Day 21 of 80 — Serpentine

Around London in 80 days

In these uncertain times, I need a lifeline and a horizon so I have — somewhat arbitrarily I’ll admit — set a date. April 1st will be my horizon ; my lifeline will be the 80 days separating me from it.

And as I cannot go around the world right now, I give you A Mad Belgian’s “Around London in 80 Days” : eighty impressions of London, eighty stories, places, thoughts from my experience of this wonderfully mad and maddening city.

Day 21 : Serpentine

One day, a few summers ago, I had a go at the Serpentine Lido, where only members of the Serpentine Swimming Club can swim, everyday between 5 and 9.30 am.

Except in the summer, when it’s opened to “outsiders”, so I went. It was cold, but that was quickly forgotten, as I enjoyed swimming past ducks and pedalos in the middle of Hyde Park, in the middle of London.

Alas, all things come to an end so after a while, I got out of the water. Back to the ground, back to earth, back to reality. And there, getting ready to go in, was a man with his daughter ; he said hello, we started chatting. He too was a musician ; a double bass player ; he often gigged in Belgium so knew it well ; he gave me his card, which was the same strange mini format as mine ; both had similarly-styled cartoons of ourselves with our instruments. A sign, for sure : a new friendship in the making. But I had to go, and he and his daughter were ready for their swim now. This conversation would have to wait (and indeed resumed a few months later).

I can’t guarantee there’ll always be a friendly Scotsman for you to meet at the Serpentine, but it is worth a detour in any case. And if you ever find yourself nearby on Christmas day, look out for the Peter Pan Cup race, a 100-yard (91m) freezing cold race for hardcore members of the Serpentine Swimming Club.

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2 thoughts on “Day 21 of 80 — Serpentine”

  1. Real nature freshness in that sky and pond photo! Swimming at nose level with ducks! Even a ‘secret garden’ up behind with French-speaking mamas & kids … and a shout-out for the loyal lifeguards. Lovely stroll to the Albert Hall, you make me want to get on my bike and go see it, and the early spring flowers!


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