Monday, 30 May 2011

A lido? In Crouch End?

Park Road Leisure Centre

Park Road

 N8 8JN
020 8341 3567
Added bonus:  The pool website says that Simon Pegg and David Tennant live in Crouch End. Star-spotting. Hold me back. (SEE NOTE) 
Negative points: Seasonal. 

This review will mine the gap between ‘hidden gem’ and ‘never heard of it’.

I won’t ask this question to the queue stretching along the road on a beautiful summer day, but - how come so few people I know who swim in lidos have swum in this lido? Even my friends Wendy and John, who live three yards away, haven't swum in it - mind you, they’re not a litmus test, they’re private pool people. Hmm. I know. *purses lips, mean little nod.* It’s no more off the beaten track than, say, Uxbridge (dodges while people from Crouch End throw things) and it can’t be the North/South divide, because I've swum in Parliament Hill Lido.  Somehow, this one has slipped off my lido radar. Yours too?

Monday, 23 May 2011

Nice and easy

Old Deer Park
Twickenham Road, Richmond TW9 2SL
020 8940 0561
Added bonus: In out in out
Negative: The flight path.

‘Don’t get your hopes up’ muttered Tara, darkly, as we approached the long, low modernist building, ‘this is an outdoor pool, not a lido’. It’s a fine distinction, I recognise what she meant, even if I can’t define it. But I admit I was expecting great things. Richmond, after all, is home of the Jaggers, the Woods, Zac Goldsmith, other, less obnoxious, people (including Tara) -  it’s posh. I found myself using French words. ‘It’s very distingue’, I pronounced badly. ‘Tres jolie’. I could see palms everywhere. Maybe I thought I was in Cannes. 

Monday, 16 May 2011

Sign says NO

Seven Islands Leisure Centre
100 Lower Road

Rotherhithe, London, SE16 2TU

0844 893 3888
Added bonus: Decathlon, two mins away, cheap sporting goods.
Negative: The photo says it.  

Sounds romantic, Seven Islands. I imagined swimming from one pool to another, past waterfalls and jungly plants, floating cocktail bars with bamboo roofs, laughter, happiness, all for a meagre £4 entrance fee.  Yeah, well. This is Rotherhithe and romance buggered off some time ago down the road to Canary Wharf, til it realized there were no yellow birds there and that these names were a con. Apparently, this concrete block of a building opened in 1965 ‘before it was finally completed’, and it might be nice if it’s ever finished. As it is, the words ‘hole’ and ‘shit’ spring to mind, not necessarily in that order. Still, I’m here to serve, so in it I swam.

Monday, 9 May 2011

Torbay, SW2

Brockwell Park
Dulwich Rd
London SE24 OPA
0207 274 3088
Added bonus: Cold and outdoors
Negative: Closed Oct to March. 

My name is Jenny, and I’m a cold water swimmer. Wrong meeting? Tooting Lido, my ‘home’ pool, is outdoor, unheated and in South London; so is Brockwell Lido, and shared attributes make it both easier and harder to review this pool. Easier because it’s near, familiar, and I know what to expect from a cold swim. But harder because I have a choice, and I would always choose Tooting. Unheated lidos are also in a different league from other pools, indoor and out, because cold and weather make such a  difference, whatever bit of the year it is. I have been known to bore on about cold-water swimming, but please look as kindly on me as you would on an alcoholic ex-air hostess doing the exit demonstration at a party.

Monday, 2 May 2011

A bit of posh

Walmer Road

W11 4PQ
020 7727 9747
Added bonus: a kiln
Negative: Changing area. As usual.

Some days, I fancy a bit of posh. Oh come on, we all do.  This was such a day, so I trilled off the tube at Holland Park and gaily skipped along wisteria-laden roads, past houses with front gardens hewn from white marble with olive trees and lavender bushes to the sounds of a man up some scaffolding singing ‘Heathcliffe, it’s me, Kathy’ in a rather beautiful falsetto. I was excited. This was going to be dead posh.