It's here - this much awaited day has finally arrived. The Lido Guide's publication day. The book that has been an idea since early 2015, and a work in progress since Unbound accepted Janet and I as authors, is finally on general release and will pop up in bookshops from today.
It's a time for looking forward, thinking about where the book will go, who will read it and where it will take people; we hope for unlimited voyages of discovery as people explore the pools it features. We hope for new discoveries of our own, and the restoration of lidos currently derelict or hidden behind closed doors to public use. Pools to watch closely are Broomhill Pool in Ipswich, Cleveland Pools in Bath, Grange Lido in Grange-over-Sands and Albert Avenue Baths in Hull. Broomhill and Cleveland Pools both have funding in place and will begin restoration very soon. Grange has a talented and committed campaign team who are gaining real traction and making tangible progress to the days when the taps can be turned on to fill the might Grange Lido once more. Albert Avenue has secured investment from its local authority, and will be returned to public swimming after a period spent being used by a kayak club. There are also campaigns in Brynaman and Tarlair that are making progress and other, more fledgling campaigns, that have realistic chances if they can garner support. And, of course, Sea Lanes in Brighton have finally been granted planning permission to transform a derelict seafront site with a scheme that includes a 25m outdoor swimming pool.
Add all that progress to the refurbishments, extended seasons and general growth in popularity that existing lidos are experiencing and the future is looking rosy for open air pools. When we started this project we strongly felt that lidos were experiencing a resurgence, but we had no idea just how much the pace would pick up.
But as much appeal as the future holds it's also time, for me at least, for looking back. For reflecting on how we got here. I tried to find the original, impulsive, 140ch tweet that I sent to Unbound pitching the idea for this book. That search proved fruitless, but I did find a tweet I sent out on the date that our crowdfunding went live. I'd spent part of the day swimming with a dear friend, Lynne Roper, who died of an aggressive brain tumour very soon after the campaign went live. Her own wonderful writing has been posthumously edited and published by Tanya Shadrick via Selkie Press, in a book titled Wild Woman Swimming. The book has been long-listed for the Wainwright Prize for nature writing; a richly deserved accolade that I wish she had lived to see. She was so helpful to me in the early days of visualising this project and getting it to a point where we had a chance of publishing the book.
She was far from the only one. In the book we are careful to pay homage to those who went before us, inspiring us, guiding us, counselling us and helping us. And the book wouldn't be here at all without the 579 pledgers who supported the book via Unbound. Their patronage is the reason the book exists. The patience and generosity is the most inspirational aspect of publishing The Lido Guide.
I hope you'll all join us in raising a cuppa, and a slice of cake, in their honour before donning your togs and going for a swim. Preferably with someone you love. Cherish them. They won't be here forever.