Petersfield Lido

My tour of the UK’s lidos continued last weekend with a visit to Petersfield Outdoor Pool – a cutesy, old school pool in the middle of the town.

Though it took a bit of finding after driving through the beautiful South Downs – I drove round and round, unable to see the lido from the road, it was worth it.  The building is unassuming, but nicely decorated with bunting and pool artwork and entered by a beautiful wrought iron gate:


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Through the gate there’s a turnstile, and I waited here for a woman dressed as a cowgirl (it later transpired that the cast of Annie Get your Gun were launching their show here!) to see me so I could pay my  £5 and enter the heated pool via the Mondrian-esque changing rooms.


The pool is gorgeous and well-attended but not crazy busy. I’d swum a mile (a 25m pool, so about 66 lengths) before I knew it, so kept going, captivated by the 3m deep end, complete with diving board and also the way the sunlight was captured through the trees and onto the water.

The shower was clean and hot and the whole experience made for such a relaxing morning that I couldn’t find my way out of the car park – I think it was my brain’s way of making me stay….



In the Jumble

I have just finished this fantastic book by Newbury author and image consultant Victoria Lochhead.

Much like the charity shops, jumble sales and other outlets this book champions, In The Jumble is a treasure trove!  Victoria’s friendly how-to guide shows you how to find clothes that look great and complement your body type.  It then shows you where you can pick them up for a fraction of the price of new clothes that will be out of season in a matter of weeks. If you are new to shopping in charity shops or at jumble sales, this will show you how to compete with the veteran old ladies!

As well as useful advice, there are hilarious anecdotes from Victoria who apparently started her fashionista journey in unflattering t-shirts and combat trousers. Now she is glamorous but clearly comfortable and she loves nothing more than finding a bargain outfit in a charity shop. I once went shopping with Victoria and it was the most fun I’ve ever had while shopping and for less than £50 I came away with two bags filled with great things that I wouldn’t normally have considered.

Perhaps most importantly in these days of fast and unethical fashion, she shows that second hand shopping is the most sustainable kind of fashion. And you’ll never walk into a party where someone is wearing the same dress as you!


Marathon bid to raise money for Daisy’s Dream

A NEWBURY mother-of-two will be running this year’s London Marathon to raise funds for children’s bereavement charity Daisy’s Dream after losing a family friend to a brain tumour.

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The charity supported Catherine Cox’s friend Sarah Jones and her two young children after Mrs Jones’ husband died earlier this year, aged 44.

This year’s event, on April 23, will be Mrs Cox’s third London Marathon and seventh marathon in total.

She said: “Each year I try to raise funds for a local charity that works miracles in our community.

“This year is no different.

“To leave a young family behind is just horrifying and I wanted to do something to help.

“I’ve known Sarah and Dave for a while as our children were at pre-school together and want to raise money for an amazing charity in Dave’s memory.

“Any money that we raise will go towards helping families like Sarah and Dave’s to work through the difficult moments and to move forward positively and with hope and happiness.”

Daisy’s Dream fundraiser Gemma Gittins said: “This year, we have eight runners taking on the London Marathon to raise money for Daisy’s Dream and we are so grateful to them for the miles they put in, plus the support of their friends and family.

“The money raised will help us to deliver services for bereaved children and families throughout Berkshire.”

Established in 1996, Daisy’s Dream is a professional support service which responds to the needs of children and families affected by life-threatening illness or bereavement.

The Berkshire charity was originally set up to meet the needs of children who had been bereaved, but over recent years it has expanded its service to encompass families where there has been a serious illness diagnosis.

To donate, visit

Brockwell Lido

I have spent the last 20 years under the illusion that I was a teenager.  My visit to Brockwell Lido proved that I am not. It may have been the most existential swim I’ve ever had.


I set myself the goal of visiting as many lidos as possible during the course of 2017 and to help me, I’ve been using social media to read about other people’s outdoor swimming experiences.  The downside of this is that the more I read about other people enjoying cold swimming, the more I seemed to believe I myself was also made of tough stuff.


I ‘brocked’ up at Brockwell Lido on a cool morning, ready to swim a mile. There’s   a small, but free, car park outside, and there were no spaces when I arrived.  Two people sneakily drove the wrong way round and nabbed spaces before me, meaning that when I finally got inside, it was 9.45am, meaning that I’d only have 45 minutes before the session closed at 10.30am.

I was delighted to pay just £3, ambled into the very clean changing rooms, and was caught off guard by a compliment on my dress. As an utter scruff bag, this doesn’t happen often, so it might have been a factor in blindsiding me and making me unable to work out how the lockers functioned.

I then spent another 10 minutes berating myself for somehow forgetting my wetsuit. Fortunately, the nice lady who liked my dress reappeared and helped me work out how to use the locker and with time ticking by, I walked quickly to the pool. There were about 3 other people in it – 2 of them in wetsuits.

The pool was 11 degrees. “Toasty” I thought to myself before getting in. My maths is rubbish whatever the temperature. I got in and it felt cold, but my body didn’t register just how cold until I’d pushed off from the side and submerged my whole self under. I actually thought I was going to die.

I had pins and needles throughout my entire body and my heart felt like it was going to explode. I then realised the weird noise I could hear was my breathing – it sounded like I was having a panic attack.  I kept going – I might be about to die, but stiff upper lip and all that. It was marginally better if I didn’t go underwater, so I did a total of four lengths, making my  £3 (75p per length) now feel expensive.

My body did start to get used to it, but after 200m, I had to admit defeat. I got out, trying to walk and act normally back to my locker. Which I then couldn’t open. Surprisingly, I wasn’t shivering, but I looked quite red and my internal organs felt like they’d been packed in ice. I was so cold, I couldn’t remember how to put my jumper on.

I got back to the car and composed myself and congratulated those people who can swim in the cold. It takes practice, I guess, so I’ll be back! But note to self: You are not 17 and you need to remember your wetsuit.