Sunday, 14 July 2013

Golden hours

Sunshine is a rarity in Britain. Glimpses and flashes, sure; rays pushing through grey clouds perhaps, or light filtering past trees. But heat with enough strength to support a day of swimming outside? It's a more elusive treat.
The first half half of the week I've just spent in London passed in a state of sunned-up, active idleness. It was full of picnic rugs spread under trees and afternoons sitting cross-legged with friends. The body is used differently in the heat - sprawling and lolling or lying with eyes closed, mind roaming. Everything slows when there is the space to unravel.
The British press welcomes high temperatures like a rarely seen royal. The arrival is heralded by a glut of photos to accompany editorials that discuss summertime's apparel of ice creams and Pimms with glee. There are motifs by which weather is marked: by swimming costumes and crowded tables outside pubs; by floppy hats and blistered feet; by cool drinks and hot evenings. A kind of collective mentality emerges in urban areas. Every park bench and patch of green is occupied come the weekend. To stay indoors is to waste the day.
I had the pleasure of staking my ground at Kenwood Ladies' Pond on both Sunday and Monday. One of three freshwater pools found on Hampstead Heath, it took several wrong turns and a tramp over Parliament Hill before I got there. Almost entirely concealed from the rest of the Heath, tall hedges hid both swimmers and sunbathers from the curious eye. I slipped through the gate and marvelled at scenes of relaxed contentment.
Despite a name that suggests thirties' bathing suits and hair piled high in silk scarves, the atmosphere is much earthier. Sunbathing topless is the norm, varying amounts of body hair no issue. It is a wonderful place to observe the many varieties of the female frame. Short legs, thick thighs, long shins, small feet, slip-of-a-thing waists, broad shoulders, round hips. All are present and all are accepted
And the swimming? Oh, the swimming! I've had little exposure to the shock of cold water this year, so assumed that initial contact between skin and pool would be a surprise. But despite the slight frisson of  first immersion, it was more serene than expected. I kicked out past buoys and groups of young women with hair pinned up out of the water's reach, eyes level with ducks and leaves. I spent just long enough swimming to fully relax into the pond's hold. All around was activity. Old women did lengths, younger girls splashed with their friends. As I hauled myself out again with wet hands gripping the rails, I knew that 'Middlemarch' and a towel warmed by the sun were waiting for me.
But where the pond was a place for reading and solitude, the rest of the week was sociable. As the sun draws out the bikinis, so it also draws out plans between friends. The outside is there to be used. I invited the delightful Dvora over to my grandma's flat for an afternoon. We sat, shaded by trees in the shared garden at the back. Several golden hours of chatting and snapping passed by. She took the photos above, some of my favourites to have been caught this year. I feel that they accurately reflect the stage that I'm at - the cusp of complete independence, but enjoying the sunshine for now.

This was posted from Spain. Links not working as I am on my ipad, but the photos were taken by Dvora of Fashionistable. No internet for a week now. Relish the sunshine, wherever you are.


kaarlijnx-x said...

lovely pictures!

Tanya said...

So lovely to see a photo of you smiling! You remind me of a young Nigella Lawson when you smile.

Meera said...

I absolutely love this outfit – that skirt looks amazing! You are so gorgeous.

xo, Meera |
twitter + instagram: @meeranavlakha

Emalina said...

You have such a beautiful smile dear Roz! Have a brilliant holiday in spain!

Anupriya DG said...

That sunshine is positively making you glow, my beautiful, young friend!

In a country as hot as ours, we despise & dread the hot, burning rays of the fireball that we see the Sun as........but over there, it must be so tranquil to sit by a pond and seep in the golden rays blissfully! :)

Helen said...

I too love outdoor swimming, I'd love to try out the pools on Hampstead Heath. Last Sunday I swam in the Serpentine, it was quite crowded and not as relaxed as you describe the ladies' pond being
We don't have many local ponds to swim in in Manchester but there are Salford Quays, where I'll be swimming tomorrow
enjoy you holiday

Closet Fashionista said...

I love these photos, especially that first one :D
And I wish we enjoyed the sunshine like you do But in America no one gets excited by it. This year we have been getting a lot of rain though, so we are sort of experiencing an English Summer... next week I'll be frolicking on the beach though!

Vanessa, Take only Memories said...

Lovely photos, as always :)

I miss London! Sounds like you had a great time. I used to live in Hampstead but never went swimming there. I suppose you could blame the weather...
Berlin is surrounded by the most amazing lakes. I've lived here for over two years now but went swimming for the first time yesterday. It was amazing!

The Foolish Aesthete said...

How lovely of you and Dvora to have gotten together! I immediately wondered if it was her shot when I looked at the first image and confirmed it with her watermark. Your grandmother's garden is the perfect foil for you-in-blue in this sunny photo shoot. (And I am completely in cobalt blue mode, as I've written in my blog. Perhaps it just has a cooling effect!)

As someone from the tropics, I used to marvel at how the English could bare their skin at the merest hint of sunshine (even at 10 degrees celsius). But I now understand when one has no choice but to seize those rare flashes of sunlight. The Pacific Northwest here is similar. We nearly moved to Seattle but locals discouraged us unless we were happy to live like moles (or vampires?).

Enjoy Spain and hope that the rain in Spain stays mainly in the plain! -- J xxx

Izzy DM said...

Gorgeous photos! I love your expressions here. Reading your post was like a nice cool drink of water. It is horribly, horribly, horribly hot here- 100 every day, and I can't go outside much because of the baby. We spend all our time trying to escape the heat here rather than revel in it, and we managed to get away to my husband's family's lake house for two weeks thank goodness! (Where it was misty and cool and grey like England and where I missed the sun and heat! Human nature is hilarious.) Thank you for your thoughtful comment on my blog. I also think there is an audience for poetry still, and the online world helps us connect. Have a great time in Spain!

Anonymous said...

One of the things I love about summer is going for a dip (in the sea, in a river, in a paddling pool like this weekend just gone) is coming out and not even needing a towel as the sun dries your skin in minutes :) Hope you're having a lovely time in Spain x

vintagevixenarts said...

Well Miss Roz whilst sun be rare in your lovely part of the world it is full glow here in the Midwest! We are into our typical 90 degree sunny good ol summertime day's, where the pool's are packed with overbaked bod's and there's watermelon on ice. The humidity get's as thick as soup, and the only soup we make is chilled.The punch card for sno-cone's is almost full and by July's end I sing the song by Eddie Rabbit..."Oh I love a rainy night!" Love from St. Louie!

Marla Robinson said...

Love seeing your beautiful smile in the first pic.

Ioana said...

Wonderful! Very beautiful and fresh. :)


How lovely, it sounds like you both had a bright day together. I do enjoy sunny days whenever they come, welcoming with open arms and smiles all around. I like how the mauve colour soothes the royal blue, such a nice pairing. Indeed, another marvellous shoot with Dvora! Enjoy your weekend. :-)

Dus of Cuddly Cacti said...

oh man, that's a crazy thought since over half the year is pool weather over here in Arizona. Absolutely gorgeous pictures though!! hope you're enjoying Spain!
My blog: Cuddly Cacti
My E-Shop: Mitla Moda

Willow said...

The first thing I have to say is how absolutely GLORIOUS your smile is, lovely to see those braces off. Dvora's photos of you are divine.

It sounds like you're having a brilliant summer: a trip to spain, reading, swimming, socialising and soaking up sunshine. Kenwood Ladies' Pond sounds rather wonderful, too. Enjoy that sunshine!

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