New Leisure; ‘old’ people

I worked for several local authorities ‘down south’, at most of which I dealt with property issues in relation to their leisure centres; which also inspired me fairly early on to get into exercise more, at which point I also trained and qualified as an aerobics teacher. When I moved to Carlisle I joined the Board of the local leisure management company. Something I wondered about straight away was why the city had no leisure centre which combined both ‘dry’ side and ‘wet’ side.

The Pools was on its last legs; there’s a beautiful old Turkish baths in the older part of the building (which a local group is trying to save), but the more modern part contained three swimming pools in buildings which – despite dating from the 1960s or 70s (at a guess) – were on their last legs, as was the pool plant. It seemed to make complete logical sense to provide a ‘wet side’ facility at the Sands centre, the main leisure centre in Carlisle which had a large gym, a sports hall, and a large hall which doubled up as an auditorium.

This has now finally happened. The newly-refurbished, extended Sands, opened in mid-November last year and today I finally got around to going for a swim there and having a look round.

It was great. There is a lovely new 8-lane pool, which at 8.30 on a Sunday morning was empty enough that I had a lane to myself. I liked the changing village; they seem to have learnt from the mistakes and problems of other changing villages, and so the cubicles are spacious and well spread out and there are also cubicles immediatly opposite the showers, which are also each in cubicles (so if you like to strip off and wash properly, you still can).

The gym looked fab. and there are two studios; one of my other new year resolutions is to try to start going more regularly, and in fact as I have to fetch Bella from Carlisle most Wednesday evenings I think I will try to go to the gym and for a swim before I fetch her.

What was also nice was that a couple of staff recognised me. One I hadn’t seen for years, since I used to take Edward regularly when he was a toddler and there was a creche he could go in. Once he was at nursery and I was back at work, I never seemed to get to the leisure centre; and then other things got in the way like school runs and, more recently, Covid. I went swimming a couple of times at the Pools during Covid, but that was all.

It feels as if everything was on hold for 2 or 3 years; something which struck me last night as well. Rosie, Penny and I went up to Kielder Forest to do the Dark Skies 10km run. I have done this run twice in the past, but as one of the organisers commented, it hasn’t run for 3 years. Last year (Jan. 2022) it was due to be held but I think the weather was too bad, and our entries got postponed to this year. The route was different from before, perhaps because of Storm Arwen which caused such havoc last January/February. I didn’t enjoy the revised route so much as there was more tarmac and less winding through trees, but it’s still a magical run: especially when a full golden moon comes out from behind the clouds and lights the sky up.

Penny was staying at my house as Tim was away doing motorbike stuff for the weekend. When we got back to Brampton the Urban Wood Fire pizza guy was in the square. I had a haggis pizza, which was ace! It made us think we’d do a Burns Night run in a couple of weeks, followed by a haggis, neeps and tatties meal.

I’m now thinking of doing the Dark Skies 10 mile run in March; which takes place the night before the Vocal Classes for the Music Festival (I have only entered 3 classes this year). And having spent most of today in Carlisle – including going to two services at the Cathedral, as Bella was singing in the choir – I’m looking forward to spending more time locally this year. I hope.

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