Armchair travel: Expat Kiwi writer Nina Mingya Powles on swimming pools around the world

Armchair travel: Expat Kiwi writer Nina Mingya Powles on swimming pools around the world

Expat Kiwi writer Nina Mingya Powles’ new memoir Small Bodies of Water takes readers from London to New Zealand, Shanghai to Malaysia. In this abridged extract, she writes of the swimming pools she has visited while growing up around the world.

5, Niagara Falls, Ontario

The orca glides from one end of the deep pool to the other. Upbeat music plays on the loudspeakers. A pony-tailed woman wearing a full-body wetsuit stands on a platform, a white bucket placed by her feet. The music swells; the crowd leans forward on their seats. I imagine what it would be like to be in that pool, too, swimming swiftly alongside the whales under the stadium lights, perfectly at home in the aquamarine water. My mother raises her camera.

6, New York City

Half dream, half memory. The bottom and all four sides of the small pool are covered in silvery-white tiles. Standing in the shallow end I can feel their ridged edges with my feet. I have my purple plastic goggles with iridescent gold lenses – when I put them on everything is like an underwater sunset. Outside the wide window, a city skyline glistens with heat. After swimming, I eat dinosaur-shaped chicken nuggets and French fries served on a blue picnic plate.

7, Sabah Golf Club, Kota Kinabalu

After our swim, we dry off in the shade next to the pool with our ice creams. Our favourite is the Häagen-Dazs one with chocolate icecream coated in a milk chocolate shell. Wasps flit around my hair, attracted by the sugar, and Dad swats them away. From up here, we can see dark clouds passing swiftly from above the rainforest towards the town, and I can feel the afternoon heat becoming thicker, sweeter. Mum motions for me to move closer to her under the pool umbrella, getting ready for the downpour.

8, Thorndon, Wellington

Pink nylon, ice-white tiles. An unheated school pool is a lesson in how to breathe. Oak leaves and cracked acorns swirl on the surface of the water as we grope frantically for each other. Chipped fingernails, scraped knees. One, two! Breathe, kick! Mrs Ongley’s fists are in the air. Anna’s nosebleed brings the swimming lesson to a sudden end. Girls gasp and sneer at the little trail of blood droplets on the concrete.

9, Lower Hutt, Wellington

A hazy memory: an indoor swimming pool with high ceilings and a pink water slide spiralling down into the deep end. Every half hour, mechanised waves gently roll the water from one end to another, making our hips sway.

14, Xuhui District, Shanghai

My first two-piece, at fourteen: a black halter top tied behind the neck, with white, blue and pink polka dots, the Roxy logo embroidered on the matching briefs. I take my iPod, a bottle of water, a towel and a pack of Oreos down to the pool next to the car park. All summer, the cool, chlorinated water is a blessing. I float on my back under the corrugated plastic roof, which collapsed last winter under the weight of sudden snow. The lifeguard plays games on his phone while I do my slow strokes, alone. The heat can’t touch me: a girl swimming is a body of water.

16, Jinqiao, Shanghai

It’s too hot to be outside without some part of your body touching the water. The pool at the compound where my friend Jessie lives is in the shape of a heart, with dark blue tiles on the bottom and creamy white edges. We sit on the side of the pool, our toes dangling in the water, eating mini burritos wrapped in foil that Jessie’s mom made for us even though we said we weren’t hungry. I chew on the straw of a juice box. The white sun is behind the clouds but still the plastic lounge chairs feel hot to the touch. When boys from the year above us show up on the far side of the pool, we quickly rewrap our burritos and lower our bodies back into the deep end, gliding away.

Armchair travel: Expat Kiwi writer Nina Mingya Powles on swimming pools around the world

Expat Kiwi author Nina Mingya Powles whose new book Small Bodies of Water is out now. Photo / Sophie Davidson

25, Peak District, Derbyshire

A forest pool surrounded by soft ferns and foxgloves bent over by the wind. A blue reservoir glistens through the pine trees on either side of the little pool. The water is cool, soft, the colour of jasmine tea, submerging my skin in flickering red and orange light. This magic place is called Slippery Stones, and it’s true, the rocks are slick with dark moss. My boyfriend and I are some of the oldest people here – groups of teenagers smoke and listen to Frank Ocean in the grassy meadow, wearily watching all newcomers who lay their towels down, like languid guardians of the pool. I wince as the teenagers cannon- ball one by one into the dark water, aiming for the middle of the pool, the deepest part where you can’t touch the bottom. None of them miss. This place feels both wild and safely enclosed, with slow waterfalls at opposite sides of the pool where the amber-coloured water flows out to a steady stream, which in turn becomes the River Derwent.

