“What are you doing for your birthday? Anything nice?” That was the question posed to me by friends, family and colleagues in the weeks running up to my birthday and my answer, “I’m taking a night time swim in a Lido and then having a campfire with some beers, good food and music with a company called Secret Adventures”, left them unsure of what to say next. Usually they just stuck with “cool!”
And, it was cool. Very cool in fact.
Before I moved to London, my Dad sent me a link to the Secret Adventures website. I was amazed at the things you could do in London of all places. Kayaking down the Thames, swimming in open air pools and then, slightly further afield, you could swim in rivers and spend a weekend learning to survive in the wilderness. I had plans to try these secret adventures out but, for one reason or another, just never seemed to get around to it.
That was until January 12th: my birthday.
Madoc, the man behind this ultra cool company, asked me to join him and a group of similarly crazy/adventurous people to brave the dark, cold nights in January (during the coldest week of winter so far!) to swim in London Fields’ Lido and then warm up around a campfire with some beers and music. It’s part of their aim to swim under every full moon in 2016. Next up is an underwater photoshoot in Hampton Pool and there’s even a skinny dip planned in the Richmond area in March!
I didn’t even have to think about my answer. The answer was obviously “yes!”. And I’d said yes before I even realised the pool was heated. Hey, I’d done enough Christmas Day swims in Hunstanton to be able to brave some chilly water!
So that’s how I found myself with a huge bag full of warm clothes, a hat, scarf and gloves (taking up more space on the overground that I probably should have) headed to London Fields.
We gathered in the reception area of London Fields Lido before heading to the changing rooms, nervously chattering and questioning whatever it was that had made us say yes.
The poolside paving was freezing on our toes and steam was slowly rising off the pool.
I stepped in, surprised for a second at how chilly a heated pool was before doing a few lengths of the Olympic sized lido.
It wasn’t long at all before I warmed up and remembered just how much I love swimming. Doing it in the open air, with a dark sky above makes it even better. Far more entertaining than in a hot and stuffy leisure centre.
Swim done it was time for the campfire and some delicious food kindly supplied by Foods Unearthed.
We headed to Madoc’s car are carried over blankets, a huge tarpaulin in case it rained, a fit pit, wood and a few chairs before setting up in one of the designated BBQ areas in London Fields.
Whilst the fire roared away, Unearthed food served up some tasty olives, baguettes and delicious pork rillette to whet our appetites before the foil parcels of camembert and kebab sticks stacked with chorizo were thrown on the fire.
If only my oven could melt camembert as well as that fire pit did!
Banana filled with marshmallows and chocolate chips were roasted on our fire for dessert and Secret Adventures and Unearthed Foods kindly organised two (delicious) cupcakes for my birthday – thank you again!
When everyone was suitably stuffed we were treated to the beautiful voice of Amy May Ellis. She has such an incredible voice and has all of us string at her in awe as she sung and played her Ukulele.
Us Secret Adventurers had the whole park to ourselves for the evening. And, whatever it was, that thing that made us say “yes” and stopped us from spending the evening at home lounging on the sofa, that spirit of adventure perhaps? Well I’m so glad to have it. I’m sure I can speak for everyone when I say myself and my boyfriend left London Fields with a big smile on our faces and a bit of a buzz from doing something so utterly different in this big city we find ourselves in.