Docktails: The 2016 Edition



The August Long Weekend is HERE! What better time to release The 2016 Docktail Report -- just in time for your pre-weekend preparations.

I've been collecting my inspiration for this year's Docktail list for several weeks now, trying them out on friends and family. We 3 swimmers + one special guest star taste-tested a few on our recent river swimming road trip, and our resident connoisseur Rhya (aka Lady Beer Goggles) gave them the thumbs up.

If you need to review the original guidelines for what makes Docktail Hour truly special, you can refer to last year's report here.

Without further ado, I give you the 2016 Docktail Report:

The Blender Contenders

Given my inclination to be Fancy whenever possible, this year's list features TWO docktails that require special equipment -- but it's just a good old basic blender, so don't worry. Not THAT fancy.

1. Boozy Rosemary Watermelon Lemonade


My experience with this one is that you have to make sure the bottom of the blender jar is screwed on tight, or else you will have to re-squeeze all the lemons. Ahem. I swear I was not already drunkety when this happened.

You have to prepare a little bit in advance for this one -- make the rosemary simple syrup in the morning so it has time to steep and cool, go have a swim and some dock time while you wait, and then bust it out with the first round of snacks in the afternoon.

Here's the recipe. It's a winner. Lots of points for colour. Extra points if you have fancy straws.

* * * * * * * *

2. Summer Sangria Slushie


I couldn't find a bag of frozen white peaches, but I did find a bag of frozen peaches + mango + strawberries, and it produced this beautiful pinky-orange colour. The Littles were on hand to help push the blender buttons, and they got kid-friendly slushy docktails in Star Wars cups for their efforts.

Here's the recipe. This was delicious, and the icy-cold factor was a hit on the very hot day we made this. Tell your mom to go slow. This tastes like a delicious popsicle, but packs a punch!

* * * * * * * *

Pink is My Favourite Colour

3. Frosé!


Last year's list included just plain old rosé, but the game got upped when both Vogue Magazine and Bon Appetit declared Frosé the Drink of the Summer.

Frozen Rosé. What could be more magical, am I right? You need some freezer space to be able to pull this one off.

Here's the recipe. Thanks to my cousin Ike's ladybird Erica for being the mixmaster & photographer on this one.

* * * * * * * *

20 Points for Travellers

4. Dark & Stormy in an Adult Sippy Cup


What better way to greet 3 swimmers arriving on a road trip than with perfect Dark & Stormies -- IN TRAVELLERS!!! Reason #1,798 why I love these ladies is that they introduced me to the Adult Sippy Cup.

Arrive, unpack the car, get swimsuits on, walk to the dock with drink in hand, spill NOTHING, jump in, get out, and enjoy this classic cocktail on the dock. Rum, ginger beer and lime wedges. So simple. So yummy.

* * * * * * * *

A New Spin on a Classic



5. The Piano Piano G&T

Soon after it opened, I started hearing rumours about the G&T at Victor & Nikki's new Toronto restaurant, Piano Piano. Rumour had it that the G&T was OFF. THE. CHARTS.

So I went to find out what the fuss was all about, and it turns out their bartender Jeff Carroll makes his own Tonic Syrup. And so you mix a bit of that with a bit of gin and a bit of fresh lemon and a bit of soda. And boy oh BOY is it good. Best part about this story is that you can BUY a bottle of his Tonic Syrup and make them at home. I think Tonic Syrup is a thing now, so you can find it around, but if you have a chance to get the one made by Carroll & Co., I recommend it.

I did get it, and I took it to the Catskills to have on Bobcat Mountain, at my favourite pond in the world.

* * * * * * * *

That's it! Don't forget the potato chips. Or a plate of crackers and stinky cheese at the fancier swimming holes.

Either way, CHEERS!


  • Laura
  • Friday, July 29, 2016

The Question of Bathing Suits



I have yet to meet a woman who even REMOTELY likes shopping for a new swimsuit.

It is THE thing that is worse than shopping for jeans. Which is also terrible.

Swimsuit shopping is a Great Sucker of Time. It is a Self-Esteem Sabotage Activity. It is frought with Memories of Teen Angst. It can be downright Panic Inducing. It almost always requires a bag of chips and/or glass of wine to wallow in afterwards.

I'm still not really sure I want to talk about this, but I always find I feel better when I talk about things and find out that everyone else is thinking basically the same thing, so here goes.