26, Lucca, Italy

There are wasps in the grass around the path leading up to the pool. A garden pond is covered with netting to stop small children falling in. Pond lilies are beginning to bloom on the surface, blush pink against so much green. I’ve got my yellow bikini on under my cotton dress, a gingham pattern on seersucker fabric. There are two ripe peaches in my tote bag. I had one for breakfast, too, along with a boiled egg and toast. In August the peaches here are the sweetest, with marigold flesh, tinged red at the core of the fruit. The juice drips down as I eat one after my swim, drying sticky on my thigh.

Abridged essay extracted from Small Bodies of Water by Nina Mingya Powles, published by Canongate, RRP $32.99.

Internet Explorer Channel Network
News Related

OTHER NEWS

Rute ke La' Ranch Glamping Adventure Pekalongan, Tempat Glamping Bernuansa Indian

© Disediakan oleh Kompas.com La’ Ranch Glamping Adventure, Kabupaten Pekalongan, Jawa Tengah DOK. Instagram.com/laranchglamping KOMPAS.com – La’ Ranch Glamping Adventure merupakan area perkemahan mewah atau glamping (glamour camping) yang terletak di ... Read more »

Quarantine-free travel to resume from New Zealand's South Island to Australia

Quarantine-free travel from New Zealand’s South Island will resume from next week, the federal government revealed. The surprise announcement comes months after the travel bubble was temporarily paused in response ... Read more »

Diverted planes, delays at Reagan National Airport after American Airlines plane blows tires

Several flights were diverted from Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport Saturday afternoon after an American Airlines plane blew its tires upon landing at the Arlington, Virginia, airport. According to flight ... Read more »

Gold coins, a village museum, and a fortune underfoot

Gold coins from the Gupta period dating back to around 1,700 years ago, as well as ancient jars, seals and statues, sit in retired postal employee Chitta Ranjan Biswas’s home. ... Read more »

Claudia's catsuit a hit with Strictly fans while Tess' 'curtain' dress fails to impress

Claudia Winkleman, shown here at the 2021 BAFTAs, won over viewers with her catsuit-style outfit. (Getty) Claudia Winkleman, 49, did it again on week four of Strictly Come Dancing. The ... Read more »

Dogs show off their best Halloween costumes to raise money for New Jersey community library

Best in show fundraiser and Halloween dog parade to benefit the Northvale Library. Brodie, dressed as a taco, sits in Hogan’s Park in Northvale, NJ on Saturday October 16, 2021. ... Read more »

Why Your Holiday Travels Might Cost More This Year

© Provided by The Motley Fool Why Your Holiday Travels Might Cost More This Year © Getty Images Two people wearing backpacks and warm hats while walking through a town ... Read more »

Botanica Sanctuary, Hotel Terbaru di Puncak Bogor yang Cocok untuk Keluarga

© Disediakan oleh Kompas.com The Botanica Sanctuary di Puncak, Bogor, Jawa Barat. KOMPAS.com – Kawasan Puncak di Bogor, Jawa Barat, merupakan salah satu kawasan yang diminati wisatawan karena aksesnya yang mudah ... Read more »

Sandiaga Uno Siap Fasilitasi Anak di Bawah 12 Tahun Boleh Wisata

© Disediakan oleh IDN Times Temui Pelaku Usaha, Sandiaga Uno Minta Perbanyak Inovasi    Malang, IDN Times – Kabar gembira untuk para pengelola pariwisata. Kementerian Pariwisata dan Ekonomi Kreatif (Menparekraf) ... Read more »

7 Destinasi Wisata Alam di Berau yang Keindahannya Diakui Dunia

© Disediakan oleh IDN Times Keindahan laut di Berau, Kalimantan Timur, memang gak pernah salah. Bahkan, banyak wisatawan menyebut Berau sebagai surga wisata bahari. Keindahannya bisa diadu dengan Maldives sekali ... Read more »

