Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Wild Swimming

Looks heavenly, doesn't it?  Especially on a day like this.  Sadly, we can't all be members of Hurlingham.  And even if I were to persuade my various friends who are members to invite me and the children every single day, Fulham is actually quite a long drive from Notting Hill when you've got a Sholto and an Esmeralda.  Put it this way, you can listen to The Wheels on the Bus a lot of times.  (I so thought that my children would be different, that I'd bring them up listening to The Beatles and The Kinks and there'd be no need for 'children's' music.  Ha.  The minute we get in the car Sholto demands "Mine songs.  Mine special songs.")

However, there's always the Serpentine.  And there's nothing quite like swimming in a lake for making one feel cleansed - even more so than one does in a pool, because there's no chlorine.  Of course, there is pondweed, but contrary to popular belief there is no swan poo because the swans get out before they go.  I know this because I've watched them intently, for hours, just to make sure.  And it's not freezing (unlike the river by my parents' house.  "Come on in, it's boiling," my mother lies.  It's heart-stoppingly cold.  Always.  Whatever she says.)

My favourite time to go is first thing in the morning, having walked there so that I'm feeling sufficiently in need of cooling down by the time I take the plunge.  Then one can have a coffee and a croissant at the cafe, while sitting in the sun and waiting for one's swimsuit to dry out before walking home again.  It is literally the best start to the day.

If you need any more convincing, read Vikram Seth's An Equal Music (though personally I draw the line at swimming in mid-winter.)  For those who live further north, there's always the ponds on Hampstead Heath (read Alan Hollinghurst's The Line of Beauty.)  The only downside to wild swimming is that I don't feel that I can allow the children to join me yet, as I don't trust them not to drink the water.  While I'm sure that a little bit of the Serpentine would be fine, Sholto has a tendency to drink gallons, whether he's in a pool or the bath.  So he's going to have to continue to get his kicks in the Princess Diana Memorial Fountain, at least for now.  Even if it does make him cross.  "But I can swim, Mummy!" (He actually can.  Though he hasn't yet mastered breathing at the same time as swimming, which is obviously a bit of a problem.)

For more wild swimming across the UK, check out www.wildswimming.co.uk