Monday, 28 June 2010

Aldeburgh - Southeast Odyssey Part 2

After Broomhill, we headed across to Aldeburgh, beautiful coastal resort renowned for its breathtaking scenery and, among the variety of cultural events on offer, its poetry festival in November. We admired Maggi Hambling's shell sculpture and marvelled at the sloping, pebbly beach, which bears no resemblance to the flat, sandy North Sea beaches like Bamburgh, Whitley Bay and Tynemouth which we're more familiar with. The sea was turquoise but choppy, so we decided to give swimming a miss on this occasion, with a thought that we might come back sometime for a longer visit.

Sunday, 27 June 2010

Broomhill Outdoor Pool - Southeast Odyssey Part I

On Saturday morning we set off on our journey home from our sojourn in Ipswich. But not just any old trip from A to B, it turned into a 12-hour odyssey, a magical rove around a corner of England I've never visited before. First stop, Broomhill Outdoor Swimming Pool, tucked away in a suburban bywater, just off the Ipswich ring road.
Despite a campaign which resembles the fight for Victoria Baths in Manchester, but without a happy ending as yet, this open air pool was shut down in 2002. The lido now languishes on death row while its supporters battle on to have it reopened. I've known about it for some time, so yesterday offered the ideal chance to have a look. It lived up to all my expectations, given my fascination with derelict pools.
To my mind, in the sultry midday heat, the whitewashed walls lend it the atmosphere of a Spanish bullring, like the one at Mijas near Malaga.

The powers-that-be have surrounded it with a solid metal fence and the usual warning signs. Straining to see glimpses of it through the bars is like looking  for the Sleeping Beauty's castle through the thorny hedge.
There's a well-worn path round the perimeter, so it seems many people share my fascination. The air hung heavy inside the fortifications.
It would be A CRIME if this Olympic-sized pool was allowed to be demolished! 
Apart from being a relevant facility which motivates people to keep fit and active, it's also a historical treasure. The people who are campaigning to get Broomhill up and running again are well-organised and persistent but they appreciate support - both financial and moral - from everyone who's willing to join them in their efforts to save this threatened gem.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Jesus Green Lido

Yesterday, today and tomorrow I am on tour with my old man who needs to be down near Ipswich today for his work. (Oi! less of the old - when he reads this later...) Usually he comes down here for these twice-yearly meetings on his own, but this time we decided to make a road trip of it. We booked a deal on laterooms and I'm blogging from a lovely quaint hotel on the outskirts of the city. 
We stopped off yesterday in Cambridge and parked up by the Cam so we could go and take a look at the fabled Jesus Green Lido. Not for a swim, you understand, just a peek as we were passing through, but now that I've seen it in the flesh, I think we must stop by there for a swim on our way home tomorrow. 
Cambridge is a truly enchanting city. When I'm there I always smile at the way town 
and gown rub along next to each other. I didn't study there, but we've been down several times in the past ten years and developed quite a soft spot for it.
So, back to Jesus Green Lido! Starting with the name.....Jesus Green, Jesus Green. It's so beautiful I can't stop writing it. And the picture above says it all! What's not to love? How could we be so close by during a heatwave and not go in? Well, I'd like to visit Aldeburgh, so the sea might deflect us. Or we might get there tomorrow and it could be packed out, that might also put me off.....I must leave tomorrow to take care of itself.
Now after a break of several weeks from swimming, I'm off for a dip in the hotel pool!

Thursday, 24 June 2010

John Barleycorn

One of the poems that Carol Ann Duffy read at Sunday's garden party was John Barleycorn. This poem was commissioned by the BBC's Culture Show for a pub-themed edition. It's a great example of how poetry takes on a different life when it's read out loud. It was quite moving to hear her declaim the litany of pub names. She enjoys the grape and the grain and said she didn't need to do much research to call to mind all the wonderful - real - names that feature in the poem!
I found the words of the poem here and you can listen to it on this clip on youtube.  

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Poetry Garden Party

We spent a lovely afternoon at the highlight summer event of Manchester's poetry scene - Linda Chase's poetry garden party! The weather was perfect, Linda's house and garden looked spectacular, the place was full of people who love poetry and live music and the Poet Laureate herself read a selection of her newest poems written during this past year since she's been Laureate! In fact - here's a hot tip! - the ink had barely dried on one she wrote last night in response to Rooney's treatment of the fans! She is a keen footy fan - remember Achilles the poem she wrote about David Beckham's injury? This new poem, called The Shirt should appear somewhere in the next few days - remember you heard about it here first!
It was a pleasure to catch up with friends I've made at poetry classes, including the tutors I've had the good fortune to work with and be inspired by - Carola Luther who read some of her fantastic poems, Alicia Stubbersfield, Linda and Carol Ann. I'm sure that the event will have raised lots of money for Poets and Players whose events showcase the talents of established and up-and-coming poets and performers from the UK and further afield. Thank you, Linda, for the mammoth amount of preparation that went into such a friendly and beautiful occasion.

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Joking Apart

Brigitte and her two lovely daughters Alexandra and Christiane took fantastic care of our eldest daughter when she was living in the United States. I know that Xan takes the occasional peep at my blog, so I want to say a very big thank you to them all for making Nell so welcome in their family. We look forward to returning the compliment one day! And good luck to Xan who has recently launched her own blog.
Apparently Xan enjoys the English sense of humour, so I hunted around and found this joke for her. (It's about goldfish to keep with the theme of swimming.....)

There were two goldfish in a tank and one said to the other: 'Hey - how do you drive this thing?'

Saturday, 12 June 2010

What Lies Beneath

Now I'm swimming more front crawl, I think I need to examine my reluctance to open my eyes when my head's underwater. In the pool there's no problem, I like looking at the tiles below me and seeing the bubbles when I breathe.
In lakes, however - a different story. I love swimming outside, but the thought of what I might see if I peer into the depths of the water is what unnerves me. Maybe I watched too much Scooby Doo or something when I was little. On TV shows what the water conceals is always bound to be scary, otherwise the viewers would get bored and change the channel, wouldn't they?  However life's not like that. Or is it??
I found this interesting piece about the work of  police divers. To my mind, their job must be a nightmare. In the article, an officer says that one of the most satisfying aspects of his job is finding dead bodies, so that grieving relatives are able to have closure. I can't imagine how scary that must be - well I can, but those are exactly the kind of fears I try to keep in check, particularly in the middle of a lake.

Monday, 7 June 2010

Jump In A Lake

Saturday found us in Wales with friends at the end of a valley in a tiny village called Llangynog. In the early evening we headed over the mountain to Bala Lake where we had our first lake swim of the year. Our friend was straight in there, in just her swimming costume, and off she went. I was in my wetsuit to get back in the habit of it. The water was beautiful, clear, brown and sweet. I was spooked a bit and it took me a while to settle down, but once I did it was lovely. Water was surprisingly warm. Next time I will be more adventurous, but all in all, not a bad effort for the first outdoor swim of the year! Beautiful end to a beautiful day