If you bump into Professor Henry Higgins in the near future, would you mind pointing out that currently the rain is Spain seems to be falling mainly on Andalucia and especially the corner where Cádiz is located.
However, my mood has lifted somewhat from the mid-Cádiz blues that I was suffering from yesterday. I adopted ‘water’ as a theme for the day and shortly after lessons finished at 2pm I headed back home to collect my swimming gear and set off for the local municipal pool.
At this point anyone who has ever attempted to go swimming in such an establishment on the continental mainland of Europe might have a knowing smile on their face as they can imagine the hoops that I needed to jump through just to swim a few lengths. France excels in rules and regulations when it comes to public swimming; Speedo-style attire is a must (no shorts!), a cap has to be worn, no outside footwear in most places beyond the entrance… It’s all a bit of a phaff, especially for a British swimmer who is left to his or her devices in terms of what they wear at the pool and where they wear it when back home in the UK. Just no petting!
In fairness to our continental friends I can see why they have the rules, but then again, has a one ever suffered from wearing baggy shorts at a British pool? So it was with a certain amount of reluctance that I headed off in the direction of the pool here in Cádiz knowing full well that there would be rules to follow that I’m not accustomed to following back home.
The bus was, inevitably bearing in mind the conditions outside, packed. Was a world record being attempted? I’m sure I glanced the ghost of Norris McWhirter in one corner of the steamed up vehicle. I wasn’t quite sure where the pool was but after a few minutes I had found a building that looked like a municipal swimming pool. It was, alas, lacking a sign to confirm my suspicions but when I wandered in through what I thought was the entrance my surroundings confirmed my suspicions. As did a deeply tanned man who was loitering around a desk at the far end of the corridor wearing red. He ticked the box of being a pool attendant (while at the same time ticking the box of being an ageing British PE teacher from the 1980s). ‘Is the pool open?‘ I enquired in erroneous Spanish. The first complication was about to arise; I needed to buy a ticket from the entrance. ‘This wasn’t the entrance?’ Well, kind of, but not the one for buying the ticket. Yes, that’s clear.
It took a few more minutes to locate the ‘entrance’. Can you spot it with confidence in the photo above? It’s not on the left, or that bit next to the bikes. It’s the door to the right. Signage!!
Ticket purchased, I suspected that a cap was needed so asked the chap behind the door… No, I didn’t ask him. I just tapped my head and he charged me an extra €3.50 for a bright yellow piece of latex. It needed to be picked up from the bronzed PE teacher character back at the entrance that wasn’t actually the entrance.
Eventually I located the changing rooms and proceeded to change. Much to my relief the French obsession with skimpy Speedos hasn’t spread south of the Pyrenees as other swimmers were wearing baggy shorts. My thigh-clinging Speedo shorts (bought specially a few years ago to be on the extreme fringe on the French regulations) were probably considered as being a little racey, even if the body behind them wasn’t.
So, as far as regulations go, it looks like the Spanish have found a happy place half-way between the anything-goes British and the do-it-our-way-or-else French. The facilities around the pool were decidedly shabby but the basin itself was magnificent. 50 glorious metres of deep blue water, 9 lanes, hectares of space in each lane to prevent inadvertent collisions (there were just the two of us in lane 4), school kids in some of the other lanes (no ridiculous ‘kids only’ or ‘adults only’ sessions by the looks of it), no shallow end where fellow ‘swimmers’ can stand and chat for ages blocking the route for the people who have figured out the reason why coffee shops exist… Just a large hole in the ground dedicated to swimming. Wonderful. I knocked out 40 lengths before returning to the equally wet streets of Cadiz. I’ll be back.
Rather than return back to the centre on the bus and with renewed positivity running through my veins I realised that a walk back ‘home’ would be the perfect opportunity for me to test the Mountain Equipment jacket that I have bought for the cycle. It passed the Henry Higgins rain test with flying colours and as I entered the old part of the city I even started to sing Monty Python’s ‘Always look on the bright side of life‘. The locals must have thought I really had lost it. Perhaps I have.