From Desk Till Dawn

My mainly music & nerd bird blog

Posts Tagged ‘Pools

Lido Love No.7 Hillingdon Lido

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Firstly let me congratulate Hillingdon Lido on showing some sense and remaining open for a bit longer this year due to our Indian Summer. In comparison to the frankly frustrating and borderline idiotic conversations I’ve had with Finchley Lido it’s been fantastic speaking to staff here who show good old-fashioned customer service.

Secondly, I am utterly in love with this Lido. It smelt of suntan lotion and the faint tang of Chlorine. Buxom bikinis and leathery old men sprawled around the pool soaking up the sunshine, I suspect more people were there for the sunbathing than the swimming as the main pool remained surprisingly quiet. I even allowed myself a moment of the holidaymakers (that’s Grockle if you come from Devon like I do) and lay out by the pool reading my book listening to Dave, Dee, Dozy, Beaky, Mick and Tich.

Hillingdon Lido. Open later than usual for our Indian Summer

While it was an ultimately calm and beautiful environment there was one annoying sod. There is an unwritten rule in the life of the Lido, in fact of all swimming pools. You swim straight in lengths or widths, children are allowed to freestyle. So when I spotted someone swimming diagonally towards me I suspected something was afoot. The directional offender asked a variation of “has you mate got out the pool? you here alone” on FIVE occasions. It wasn’t in the friendly manner that I discussed the weather and Ritz crackers with another chap there. It was in a manner that made me feel like I was in the wrong for being female and alone in public (adding to that you’re essentially exposed when in your swimming costume). It is very hard to give a stony stare when wearing swimming goggles so I just had to zig zag my way past him.

Another pool nestled in Art Deco Grade II surroundings, it is 67m long with two children’s pools separate at the far end (which meant any splashing hysteria gravitated away from the main pool). It is immaculately maintained and the water is sparkling clear (although I guess most things would be after The Serpentine last week). It was worth travelling to Uxbridge for and would happily visit again and again.

Temperature: Surprisingly cold, took a while to warm up
People doing serious swimming: 3
Men grabbing their danglebobbins a lot: 1
Women swimming in sunglasses: They were strictly poolside, no dipping for them
Kids doing classic “bombing”: All in the mini pools
People dipping their toes with iPhones in hand: 2
Cost: £5.40

☆☆☆☆☆

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Written by Anon PA

September 11, 2012 at 10:37 am

Lido Love No.6 Serpentine Lido

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I won’t lie. I had to psych myself up for the Serpentine. I had turned open air swimming (by that I mean in rivers and ponds) into a watery theatre full of creatures Neil Gaiman would write into his books. Water rats and eels… before the cockney’s jelly them. A friend convinced me that my overactive imagination wouldn’t reflect the reality, thankfully she is to be trusted. A few lazy birds lurked at the side and a duck skimmed my swimming cap as it started a low flight to the water. No creatures below.

It was freezing, the ramp down to the water is slippery and its very shallow. At all points I could plant my feet on firm soil. But there’s something about swimming in fresh water, even in the chill. Getting that inevitable mouthful of water doesn’t taste quite so foul, even if you narrowly avoid a feather or two. The view is stunning, you won’t beat it. When I was doing backstroke I looked up at the sky and it felt like it it was going on forever. Felt like I was suspended in that moment alone, no niggling worries or stresses on my mind.

Serpentine Lido

The heritage and history of the Serpentine Lido is something to feel connected to. George II created The Serpentine for Queen Caroline between 1727 – 1731. Only a few weeks ago I was sat in the stands during The Olympics to watch the women’s 10K marathon swim (so I’ve technically shared the same water as Olympians, how many people can say that?). Then of course there’s the Serpentine Swimming Club, formed around the 1830’s. What’s not to love about a swimming club that hold a Christmas day meet called the Peter Pan Cup.

The London swimmer Jenny advised me this was only suitable for a dip, and she’s right. But I still loved mentally shouting “I’m doing more exercise than you losers” at the people plodding past me in pedalos. Also, there was a woman swimming that looked exactly like Frida Kahlo in a neon orange swimming costume so I sort of love it for that reason, even if my thighs are still trying to convey their numbness to me three hours after getting out of the water.

Temperature: Freezed my tits off
People doing serious swimming: 4
Men grabbing their danglebobbins a lot: 0
Women swimming in sunglasses: 0
Kids doing classic “bombing”: 0
People dipping their toes with iPhones in hand: 0
Cost: £3.50

☆☆☆☆

Lido Love No.5 Richmond’s Pools On The Park

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Only on my fourth Lido I have already exposed myself and gave myself a heart attack when I thought I was about to swallow a lump of poo. Pulling myself out of bed yesterday to head down to Richmond with an almighty hangover made me feel as if some fate worse than the above was waiting for me. David Cameron copying Ian Thorpe and lurking poolside perhaps, seeing as I didn’t get to experience either at Tooting Bec.

