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Please unlock my account – per the submission I sent you here is the same file to show you I really am the Brighton Dad!

 

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Best Swimming Pools in Brighton & Hove and Sussex area

 

With the school holidays in full swing, one of my daughters and I decided to go on a mini tour of a few selected swimming pools, rate each based on our experiences on the day and see which of the pools was our favourite for a return visit.

To do this in a week, with a pool each weekday, we decided to pick four pools, with the idea being that the winner would get a return visit at the end of the week.

We scored each pool on the following:

Changing rooms – space, comfort and facilities.

Water Temperature – was the pool too cold?

Floats and Toys – what was available to make time in the pool more enjoyable for kids.

Fun – what pool offered the best chance to muck around and have a laugh in the water for all the family?

Best Swim – which pool offered the best chance for my five and a half year old to practice some swimming?  This required some space in the pool in a safe depth and also away from other formal lessons or adult lane swimming.

Cleanliness – how clean overall was the experience, changing rooms, pool, walking areas

 

We scored each pool against each of these factors with a scoring of Bad, OK (acceptable), Good or Great.

The results were as follows:

Overall best pool in Brighton & Hove area for kids:

1. King Alfred, Hove

2. Prince Regent, Brighton

3. The Triangle, Burgess Hill

4. Lewes Leisure Centre, Lewes

 

The detail breakdown and ratings was:

Scoring system: 0 = Bad, 1 = OK, 3 = Good, 5 = Great

Category King Alfred Prince Regent Lewes Leisure The Triangle
Changing Rooms 3 3 1 2
Water Temp 3 3 3 5
Floats & Toys 5 5 0 0
FUN 5 3 1 5
Best for swimming practice 5 5 1 3
Cleanliness of facilities 3 3 0 3
Overall 24 22 6 18

 

Analysis

Firstly, I should comment that the results of this basic one day test surprised me.  This was clearly subjective: carried out with just one visit and very much tailored to the views of my five year old daughter, and my own experience which was completely tailored to swimming with my daughter with the level of swimming that she is at.  But there should be some useful information in here as well for other parents, which is why I thought it would be worth sharing.

There’s other things to consider as well – floats and toys was a category that referred to free floating equipment left out for kids to use.  Many pools do this but only at certain times, so we may have missed this by a narrow margin and the pool suffered on scores as a result.  We also missed things such as the amazing floating obstacle course Lewes often put out, which I think really adds to the fun and enjoyment – but my daughter kept me on the straight and narrow and we strictly scored on our test visit.

King Alfred & Prince Regent

Historically we have used the King Alfred pool a lot over the years, and I really expected it would come out on the lower end of the rankings – how wrong I was.

Traditionally, I’ve found the King Alfred quite cold, but on the day we did our test it was a very nice temperature indeed (we might repeat this test in the depths of winter).  Historically, the King Alfred dressing rooms were a grim prospect, but both King Alfred and Prince Regent seem to have recently undergone a facelift and are now sporting spotless new changing facilities.  King Alfred also had extra large family lockers – we didn’t find the same at Prince Regent for some reason.

The major downside of both the King Alfred and the Prince Regent is parking.  I dutifully paid up for an hour’s parking in the car park beside the King Alfred, but miscalculated our arrival time in and so when I thought we had been in the pool an eternity the clock seemed to indicate we were only in the water 20 minutes (rather than 50), so we got back to the car 20 minutes late to find a hefty parking fine slapped on our window.

Prince Regent is brilliantly located in the centre of Brighton and great to pair up a visit to the pool with a visit to the excellent facilities at the main library on Jubilee Street, which is literally next door.  We were lucky on the parking as the Trafalgar Street car park’s exit barrier was operating on a no charge policy owing to some error (seems to happen a lot there which is worth noting), but I think we would have paid about 3.50 for a weekday visit there of 1-2 hours otherwise, based on past experience.

There isn’t much difference in the scoring between the King Alfred swimming pool and its equivalent at Prince Regent, and it would be hard to choose one over the other.  Both are quite a different experience but equally good.  If one had to pip it at the post for me it would be the Prince Regent, which has several pools for kids to choose from so we could have fun in one pool, practice swimming in another pool and still not even set foot in one of the main pools where the “grown ups” were doing their lane swimming (sadly I find these swimming outings hugely lacking in any form of proper swimming or exercise with the need to supervise the kids).

Lewes

I was really surprised how poorly Lewes fared in our survey considering we had grown quite fond of this pool this year, but a few things scored against it on the day.

