A Good Lido is Hard to Find

(Image from Art of the State)

Today I woke up on the wrong side of the bed. There was no particular reason. I'd had a good sleep, the sun was shinning, everything was in order, except that I felt like my body and mind had been inhabited by a petulant child just waiting for things to go wrong so that it (I) could sulk.

First of all, I burned my omelet due to the fact that this London flat has limited kitchen utensils and not a proper plastic egg turner/flipper thing. Golly, did I ever get angry about that, despite the fact that I've known of our limited flipper utensil situation for months and have yet to care enough to do anything about it.

Then, as I was eating my burned omelet, a fly came in the living room through the window and started buzzing around, slamming itself against the glass trying to escape. This was the perfect opportunity for the bad three year old inside of me to become furious that people in the UK haven't embraced the simple concept of the window screen. In North America, it is pretty unheard of not to have a neat fitting window screen to keep out all manner of pesky bugs. Granted, we do have mosquitoes the size of bats, but still. Between gulping down my bad eggs and fighting back tears, I tried to convince Dan that it is inhumane of the British to not have screens because unfortunate bugs are lured inside for a premature demise. When he tried to suggest that they don't have long lives anyway, I got all soppy about how the fly in question probably had at least one more lovely day to look forward to before flying in through the damn screen-less window, trapping himself to death. Never mind that I would as soon smash a fly to death with a rolled up newspaper, old shoe, book ... anything ... as look at it.

Despite my bleary mood, the weather was lovely and hot for the second day running in London. We did what all people do in a place that is rainy over 80% of the time, we tried to find a patch of outdoors to soak it all up. Initially I had this cockamamie idea about going to the seashore, but despite the fact that the UK is an island, it was more challenging (and time consuming) then I'd imagined to get to the sea from here. Brighton was an option, but the beach there is rocky and not terribly nice to sit on. This was, obviously, another source of my agony. (Damn Brighton! Damn rocks!)

After a long think, I decided we should go and find an outdoor pool, which is not so easy in London. There is one in Kentish Town that seemed the least painful to get to and so we set out. I need to qualify the concept of least painful. Most things in London take a long time to get to by the standards of anyone living in a modestly sized city. To get to Kentish Town we needed to take the tube, transfer once - the whole thing taking nearly an hour. Once we arrived at our designated station, it was about a 20 minute walk to the pool, which is located in Hampstead Heath, a big park.

By the time we got there it was well into the afternoon. Apparently a lot of people were looking for some outdoor water today because there was a fairly intimidating line at the entrance of the brick building that enclosed the pool. Possibly the worst bit was that the line was composed of pre-teen children, mostly without adult supervision, all clearly high on the ice cream treat they probably had on the way to the pool and the prospect of an afternoon without their parents. Instead of waiting in the line and facing the shrieking crowd within, we decided to sit on a hill in the park. Although this was undoubtedly the best decision (I would have probably drowned the first shrieking little person I saw) I was still ridiculously angry. The park was mediocre at best and probably not as nice as Holland Park, which is only a ten minute walk from where we live. To make everything worse, there was some track and field none sense going on and a very stupid man kept shooting off a starter gun to my great annoyance. Oh, I was a misery!!

At one point I witnessed a little boy of maybe four or five start sobbing and kicking his feet, little fists in angry balls. He looked as ridiculous as I'd been acting. Then again, if it were socially acceptable for adults to have tantrums, I wonder if we wouldn't be better off. Or maybe that's just an excuse for wanting to misbehave.

(Image by Jill Greenberg)

I am feeling much better now, thanks for asking.

A tip for non UK readers: A lido is what they call an outdoor swimming place. Yes, just another thing to be annoyed about...


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