Instead I got the chirpiest staff I have encountered during my trek so far (found myself awkwardly and self-consciously hopping from foot to foot in my swimming costume as one staff member decided to have a lengthy natter about my nail varnish). A huge maze of indoor cubicles and the most amazing Tardis like machine for children to clamber in and dry off after their dip offers you the luxury of stripping indoors.

Richmond’s Pool on the Park

You have to walk around the indoor pool to get to the Lido so it allows you that moment of smugness to congratulate yourself on being hardened to the elements enough in choosing the great outdoors. However, the moment I jumped in I realised that actually this pool is heated so cheats somewhat. It was like the dying heat of a bath you’ve been in for a bit too long, and although the pool isn’t of the scale of Parliament Hill or Tooting Bec it is the perfect hangover size. Anything larger I may have struggled yesterday. The indoor/outdoor divide seems very clear. Swimmers outside, families inside.

To balance out the wonderful staff I encountered some miserable swimmers who clearly had the hump I was daring to have a well deserved sit down at the shallow end, I think I ruined their perfectly timed laps. Residents of Richmond may not like strangers in their pool, especially one with the remnants of last nights mascara clinging on to their face. I won’t mark them down on account of this though as aside from that it was a perfect hangover cure.

I felt a sense of achievement exercising on a hangover yesterday…. until I read about Diana Nyad. 63 and on her third attempt to swim from Cuba to Florida without a shark cage!

Temperature: Roasting
People doing serious swimming: 6
Men grabbing their danglebobbins a lot: 0
Women swimming in sunglasses: 0
Kids doing classic “bombing”: 0
People dipping their toes with iPhones in hand: 0
Cost: £4.60

☆☆☆☆☆

Written by Anon PA

August 28, 2012 at 12:10 pm

Lido Love No.4 Tooting Bec

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Let me tell you about the time I was merrily front crawling my way up and down Tooting Bec Lido. I was, for want of a better term, in the swimming zone. I was concentrating on my breathing to take my mind off the fact I think I’ve broken my toe and it was agony, my goggles were misting up. Something brown and small came into my line of vision just as I had exhaled and was returning my head underwater. My heart stopped for a very long millisecond as I thought “Is that poo?”. I managed to avoid a clash with the small brown thing by swimming down to the bottom of the pool, where my heart stopped for a second time as I thought “Did I just nearly swallow poo?”

As I surfaced three children were getting a scolding for eating their chocolate ice-cream cones at the poolside and an embarrassed Dad was plopping into the pool to retrieve the dollop I mistook for a number two. Oh how we laughed and laughed (while all the time I was crying inside).

Tooting Bec Lido

Tooting Bec Lido is framed by trees and beach hut coloured changing cubicles, I was half expecting a Punch and Judy show in one of them. I got the impression from my two hours there this is a Lido that serves, and is well-loved, by its local community. There are no lockers (although they can keep valuables safe for you) so you have to trust that some clever sod won’t run away with your clothes. This was second nature growing up in Devon where we left front doors unlocked, but in London it was harder to leave my belongings out in the open. It’s a brilliantly huge 90m pool so even with kids splashing around there’s more than enough room to get an uninterrupted swim in.

Just as I arrived home last night I put on the radio while I unpacked a sopping wet towel and nursed my bruised and battered foot, not Lido related I must stress, just my own clumsiness. Tom Ravenscroft played a track from Darren Hayman’s Lido album (London Fields, one I have yet to visit). It was the perfect homecoming, a sign from Neptune. Or whoever the God of Lido’s may be.

Temperature: Toasty warm
People doing serious swimming: 16
Men grabbing their danglebobbins a lot: 0
Women swimming in sunglasses: 0
Kids doing classic “bombing”: 17
People dipping their toes with iPhones in hand: 10
Cost: £6.00

☆☆☆

Written by Anon PA

August 21, 2012 at 1:48 pm

Lido Love No.3 Parliament Hill

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On my approach to Parliament Hill Lido this afternoon it felt as if Edgar Allan Poe had decided to narrate this outing to my third London Lido. Plump crows were cawing, the rumble of trains passed over my head and rain plopped down from a stormy sky. But with a renewed enthusiasm to exercise after the Olympics and a new swimming cap in my kit bag I skipped up and paid my £5.50, ignoring the air of doom.

