Favourite LIDO, Ilkley

This magnificent outdoor swimming pool stll lies in my valley, the Wharfe Valley, Ilkley.

My father was evacuated here in the war years as a teenager, from Lawnswood and he fell in love with the town and vowed to live here all his life with his new bride, mum.

This old photograph must be from about the time they met and married.

Every year from being a toddler, we spent time at this pool with mum.

I remember brilliant blue water, bright white sky and golden yellow sun baking down, gracing the water but never ever changing the frosty cold that sparkled on the tops – so cold, so very cold – it could actually steal your breath away on contact.

Looking back perhaps we only went on those really hot days of summer but they seemed to fall a-plenty in those days.

As my own children grew up, we returned to Ilkley and spent endless summers there at the Lido.

Through rain, wind, sleet and hail we turned up most Sundays, set up camp with beach towels for blankets and a picnic basket of food: cut pineapple, sticky flapjacks and strawberries washed and shining, heavy with juice.

When my first marriage started to fail, the water and the lido gave me strength. A group of women met every Sunday and I would sit on the edge of the circle, invited in, or left alone as the mood dictated.

Welcomed, supported, gentle, my tribe.

Those very lonely days buoyed by the grace of the women – and such happy memories from childhood – got me through and I am grateful.

So you see, this place, this water – is really very special.

You can find out more about the lido http://www.ilkleylido.co.uk/

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