Thursday, October 26, 2023

The Tidal Year


Freya Bromley's 'The Tidal Year: a memoir on grief, swimming and sisterhood' sees the author travelling around Britain's tidal pools in the aftermath of her brother's untimely death. Along the way she visits some of my favourite swimming spots including Walpole Bay in Margate, Clevedon Marine Lake (on the Severn Estuary) and Dancing Ledge in Dorset.

But her home turf swimming spot is Brockwell Park Lido, even through the swimming there does not always come easy: 'Getting in the lido felt like a punishment, which something inside me needed. Getting out felt like a rebirth, which everything inside me needed. I took short, sharp breaths as the water burned my ankles, thighs, stomach, then chest. Crying happens on an inhale, and swimming gives me that same breathless sensation. I swam three laps, then at the deep end screamed underwater. When I emerged, I couldn't stop crying. Witnessing someone having a breakdown in a public pool must be a good way to see British manners'.

Along the way friendships and romance play out against a backdrop of familiar South London landmarks. East Dulwich Picturehouse, the Prince of Wales in Brixton, Myatts Fields, Herne Hill market, the Camberwell Arms and the Silk Road restaurant (also in Camberwell) all feature, not to mention a first date checking out the Lime Kiln in Burgess Park.

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