The Times You Don’t Go InThursday, June 30, 2016
You know how sometimes you go on a little trip, and you find out in advance that there's a swimming hole there (a pool, a pond, a lake, a river hole, a moat, a sea), and you pack your bathing suit and have grand daydreams of what your swims will be like?
And then you get there, and you don't go in.
Maybe it's raining. Maybe it's freezing.
Maybe the water looks gross. Maybe there are jellyfish. Maybe there are leeches (horror).
Maybe it's your time of the month and you are eating EVERYTHING and there is NO WAY IN HELL you are putting on a swimsuit.
Maybe you stand on the second rung of the ladder looking at the water for about 25 minutes and then decide, after all, that you really don't feel like it. Docktail instead. Maybe a hammock ride.
There are a lot of legit reasons to not go in.
I have just returned from England, where I lived in a castle that I waited THREE YEARS to go live in (a bona-fide 16th C castle, the very same one that Lady Jane Grey lived in before she became Queen and they chopped off her head. It's much nicer now, I swear.)
Three years gives you quite a long time to daydream up some pretty elaborate swimming hole plans. Add to that the fact that sometime last fall, we three swimmers found out about the English PHENOM called Wild Swimming, so my imagination went nuts. I was going to be a Full-On British Swim-Venturer.
I packed my favourite black bikini top and the pink paisley bottoms that are a little fancy, because, you know, it was a CASTLE for pete's sake.
And then, at last, I was there. I walked from the castle over the bridge across the moat through the cow pasture and underneath the big umbrella trees, and introduced myself to Astley Pool, a lake that has been around since at least 1501.
And as soon as I got there, I knew.
No WAY was I going in there.
Astley Pool is picturesque, no doubt about it. It has watercolour & poetry potential in spades.
But the EW factor was way too high. There were lily pads. Like, thousands of them. Which means (in my mind) that there were probably long dangling tendrils tangling up the water underneath, ready and willing to catch your feet and drag you under. There were FOR SURE leeches in there, and probably a few seaweed creatures with dinosaur teeth. Maybe a few unsolved 16th C crimes of passion hidden in the depths, and to be honest, the ducks looked kind of aggressive.
Anyway, I didn't have to linger long, deciding whether to go in or to not go in. Somewhere up at the castle, Pimm's Cups were being made and a nap was calling my name.
This is Astley Castle. Wonderful place, even without a swimming hole.