Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Accidentally in Croydon

100 The High Street,Thornton Heath
London CR7 8LF
0208 689 5300
Added bonus: Near Tooting Lido (by car)
Negative: I’ve accidentally come to Croydon ... (Added bonus II: ... not by racist tram.)

I have good conversations in Tooting Lido sauna, even when I’m in there on my own (b’dum tisch). It’s strangely personal but not, sitting, limbs fire red, nylon-to-nylon with swimmers you may or may not know. When it’s packed, I worry I might meld with the person next to me in some hot elastic bonding disaster. There’s a code of practice, unwritten of course, whereby the last person to come in is offered the hottest spot in the top corner. I was in there t’other day, talking about this blog to some poor trapped cold sods, one of whom took a slow revenge by recommending Charlton Lido, which has been shut for some time, I found out. Inez, however, recommended Thornton Heath pool, the current place-to-swim for refugees from the old Streatham pool. I thought I should give it a try.

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Swim clockwise round the island

1 Macdonald Road,
London N19 5DD
020 7263 0613
Opening times: Definitely shut Weds mornings, which is the time I first visited.
Added bonus: if you like wallowing in ennui
Negative points: milky milky milky

Something has occurred to me (it probably occurred to some of you a while back, but I’m a bit slow). It is this: for the purposes of a blog I chose to start, I’m paying money to visit, on a weekly basis, the shit holes of this city, and then I spend time moaning about them - again, through choice. What a fucking idiot. I could stop doing this blog, but leaving it unfinished would just add a sense of bloody failure to the whole pointless escapade. And one  annoying extra about the whole process is that the worse the area the pool is in, the worse the pool. That seems to me to be the wrong way round. Shit areas should have nice pools, cool gold plated ones where you can swim in natural water and be wafted dry by gods, they deserve it as a respite from life’s rubbish.

On this wash of ennui, I return to Archway Pool. I say return, because I turned up the week before to find it shuts on Wednesday mornings and I wasn’t even allowed to peek in, because ‘the manager was there’. Obviously the manager is a gorgon, and the advice was for my own good. The outside was not promising, so I hadn’t returned with high hopes. Jaded dirty paint and a half-hearted attempt at a wavy logo on a shitty street just past a McDonalds, 80s metal doors in horrid peeling primary paint and a crappy reception, beyond which the hum of light from a big white space calls promisingly…

Friday, 18 November 2011

How to make the swimmer in your life happy*

This beautiful pic of Tooting Lido was taken on 20/11/11  by @JPDBuckley.

A work in progress.
(I've updated this once, but please carry on contributing your suggestions, either via comments here, or tweet me @jennylandreth and I’ll add them if I like them, and they’re not illegal.)

‘You’re SO DIFFICULT to buy for’ is usually nonsense. It translates as ‘Just tell me. I’m too lazy or stupid to have picked up clues or to apply my brain. If we’re honest, I barely know you, because all the time you were talking, I was dreaming about Sarah Lund’.

And just because I can swim doesn’t mean I want another copy of Wild Swim, nice as it is. That was last year’s glut. Then there’s the swimming stuff that will never scream GIFT.  Buying someone nose clips or mouldable ear wax is like buying a woman Tampax. It’s necessary but never a treat, not even for someone with a worryingly irregular cycle. It doesn’t show you’re intuitive and resourceful and have been taking careful notes. It’s a sign you forgot, and went to the late night chemist.

So, I’ve made a start on a list of things that swimmers might like for Christmas. If you’re buying for a swimmer, it might cut out the possibility of that gritted-teeth ‘you know me so well’.  If the swimmer in your life is you, give this list, appropriately highlighted, to someone who either loves you, or is cashed up sufficiently to pop a little summat under your tree.

Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Doing a Janet

Bloemfontein Road

Shepherds Bush
W12 7DB
020 8735 4900

Added bonus: The receptionist.
Minus points for: really stinking loos and shower
You could also: visit Westfield. Or stick pins in your eyes.

When I said to Adam ‘let’s do Janet’, I had no idea how prescient that comment was. He knew what I meant - to my knowledge there’s no other pool in the world named after a Janet, unless there’s a Janet Street Porter Pool somewhere? Imagine the fulsome joy of that, if you must. The late Janet Adegoke was the first black woman in  London to become a mayor –  Hammersmith and Fulham, since you ask; that's her in the pic - she looked nice, eh. This version of the pool was built in 2006, as part of Phoenix Leisure Centre, which leads one to presume it rose from ashes.

The entrance to the centre is not glamorous on this dark eve, it feels like a little turning that might take you to a car boot sale. But the winged structure of the new build flings some modern light into the gloom. The reception is standard, but the receptionist was not, she was very cheery. I tried to pay with a ‘schwim cap’ that my sis had given me, but the hour was too late, so I handed over £3.70 which, having paid over a fiver in some places, I figured then was quite cheap. In retrospect, they should knock a quid off for the stench from the showers.

Monday, 7 November 2011

Stating the obvious (x2)

High Street
Hampton, Middlesex TW12 2ST
020 8255 1116
I found this pic on Flickr - it's by Luca Patriccioli. Hope he doesn't mind the borrow.
Added bonus: hot outdoor steam
Negative points: You’d have to be hard-pushed or very pernickety to find something negative about this pool. Fortunately,  I am both of those things. Narrow lanes.

I was going to save this pool for the Xmas/New Year break, as if I was giving you all a little gift, because we swim here then en famille* – as an escape from that ‘oh god if we just keep eating we’re going to die’ feeling. Lots of other families do the same, which tells you two things. 1: it’s very very busy with small people at that time and 2, we are not the only ones who need the momentary escape from en famille* that being underwater brings. No one can ask you for more cake underwater. But you’ve all been so good this year you can have it early.

I don’t want to upset anyone, so I'm going to tread carefully. (Ha ha ha, I don't care about upsetting anyone, couldn't actually give a shit, this is my blog and if you get upset, I look forward to reading about it on your blog.) There is much that is positive about this place, so I can understand why it inspires the pool love. And outdoor pools have much more loyal fans than their poor indoor relations can muster. But I am worried they might fight me if I'm mean, with their strong swimmy arms.  If someone came on here and started being mean about Tooting Lido I might offer them outside (chorus: you already are outside, you loon). Bearing all that in mind, I’m putting on an armour-plated swim hat.