Ah, the pool. What Australian has not dreamt of it at some stage in their lives? To have that beckoning blue rectangle of cool as a treasured feature of the backyard.

When I was growing up, having a proper, built-in pool was deemed to be the height of luxury. It may be my misty memory, but I don’t remember many of my friends having one. Those that did had instant ‘cool kid’ cache.

Investing in a built-in pool was way beyond what my parents thought reasonable, but we kids must have whinged so much my dad was prepared to meet us halfway. Each summer he would lay a bed of sand in a large circle within our courtyard. On top of this he had some way of constructing a huge circular wall of corregated aluminum which was then covered in bright aqua blue heavy duty plastic. Once erected, the plastic bubbles and wrinkles smoothed out as much as possible, the ceremonial filling of the pool would begin. Oh, the excitement!

Dad would do much fiddling about with small bottles of liquid, turning some pink and some purple. This held no interest for me except I’m sure it had some bearing on whether we ended each swim session with burning red eyes or not.

For a while, our house would become the home de jour and the neighbourhood kids would descend on those boiling hot days straight after school. Within that blue circle, hours were lost – handstand competitions, whirlpool creations, breath holding competitions, why was everything a competition?? Who remembers Pool Ponies? Bizarre kidney bean shaped inflatables that you rode while attempting not be capsized while you raced, though probably the most challenging part was getting on in the first place!

The pool depth was probably just over a metre but that didn’t stop us all from upping the excitement factor by climbing the 2 metre breezeblock fence, inching along its narrow top and then bombing straight in, preferably with an impressive star jump involved. I don’t remember my parents supervising or being involved in any way, other than to say yes or no to whether we could crack open the Maryland Cookies stashed in the pantry. (ah, Arnotts, how you have betrayed us with their removal!) Suffice to say, no one died or was seriously injured.

Fast forward to now. A dream came true and I am the proud owner of my very own built-in pool, but alas, I’m not sure I am deemed any ‘cooler’ by the neighbourhood kids. But we DO love it. Not just for swimming, though that is exceptionally joyful, particularly when it reaches what my kids used to call  ‘Mummy temperature’ , ie 31 degrees. But we love it to gather around with friends, to dip toes into, and to just watch. It’s like a giant water feature with its multi changing LED’s at night. My husband is the Guardian of the Pool and watches it like a hawk. Any errant leaf is swiftly pounced upon and removed with a great deal of satisfaction. Polly (Polaris, the pool vacuum) gracefully swims around at night, flicking her tail in lazy curves and only occasionally splutters in indignation.

Here’s to a long hot Summer and many more lazy swim days in 2023. Happy New Year!

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