The lido

Finally recovered from the trauma of last year’s visit to Brockwell Lido, I took myself off there again this weekend. It is a stunningly beautiful place – more attractive in every way than the Endell Street baths, where you’ll more commonly find me – and early on Easter Sunday morning, it was blessedly empty.

The last time I was there, the combined shock of the cold water and the length and depth of the pool meant that I struggled to swim at all, panic overcoming physical strength almost immediately. This time around the water was no warmer, but I’m so much better at swimming than I was a year ago that I managed to fight through the cold and the panic, and about a length and a half in I started to enjoy myself.

In the end I swam ten lengths, which since the pool is 50 metres long means half a kilometre, which doesn’t sound far but is the first time in my life I’ve ever been able to measure a swim in kilometres rather than metres, even if it only was half a one. And it was blissful and gorgeous and I couldn’t believe I was less than five minutes’ walk from home, because it felt exactly like being on holiday, possibly somewhere angular and Scandinavian.

So I went back again yesterday, and it was swarming with children, apart from in the lanes which had been designated for Serious Swimmers (I could tell they were serious, because they all wore wetsuits and goggles and went at speeds more appropriate to motorised vehicles), of which I am not one. I managed two lengths of getting kicked and jostled and splashed on before I gave up and went and sat poolside with a book. And that was just as much fun as the swimming.

So now I have to decide whether I am going to become someone who swims at the lido, where it is bracing and elegant and I feel faintly heroic having swum there, or someone who swims at Endell Street, which is craven and heated and more like having a bath than a swim. I suppose I could alternate, but annoyingly the lido isn’t one of the pools included in my Swim London membership, so it’s a fiver each time I want to go. Am I a woman of action, or a woman of leisure? This summer, I’ll find out.

Talking of things you can do in Brockwell Park, I played bowls yesterday. Or boules, or petanque, I’m not sure, and in any case we played a bastardised version of it because we didn’t know the rules. But it was nearly as much fun as swimming, and a lot more sociable. I foresee more sunny afternoons spent on the bowling green.

The park again

I took this picture in the south-west corner of Brockwell Park yesterday. I love the city views, but I really like this one too, because you can pretend you’re in the countryside:

Talking of nature, we spent a couple of hours last Sunday afternoon in the back garden of the Crown and Greyhound in Dulwich Village, where we were protected from a brief bout of rain by this monster, whose branches extend so far across the garden that nobody got wet at all:

I think it’s a horse chestnut, but I would be happy to be corrected.

Lambeth Country Show 2010

I usually wring every last available drop of fun out of the Country Show, but this year, for a variety of reasons, I only spent a couple of hours there each day and as a result I felt I missed quite a lot of it. I went to bed last night feeling faintly sad and anxious at not having spent more time there, like a child who suddenly realises that when she wakes up it won’t be Christmas any more.

But when I awoke this morning I remembered that it’s quality, not quantity, that counts; and this year’s show was one of the best I can remember. The weather was perfect – sunny and warm but not hot – and the music was super (Alabama 3 in particular were brilliant, as they always are); the atmosphere was better than ever and despite record attendance it felt completely relaxed and friendly everywhere I went. It was nothing at all like that year that we had to dive out of the way of a bunch of teenagers trying to stab another bunch of teenagers. (But then, I was child-free this year, so I didn’t have to go to the funfair.)

Here’s a girl dancing in front of a parade that popped up out of nowhere while we were buying books for 20p each from the library van:

And here’s another shot of the same parade:

According to the South London Press, 180,000 people attended the show over the two days. So it was doubly odd to find myself back there this morning, one of perhaps half a dozen people whose daily business takes them into Brockwell Park at 7am. It looked empty and silent, but also kind of beautiful:

Forget Cyprus, I never want to live away from here.

(The full sets of photos are here and here.)

Onward and upward

Dang. I was so close to being right about Holland winning the World Cup! But I’m glad Spain won it, because they deserved to, and because I have more Spanish than Dutch friends. Although I have just inspected my bank balance and it turns out the cash I would have won had Holland beaten Spain would have been very useful (payday is Thursday). Oh well.

Anyway, I’m going to move on and pretend none of it ever happened, and I’m going to start looking forward to the event of the year, the Lambeth Country Show at Brockwell Park this weekend. The Lambeth Country Show is worth our council tax on its own. There’s live music, actual animals, jousting, fruit and vegetable shows, craft stalls, cake, cider, a funfair and sheep-shearing demonstrations. It is the most fun in the world, and it’s all free and on my doorstep. Who needs holidays?