It's taken me a while to write this one as I haven't been a good girl! Alexander is now two and a half and he absolutely loves the water. I know, he can now jump in alone with armbands on. He does that when we go away on trips where we are lucky enough to have private pools. I don't do mass market swimming. I have a slight flaw in my psyche! Call it borderline OCD. I have memories of visits to local swimbaths - Copthall for one and Swiss Cottage another (before the big refurb) that have left me mentally scarred for life! I don't like wet floors and bare feet, I don't like hairs on wet floors and a new one that has reared its head, I don't like pools with (many) other people in them . I just start to imagine no end of things floating in the water. Ridiculous, I know. That's what chlorine is for, saner people point out.
So, with that in mind, trying to fulfil my duties as a parent or rather in my mind, trying not to neglect Alexander, I had to find some suitable swimming options. Now, don't get me wrong. The bittersweet part of my borderline OCD pool thing is that I actually like swimming. I swam a lot when I was pregnant. it's one of the best forms of exercise especially during pregnancy but also any time as of course it's completely non-impact. So, I wanted to actually go swimming with Alexander, not just take him and drop him off for lessons. It's a lot of fun going swimming with a little one who loves the water so it's good for mind and spirit.
What I want to say here, is that venue is key. Making the decision that I was going to step up and add a weekly activity to my son's already busy schedule ( 'school' five morning a week, football and piano in my head and to become a reality when I pull my finger out!) I needed to find somewhere to go. Now, I'm sure that most swimming pools are fine, I know many who have swum and survived but 'going swimming' is a traumatic experience for someone like me. There's changing room and showers to get passed too.
I imagined the option of having my own private indoor pool but sadly couldn't make it happen, I also (curse, curse, why not?!) have no friends in such a position either so it was time to do a bit of research. The conclusion to this research was that I needed an exclusive members only pool. Finding the right one was tricky as parking, proximity and cost all play a massive part. There are many gyms near me but I wasn't convinced. Then I looked at hotels and hey presto, after a little more work and some preliminary visits I found exactly what I was looking for in a place that I had frequented many an evening for coffees with my friends in my late teens.
The Marriott in Regents Park: My saviour. My luxury swimming experience. My ten minute drive from home with free parking, free towels, clean changing rooms and if you pick your moment, an empty pool! On the practical side, (I suppose we must take a reality check sometimes!), the pool is somewhere around the 31 degree mark, perfect for little ones (they host Swimming Nature for lessons when I'm not there!) and it has a very shallow end indeed. You get a better class of member here too and something that has become part of our little weekly outing; the cafe has a fantastic, very reasonable kids menu for which as a member of the gym/pool you get an added 30% off so we swim then we eat fresh, homemade, mini-burgers together followed by an ice-cream sundae. That's my idea of luxury anyway! For the more active, pool membership means gym membership too so it's great value.