It’s strange to have passed through an entire calendar of seasonality. I like gardening but in some ways I am limited by the harsh and short seasons in Western Massachusetts where I have a home. However, I have never actually experienced this total transformation from snow to mud to buds to green to flowers and vegetables. One of the blessings of this awful pandemic is that I have been out west more than not and have caught all of these moments up close – and that has been extraordinary to see. My gardens have never been so full. I have never really tried to grow as many vegetables as I did this year. The bouquets of flowers around the house have provided color in an otherwise difficult and challenging environment.
So now, as I watch fall begin and the warm weather start to disappear, and I prepare for the spectacular color display of a New England autumn, we will have been able to say that we have lived here through the four seasons. For a guy who is used to jumping around airports, rushing through the busy tourist corridors of Europe, popping into museums, meeting and greeting, getting on trains, and living in hotel rooms for four months of the year, it’s strange but also wonderful to catch the ebb and flow of nature and the seasons’ ever changing menu of delights.
When I travel, I like to swim. It’s easier to carry a pair of goggles and light-weight Speedo than it is to cart a whole bunch of keep-fit stuff in your bag.
So, I have a fairly honed in radar for decent pools. I even have an app to detect swimming pools in Paris and I know all the great pools in London. I swim in the sea if the beach is protected and the water is calm but I constantly run into hotels with lots of land and inadequate pool facilities. I wonder if these guys ever had a pool advisor. If you would like to work out in a pool, it has to be a minimum of 20 meters; 25 is preferable and anything beyond that is gravy. It always amazes me that on cruise ships with 4,000 to 5,000 passengers and luxury accommodations, the pool is nothing more than a tiny splashing pool a little bigger than a big over-chlorinated Jacuzzi with God knows what in it.
Huge resort complexes have fancy pools with kidney shapes that you cannot swim in and more often than not are unheated. Hotel pools are, in general, absolutely hopeless. I just want to advocate for a few more meters and some common sense. After all, people do use swimming pools for exercise and when you sit on a 1,000-acre complex, what difference does it make to add 10 extra meters to a pool?! Trying to find out whether the pool in a hotel or complex is adequate for swimming is also tricky. Go look at the photographs of the pool online. Those images can be mighty deceptive. It’s like the pool at the villa in Tuscany or Spain that you rented that turns out to be a little bigger than a bathtub.
For those of us who like to swim, preferably in a heated 25 meter pool, let’s just get some common parameters for discovery and let’s ask hotels and complexes to give a little more thought, a little more honesty, and a little more land for the non-Olympian swimmer who likes to keep fit.