Monday, 27 February 2012

Enough Ham.

324 Barking Road 
East Ham


E6 2RT
020 8548 5850
Question: Is this place twinned with anywhere in Germany?
Answer: Why yes it is. Kaiserslautern, which translates as Chief Dump.

Why the hell did I choose East Ham? Because back in the mists of 2008, Time Out published a list of London’s best pools (once I have my archiving sorted, this blog is a far superior product) which included this one in the East section, under London Fields and a Virgin Active pool which, as it’s private, makes a nonsense of a publicly-published list, as far as I'm concerned.  Aaaaanyway, I thought, if it’s made a ‘best of’, I better get down there. So off I trogged, passing, on the way, my current favourite derelict pool building, Poplar Baths, on the A13. 
I’d love to get in there, one day. Maybe Time Out will do a ‘best derelict pools’ list? Or maybe I will … 

Monday, 20 February 2012

It's a knockout

5 Old Ford Road,
Bethnal Green

E2 9PJ
020 8980 2243
Question: Is this up the road from London Fields lido? Answer: Yes it is.
Question: So why would anyone go here, instead of there? Answer: I don’t know.

YORK HALL. Why do I think of boxing when I say York Hall?

Oh relax, boxing fans, I know it’s one of the most famous venues in the country, I was just joshing. But that, my friends, is my boxing knowledge all used up. I’m spent. And I promise not to do that writery thing of using a boxing pun at the end, to tie this review up all neat.

YORK HALL. A plaque tells me it was opened in 1929 by the Duke of York - not the Grand Old, he was much earlier, I mean the future George VI. But fittingly, it’s a rather grand old building, with a balcony at the front where I could imagine the Duke and his missus doing a little wave to the massed throngs of Tower Hamlet’s grateful poor. The frontage is shabby but that’s OK. Bright red and green painted railings clash a bit with the faded council smartness - I mean 'Council' from a time when that was regarded as rather posh and respectable, dark wood and brass handles and a proper job for life. The reception still bears the good posture of a well-proportioned hall, even though the sign pointing upstairs to a ‘membership lounge’ looks like a late attempt to poncify it.  I go through to the wet changing area – past a proud and full trophy cabinet  and a contrastingly empty display of ‘employee of the month’. The walls and corridors all look solid and old; they are solid and old, this is a solid and old place.

Monday, 13 February 2012

Dogs or tennis?

Latimer Road

London SW19 1EW
020 8542 1330

There are two Wimbledons: the tennis one, and the dogs one. Everything and everybody falls into one category or the other, except for me, who falls into neither. (No, you can't be both.) One, tennis, is a terrifically charming village (pron. vill-ahj);  the other, dogs, has an indoor shopping centre called, amusingly*, Centre Court. The pool falls into the ‘dogs’ category, I suspect a pool belonging to the ‘tennis’ category would be more Phase Eight and Carluccios and less Morrisons.  And be private.

As we know, I don’t approve of private stuff: schools, hospitals, thoughts, etc. They should all be in the realm of state provision. Also, as we're going there, when I’m in charge, there will be no such thing as ‘choice’, it’s a false illusion, you’ll just get what your given, and all will be well. TRUST ME. However. If ‘getting what you’re given’ means getting pools like this, I will change political tack in a heartbeat, and build my own swimming pool.

(Anyone watch Take Me Out? You know that sound, when they turn their lights off? I just heard that sound... )

Monday, 6 February 2012

In swimming, and in health

London Road 
 SM4 5HE
020 8640 6727
Question I asked: is this really in London?
Answer I found: Yes, it’s the London Borough of Merton. (And I’ve done other non-London-seeming postcodes, like Hampton Court, so it counts. But I will forever draw the line at Bromley.)
Question 2: Why is it called pools (plural)?
Answer: Because there’s a little paddling pool by the car park.

Morden Park is a high point - not in anyone’s life, I hope, just on the Morden OS map - and from it, you get a tremendous view down across wherever this is. Outskirts. I've no idea why you'd want to look down on them, but you may be odd. The Park looks like it and its trees has been there forever. Them as knows me know I love an old tree. And Wikipedia confirms, it actually has been there forever, there’s even an ancient burial mound on it somewhere, but fortunately, I'm here alone so I don't have to go trekking off to find it and be 'interested'. Right at the toppermost point, beside the car park, is a square Georgian house in which people can get married. I think that’s a first for this blog: a place that doubles as swimming and wedding venue. I do, but only if your front crawl is up to scratch. I'd certainly like to see the Speedo wedding dress - I wonder if you'd go racer back, or endurance?