Once again the admirable Fusion-run Park Road Pools and Fitness has come up trumps. Many feared that last year’s all-winter swimming in Hornsey’s Olympic length lido was a one-off, but not so. Every morning in N8 there is an opportunity to relish open-air swimming in a dependable temperature range from 18-21 degrees. No stinging eyes, no sweats from excess humidity, no blaring muzak, no overcrowding. Instead the calm experience of rhythmic strokes outdoors in this warmest of Autumns. Even on the Winter Solstice you can get your daily Vitamin D.
Julius Caesar misplaced the date of the Winter Solstice believing the sun reborn on 25 December. But we now know that today is the true day. This year – so far – we have none of the traditional shivering described by Spenser in The Faerie Queene:
‘Lastly, came Winter cloathed all in frize,
Chattering his teeth for cold that did him chill..’
But for all that today does mark the furthest reach of the planet and I had to celebrate it as I did in 2014. Then as now, a steady breast stroke for 500m in the open air on the shortest day of the year is the best way to salute the birth of a new year.