Thursday, 14 September 2017
*Taps on screen*
I wouldn't blame you if you didn't. I have been shamefully quiet for the last few months. This is largely on account of gorging myself on seasonal lidos while I've had the opportunity. Making hay while the sun shines, and all that. You can read about my various lido road trips here. Scotland was a particularly epic, high mileage jolly around the outdoor pools of Scotland. There'll be more of that to come over the winter, I hope, as I'm on a promise to go and have a gander at Tarlair at some point. I shall do my best not to 'accidentally' fall in while wearing my togs. Honestly I will.
I've been out of the country for a while too, and had the great pleasure of swimming at both Kitsilano pool and Second Beach pool in Vancouver. These are outstanding open air pools, and I highly recommend them to you if you're passing through Vancouver in summer. They offer the young (and young at heart) the opportunity of all the water sliding they could ever want while the more dedicated members of the party hammer up and down the lanes uninterrupted. That's kind of duality is a tricky thing to pull off when an outdoor pool is busy but these pools have got it down to a tee.
I've been home almost two weeks, and in that time a lot of the UK's seasonal pools have already wrapped up for winter, with more to follow in the coming weeks; pulling the covers up to their noses and settling in for the long winter ahead. But some are bucking the seasonal norm, and are extending their seasons. Some are keeping the boilers on, big shout out to Hathersage there, the most northerly of the long heated season pools, and some are turning them off and offering the cool kids somewhere to hang out.
Yes, cold water swimming season is upon us. It's been an unseasonably cool September and talk of temperatures and afterdrop seems to have started early this year. I had the delicious sensation of afterdrop in August this year, thanks to an hour or so spent in the Pacific ocean at about 11c. The novelty of getting out of water of that temperature and into air temps in the high 20s would never grow old for me. It's perfect.
In the UK, however, that kind of perfection is hard to find. So up and down the land you'll see dryrobes coming out of summer storage and being pressed into service once more.
I remember humming and hahing over investing in one for a long time. I wondered whether I was ready to spend that kind of money rather than just sling on a load of extra layers and a rain coat.
What made my mind up was the weather forecast for the Bude Channel Relay Challenge a few years ago. Skin stripping winds, the sort of rain that could take the top off milk bottles and being in and out of the water were all persuasive factors. So I parted with the cash, and I have never been so glad I did. Being able to just whack that on over your togs and stand about perfectly comfortable made the whole thing a more fun. In a Type 2 fun kind of way.
I'm not the sort of person to get attached to material things, but I'm attached to that piece of material. It's been an impromptu picnic blanket, my child has slept under hers on breezy beaches, it's kept me snug standing on the side of a lido in the dead of winter, lending it to my Mum made me feel slightly better about having tipped her out of a canoe into a Welsh river and the pockets are deep enough to feel as though they constantly yield sweeties that I've stashed there and forgotten about from one swim to the next. I've rarely been happier than when I get out of the water and some kind soul helps it over my shoulders, or stood beside Bude Sea Pool in early October wearing about 3 at once as I count laps for other swimmers. It doesn't just wrap me up, it wraps up a lot of fine memories as well.
So I'm delighted that dryrobe approached us and offered to sponsor a pledge level. This seems like a good time to remind you all that you can switch pledge levels, so don't feel you've missed out on that if you pledged before it became available - just hit 'upgrade'.
It'll be more like business as usual on the update front going forward. I'm delighted to welcome so many new pledgers to the fold since I was last here - between you you've helped us to raise more than £12,000 and that's remarkable. It's a lot of money, this isn't a cheap book to produce, and we are grateful for every single penny and for the support you offer us by spreading the word.
And if you want to tweet me your best dryrobe pics I'd be delighted to see them. I'm @lidoguide and you can use #lidodryrobe.
Lou, Paul and Kate (pledgers all, I'm thrilled to say) rocking the dryrobe chic at Bude. They'd just done 21 miles between them.
John doing what he does best... telling other swimmers to get their heads down and get on with it. And warming the dryrobes for afterwards. So selfless.