First impressions were as bleak as my trot up to the steps. They’ve painted the changing cubicles in bright yellows and reds hoping to distract your eye from the grubby concrete (staff were fighting a losing battle with a hose and brushes). There is an absence of lockers but free baskets to store your kit bag. However when I walked out to the pool all negative impressions were wiped from memory. Similar to Brixton Beach the pool sits in a Grade II listed building, currently bordered with photography from the pool over the years. Refurbished in 2005 the pool is a whopping 60 metres long and steel lined (I believe the only one in the UK of its sort) so the water glimmers crystal clear. It is stunning place to swim.

There is something about swimming in the rain, it reminds me of drunken moonlight swims on Torre Abbey sands with my best friend. So to use a Devon word it’s Lush. It always feels warmer for some reason, and there’s something beautiful when your immediate view is droplets hitting the surface centimetres away from your nose.

Temperature: Toasty warm
People doing serious swimming: 4
Men grabbing their danglebobbins a lot: 1
Women swimming in sunglasses: 0
Kids doing classic “bombing”: 3
People dipping their toes with iPhones in hand: 0
Cost: £5.50

☆☆☆☆☆

Written by Anon PA

August 15, 2012 at 6:04 pm

Lido Love No.2 Park Road

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This evening I trekked up to Crouch End to visit the second Lido on my list. The eerily deserted Park Road, a world away from my crowded splash at Brixton Beach last week.

From the moment I emerged blinking in to the light from Turnpike Lane (one of our more imaginative sounding tube stations) I discovered that residents are remarkably proud of their local Lido. As I asked for directions, and told people I was working my way around London Lido’s folk couldn’t wait to tell me theirs was the very best.  “In my humble opinion” added one girl with multi-colour dreadlocks. I couldn’t help but think the mass of rainbow tangles on her head must get very heavy when wet. I was eventually escorted by a scruffy raggedy bunch of kids who asked to borrow a £1 for the lockers. Turns out the lockers are 20p and I think they ran off to the sweet shop. They saw me coming.

Park Road Lido

I had only two other companions in the pool with me so was a bit braver with my strokes. Inspired by the Olympics I decided to go for a tumble turn around a metre from the wall. Any experienced swimmer will be wagging their finger at me right now as this is far too close to execute and I ended up swallowing a ton of water and exposing a boob to an indifferent Magpie. Lesson learnt.

Price is usually £5.50 but as I arrived near closing time the lovely people only charged me £3. Although the upkeep wasn’t as slick as Brockwell Lido (remnants of sand or grit at the bottom of the pool, but I honestly don’t care about little things like this, all that matters is water being present at the end of the day) surroundings are more comfortable to flop out on to benches or grass when you’re done swimming. Lockers are 20p and more plentiful in numbers, outside changing cubicles are also available. Basically, it’s a lovely pool to swim in, quiet and the staff were chirpy.

Temperature: Nippy around the nipples
People doing serious swimming: 1
Men grabbing their danglebobbins a lot: 0
Women swimming in sunglasses: 0
Kids doing classic “bombing”: 0
People dipping their toes with iPhones in hand: 0
Cost: £3

☆☆

Felt poignant today. Well done Tom Daley & Peter Waterfield. You did us proud

Written by Anon PA

July 30, 2012 at 9:15 pm

Lido Love No.1 Brockwell

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A couple of weeks ago I decided to set myself a smattering of (hopefully achievable) goals. One of the items on my new to-do list is to swim every Lido in London. It struck me that in all my years living in London I have never once visited one, and can count on one hand the amount of times I’ve been swimming since being here. I grew up in a seaside town, if we weren’t in the sea kicking at the bootstrap seaweed wrapping around our legs, we were sneaking in to the holiday camps to use their pools memorizing chalet numbers as we climbed through gaps in hedges in case we were challenged. Once upon a time I was a water baby.

Yesterday I started my Lido mission and visited Brockwell, known as ‘Brixton Beach’. Diving into a moderately chilly pool in this stifling London heat made me happy as a pig in shit. Swimming past a group of teenage girls singing a mocking song which consisted of a chorus made up entirely of repeating Nick Clegg’s name over and over also had Jo & I in laughter. The below feels like a fair way to judge the Lido’s I hope to visit over the next two months.

Temperature: Chilly but warmed up after one length
People doing serious swimming: 2 (until a triathlon team turned up)
Men grabbing their danglebobbins indecently: 3
Women swimming in sunglasses: 4
Kids doing classic “bombing”: Lost count
People just dipping their toes with iPhone in hand: 3
Cost: £3.20

 

Brockwell Lido

On London’s hottest day this year understandably there was a queue to get in and there are limited lockers if you’re not a member but you get to swim in a well-kept olympic size pool (I got carried away with this fact and as a result every bone feels like it’s creaking and screaming at me today) in a Grade II listed art-deco building.

☆☆☆☆

Written by Anon PA

July 25, 2012 at 2:29 pm