Honestly I should be puffing my book but as there is a small amount of swimming in it perhaps that's how I can make the link. You may be relieved that this post isn't about a cause celebre of Regency England but about getting your kit off and splashing about.
|Szechenyi Spa Budapest
I love a swim me. Being not particularly good at any sport that involves throwing or catching, (or running for that matter) swimming is the perfect exercise. Of course until that hazy far off future when my books make me so much cash that I can to dig my own pool out in the garden I have to make do with communal pools. This one, pictured above is probably the most fabulous I have ever been to; The Szechenyi Spa in the centre of Budapest. This thermal bath is only one hundred years old, opening in 1913, just before old Europe imploded, styled as old Rome meets High Nineteenth century bling, one of the last gasps of Austro Hungarian excess. It is fabulous, apart from the outdoor pools in the picture, there are many indoor warm baths and if you suffer from arthritis or similar conditions, you can get visits on prescription. I could have stayed there a week no problem.
The other thing that sparked this blog was a meeting in a production company office in London. You can imagine it; lovely modern office building in a tower block in Covent Garden, brilliant views all round, including the new roof of the British Museum to the north. This company overlooks one of London's wonderful and shrinking cohort of Lidos, the Oasis. Built as a municipal pool as part of a council estate in Covent Garden - in the 60s when central London was practically empty, the Oasis is a roof top open air pool without the pretensions or the nasty exclusivity of some (Shoreditch House I am looking at you). It may not have the grandeur of Central Europe but at least it's (relatively) cheap to locals.
|The Oasis Pool London
What's sad is how many we have lost. Open air swimming was hugely fashionable in the post war years. A way of getting the huddled masses - who were revealed by World War One call ups to be unhealthy and malnourished - out into the fresh air. Pools and Lidos went up all over the country -even at St Leonards a stones throw from where I live now- a massive seaside Lido which was loss making almost as soon as it opened.
|St Leonards Lido in the 1930s
|London Fields Lido
Catherine Johnson's latest book is The Curious Tale of The Lady Caraboo, published by Corgi. Please go out and buy it now. If you can't buy it order it. There, that was easy. x