Tuesday, 3 March 2009

the welkin rings, but it's the wrong number -or, The Swimming Pool That Time Forgot

Welkin is one of those words I associate with Spenser and Milton, and with forest glades, snuffling deer and a distant hunting horn echoing through the dappled light. You know, as in making the welkin ring.

Wrongly, as it turns out; it means 'heaven', apparently. Another case of reality failing to live up to the brochure.

This is the picture for the nature piece in the latest edition of the Bristol Review of Books, soon to be available in all (hang on, make that 'some') good libraries. In the Bristol area.

So anyway, there are flash leisure centres around the city, including the one where I joined so that I could get horribly fit in the gym before setting off on the Big Welsh Walk two years back. Hated it all, including the huge swimming pool always full of fitness nazis swimming up and down and up and down and God help you if you got in their way.

And then, on the wrong side of the river, there is an old fashioned swimming pool, complete with a proper deep end where, despite the No Diving notices, you can dive. And there are very few people in it; we once even had it to ourselves. So obviously I'm not going to disclose the location.

I was down there with A and M on Sunday. Swim, chat, swim, chat. Then A got out and after a while M and I were going to get out as well, but we waited in the water for the two women in the shower to finish showering. (there are two double showers, one at either side of the deep end, one marked Male and the other Female, but otherwise identical, and open to the poolside)

And we waited.

And waited.

"I'm sure she'd already shampooed her hair," said M. "And it's not very environmental, is it? -Big people use more water. More surface area"

They were quite large. M has just started a weight-watching group and is on the look-out for recruits.

"I should get some cards printed. I could have given them one," she added.

And we waited some more.

"There should always be twice the number of facilities for women," M announced. I agreed. There should.

We carried on a-waiting.

"I'm going to use the Gents'", M announced.

I followed her. Safety in numbers. I would never have dared do it if I'd been on my own.

So we finally got out of the pool.


Here is Annie's account of her trip to the newly-refurbished Clifton Lido


  1. I like the word Welkin. It sounds like something teenage girls do when they strut their stuff in front of desirable boys. You have to have high heels on to welk

    I loved the outdoor pool in Evesham. Those two hot summers in the 70s we were there every lunchtime at twelve and had it to ourselves, then on the way back to the bank, the pub landlord would have lime and lemons lined up ready for us (made with real Roses lime).

    They closed it for health reasons.

    I'd never thought of big people being environmentally unfriendly before, then again they need less water to fill to the top when they are in the bath.

  2. Anji is quite right about the advantages of the larger person to save on bath water AND I think it is mean of you and ‘M’ to be so big-personist. I being the 'A' mentioned anticipated the luxurious ablutions of the ladies in the showers (which is why I nipped out before they did) and most fragrant they were as they sailed along the side of the pool to meet their loved ones after their long chat, body scrub and lather of shampoo and conditioner . I like to see an extended family out for a swim together. Mum, Dad, little girl, sister-in-law and Grand-dad all throwing each other about in the shallow end :-) Lovely. Those women couldn’t give a flying f**k what anyone else thought of them. They were comfortable in their skins and were of a comfy size. Hooray for the big-bottomed girls I say, and long may they be bold enough to bare all and go for a dip in the local pool. Splosh!

  3. "She's wel kin, she is." Yes, I see what you mean. Or what gintry do with hounds on the foreshore; huntin, shootin, welkin. The shellfish enjoy the hunt, y'know.

    We had an outdoor pool in the valley in Wales, sandwiched between the slag heap and the main road. It was blooming cold, presumably because it was fed by a mountain spring. Long gone now.

    You are both quite right about the sizism; I merely report what is said. But they *did* spend about three hours in the shower, Annie. And that is a very good point about the bath. Archimedes would have picked up on that one straight away.

    I've added a link to your lido blog.

  4. I often wondered why the oysters scuttled (oh dear) away when they saw us coming.
    Ask my children; I'm old enough to have been around when Archimedes took a bath.