swimmimg books on my swimming pool quilt
What a nice word swimmingly is. Such a polite and apt way of saying things are going well, thank you, provided your image of swimming is of someone gliding gently through water in the slow and medium lanes, and not thrashing and splashing in the fast lane. I like swimming, I like it when things are going swimmingly, and I like reading about swimming. Some of my most read and most referred-to books are on pools and water, and they are always soothing and gentle - plashing is another good watery word that springs to mind - as well as inspirational.
I've been rereading parts of Waterlog again. I bring it out every time I swim somewhere that's mentioned in the book. This time it was Ironmonger Row Baths which I recently visited for the first time. Although it's had £16m spent on it since Roger Deakin wrote about it, it's still recognisable. It has wonderful Turkish baths (very streamlined and spartan style with lots of marble) and swimming in the lovely, clean, simple, pale blue and white pool is a treat (and very good value).
I've also just read Swimming London which is a brilliant little book about well, swimming in London. I already had a list of pools to visit in London but it's just grown massively. I'd love to be hardy enough to swim in the huge unheated London lidos but I'd need one of those foil hypothermia blankets in my bag with my towel and goggles. I'm all for outdoor pools but with some heat, so Hampton and the Oasis pool are more my kind of thing.
While I'm on the pool theme, there are several other books I'd recommend, although I've a feeling I may have already mentioned one or two before (eg Swimming Studies by Leanne Shapton, the sad memoir Swimming the Channel by Sally Friedman, and the classic Haunts of the Black Masseur by Charles Sprawson). When I want to wallow in local swimming baths and lido history (and discover many good places that are still open), I refer to the two English Heritage books, Great Lengths and Liquid Assets, which are both packed with great photos, old and recent. I also like Kate Rew's book although I'm not sure outdoor swimming in rivers and lakes etc is really 'wild' but rather a way of rebranding it for a more anxious, 'health and safety' era. And the big book to read by the pool in summer or by the fire in winter is The Story of Swimming by Susie Parr which is a beautifully illustrated history of swimming with bits of memoir and many brilliantly downbeat and deapan photos by her husband Martin Parr.
My new cossie will be put to good use. I'm excited, in a gentle, slow to medium lane breaststroke sort of way.