14th May 2017

We all have expectations. We can’t help it. Hope and expectation is part of what makes us human. When times are difficult I take a lot of comfort from hoping, and expecting, that things will get better but sometimes my hopes and expectations bite me. If you want something badly enough it can be tempting to rely on your hopes and expectations rather than on hard evidence. I’ve been guilty of that lately and when the unavoidable realisation that just because you want something to be so, it doesn’t necessarily mean it is, bites… well. Life is a lot less comfortable. It’s hard to let go of what we want to be true, and adapting to the new reality is a challenge akin to having the right change for parking.

Just why do so many lidos have coin operated pay and display machines? Is the outdoor swimming world oblivious to pay by phone technology? Just who carries random combinations of coins anyway?

What… ALL of you? Oh. That’s me told then.

If you have never swum in a brine pool, and I expect most you haven’t given that they are rarer than the coins in my pocket, I can almost guarantee you that it won’t be what you expect it to be.

When I told my 11 year old that we were off to swim in a brine pool her first response was to look faintly excited and ask whether it would taste of hotdogs. After I had disappointed her on that front she asked whether this was going to be a re-run of Tinside where I didn’t bother to tell her it would be salty before she jumped in. She has a long, and unforgiving, memory. She clearly didn’t know what to expect of brine and wasn’t rushing to judgement. Which is to her credit.

Rachel, on the other hand, had clearly rushed to judgement quite some time ago. When I tried to strong arm her into foregoing the sweet spring water of Pells Pool, her own lido road trip plan for the day, in favour of meeting us at Nantwich she was less than keen. ‘Sounds too much like swimming in a tuna can’ she proclaimed. And whilst I felt fairly confident that Nantwich don’t fill their tank by asking the local residents to come round and drain off the tins every time they want a tuna sandwich, I didn’t really know just how salty the natural brine would be.

The answer is, just the right amount. I love salt water, the sea feels like home to me, so perhaps I am biased but if that’s not your bag fear not because the brine pool is nowhere near as salty as the sea. It has a sweet, evr so slightly salty tang that is refreshing and individual. You could swim for miles here and not have that unpleasant salt mouth feeling that one gets after long sea swims. It felt softly lush on my skin, and it was crystal clear and sparkled blue in the sunshine. Everything a lido should do.

My child, who is a synchronised swimmer and therefore quite at home without goggles, declared that it was the nicest piece of water she’d ever opened her eyes under; no stinging at all.

There wasn’t a lane in, which was a shame as the tank is easily 12m wide and about 30m long so there was room for one or two without inconveniencing the social swimmers. The result of that was no real opportunity to easily get a decent swim in — although several people were valiantly making a good effort at it. I only accidentally groped one woman while having a couple of lengths of front crawl, and she took it very well to be fair to her. So we just larked about in the sunshine. My child gave me some fly technique tips (I don’t straighten my arms enough and I breathe far too late for her liking, and she is right) and we repeatedly dived for a Euro that some political protester had clearly left on the bottom of the pool as a mark of anti-Brexit sentiment. The rebellion is real, people.

Then we sat on sun loungers and put the world to rights until it started to rain. And we wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Brine is brilliant. Go and try it.

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