Poolside – with dads – a review of Victoria Baths

E’s final swimming lesson was last week. She hasn’t really enjoyed the last lot of lessons, with a couple of weeks where we thought we’d made it through her water wobbles, and so I’ve decided not to go any more. But I wanted her to stay used to swimming and wondered if it might make a difference if it was just her and me in the pool. With that in mind, we made a trip to Victoria Baths in the city centre last week and made enquiries about their facilities.

Victoria baths have recently had a revamp and are in a grotty-ish area of the city. They’re run by the city council and the deputy manager was delighted to give us a tour last week, pointing out their facilities (buggy locks, baby friendly family changing cubicles and a spectator area.) The baby pool itself is a nice one, with steps along one side down into the water. There is also a splash play area that has jets of water spurting up, a slide and a mushroom that showers water down onto the floor.

They have a toddler session on Mondays from 12noon, as well as family sessions after school and a great offer at weekends (50p per person) though this gets very crowded. He said if we could manage not to come then, the Mondays are quieter. (The baby pool takes 70 people and at weekends they regularly get 200 come along.)

So we went along today. I was worried on the way to the pool as she was in a grumpy mood, and cried as we walked down the road. (Interesting the comments and smiles of sympathy were all from men, the mums glared at me or looked pityingly at my screaming child. Thanks ladies.) But she was ok by the time we arrived. We were very impressed with the cleanliness and general niceness of everything. Our regular pool is quite grotty, I think they’re revamping one close by and then they’re planning on closing it. It’s quite run down.

E was nervous when we started so I sat her on the side till she’d calmed down and then brought her into the water. It took her a while to stop clinging to me but we walked round the pool, collected some toys to play with and splashed about. I noticed that there were quite a few dads in the pool. I’m so used to going to playgroups and meetings where mums are the majority that this really stood out, despite my fellow parents in the pool for lessons all being men. Is swimming the one area where the dads feel comfortable to be with their children and welcomed more than other places? I wonder. I don’t think it was just because it was half term either, it seemed like they always came.

Anyway, E got much more relaxed as we stayed in and by the end of half an hour she was happy to swum back and forth and round and round. I tried tempting her into the play area with the spurting jets but while she was interested, she wasn’t confident so we’ll keep trying those a bit at a time.

It was really good to spend some time in the water with her not crying to be honest so I’ll persevere with this and see how we get on. We went to a local greasy spoon for lunch, and she wolfed down beans on toast.

In the afternoon we went to a play day, invited by E’s swimming teacher which was also a good chance to update her on E’s progress today. So far all normal. It’s just a matter of carrying on. The playday was good fun, and gave E a chance to show me how comfortable she is in situations with lots of children and toys. Just like nursery she toddled off after a while to fetch things she wanted to play with – cars, plastic animals, pens – leaving me to make craft items. It was perfect really and amusing to see how much more socially adept she is than I am.

By the time we got home we were both exhausted – these children’s activities really take it out of you.

I am reading: AM Homes – May we be Forgiven and The Mistress’s Daughter. The first of these titles was my reading group’s choice for last month and resulted in a clear division in the group. Those of us who thought it was funny overlooked all the flaws, and those who didn’t think it was funny picked on all the flaws. We couldn’t reconcile. Every time one of the haters said but this bit was dreadful” the erst replied, “yes but it was funny.” It’s a satire of American ghastliness and I thought it was hilarious. The second title is her autobiography which I thought was interesting – she was adopted and was contacted in her thirties by her birth mother. This book was that story.

E is reading: Penguin in Love by Salina Yoon. I got this for E as a Valentine’s gift and am rather gratified that she’s immediately taken to it. It’s the story of two penguins brought together by knitting and two crafty puffins. It’s really sweet and the illustrations are lovely. 

This entry was posted in Book club, Motherhood, Observations and general nonsense, Parenting and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

One Response to Poolside – with dads – a review of Victoria Baths

  1. John Adams says:

    Very interesting observations you make about the dads (…I would spot that). Before she started school, I would take Helen swimming once a week. Even though it was mid-week, I was pleasantly surprised at the number of dads swimming with their kids. A minority, yes, but a sizable one. Helen’s now having lessons at the weekend and I reckon about a third of the parents that turn up are dads.

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