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The Lido Shuffle

July 26, 2016

I’ve had a dream. An ambition. I don’t like the phrase “Bucket List”.

About 10 years ago I had the crazy idea that I wanted to visit all the outdoor swimming pools and lidos in the UK. We were on holiday at the time and Steven and I had just braved the freezing cold water in Brightlingsea Pool in Essex.

It’s in my DNA. I was born and brought up in Southall and at the end of our road was Southall Recreation Ground and pride of place in the centre of the Rec went to the fabulous unheated open air swimming pool. From May to September, I was there every day. So many rites of passage in that place. Here’s a lovely Pathe News recording of some swimming lessons from the pool back in 1961:

In my bedroom, when I first got married, I had my three favourite swimming pool photos on the wall, from back in the day:

western super mare poolBlackpool poolmorecombe pool

They were taken at Western Super Mare, Blackpool and Morecombe respectively. All long gone.

There are exactly 100 outdoor pools left in the country – 75 of which are only open between May and September. My original idea was to do the Grand Tour in 2 years but that is going to be pushing it a bit. I’d have to do one a week. Perhaps it needs to be a ten year project. I’ve done four already: Uxbridge Pool, Hampton Pool, Shoalstone Pool in Brixham and the one in Essex.

There is something so natural about an outdoor pool. You don’t get it with the indoor ones. The noises are different. Steven gets very agitated by the metallic voices and noises in a municipal indoor pool. I always come out of an outdoor pool both mentally and physically invigorated. The smells are different too.

I’m going to start once Steven has moved into his new home (probably mid September). You’re welcome to join me. I’m not a strong swimmer, so it’ll only be a couple of lengths in each pool, a photo, an ice cream and perhaps a cup of Bovril. I plan to do a pictorial journal of the adventure.

Oh, and on the entrance steps, I’ll be playing The Lido Shuffle by Boz Scaggs.

If you’re coming, you’d better learn the words:

 

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10 Comments
  1. Sheila Hanly permalink

    See you at the Brockwell Lido!

  2. Sally permalink

    What a goo dies!
    If you have ime. Don’t forget the incredibly lovely. Portsmouth Lido.
    The book Wild Swimming by Kate Rew has a fantastic section on lidos.
    Which criminal idiots did away with the lidos in your pictures?

  3. Lee-Maria Rochester permalink

    Hi, I too have an obsession with lidos and outdoor swimming, when you get to the London ones let me know! I will join ya, theres several great ones near me, brockwell park lido near Brixton, oasis in Holborn and several others. see ya there , my son may join us ,he braves a dip whatever the weather! Lee Rochester

  4. mandy permalink

    Lymington sea baths in the New Forest! Add it to your list x

  5. Just love the chap in his suit & tie, instructing. So very stiff-upper-lip standards. Wonderful.

  6. Had a great time at Brockley Park on Monday. And was brought up, virtually, in Portsmouth Lido, glad to know it is still there

  7. I’ll join you at the one in Oxford, and try and persuade some MLMC Champions to take a dip too.

  8. Helene permalink

    Clifton lido (Bristol). Never been in there, too pricey and too many ogglers! Really miss having a swimming pool where I live.

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