I am a lover of coffee table books without a coffee table! When you’re still living with your parents and the extent of your interior design duties is limited to your bedroom there isn’t much cause for a coffee table. One day, however, I will have a coffee table, and when I do, it will be adorned with many an easy-read, picture-heavy tome, for I have already set about collecting them! I thought it might make for a vaguely interesting series on this blog, much like Little Things and Secret Beaches, if I shared some of my favourites with you, starting with Wild Swimming by Daniel Start.
I have really clear memories from my childhood of my brother and I playing in streams and rivers; jumping from rocks; exploring caves; swinging off rope swings, and picnicking with our folks on the bank. They’re those memories where it’s always sunny and warm and perfect and it makes me feel all nostalgic, so when I stumbled across the Wild Swimming website I was instantly obsessed.
Wild swimming, the book explains at the beginning, is ‘Swimming in natural waters… dipping or plunging in secret or hidden places… jumping or diving from a height, using swings and slides, or riding the current of a river’ (p.1) – sounds fun! Being a resident of the United Kingdom I thought it might be most beneficial to me to buy the ‘Britain Edition’, however, Italy and France versions are also available. It’s divided by region into five sections and within each section are collections of the best places to take the plunge in that area.
You might also be inspired by the ‘best literary swims’, the best spots for skinny dipping, or the best swims close to a pub!
For each location directions and coordinates are given, and a handy key is used to let you know the specifics of what that spot has to offer, like jumps and rope swings, whether food is available, the path is difficult, or if it’s good for kids to paddle etc. Then at the back of the book there’s useful safety tips, games to play, environmental information, and a guide for ensuring you don’t break the law or piss off a grumpy fisherman. And of course, like all good coffee table books, it is filled with large and vibrant images.
Nowadays my friends and I tend hibernate in the winter and then make up for it by getting up to all sorts of crazy shenanigans trudging through the countryside in the summer, so I can’t wait to get cracking and explore some of these hotspots, but, regardless of that, I’ll still have this very beautiful book to decorate my bedroom and future coffee table! You can actually use the aforementioned website to explore places if you prefer, but I like a hard copy myself!