County Knowledge

Tamsin Machin from County Knowledge is a lady in the know! She can help you sort the wheat from the chaff when it comes to finding excellent local businesses. Here’s a piece we wrote together which you can find in this month’s Berkshire Life magazine….available in all good newsagents so you can read it in full, plus read about Hungerford, the best Berkshire Sunday lunches and 50 years of Newbury’s Watermill Theatre…..

 

Shoe shopping for the terrified

It’s back to school tomorrow, so naturally, I left shoe-shopping until today -the last possible minute, because of the sheer embarrassment of our last visit in 2013.

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We got away fairly lightly this time, although the shop lady was not remotely amused when I asked what bearing a child’s age has on their shoe size when small son was prompted to add his years into an iPad. “It’s to make it more interactive” she said a touch too patiently.

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Here’s what happened last time…..

This time last week, I took the McBaby to get a new pair of shoes. We got his feet measured, he wouldn’t sit still and then we left without buying them because the McBaby was messing about and nearly accidentally kicked a little boy. His mother growled at me as if he had kicked him, so we made a swift exit.

I then realised that I could order the shoes online. Then, all I’d have to do would be to run in, collect them and pay for them, meanwhile getting rich via a cashback site (this didn’t work in the slightest. I was promised 6% but received 20p. I’m terrible at maths, but 6% of £34 is not 20p, is it?)

Anyway, I think Clark’s deserves this money after our two performances.

We returned to the store, and I don’t know about where you are, but it’s pretty wet today, cue much jumping in puddles. The McBaby also partook of this activity (I’m joking; I didn’t) so had wet trousers, wet socks and wet shoes.

The woman in the shop asked if we “wanted any help on kids”, and then remarked that she recognised us from our last visit. I bet she did! I told her that we’d come to collect some shoes which she went to get while I wrung out the McBaby’s wet clothes. I then realised that the bag containing his spare clothes was in the car. (If you saw me a bit later drying a very small pair of pants, two socks and a pair of trousers in the Dyson hand drier in John Lewis, this is why).

She returned. The McBaby threw a pair of pink girls’ shoes at her. This is an insult in some countries, and not particularly pleasant in ours. I asked him to apologise.

“Sorry shoes”, he said, the little sod.

She then had to fit his shoes in his bare feet as his socks were so wet. “This isn’t normal procedure” she said. In my embarrassment, I assured her that it was all fine and hurriedly went to pay for them while the McBaby made a den under a couple of chairs. He then yelled; “I DONE A WEE”. Cue much frantic whispering between the lady and her colleague. Probably pointing out that it should be “I DID a wee” not “done”.

I sheepishly asked for some kitchen roll and apologised while on my knees cleaning up what was, to be fair, a minimal amount of wee.

“It’s fine” she said in that voice that tells you it really, really isn’t.

So McBaby, please don’t let your feet grow anymore, as we are not returning; I’m too embarrassed and we’re probably barred anyway.

Hampton Pool #lidochallenge2017

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Welcome to 2017! We are all good intentions here and since midnight we haven’t had a drop of booze.

While reading about the number of lidos that have sadly closed in the last couple of decades, I decided to broaden my horizons – I have visited my local pool in Newbury  regularly (a little too regularly, the staff there might say), but thought it might be fun to check out more of the pools around the country.

In my last blog post, I mocked the practice of making new year’s resolutions (or more accurately, those new year’s resolutions that are too vague are likely to fail), so I’m going to call this a “challenge” rather than a “resolution.”  I am going to try to visit all of the lidos in England throughout 2017!

Number one was Hampton Pool. Happily it was open on new Year’s Day from 8am to 2pm. We arrived at about 12pm to find the car park full, the first clue that it was extremely busy in there.

It cost us (two adults and one child) £18.40, but it was worth it. After getting changed in the slightly old changing rooms, it was onto the 36m pool. Next to it, there’s a popular learner pool. The larger pool was full of people and complete with rising steam (it’s consistently about 28 degrees), resembling a scene from Iceland, and proved a reassuring sight to MrM who didn’t believe me when I told him the pool was heated.

 

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The pool has two small slides (unfortunately closed today), and today there were three lanes roped off. I selected the slow lane which did exactly what it says on the tin, and plodded along for a mile – about 46 lengths. It’s a gorgeous pool, dating back to 1922, and has survived a turbulent history having been threatened with closure (and in fact, it was closed from 1981 to 1984).

High Street, Hampton, Middlesex, TW12 2ST
t: 020 8255 1116

http://www.hamptonpool.co.uk