Adventures in Swimming… My Local Swimming Area

I am very lucky to live in a location that allows me access to multiple swimming sites – both pool based and lake based. This has also given me access to more people who know of even more places  a little further afield that I have plan on tagging along to later this year and over winter.

I mainly swim at two local swimming pools. But there are another 3 open to the public pools within 20 minutes of where I love, and multiple gyms that also have various size swimming pools in the same area. There are also a few further afield pools, that I would go to for specific reasons, such as a gala or coaching sessions, but not for general swimming.

Access to open water is also extremely good with the Cotswold Water Park area being a 20 minute drive away. I have a membership to Lake 32 Waterland, but Lake 12 and Lake 31 also do pay and play sessions on different days so I could swim different days or times if I wanted to.

As I said also Swindon is a great location for getting to other places. There is Eton Dorney and the River Thames swims to the East and the Bristol area to the West, as well as the sea to the South. Most things are probably within a 90 minute drive each way.


Adventures in Books… The Martyr’s Curse

blogtour“Sales of gripping ‘Ben Hope’ conspiracy thriller series top 1.1 Million Copies with over 1,500 5* reviews now on Amazon

Can Ben Hope find peace at last in a remote medieval monastery in the French Alps? His wanderings through Europe might have led him to this refuge but salvation is to be short lived for wherever he goes, trouble is never far behind.

When a team of merciless killers invade his newfound sanctuary and slaughter the innocent monks, Ben’s revenge quest quickly draws him into a bewildering mystery of stolen treasure, deception and murder.

What is the truth behind the cache of gold bullion apparently hidden for centuries under the monastery? What is the significance of an ancient curse dating back to a cruel heretic burning in medieval times? What are the real ambitions of the enigmatic leader of an organisation of doomsday ‘preppers’ calling themselves Exercitus Paratorum: the Army of the Prepared?

As he works to unravel the mystery, Ben is confronted with a terrifying reality that threatens to devastate the world and reshape the whole of our future. The race is on to prevent the ultimate disaster and there’s only one man who save us. His name is Hope, Ben Hope.”

To be up front, I was sent a copy of this book for free with the agreement to post a review today.

This is the 3rd book of the Ben Hope series I’ve now read and I want to read the others. So far they have been easy, fun reads I have enjoyed. I would definitely recommend as a holiday read for the summer. The chapters are short and snappy and left me wanting to carry on reading each time. I was saying ‘just one more chapter’ a lot with this book.

The book starts off catching up with Ben as he is rebuilding his life after the last book. He is lost and destitute and living in the middle of nowhere. He is in despair and is just looking for a way out. He is found and taken in by monks and that’s where the story starts to get interesting.

I love books where the modern world and history collide. I find it interesting and often learn something I didn’t know. I like fiction over non-fiction, but I also like to learn and find facts intriguing and often lead me to google a subject area to find out a bit more. This book did that, but I don’t want to give away the story by telling you what I looked up.

I liked the pace of this book. Starting out in a monastery setting helped slow the story down and let you get to know the main character more.  It then starts to speed up as the action unfolds.  The pace started to get too fast for towards the end. I felt it was rushed compared to the rest of the book, which was fast paced.  Maybe it was just me getting into the end of the book and turning the pages too quickly.

Overall I enjoyed the action thriller that this book was. It was a fun speedy read that kept me entertained while I was reading it. It is predictable in a way as it follows the same kind of format as the other books I have read in the series, but that does not make it any less entertaining and enjoyable. The character has developed through the books I have read and I have grown to understand him more. If you are looking for a fast paced action book that could easily be a film, or TV episode, to keep you enthralled for a few days then this books, and the series, is a good place to start.

The Marytr’s Curse is published today!

Front cover

Adventures in Swimming… Pool vs Open Water

It’s no secret I love swimming. I love swimming everywhere. Maybe a little less I the sea, but I still would swim there.  A lot of people I know love on or the other. Usually they swim in a pool and thought of open water is a big no.

Not with me. I like swimming in the pool and I like swimming in open water.  I just think of them as very different styles of swimming. Essentially the same activity, but different techniques and attitudes are required.

For me it depends what I fancy doing. In the lake I get in for a long steady swim. In the pool I get in to do a mix of strokes and a mix of speed. It’s only recently I’ve been doing drills and speed work in the lake. It also depends on how social I want to be. There are times when I just want to swim and be internal for a while.

I’ve always thought of swimming as an ‘alone’ type sport. You don’t need anyone else with you to go to the pool for example. However it is also a big part of my social life, but again the pool and lake are very different. In the pool you might stop and chat after a set or a section of the program, whereas in the lake you might not chat until after your swim.

I am also someone though who can’t just get in for a dip. It has to be worth it for me to get in. I rarely do less than a mile or 30 minutes, whether that is in the lake or the pool.

There is a huge difference between swimming in a pool and swimming in any kind of open water and confidence in your swimming ability has a lot to do with how successful you are I think. If you spend your whole swim worrying about fish, you won’t enjoy the freedom that comes from having no lanes ropes or walls. However as a sufferer of anxiety for other things I totally get that it is not simple to get over your fears or worries.

If you want to go from the pool to open water the first thing I would recommend is to get help. Don’t go on your own and have someone stay with you for the whole of that first swim. I’ve been the support many a time and it is lovely to see people overcome their initial worries and then enjoy their swims. It’s hard when someone struggles, but being able to provide reassurance and encouragement is also good. If you can take part in a group session that focuses on an introduction to open water. I would also say this is a good thing to do when changing from one kind of open water to a another – for me that would be for going from the lake and into the sea.

Swimming is essentially the same. There are certain things you need to do in open water that will make it much better and I am getting coached on such as sighting and drafting. But to begin with it’s just about enjoying the different experiences you have in different places.

I would hope everyone would give open water swimming a go at least once, and that is more than a dip in the sea on holiday! But I also hope that open water enthusiasts don’t put pool swimming down. Each to their own and as long as everyone is enjoying what they are doing, what does it matter where they are?!

Adventures in Coffee… Starbucks Reserve East Timor Ermera

The second of the reserve samples I got from the London Coffee Festival. I have continued to use this mainly for espresso before heading off to work each morning. 

This was slightly more acidic than the No 11 reserve, but again had a lovely crema coming out of the espresso machine.  I would say this was a lighter coffee than I would normally go for. For me lighter means more acidic and less smooth. It had a lingering after taste that I find a little too much. As always it’s nice to try something different.


Adventures in Coffee… Starbucks Reserve No 11

This is first of the coffees I got from the London Coffee Festival. 

The Starbucks booth was giving out samples of their reserve collection. The last time I tried the reserve roast was in Seattle. I know a lot of people stay clear of the big brands, but I think they have made coffee accessible to the masses in a way that small coffee roasters would not be able to do. But then once people enjoy coffee that can do as I did and start searching for local or independent coffee roasters and get the next experience from there. 

I have to say also that the Starbucks booth was one of the best at the festival as they had plenty of staff to talk to about the coffee. Most so the other stalls were so busy you couldn’t get near a actual person, which was the one disappointment of the festival for me. But the coffee was amazing at every booth I went to!


The No 11 reserves was a nice. I really enjoyed this as an espresso and a French press. It was smooth and had a lovely cream come through the espresso machine. It was nice to get access to the and another three reserves to samples. 

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