So far, there has been only one drawback to living in a caravan - the lack of showers. Other than pestering friends and family for the use of theirs, we had the bright idea of going swimming a few times a week – get clean and fit at the same time!
There are a few options, but we thought we would use our free swim at the local council run leisure centre first. To sum up – awkward. Let me start at the beginning. We were told there were large family sized changing cubicles, which sounded great. We could get changed together, figure out where to go next together, avoid the parading naked people (you know the sort, proud to bits of their bits, so flaunt all, smugly intimidating lesser folk). But they were closed for cleaning. So we sullenly ventured into our separate changing rooms which were each inundated with lots of children post swim club. It was 9 o’clock at night for crying out loud! Why aren’t they sleeping?
There was no room for me to change so I awkwardly stood by the door and undressed there, nervously dodging the door slamming in my face which seemed to be in sequence with each time I bent down. The other half was shell shocked when he came out, apparently his changing room was a little rowdier and there were little naked fellas running around all over the place. Weird. So not a good start.
We then made our way to the lockers. Hmmm. £1 needed. Doh! So we casually backed away from our clothes and shoes, hoping that nobody had noticed us and had taken a liking to our attire - visions of walking home naked danced in our heads. Once we had navigated through the myriad of corridors we eventually arrived at the pool. Having been told it would be quiet at that time of night, we were not expecting to see so many people. Sorry, so many handsome people. It was like we had stumbled into Date Night for the beautiful. We felt completely out of place, what with our self-induced, bbq-enhanced lumps and bumps. There were pert bottoms and bulging pecs on all sides, not many speaking English (obviously all the sun starved British people were doing the same as us – sun’s out, bbq time!) It felt a little strange, like we were on a foreign holiday in a steroids embracing Butlins camp.
So we followed our fellow swimmers to the opposite end of the pool, the only obvious way of getting in. Not a good move. I’m not a strong swimmer, having only learnt to swim 3 years ago, so the prospect of getting in at the deep end with an additional half metre ledge looming above the water was not comforting. The other half did his best at coaxing me in, but when he fully submerged himself, returned to the surface and answered my timid question of ‘did you touch the bottom?’, he looked ever so sad as he replied ‘no’, knowing full well there was not a chance in hell of me jumping in now.
So with all the hotties watching me quietly freaking out, trying to figure out how to get into the pool, I finally picked myself up and walked to the other end where I could just about make out a ladder. Once in, I had to dive under the lane barriers in order to get to the other half (oh yeah, Date Night but only the main pool was open with cordoned off lanes – what’s the plan, you have to do 10 laps to make it to second base?!). I’m not good under water, but tried to compose myself after pinching my nose, closing my eyes, gracelessly dunking under the rope and dramatically coming up for air the other side.
So, we’re in. What now? We may as well swim I guess. But it was the longest pool in the world. Not only that but because it was dastardly deep at the far end, I couldn’t pause before returning, so I had to keep on going. Upon breathlessly reaching my goal of one whole lap, completely exhausted, I looked around to find the other half walking away from me at the side of the pool. Oh my goodness – what do I do? Irrational, I know, but hey, it was a weird evening.
After the other half rummaged frantically through our towels, at least I’m pretty certain through chlorine bleached eyes that it was the other half and fairly sure it was our towels (oh my goodness, was someone stealing our towels now?!), he eventually walked back towards me crouched down and said ‘not to alarm you, but I can’t breathe very well. I need to get an inhaler’. This is a man who cycles pretty much every day, wheezy from one and a half laps in the pool. You can guess my reaction – ‘I’m coming too!’
With the end in sight, I firstly had to get out of this watery pick up parlour. This was no easy feat. The disproportional ledge seemed to be there purely to keep people in the pool and from breaking their training plans. A couple had got lucky and had settled to canoodle by the ladder, so the only way out was to swim all the way to the deep end, somehow cross the lanes of oncoming traffic…no, wait… these two here have stopped to flex their biceps at a hot chick walking by. Now’s the time. So I went for it, swallowing approximately a quarter of the pool as I went. Between gasps, I battled the currents and swam like a mentalist, to the ladder where my knight in shining armour helped me out the pool. A massive wave of relief washed over me as we headed to the showers and we agreed that once clean our fun would end there and we could go home and write the night off.
But no, our fun continued. As we walked back to our open locker to collect our soap and shampoo, there was a distinct smell to the air that can only be described as wrong. We collected said shampoo, and walked back to the communal showers. Yes, you read this correctly – communal showers. Have you ever tried cleaning yourself…all over… in a communal shower. Awkward.
Especially when the beautiful people entered, speaking some lovely foreign language that not only made our Queens English sound like chav talk, but also gave us a little paranoia trip as we had no idea if they were laughing and commenting on us attempting to clean, which to them, must have looked like we were sneakily touching ourselves in the far corner. It could have been worse I guess. At least nobody had stolen the car keys out the open locker. And we learnt a valuable lesson this evening. Take full advantage of friends and family offering you their showers.