Friday, 18 September 2020

A new happy place...


I’ve mentioned before here how much I love swimming - it’s very much like running in that I procrastinate like crazy about doing it, don’t always enjoy it *that* much while I’m doing it, but pretty much always feel AMAZING afterwards. And on a good day that feeling of gliding through the water, self-propelled and weightless, is just world-beating. In the current COVID-19 climate though, I can’t say that the thought of visiting a swimming pool has appealed to me much. It’s not the pool itself - it’s the changing rooms, always with a tendency to be hot and humid, it just feels like the sort of place that a virus would be right at home, and so I’ve decided against going, but as a result I have really missed swimming. 

I mentioned that we swam on holiday - that sea swim was utterly blissful in spite of the cold and the jellyfish (bastard jellyfish) and it made me realise fully how much I had missed I had a thought, and googled “outdoor swimming pools near...” to see if anything at all came up. And there it was - top of the list - Ware Priory Lido, just SEVEN DAMNED MILES from home. How did I never know about this before? Had I known about it but forgotten? Who knows, but having found out, it seemed rude not to do something with the information. Obviously I procrastinated for a week first, but this morning it suddenly occurred to me that the website had said it would be closing for the season at the end of next week, and so if I wanted to go, it would be sensible to do it soon. So I jumped online and booked - for this afternoon. (Yes, swinging from procrastination to impulsiveness is one of my defining characteristics!)

Well what a glorious place! For a start, they’re managing things beautifully in respect of COVID. Alternating the changing rooms in use to allow for extra cleaning, insisting that you arrive ready to swim and simply strip down to costume or trunks on the grassy poolside, and taking temperatures on the way in just to be certain. You have to book too, and they are only selling a limited number of tickets. Apparently the 10-12 people who were in there when I was is about standard numbers at the moment. The ticket gives you an hour and a half time slot - a hour for swimming and half an hour for showering, which works well. 

 In common with swimming pools generally, everyone was incredibly friendly too - I got chatting with a number of people including one lady who was very, VERY pregnant. Already overdue, she was apparently delighted when told that if the baby hadn’t arrived by the 28th they would induce her, as the 28th is the day AFTER the pool closes for the season, meaning she won’t have to miss any swims! Most of those I spoke to were committed outdoor swimmers - some would usually use pools at Stevenage or Letchworth I gather but those haven’t opened this year. 

Having been once I’ll definitely go back - I just wish I had known about it sooner! It took me no longer to get there than my usual pool, and although it is a little more expensive it’s not enough of a difference to feel significant, and it’s so much nicer - in warm weather, at least! Having grown up visiting an outdoor pool very regularly in the summer holidays (Larkswood in Chingford for any fellow East Londoners reading) it just felt so familiar to me - and without the limited time slot it would be an amazing place to go on a hot day and alternate swimming with sitting on a towel reading...maybe next year! 


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