The Lido: use it or lose it – Verity Lush

Hilsea Lido is open for the summer. Picture: Ian Hargreaves
Hilsea Lido is open for the summer. Picture: Ian Hargreaves

Lidos are having a bit of a resurgence at the moment, and too right.

Swimming outdoors is bliss. That chill bite of water when you first launch yourself in, that sensation of a cool breeze, or a summer sun, on your face as you move through the water. Delicious.

Clearly if you don’t like swimming, then a lido will not be for you, but if you are a swim fan and you don’t go lido swimming, then I urge you to do so.

Hilsea is open again, thanks to volunteers, and after so much effort has gone into reviving it, it would be unutterably sad if it had to close again due to zero use.

If you are also looking for a summer read, then try The Lido by Libby Page.

DODGING FLOATERS DOESN’T MAKE SEA SWIMMING INVITING

This year is the first year in quite some time during which I have actually been swimming in the sea at Southsea.

I always go in the sea in Cornwall but that’s because it’s surrounded by coves and golden sand, you can body-board, and the water is often turquoise and as clear as a looking-glass.

When I was a teenager I was frequently in the sea during the summer but when I say that I once saw a poo bobbing past me in the water down there, it might go some way to explaining why, as an adult, it all became less appealing.

It’s a funny thing isn’t it, the sea? When you live near it, or have always lived near it, it can be very hard to move away. We take it a bit for granted. It’s awe-inspiring to look out upon come hail or shine, and the sound of it can be equally wonderful, soothing, or even terrifying.

Before the parking was changed at the seafront, so back in the days when you could actually face the water from your car, it was a marvellous destination to simply drive to, whether you then just had some headspace, or even bought fish and chips and sat there eating them, gazing towards the Isle of Wight across the seascape of the Solent.

However, much as I love being near the sea, it’s also utterly filthy. In we go, floating about, bathing in goodness knows what. In fact, goodness can keep its imaginative mouth shut, because poo is probably the least of our worries.

Yet we see it as quite a treat when the weather is warm enough, despite the fact that if our swimming pools were filled with it, as opposed to chlorine, we’d be horrified.

Imagine turning up at the local leisure centre and being confronted with that, seaweed, stones and all.

There is no other circumstance on earth where we would willingly go and swim about in whatever has floated off or out of the stranger’s body next to us and positively relish the experience. 

WITH OR WITHOUT BIKINI TOPS? THAT IS THE QUESTION

In an age of #metoo, topless sunbathing is a conundrum. 

People citywide will be pleased to hear that I am fully clad in a cossie when I go for a splash, but many ladies are keen on the lack of strap marks in their suntan, and off come the tops at both the Hot Walls and Eastney beach.

Makes no odds to me, but I wonder how men feel about this? I could guess of course (in an entirely judgmental and stereotyping manner), but in a time when feminism, letching, upskirting, and acceptable flirtation have hit the news, where are the blokes to look?

Jennifer Lawrence got a media mouthful when she posed in strappy dress alongside fully clad male colleagues, so what if she’d shown up without a dress?