This is not going to be a guide to finding the right suit for your shape. 

This is not going to be a discussion of this year's fashions and whether your suit is more suitable for Coachella, public pool swimming or hanging out on a dock with your Dad. 

Mostly this is a reality check. 

Let me give you some background:

I have been an avid fitness devotee since I was about 27 years old, when I was a recovering dot-com maniac and ended up with pneumonia because I literally had not slept for about a year. I hit a turning point because I wanted to be healthy. Prior to that I was always the "artsy" one in the family, and next to my extremely athletic siblings, well let's just say I was the squishy one. Until I wasn't anymore. I did find my inner athlete eventually, and I became healthy, lean and strong.

But if you have ever at any point in your life felt squishy, I'm afraid it's always going to be a little hard to take those goggles off.

There have been a few years where I thought I looked OK in a bathing suit. But there was always a cover-up nearby. A cute beach towel. Distracting sunglasses. An SPF surf shirt. I was certainly never BOUNDING down a beach Pamela-Anderson-styles diving in or frolicking about without a care. But I was OK.

Then a couple of years ago, I got sick. Like, really sick. Pneumonia-brought-on-by-a-broken-heart-and-a-damp-trip-to-England kind of sick. You know? I think they used to call it Consumption.

I lost 20 pounds in two months, 10 of them in just one week. All of a sudden, for the first time ever, I was SKINNY. Like gaunt & bony kind of skinny. My fashiony friends said "Lo, you look AMAZING." My sister and my best friend said, "Lo, you look TERRIBLE. Eat a sandwich. Eat two."

But I ignored them and bought new pants. And by the time summer rolled around that year, I had the Bad Goggles on. And those goggles told me that I looked GREAT in a bathing suit because I was skinny. I still wasn't pulling any Pamela Anderson moves, but I did break out a bikini that I never had the guts to wear before. And it was fun. 

Of course, that doesn't last. When you're well again, things sort themselves out, so I stabilized to what is more normal for me. Which is fine. More than fine. But the goggles get a little foggy and a little more self-judgy and sometimes I feel way less than OK. We can be so terrible to ourselves. I would never say to a friend the kinds of things I say to myself.

I think, as I get a little older and a little wiser, that I am *starting* to see that no one else is really scrutinizing & judging you the way you do yourself. People don't actually care that much or think that much about it. They just love you for who you are, and what you bring to the world, and how you fill up an important place in their life. Which 99.97% of the time has nothing to do with how you look in a bathing suit.

It still doesn't make swimsuit shopping any easier. That is a task that I'm afraid will always suck.

But I guess I think that we all have to give our foggy goggles a wipe every once in a while, do the best you can with the swimsuit shopping, and maybe eventually someone will invent a better changeroom mirror with good lighting, and rose-coloured goggles. 



  • Laura
  • Monday, July 25, 2016

Love letters to Toronto pools



When I'm not swimming, I write love letters to inanimate objects, and ask people to join me. Through the last 12 years with The Love Lettering Project, there has been a veritable flood of (well-deserved!) pool love! And how can you NOT love the free (!!) outdoor pools in Toronto? 








What other pools deserve a love letter??

xo



  • Lindsay
  • Friday, July 22, 2016

Swimming love on CBC Radio's Metro Morning



Set your alarms! Swimming Holes We Have Known hits the air waves on Metro Morning this Friday at 7:20! So excited to be chatting about swimming with Matt Galloway from my very favourite corner of Toronto: Sunnyside Beach and Pool!



  • Lindsay
  • Thursday, July 21, 2016

Recipe for skinnydipping



1). For optimal results, take a roadtrip with your favourite swimmers. Land at the most beautiful home and hug your host tight tight. Be so grateful she lives on a river. Pinch yourself.



2). At happy hour, pull on your trackpants and start a roaring fire. Sip your watermelon-rosemary-gin cocktail out of a gold paper straw. Pinch yourself.



3). As the fire settles into embers, sip a Lavender French 75. Cheers your swimming besties.



4). Start cooking over the fire. I recommend a clambake.

5). Devour clambake from Step 4 as the sun sets. Feel so grateful for this weekend and your brilliant, inspiring, hilarious friends.

6). Grab a headlamp, or the world's brightest flashlight.

7). Douse yourself in bug spray and/or pull up your hoodie and tie the hood tight. Socks, optional but recommended.



8). Make s'mores. They will be your river swimming fuel.