Firstly, our family changing room smelled of wee.  We wore crocs into the changing area, and when I picked them up to put them in our bag, the stench of urine from their soles was overpowering – and we had only walked into the changing rooms.  So this wasn’t just a smell from the nappy bin – there was wee on the floor.

The lockers were a very tight squeeze for our family bag, so that didn’t help the scoring.

Thirdly, there seems to always be lessons going on here when we attend.  That’s fine when they are in the purpose built learning pool, but on this particular visit the swim school staff were giving one to one lessons to several kids and coming up and down half the slow lanes of the main pool.  They didn’t seem too bothered about our presence but it was hard to enjoy and have fun as we felt the need to get out of their way and stop what we were doing every time they passed, which was every minute or less.

Finally, the temperature differential between the toddler and main pool is immense.  As a parent it’s hard to stay in a cold pool for long when you’re supervising, as there isn’t enough swimming going on to warm up properly.  In contrast the toddler pool was like a jacuzzi.

The Triangle

The Triangle is conveniently located next to a roundabout, and has just recently changed hands in terms of franchise owner.  It’s no longer run by Freedom Leisure, who run both the King Alfred and the Prince Regent.

The layout of The Triangle and its pool facilities really made this stand out as a great venue for fun.  There are all sorts of flumes and slides, a pirates ship with toddler mini slide and plenty of gushing water and places to have a laugh.  We brought my two year old along on the day and she utterly loved it – it was difficult to get her to leave when the time came.

What it wasn’t so good for was toddlers learning to swim – the fun pools were packed – but the facilities really reminded me of a holiday pool in France or Spain, and it’s a super spot to while away for a few hours and forget the rain or cold weather outside.

 

Conclusion

For the adult readers, one consideration we didn’t score on must be mentioned – the costs. It’s worth mentioning that Brighton & Hove local authority run a scheme for all children under 16 in the area to register for free swimming.  This meant that King Alfred and Prince Regent were free for my daughter, which is great.  A cynic might argue that the local authority were getting the money back on the parking, but that’s another matter.

The contrast is free parking at both Lewes Leisure and The Triangle, the former with an entry barrier and parking token issued on exit.  As previously mentioned for King Alfred and Prince Regent it’s basically a case of fend for yourself for parking, but if you are a local resident walking, cycling or the not so good value Brighton Bus service might serve your needs better.

So, to conclude, your mode of transport – how much getting to, and potentially parking near the Prince Regent or the King Alfred will potentially influence your preferred choice for a regular swim.  Overall however, we really are spoilt for choice when it comes to great pools.

So, where do you like to swim?  Please let us know your favourite venues, did we miss any we should include?  Also keen to hear any stories – good or bad – about these swimming pools.

Pool Information

Lewes Leisure Centre
Address: Mountfield Rd, Lewes, East Sussex BN7 2XG
King Alfred Leisure Centre
Address: Kingsway, Hove, East Sussex BN3 2WW
Prince Regent Swimming Complex
Address: Church St, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 1YA
The Triangle
Address: Triangle Way, Burgess Hill, West Sussex RH15 8WA
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My final word on Little Monsters Bash

Over the weekend, I posted my review of the Little Monsters Bash, which was held in the Stanmer Estate near Brighton on Saturday.

My personal account listed what I saw as several issues with the event based on my personal experience of the day, and following my post I received a constant stream of comments about the event from other parents who were also unhappy with aspects of the event.

Interestingly I had only two people submit comments in defence of the issues raised – the first from someone calling themselves “Bob” with a fake email address who made some colourful comments including “you Brighton people, moany lot” the second from someone claiming to be one of the organisers, who didn’t give a name but gave info@littlemonstersbash as their email.  The senders must not have realised that WordPress.com captures the IP address of everyone sending a comment – and the IP address for both these comments was the same – so both were sent from the same computer.

On Sunday night, I made the decision to remove my post and the comments, not because of anything that was raised in the comments, but because my blog was starting to become a focal point for people to post all their complaints about the event.  The focal point should, of course, be the organisers.  RISE Events are a commercial organisation, a private limited company registered in Hastings.

Interestingly, both “Bob” and the person claiming to be an “organiser” challenged my understanding of ticket prices for these events.

