Wooley’s Tidal Pool, Kalk Bay, wins international recognition in new book on sea pools

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Drawing by Chesney Bradshaw

When I was growing up I lived in a home on the mountainside above a tidal pool. It was amazing to live in such a location with a tidal pool at our disposal. The pool was fantastic in summer, because it was pleasant to swim in, refreshed with salt water at high tide, and had no sand. We could lie on the brown rocks and soak in the sun. In those days, the pool also had a freshwater shower, so when you got out of the pool, you could shower the salt water off your body and lie in the sun. It was a great place for us to meet friends, old friends, new friends, and make new friends. I remember that pool personally, because my mother took me down there when I was little, and I swam there with water wings. Later on, that would seem embarrassing to me, but that was how I began to swim. After I learned swimming at Kalk Bay Primary School, going down to the Kalk Bay swimming pool, under the guidance of a Mrs. Curry, our swimming teacher.

At the pool where I lived, my big first achievement was to swim underwater from one side to the other. Later I was able to swim from the far end right up into the shallows, where in those days there were rocks (there was no wall as there is today). My other biggest challenge, was diving from the big rock at the pool. I started out on the lower ledge diving into the water and eventually plucked up enough courage to dive from the top of the big rock. The rock is shaped like a top of an ice cream cone, but not as pointy. Anyway, after achieving that, I was very pleased with myself, and I can remember many, many summers enjoying the pool, and one of the memorable occasions was when I asked one of the girls who used to swim at the pool in the summer holidays out, and that led to summer love.

I was surprised about two months ago to see a book titled “Sea Pools”, subtitled “66 saltwater” sanctuaries around the world, by the author Chris Romer-Lee that lists 66 sea pools around the world. I asked the cashier in the bookshop to take the book out from the front window for me to have a look at. I was curious to see if any South African pools were featured in this book. I spotted the Africa section and immediately paged to it. Lo and behold, there was a photo and a write-up of the pool that I had frequented throughout my youth, Wooley’s Pool. I was pleasantly surprised that the pool we kids took for granted had achieved international fame. There are other pools along the same coastline that are also featured in the book, but Wooley’s Pool, being my companion for so many summers, is the one that is my favourite.

I left Kalk Bay in my early 20s and whenever I’d come back I would go for a swim at Wooley’s Pool. I’ve even written a poem about the pool and have drawn the pool. Decades later I’m back in Kalk Bay and the pool is a few minutes walk away from where I live. The other evening in the dark I walked past the pool, stopped and looked at it in the darkness with a cold winter wind blowing. The pool at that time of night and in those weather conditions still looked inviting although there weren’t any people swimming. It’s been a long time coming back and I’m waiting eagerly for the summer to enjoy the pool again and all the happy memories living there above the pool.

Up against that mountain above the pool is where I learned to write one word at a time, one sentence at a time, one paragraph at a time. All this led me eventually to a writing life, including starting out as a cadet reporter in a national cadet reporting training programme. I struggled in those early days to write. Eventually, with the best training I could find, I was able to write, which led to a professional career in various forms of writing. If you need help with your writing, let me know. I love helping people to write, remembering all the struggles I had, starting out.

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