Perhaps she didn’t realise what was happening until she was face to face with me, but she didn’t take up the opportunity to apologise.
In this instance, there were only females in the changing room, but of course women’s changing rooms don’t always just contain women. I do sympathise with parents who take children of the opposite sex swimming. My own feeling is that if they are too young to get changed on their own, they’re probably young enough to be around adults of the opposite sex not wearing anything. But some parents are protective of their children up to a high age and some changers very uncomfortable in the presence of really quite young children. Ironmonger Row swimming baths used to have signs asking users to ‘cover up’ when showering, I presume for this reason. I don’t have any answers for this one and I’m aware it’s a sensitive topic. But if your kids do want to get changed in private, please can you get them out of the shower first? Thank you…