9). Realize on the walk to the river that the flashlight also doubles as a transistor radio. Crank it. Find a reggae station. Have a dance party.

10). Take the canoe out for the summer's first midnight paddle. Watch out for the rocks. Marvel at how still the river is, how quiet it is on the water. The one lone firefly will make up for the lack of stars.

11). Paddle back to the dock and tie up the canoe. Ditch your trackpants in a puddle on the dock. Jump, even if you're still not convinced you're a jumper-inner.

12). Swim out to the middle of the inlet. Float on your back, let the water fill your ears. Revel in the silence and the calm and the perfect.

13). When you can't stand the cold any longer, rush the ladder. You can't move fast enough...

14). Wear your towel like a cape and dry off enough to pull your trackpants back on. #teamtrackpants4evah



15). Warm yourself by the fire upon your return. Roast marshmallows. All the marshmallows.

16). Sleep better than you have in months.
  • Lindsay
  • Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Beach VS Pool


I’m belated on my first swim stories, which both happened almost a month ago now. So I thought I would combine them into one post, comparing two of my all time favourite swimming locations:  

Wasaga Beach VS The Giovanni Caboto Pool 

 

Smell
  • BEACH: Musky and fresh all at once, with a consistent blend of wild flowers and fish bones carried on the wind.
  • POOL: The sweet smell of chlorine and the occasional waft of stink from the murky public change rooms.

Water
  • BEACH: Bands of blue splashing and sparkling under the sun. A strong water woven with waves and pieces of sky.
  • POOL: Thin translucent and pencil crayon blue, as sharp and snappy as water comes

The Swim
  • BEACH: Once you are out past the sandbars, it’s a roomy, deep and fulfilling swim. The shallow spaces between the sandbars make excellent wide and warm pools for kids to play in and for one to leisurely frolic and float.
  • POOL: During leisure swims, you are elbow to elbow with splashing and smiling families, teenagers and general pool lovers. The joy is contagious, but for a serious swim, seek out the dedicated length swim times.

Horizon
  • BEACH: As far as the eye can see, no end in sight.
  • POOL: Bricks and buildings, but look up while floating, the sky is calling.

Under Foot
  • BEACH: The finest of sand, soft and unstable.
  • POOL: Concrete grip, nubby and unforgiving.

Water’s Edge
  • BEACH: Waterside full of sandcastles, saucy seagulls, games of frisbee, beach umbrellas and pop up tents.
  • POOL: Waterside full of conversations, laughter, gossip, harmless rough housing and covert snacks and cellular devices

Sandcastle Potential
  • BEACH: Endless possibilities waiting in the rich sand.
  • POOL: Only sandcastle you are building is around the corner in the Earlscourt park sandbox.

Weeds
  • BEACH: No weeds, but there is the Wasaga beach muck, which collects in the first few feet of the water. It’s harmless, mostly organic plant matter. Just leap over it with a stag jump… or wade through, whatever floats your boat.
  • POOL: No weeds in this pool… but there is the occasional clump of stray hair floating along the deep end. Try not too look to closely at the bottom.

The Law
  • BEACH: A lone beach patrol, 20 something, zooming past every 15 minutes on a 4 wheeler, wearing a uniform and bullet proof vest.
  • POOL: A pack of teenage lifeguards, buzzing and patched with zinc.

After You Leave
  • BEACH: Sand everywhere. Empty your sandals before departing or entering your house.
  • POOL: There will be burning eyes and dry skin. Bring moisturizer.
  • Rhya
  • Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The 3 best things about today's swim



1). Spying pool typography in the deep end (Thanks for the tip, Lo!)
2). The dragonflies criss-crossing overhead
3). The epic pool deck strut of a kiddo who passed her deep end test for the first time.

And best of all, all the junk and grief that's been floating around my brain disappeared for an hour, and when I got out, everything felt possible again.
  • Lindsay
  • Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Roadtripping: Swimming at Sandbanks





White sand beaches, turquoise water and only 2.5h from Toronto. It seems almost impossible, but it's not. Sandbanks is a truly exceptional place, and the site of one of my very favourite swims of all time.  Sandbanks is the world's largest baymouth barrier dune formation (and as the step-daughter of a geomorphologist who studies sand dunes, it's kind of a big deal), but mostly it's the Caribbean Sea-like water that has my heart.

