While cutting through cool blue water, looking up to a cloudless sky and feeling the sun beat down on my white bits, I had to ask myself ‘am I really in Hackney?’ That was of course answered 20 minutes later, when a gun shot shattered the silence. Putting Saturday’s incident aside however, the London Field’s Lido is a little slice of heaven in Hackney.
Turning up at midday on the hottest day of the year to an outdoor pool may not be the brightest idea. But after only five minutes of queuing I was past the breezy staff and shuffling among the crowds for a spot to lay my towel.
Even at its busiest, don’t be fooled by the throngs of people snaking around the reception area. Many folk are of the poseur variety and have no intention of actually dunking more than a toe in the water. Thus, the lounge areas are packed but the pool is surprisingly empty. I managed 25 lengths in the medium lane without having to overtake, slow down or splash water on anyone to cut a clear path.
There are usually three lanes or more, a swimming lesson roped off and a sizable chunk left over to kids in armbands. There was also a guy in my lane who walked the entire length, pretending to swim and turning around halfway when the water got too deep. Whatever floats your boat mate, but move into the kiddies pool next time, eh?
You can change inside or out – and the same goes for showering. Lockers cost 20p and entry prices depend on if you’re a Hackney leisure member or not but range from £2.50 to £4.10.
There are two cafes serving drinks, coffees and Lebanese snacks, which makes a welcome change from a vending machine or poolside burger and chips.
The lido does have a whiff of leisure centre about it – this is not an infinity pool teetering on the edge of a cliff in Greece. But the perks of its council heritage are lifeguards, clean chlorinated and heated water and an efficient customer service system, which suits me just fine.
And despite this, reclining on a towel, peeking through your toes at the aqua pool, it really is easy to forget you’re in Hackney.