7 Tempat Wisata Alam di Denpasar, Gak Kalah Indah dengan Bali Lainnya

© Disediakan oleh IDN Times Sebagai ibu kota provinsi Pulau Bali, Denpasar tak pernah sepi pengunjung. Denpasar juga menjadi pintu masuk bagi wisatawan yang datang lewat jalur laut maupun darat.  ... Read more »

Mulai 8 November, Warga Asing yang Sudah Vaksin Penuh Bisa Masuk Amerika Serikat

© Copyright (c) 2016 TEMPO.CO foto TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – Amerika Serikat siap untuk menerima kembali pelancong yang divaksinasi penuh mulai 8 November. Hal tersebut diumumkan oleh Kevin Munoz, Asisten Sekretaris ... Read more »

10 Tempat Wisata Terbaik di Kabupaten Lima Puluh Kota Sumatra Barat

© Disediakan oleh IDN Times Sumatra Barat memang terkenal dengan tempat wisatanya yang beragam. Kalau kamu pengin liburan ke provinsi ini, ada beberapa daerah yang bisa kamu jadikan pilihan. Salah ... Read more »

[QUIZ] Pilih Destinasi Impianmu dan Tentukan Member Aespa Sebagai Partner Travelingmu

© Disediakan oleh IDN Times Malang, IDN Times – Kabar gembira untuk para pengelola pariwisata. Kementerian Pariwisata dan Ekonomi Kreatif (Menparekraf) membuka wacana untuk membolehkan anak d ibawah 12 tahun ... Read more »

5 Gua dan Cenote Terindah di Meksiko, Saksi Peradaban Bangsa Maya

© Disediakan oleh IDN Times Cenote dan gua merupakan alam yang dianggap penting oleh Suku Maya. Cenote adalah kolam alami yang dipercaya sebagai pintu masuk ke Xibalba, dunia bawah Maya. ... Read more »

Do something different with Forgotten World Adventures this summer

They laughed in the face of the lightbulb, mocked the first man to use an umbrella, and side-eyed New Zealander Ian Balme’s aspirations to ride disused rail lines in a ... Read more »

4 Seasonal Side Hustles to Get During the Holidays

© Provided by The Motley Fool 4 Seasonal Side Hustles to Get During the Holidays © Getty Images A woman baking cookies in her kitchen with a Christmas tree in ... Read more »

Rute ke Nawang Jagad Kaliurang dari Stasiun Yogyakarta

© Disediakan oleh Kompas.com Nawang Jagad, Sleman, Yogyakarta DOK. Instagram.com/nawangjagad KOMPAS.com – Kemah bersama keluarga di akhir pekan menjadi salah satu kegiatan wisata yang bisa dicoba. Salah satu area perkemahan ... Read more »

Once again, global bodies prove that South African cuisine and wines are world class

© Provided by Independent Online (IOL) It has been a dire 18 months for the South African restaurant industry. Iconic restaurants had to shut down due to the Covid-19 pandemic ... Read more »

My Hair Is Thin and Flat, But No One Knows Because of This Shampoo

A lot of us have our own hair gripes, right? Personally, I like my hair for the most part—it's stick-straight and easy to manage, which is great because I'm 100% ... Read more »

Road trip, Portugal edition: 5 ways to make the most of a drive between Lisbon and Porto

© Provided by The Points Guy MSN has partnered with The Points Guy for our coverage of credit card products. MSN and The Points Guy may receive a commission from ... Read more »

Britain at its best: Discovering why ravishing Bradford on Avon is much more than a miniature replica of Bath

The Daily Mail's Kate Wickers took a tour of Bradford on Avon in Wiltshire with a local historian  For six centuries, the town was known for its cloth industry and the great mills of the 18th centuryThe Lock Up is a medieval chapel that was used as an overnight cooling-off station for the town’s drunkards Read more »

The Inspector calls at the Graduate Cambridge hotel, but it gets a low grade despite a 'terrific' location (and not just because of 'undrinkable' coffee)

The Inspector pays close to £300 for B&B, despite the restaurant being closedIt's for a private party - 'but there is nothing private about it', he says He says the bar menu is over-priced, his room 'small' and the bathroom 'tiny'Remember... The Inspector pays his way - and tells it like it is...  Read more »

You don't need to spend a fortune skiing in Europe. Here's how to make... prices go downhill

