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