The Happiest Day of the Year in South London was put on hold this year. High hopes of a lovely lido season opening dip on the morning of May 7th were always unrealistic. Fear of a Tory PM put me off the ceremonial dive into the chilled waters of Lake Brockwell. Family commitments back in the Fair City over the weekend only further delayed that first lovely lido dip.
Tuesday morning was mine for the taking. A tepid pool temperature of thirteen degrees blew away the frozen b*****cks syndrome, still being suffered following that bonkers mid-winter lido swim back in December.
This truly is the happiest, happiest day of the year in South London. It signals six months (oh yes) of al fresco swimming in SE24, and a final removal of the shackles that constrain South London swimmers to suffer the misery of a soulless, sterile and sweaty swim indoors at Brixton Rec.
The anticipation of meeting up once again with the lovely lido community is the inspiration to drag your aching body down to Brockwell Park at 6:30 in the morning. It almost made the months of misery spent bemoaning Brixton Rec seem bearable.
But what of the beautiful blue skies and blue water being reflected out of the chilled waters of Lake Brockwell? The lovely @TheLidoCafe was open for the Breakfast Club, and the public art project from Gethin and Myles was proudly on display in the basin of the pool, for those brave enough to take a dip.
Ah yes, about that dip…
As ever, you’ve done the hard part by being in the park. Once you are poolside, then you are going to swim. With a wetsuit hugging my toned torso (steady) what could go wrong?
A great leap of faith into the deep end, and I had forgotten totally that the Happiest Day of the Year also leads to your head exploding, should you make the silly mistake of forgetting your bright pink swimming cap.
Halfway down the first 50m length and I panicked. The arms and legs were functioning, but the head had long since lost circulation. I started to see things on the other side of the pool, that all rational thought tells you imply don’t exist.
That wasn’t *really* a naked female swimmer, was it?
I persevered, and after five minutes of a frantic freestyle motion, my conscious existence soon returned to my well being. I looked above as the flock of geese passed over my every motion, observed the beautiful blue skies of SE24 and then broke out into a great big underwater smile. Five hours later and I’m still grinning now.
A return to the heated changing rooms was a welcome respite. The continual blasting out of Radio Twaddle on the internal sound system is something that I, and other early morning swimmers, could well do without.
But a minor gripe in what has signalled the start of six months of early morning grinning down at the lovely lido. By the time I had showered and put back in place my three layers of clothing, I was just about able to walk in a straight line once again.
These will gradually be shed, one by one, over the coming weeks along with the wetsuit as I acclimatise back into the routine of daily lido life. This is probably my final year of al fresco swimming in South London, and so after the delayed start, I’m keen to continue now for the duration.
Back at base and I took great pride in updating my utterly pointless daytum online abacus chart, carefully recording that yep, today has been an official Lovely Lido Day. Only another 117 days to take me out of indoor swimming hell deficit.
I should hit this target sometime around the end of September. I may just make a nostalgic return to South London for the Brockwell Icicles midwinter swim, 2010 style. This may even push my utterly pointless daytum online abacus chart back into the black.
Or even the blue.
Golden Days I tell you, Golden Days.
*6:29 in for the handsome chap in his fetching pink cap*