The planned revamp of Fleming Park sounds very interesting and I am pleased they are keeping the current pool open while work is underway on the new one.
I’m also pleased the plan includes keeping free car parking. I use the bus to get to Fleming Park for my twice weekly swims there so perhaps this is not relevant for me but I believe free parking is the way forward to encourage people to visit the centre.
Incidentally I don’t think it is helpful Xelabus no longer run the Eastleigh bus service from Hiltingbury over the weekends. If you want to bus to Fleming Park now you’ve got to do so from Monday to Friday.
Revamping Fleming Park
The link to the Council’s plan for Fleming Park makes for an interesting read. I welcome the plan to increase the pool size from 6 lanes to 8 given it can get crowded at times.
The animation within the Council’s web page to a potential walk through of the new development shows the plans far better than words could describe but I’d be surprised to find anyone who could actually walk through at the speed with which this animation plays! You’d have to be on some sort of stimulant for that!
Let’s have a look at the Fleming Park animation (July 2015):
I hope they take the opportunity to increase the number of lockers available because I haven’t been to a pool yet where that situation can’t be improved. And Eastleigh’s Fleming Park and The Quays, Southampton, the two pools I know best, are no different here.
The Quays incidentally will shortly be moving to a padlock system for their lockers where you can either buy your own padlock or rent one per visit (you pay a refundable deposit). This should make the lockers more secure.
I also felt it was a retrograde step for Southampton to introduce a charge for using what had been a previously free bus to get to the centre of the city and then on to the ferry terminals. (This bus is still free for those with a valid Red Funnel ticket but I thought the whole point of the free bus was to encourage people to use public transport and leave their cars at home, which is a good idea.)
One of my great loves away from books is swimming. I swim regularly at The Quays in Southampton and Fleming Park, Eastleigh.
I’ve swum for many years and have gradually built up the distance I can swim (though alas not my speed. You will find me in the medium lane at best and usually the slow one!).
Swimming is also a great sport for asthmatics and it must be one of the earliest sports known to humanity. Someone somewhere in the mists of time must have worked out a way of getting through the water safely when there was no bridge etc.
Swimming comes naturally to most animals so I guess that could include us too but I wonder who first had a go? And when did someone decide to simply swim for fun?
We are lucky in our area to have many good pools easily accessible given there are also pools at Winchester and The Rapids in Romsey.
I love lane swimming and one great side benefit is getting to meet other regular swimmers and chatting with them when it is time for a breather between one lot of swimming and the next.
How swimming helps my writing
I also find swimming relaxing and invigorating, which I know sounds contradictory but both parts of that statement are true. And I find it helps my writing. How?
Swimming gives me thinking time. While swimming and avoiding bumping into other pool users, I still have time in which to think. The “monotony” of swimming up and down a lane frees up my mind to think about what I’m writing, be it for Chandler’s Ford Today or for a short story competition, anthology submission or any of the places where my fiction appears.
(Online these are Alfie Dog Fiction, Cafelit and Shortbread Short Stories. In print, Bridge House Publishing, Iron Press and Stories in Green Ink, a recent compilation).
I find I don’t plan out specific details but I usually finalise what I’m writing next. And I’m not the first writer to find that, while exercising, ideas pop into the head for stories, poems, posts etc. It is as if being away from the desk and doing something completely different helps inspire creative thought.
Every writer is advised to keep a notebook and jot down ideas as they occur to them, even if it is late at night. I can see why.
Ideas have a habit of popping out of your head again. They can also turn up at the most inconvenient times but notebooks are not possible when swimming! And I have found that as long as I write down the ideas when I get home again, I haven’t lost the hopefully inspirational thought that popped into my head while practising my front crawl.
P.G. Wodehouse and swimming
And I am following in good footsteps here. Lord Byron swam and wrote about it. One of my favourite authors, P.G. Wodehouse, swam regularly. And given he came up with 90 novels and countless short stories, the swimming must’ve done something to renew and refresh his imagination for when he was back at his desk again! I can only hope for similar results…
Below is one of my favourite Wodehouse works… I find it never fails to put a smile on my face.
The big trouble with writing of course is though it is excellent exercise for the brain, it does nothing whatsoever for the body. It is probably the most sedentary form of creative art I can think of so to combine this with what is one of the best all round exercises, swimming, is a good idea.
The benefits of swimming, including the fact it exercises the whole body regardless of what type of stroke you use, are well known. And I would urge anyone who can’t swim to learn. It is one of the few sports that is also potentially a life saver.
So when you next swim at Fleming Park or indeed at any pool, don’t be too surprised if you find yourself swimming alongside a writer who is planning out their next story. Who knows? It just might be a juicy murder set at a local swimming baths!
So does swimming invigorate your creative imagination or free your mind from daily cares for a while? If not, what sport does do so? (Wodehouse also loved golf, just to name another sport linked with writing in particular).
Visit Allison Symes’ website: Fairytales with Bite
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.