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Swimming on Hampstead Heath II

Category: Other stuff
Date: 16 September 2003


Following on from my review of the Hampstead Heath bathing ponds the other day, I am now able to bring a frontline despatch from the main attraction: the Hampstead Lido. Finding myself in a state of weekday leisure, I decided to splash out (hmm!) and visit north London's premier outdoor clean water facility. For a very reasonable 3.60, one can while away one's weekday afternoons in a beautiful 1930's concrete suntrap (much than that sounds). You can wash out your hangover, your pants, knit yourself a muscle suit and best of all, blow away the niggling sense of guilt associated with being an artist / freelance / waster and spending a "work" day doing fuck all.

For those who make full time contributions to the UK Economy, the Lido is also open weekends, May - September, same price. It is just as cold as the ponds, but the water is crystal clear, and somehow that makes it warmer. Also unlike at the ponds, the lifeguards are pleasantly discreet rather than coming over as a cross between nannies and prison camp guards. The water is deep enough to do flashy summersault dives if that's your thing, and cold enough to induce a good bout of hypothermia if you'd rather have that. In addition, there's a decent cafe, huge changing rooms (prison shower stylee, but cheerfully coloured up) and a mysterious kind fountian at one end of the pool. For some reason it reminded me of that big pulsing power conduit thing in the starship enterprise engine room, and the high wall surrounding it underlined the sense of ineffablitiy. Or maybe its just broken or something. I'm far from being an expert on Lidos, but today's experience has gone a long way towards restoring my faith in London being in any way a good place to live.

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