A step-by-step guide to Sandbanks swimming:

Step 1: Make sure you've got cash. And by cash, I mean $5s, loonies and twoonies (See Step 11!) And if you're as impatient as I am, put your suit on under your clothes. You never know when there'll be a swimming hole along the way.

Step 2: Leave the city as early as possible. No seriously, we left at 2:20pm and *still* got caught in Friday afternoon traffic. Either way, make sure you're stocked with wine gums and if you've been able to get your mom to watch your kid, take advantage of baby seat-free space and revel in all that leg room. Crank the tunes. Google the directions.

Step 3: When you turn into the Sandbanks road, the trees will dapple the road and your windshield. (Note: a day-use permit is $11.25, but I promise it's so, so worth it!)

Step 4: If you don't already have your suit on under your clothes, there are change rooms and washrooms in the parking lots.

Step 5: Make sure you've got your sunscreen, water, post-swim snacks, sun hat, towels, reading material...



Step 6: Climb the sandy hill (a dune!) up from the parking lot. The first glimpse of that white sand and the blue-blue lake will be breathtaking. Pause. Revel. Pinch yourself – yes, you are still in Ontario!




Step 7: Spread out your towel(s). Have some water, some chips, read a few pages of your book/magazine. Get so hot you can't possibly stand the sun any longer. Start wading into the lake.

Step 8: Keep wading. You can walk for 200m and still only be up to your thighs!

Step 9: Dive under. Float. Front crawl. Blow bubbles. Be amazed by how clear the water is. Pinch yourself again, yes, this is Lake Ontario.

Step 10: Repeat steps 7-9 over and over again.



Step 11: Once you've decided it's time to pack up, start scanning the side of the road for honour-system eggs/asparagus/strawberries. Pull over every single time. Be grateful you loaded your pockets with coins.

Step 11.5: Stop at every barn sale and antique shop and yard sale. You never know when you'll find a tupperware container filled with swim badges*



Step 12: Celebrate your lake swim with wine and pizza at Norman Hardie. Toast your stroke with oysters and sparkling rosé (and food truck donuts!) at Rosehall Run.

Step 13: If it's G&T time (and when is it not?) I recommend a gin-tasting at the 66 Gilead Distillery. Say hi to the chickens, and marvel at the antique quilts and coupes and tablecloths. I'd also recommend a swing on the tree swing, your lake-wet hair drying in the breeze. (Note: it closes at 5pm. Happy hour comes early in The County).

Step 14: There are lots of places to stay in The County and staying the night means you get to go back to Sandbanks in the morning... (fuelled by Tall Poppy coffee and/or brunch at The Drake Devonshire).


Step 15: As you drive home, with your hair still smelling like lake, continue to stop at every barn sale/honour-system produce stand. The vintage 10kg sugar sack you will maybe one day will sew into something useful will always remind you of that brilliant turquoise swim.

P.S.: More swim roadtripping: to Harold Quarry!


* Note: I did not find a container full of swim badges, though I wish I had. I did find a jar of Scout badges, but it's not quite the same...
  • Lindsay
  • Monday, July 18, 2016

The pool that holds my entire childhood



The first pool I can remember is Park Lawn Pool – a small pool in Etobicoke, down the tobogganing hill from my mom's house. I spent entire summers in that pool – playing Marco Polo in the shallow end, diving for coins on the last day of swimming lessons, learning to stride jump, failing Red three times because I couldn't manage to spread peanut butter with my arms and ride a bike with my legs for a full minute. It was the first place I was allowed to bike to by myself (though I was terrified of the "steep" winding hill down from the baseball diamonds that in retrospect is not steep, nor is it winding). It is where I learned CPR and the Heimlich manoeuvre and where I had my first crushes: Jennifer of the reflective sunglasses and Rebecca of the straight teeth and Mark of the zinc stripe on his nose. 

I did all of my swimming lessons at Park Lawn, including my Bronze Medallion when I was too young to officially pass but oh-so-keen, my bathing suits frayed from being dragged across the deck after playing the choking victim in the deep end. I was on the recreational swim team (the Park Lawn Pirates and the Park Lawn Piranhas) and it was there that Peter Mansfield's mom said I had the most graceful backstroke. Because of all of those summers on the deck of Park Lawn Pool, I decided I wanted to be a lifeguard. And then I was a lifeguard on that deck...


