As a proud Plymothian I have always been grateful to live by the sea. I love swimming and it has been a Godsend to have somewhere to get my fix during lockdown where there are no membership fees, lane-hoggers or Mansplashers (disclaimer, not all men are splashers but most splashers are men!).
Cold water swimming has become extremely popular over the last few years and is a fantastic way to get exercise, fresh air and clear your head. There are many local groups popping up of brave souls taking the plunge in just their swimsuits/bobble hats and the more cautious in full wetsuits.
When I lived in London I would go to the Serpentine in Hyde Park for a cold dip and was due to take part in a charity swim there last September which sadly was cancelled due to the pandemic. I have yet to visit the Hampstead Ponds which is a legendary bathing pool in North London but it is top of my list. I recommend watching The Ponds, which was filmed over a year following stories of regular visitors to the mixed pools and those that make the trip on special occasions, Christmas and New Year’s Day being particularly popular.
I was inspired by watching Celia Imrie and Imelda Staunton go for a dip at Hampstead in one of my favourite films of recent years Finding Your Feet to get myself a retro flowery swimming cap, which I was hesitant to wear at first until I noticed that a few other ladies had the same idea. I remember to always add a slick of red lippy to complete the look which also disguises the inevitable tinge of blue on my lips from the cold!
Since being back in Plymouth my summers have been mostly spent at Tinside Lido, the art deco pool on Plymouth Hoe that was first opened in 1935. It has retained its simple charm and has an impressive wall of photographs from black and white ‘bathing belle’ competitions, sailors returning from overseas, families enjoying a day out with packed lunches and deckchairs (which we now call a ‘staycation’ of course!) to the present day outdoor cinema screenings, the BBC TV ident with a steel band playing overlooking the glorious view.
This week Hello Magazine dubbed Tinside the ‘most instagrammable pool in the UK’ which I heartily agree with. Although they missed a trick not publishing a photo of me posing in my Asda tummy control swimsuit leaning nonchalantly again the fountain with a Calippo.
The lido opens its doors for the beginning of the season on May 1st and I will be there, but this time I will be just dipping my feet as I have to wait a couple of weeks as I have a new tattoo that cannot be immersed in the water just yet. I had planned it for January but again due to the lockdown it was postponed. The irony of the swim hiatus being my new ink is a picture of a retro swimmer complete with red lips and flowery hat that I have nicknamed Lido Lil!
Until she has completely healed I shall admire the view and soak up the atmosphere at my Happy Place and reminisce about the good times I have spent there with family and friends in years gone by and those to come.
Maybe I’ll see you there? Don’t forget your red lippy.