EventBrite was the agent charged with selling tickets and customers of the Little Monsters Bash website were redirected to EventBrite to buy tickets.  Last Friday and Saturday, the only single entry ticket available on that site was for £30 + booking fee.  It may well be that the ticket agent raises prices themselves closer to an event, and organisers were not aware of this, but nevertheless these ticket prices were what EventBrite were offering.  Here’s a screenshot and a link to the EventBrite page for LittleMonsters bash (link still went to ticket price page at time of going to print) showing these prices.  On Friday and Saturday “Final Monster” was the only standard entry ticket available.

Capture

At the end of the day, many many customers who purchased tickets in good faith raised concerns with the event, and hopefully the real organisers will take on some of the feedback and build on the offering for 2015.

That is all.

 

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A Final Word on Little Monsters Bash

Over the weekend, I posted my review of the Little Monsters Bash, which was held in the Stanmer Estate near Brighton on Saturday.

My personal account listed what I saw as several issues with the event based on my personal experience of the day, and following my post I received a constant stream of comments about the event from other parents who were also unhappy with aspects of the event on the day.

Interestingly I had only two people submit comments in defence of the issues raised – one from someone calling themselves “Bob” with a fake email address, the second from someone claiming to be one of the organisers, who didn’t give a name but gave info@littlemonstersbash as their email.  The senders must not have realised that wordpress.com sends blog admins the IP address of everyone sending a comment – and the IP address for both these comments was the same, meaning they were sent from the same computer.

On Sunday night, I made the decision to remove my post and the comments, not because of anything that was sent, but because my blog was starting to become a focal point for people to post all their complaints about the event.  The focal point should, of course, be the organisers (RISE Events).

Interestingly, both “Bob” and the person claiming to be an “organiser” challenged my understanding of ticket prices for these events.

EventBrite was the agent charged with selling tickets and customers of the Little Monsters Bash website were redirected to EventBrite to buy tickets.  Last Friday and Saturday, the only single entry ticket available on that site was for £30 + booking fee.  It may well be that the ticket agent raises prices themselves closer to an event, and organisers were not aware of this, but nevertheless these ticket prices were what EventBrite were offering.  Here’s a screenshot and a link to the EventBrite page for LittleMonsters bash (link still went to ticket price page at time of going to print) showing these prices.

Capture

 

At the end of the day, many many customers who purchased tickets in good faith raised concerns with the event, and hopefully the real organisers will take on some of the feedback and build on the offering for 2015.

That is all.

 

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How to lose a week of your life

We had our twelve week scan today.  No surprises – except one – my wife is thirteen weeks pregnant, not twelve.  OK, so I knew this was coming – there was an earlier scan where the same date came out, and my wife had disagreed with the sonographer.  I wasn’t there for that, but my wife’s response was something along the lines of “we didn’t have sex that week”.

Similarly today, my wife confirmed to the sonographer and her assistant that our sex life was very limited around the time and it couldn’t be true.  OK, I think, I can cope with this.  Our sex life is being discussed with two complete strangers, but I’m fine with it.

Then my wife wants to continue talking about it in the waiting room outside while we wait for our prints from the scan (what a moneyspinner to charge us a fiver for a slip of thermal paper with a couple of grainy images that never look as impressive as what you saw on screen).  Then we’re upstairs in the waiting room for the twelve week blood test and my wife is again talking about our lack of sex in those preceding weeks.  Do we have to talk about this here?

royal sussex

One of the perks of expecting a baby in Brighton is the wonderful views from the Royal Sussex hospital.

I’m relieved everything’s okay, and we’re finally “official” and I can start telling friends.  But I’ve let a few people in on the secret – to the extent that I can’t actually remember who that was and who doesn’t know.  

We celebrate the good news, and compensate for the late arrival home owing to long delays getting back from the hospital through Brighton’s rush hour traffic, with a pizza.  My wife wolfs down an entire medium by herself, then heads off to bed – she’s been suffering chronic hyperemesis 24 x 7 but manages to not throw up by constantly eating small amounts and staying horizontal.   Moments later she is back out of the bed – she’s looked up the calorific content of pizzas and was so shocked decide not to fight the tidal wave of nausea any more and throws it all up in the toilet.  This is probably not a post that Papa John’s is going to want to sponsor.  

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Those incredibly powerful two words

 

Came home this evening and started my usual ramblings about my day, office politics, blah blah blah.  Once I was done I asked my wife if she fancied a glass of wine.  “I can’t”, she replied, “I’m pregnant”.  This is not the first (or second) time I’ve heard those words but boy do they have an impact.