And then last weekend, I took my 16-month-old to Park Lawn Pool. We past my childhood bully's childhood home, and my Grade 2 best friend's house on the drive over, and though I have never driven to that pool in my life, I was covered in goosebumps when we pulled into the parking lot. The change rooms smelled like they always have (damp and rubbery with a hint of mildew) and the sun was hot on the cement deck like it has been every year since I can remember.

I did not teach Jack how to tread water or how to do stride jump. I did not tell him how hard it is to keep your head tucked when you are learning how to dive, toes curled over the edge of the deep end, or how far away the shallow end is when you're tasked with doing butterfly for the first time in your life. Instead, I sat with him on the edge, holding back tears from how surreal it was to be sitting on the edge of the pool that held all of my childhood summers with my own baby.

He did figure out how to kick his legs that afternoon, and how to hold onto a flutter board. 

Next up, bubbles...
  • Lindsay
  • Thursday, July 14, 2016

The Lifeguard Clock (aka: swimming without a watch)



I lose all sense of time when I'm swimming. As soon as I'm front crawling, it could be 5 minutes or 45, I really have no gauge – it's one of the reasons I love it so much. Outside of the pool, I am ruled by clocks and always know exactly what time it is and how long I've been doing whatever it is that I'm doing, but when I'm swimming that all disappears.

I used to have a waterproof watch, but I haven't been able to find it since I moved homes almost two years ago, and most of the time I don't miss it. I guess if I counted my lengths I'd know approximately how long it'd been, but I don't. I can't let my mind wander to all the strange and wonderful places it wanders to when I'm swimming if I'm trying to remember that I'm on length 8, or is it 10?

"Fancy" indoor pools have a racing clock, the red-blue-green-yellow second hand counting down when you have to push off the wall, even if you still haven't caught your breath, but most City of Toronto pools don't have them (or they do, but they broke years ago and are now art installations). Most indoor rec pools usually have a clock somewhere, perched above the pool, often times an hour off because no one re-set it when when Daylight Saving Time started or ended. Then, I count out my 30-minute warm up, 10 minutes of kicking, 5 more minutes of front crawl, 10 minutes of sprinting and 5 minute cool-down.

But outdoor pools rarely have a clock big enough to see from the deck. I would love do it not to matter, to be able to swim until I was tired, but I usually know I've got 45 minutes to an hour to swim.

My trick to make sure I don't entirely lose track of time, is the LZV-patented Lifeguard Clock: using the lifeguards' changeovers to mark the minutes. Guard changes at big pools usually happen every 15 minutes, 20 minutes at smaller pools. I try to remember one feature about a guard near the fast lane – that they're wearing a cowboy hat, or reflective sunglasses, or have a ponytail, or a long-sleeved shirt. When Cowboy hat is replaced with Ray Bans, I know it's been 15 minutes. When Ray Bans is replaced with Side Pony, it's been 30 minutes. It's not a perfect science, and sometimes guards look so similar it's hard to tell if there's been a guard change or not, but it keeps me from getting out of the pool after 10 minutes, or staying in for hours...
  • Lindsay
  • Monday, July 11, 2016

The most charmed swim in recent history



The sun was long and low when I locked my bike at High Park Pool and there was a T-ball game on. As I waited for the length swim to start, a kid named Moose got her first base hit and the umpire yelled "batter up" and "play ball" every time a kid stood in front of the tee. It was already summer perfection and I hadn't even gotten in the water...

The change rooms at High Park are cavernous, doubling as the change rooms for the skating rinks in the winter. I was so excited to find the pool, I got lost a number of times. Whoops.

But when I finally found the pool, it was so still and empty I almost wept. I was the only one in the water for the first few lengths, my arms cutting through the glass surface, the sun reflected through the water on the bottom and the sides of the pool in pale blue pale diamonds, shifting, wavering. And whenever I stopped to adjust my goggles, I could hear the the crack of a baseball on a bat at the diamond beside the pool, the eruption of fans at a home run, encouraging the runners home.  

Oh, and I found a loonie in the deep end, making it the most charmed swim in recent years.

Except that the water was so cold my hands were numb before the first lifeguard stepped down from the chair and I couldn't make it the full 55 minutes. I was too cold and my goosebumps had goosebumps. 

 I didn't swim at the High Park Pool last year for a lot of reasons, and I'm so glad this year is already different than last, even if it did take the longest, hottest shower, wool socks and track pants to warm me back up.


  • Lindsay
  • Monday, July 4, 2016

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