The Post Office ski report on costs in the Alps shows that the cheapest deals can be found in BulgariaBorovets is the cheapest resort in Europe based on ski essentials with a total one week cost of £427.17Italian resorts stand out, too, with four of the top ten best-value resorts in the Italian AlpsHere, we also round up some tempting deals and offer a flavour of what to expect in each destination Read more »

Countries are opening up for international tourism. Here are where Indians can travel

Nearly two years after the world clamped down on international travel following the coronavirus pandemic, many countries — including the United States and United Kingdom — are cautiously opening up ... Read more »

Covid-19 Cancelled This Photographer's Vacation. So He Took Photos in-Game Instead

© Provided by News18 Covid-19 Cancelled This Photographer’s Vacation. So He Took Photos in-Game Instead Pascal Greco was planning for his third trip to Iceland when the pandemic had struck ... Read more »

The week in classical: Fidelio; Gabriela Montero – review

Poor Beethoven. A brief history of recent productions of his only opera, Fidelio, originally set in an 18th-century prison, has to include the following: a spaceship hurtling towards doom (director ... Read more »

Road review – community spirit turns sour in Thatcher's Britain

Angela Rayner would probably approve of the “Tory scum” slogan scrawled in orange spraypaint on the corrugated iron at the back of Amelia Jane Hankin’s two-storey set. It is a ... Read more »

Prediction: These 12 Coat Trends Will Be the First to Sell Out

Seeing as autumn seemed to kick into gear the moment October started, it's handy that our favourite brands are brimming with beautiful coats right on cue. And just like buying ... Read more »

9 Pesona Ontario di Kanada Saat Musim Gugur, Sukses Bikin Terpukau!

© Disediakan oleh IDN Times Ontario adalah salah satu kota di Kanada yang menarik untuk dikunjungi. Kota ini tak hanya terkenal di Kanada, namun juga menjadi kota yang cukup populer ... Read more »

5 Wisata di Albuquerque-New Mexico yang Seru untuk Dijelajahi

© Disediakan oleh IDN Times Jika kamu pergi berlibur ke Amerika Serikat dan ingin mencari kota dengan suasana baru, mungkin Albuquerque cocok untukmu. Kota terpadat di negara bagian New Mexico ... Read more »

7 Oleh-oleh Khas Bandar Lampung, Kopi Duren hingga Abon Jamur

© Disediakan oleh Kompas.com Pulau Pahawang, Lampung KOMPAS.com – Saat berkunjung ke berbagai daerah, membeli oleh-oleh untuk keluarga di rumah tentu tidak boleh ketinggalan. Terlebuh, setiap daerah memiliki macam kuliner ... Read more »

Wisatawan ke Surakarta Bisa Naik Mobil Listrik Khusus Wisata

© Copyright (c) 2016 TEMPO.CO foto TEMPO.CO, Jakarta – Pemerintah Kota Surakarta mendapatkan hibah sebanyak 8 unit mobil berbahan bakar listrik dari Yayasan Tahir. Mobil itu akan digunakan untuk melayani ... Read more »

Bill for family days out at some UK attractions ‘almost doubles'

Photograph: Greg Balfour Evans/Alamy The cost of visiting some of Britain’s best-known visitor attractions has almost doubled over the last five years, according to researchers who named English Heritage sites ... Read more »

UK Further Relaxes Travel Guidelines, Allows Cheaper COVID Tests For Fully Vaccinated Tourists Including From India

© Nivedita R | Travel Staff The UK govt said that the Lateral Flow Tests will be available later this month for those returning from half term holidays. International Travel ... Read more »

We can't stop looking at Kendall Jenner's overlined lips in her latest selfie

Photo credit: Matt Winkelmeyer/MG18 – Getty Images While Kendall Jenner is most probably the most low-key out of the Kardashian/Jenner clan and often opts for more natural-looking makeup, she’ll sometimes ... Read more »

16 winter sun holidays in the Red Sea

the best ways to explore the region, from sun-bathing in Eilat to scuba-diving in Marsa Alam There is a solid argument that the Red Sea is a sea like no ... Read more »

Pengelola Tempat Wisata di Mamuju Tengah Antusias Sambut Pembukaan Pariwisata

© Disediakan oleh Kumparan Objek wisata Wae Tumbur di Desa Salubiro, Kabupaten Mamuju Tengah, Sulawesi Barat. Foto: Awal Dion/SulbarKini Pembukaan kembali objek wisata di sejumlah daerah disambut antusias para pengelola ... Read more »