I was actually fine with the news.  Relaxed, calm, trying not to run down the garden path of planning and thinking too far ahead.  My wife had been late following a month and we are trying actively, so this isn’t a bolt from the blue.  However she’s been having pre menstrual symptoms which has thrown her off.  I had suggested she was pregnant but this had been dismissed a week ago.  Several times now I’ve suggested we start to maintain a log of the times when it turns out that I am, in fact, correct on something (happens a lot) – this might be the great point to start such a record.

It’s a funny time for us because we had a blazing disconnect/row on the weekend – those awful moments where you feel completely incompatible with each other.  It has only happened once in a blue moon, perhaps even once, so it was fresh in our minds as we talked about this latest development. 

But the fact is that we are very close, and we really do want a third baby. It’s been an endless debate in our house for months, but the only reason for debate is we don’t want the debilitating morning sickness that my wife tends to suffer from which makes the pregnancy period a nightmare for all involved, and the complete inability of our children to sleep for the first two years.

Maybe it will be different this time…..

I should add, it is very early days, and the symptoms are a bit strange.  This could be an ectopic pregnancy (quite rare and not expected) or just a pregnancy that hasn’t started quite right.  We shall see – I’m not putting any dates in the diary for nine months time, that’s for sure.

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After almost two years….I’m back

“In an interstellar burst I’m back to save the universe”

Or something to that effect!

In 2012 I wrote to my followers on how my identity had been compromised, and for that reaosn I would be disappearing for a while.  I was really gutted that I had to pull the plug, my blog was really starting to get going, and many of you were kind enough to be regular readers and share your feedback and comments, which made writing so much more an interactive and enjoyable experience.  Not to mention the fact that I felt I had a lot to share on my experiences as a Dad with a small baby in the house, hoping it would be of benefits to other Dads out there.

Fast forward to 2014…..my two daughters are two and five years old, we’re still living in Brighton and I’m still commuting to London.  Those are three topics that should keep me writing for years to come.

Some observations on life as a commuting Brighton Dad in the last two years:

The Commute is Worse

Admittedly, it’s not massively worse, but it’s not got better.  First Capital Connect were always the laggard in quality of service on the rails between Brighton and London, but we’ve had a rough ride over the last year from Southern Rail as well, with cancellations, diversions and re-routings.  Half of the time I wonder do they invent these re-routings just to avoid having to fork out on the delay repay.  The journey seems to have gotten longer.  I remember being able to take my usual train and be in the office for a minute past nine; now it’s about ten past nine.  The train is also much busier.  I stand on trains between London and Brighton a lot more often now – more and more families are moving to Brighton.

 

Brighton (and life in general) is More Expensive

Since I last wrote we’ve moved house, which always comes with a lot of costs, but our monthly outgoings seems to be creeping higher and higher every month.  Clearly house prices have continued to rise in Brighton despite the recession, the season ticket for the train has jumped every year above inflation and coupling that with the rise in fuel and food prices in a climate where most employers have not been increasing wages, things are definitely tigher.  Then there is the cost of parking in Brighton. Peter Pan playground on Madeira Drive used to be our favourite – but parking meter charges down there have gone through the roof!  We’ve parked outside the gate of London Zoo on a Sunday for about a third of the price you’d pay to park on the same day in the centre of Brighton.  That seems ridiculous to me.

 

We’re Still Not Sleeping

Number two still wakes up at night almost every night, and I’m still in the spare room after two years. My wife wonders now if I’m ever coming back.  I’m in the spare room to get my sleep for travelling to and working in London every weekday, but the irony is number two sleeps next to the spare room, so even though she tends to go in with mummy when she wakes (she goes ballistic if I try to take her in with me), I still get woken when she cries out.

I Still Dream of a Job in Brighton

Oh wouldn’t life be perfect if I had a job in Brighton? Then I wouldn’t feel like a visitor to this wonderful city. But maybe it’s not as rosy as I think.  What say the Brighton Dads who work in Brighton too.  Do you end up doing more hours in the office to compensate for the fact that there are fewer jobs in Brighton, and then end up coming home the same time as the London commuter set?  I hate the dash home from the office every day – feeling guilty for leaving earlier than everyone else, looking like a bit of a slacker when I get in at 9.10, but in reality probably the guy who leaves home the earliest and gets home the latest every day.

 

So here I am – back after two years – and feeling very rusty on my writing skills.  No excuse, I’ll have to post more articles and get the creative juices flowing.  I hope you can join me for the journey.

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