excellent thank you Here S The Paradox Your Body Becomes Steadily Troublesome Just At That Point When The World, Which You Are Soon To Leave, Becomes Sweeter, Poignant, Beautiful, DesirableThe Ponds Of Hampstead Heath Are Small Oases Fragments Of Wild Nature Nestled In The Heart Of North West London For The Best Part Of His Life Al Alvarez Poet, Critic, Novelist, Rock Climber And Poker Player Has Swum In Them Almost Daily An Athlete In His Youth, Alvarez, Now In His Eighties, Chronicles What It Is To Grow Old With Humour And Fierce Honesty From His Relentlessly Nagging Ankle Which Makes Daily Life A Struggle, To Infuriating Bureaucratic Battles With The Council To Keep His Disabled Person S Blue Badge, The Devastating Effects Of A Stroke, And The Salvation He Finds In The Three Ss Swimming, Sex And SleepAs Alvarez Swims In The Ponds He Considers How It Feels When You Begin To Miss That Person You Used To Be To Miss Yourself Swimming Is His Own Private Form Of Protest Against The Onslaught Of Time Proof To Others, And Himself, That He S Not Yet Beaten By Turns Funny, Poetic And Indignant, Pondlife Is A Meditation On Love, The Importance Of Life S Small Pleasures And, Above All, A Lesson In Not Going Gently In To That Good Night This was a gift for a friend, she is still thanking me for giving it to her. wonderful celebration of life which is beautifully written in measured tones which never rush or hurry but simply enjoy the moment and make you slow down as well to appreciate the changing seasons and the passing of the year.I do feel great special empathy with this book as I lived for a while in a flat backing on the ponds in Hampstead and now, following an illness, swim several times a week,sadly in a municipal pool, but still manage to find it very life affirming something which is a real joy in this book as despite the passing years and irritating health issues, it all becomes somewhat irrelevant when confronted with the determination to just keep doing.So, even if London is a foreign land and you hate swimming I am sure you will find plenty in this book to svour at a leisurely pace just don t expect anything dramatic to happen but that is rather the point that we should all fave time to stand and stare Al Alvarez, Pondlife A Swimmer s JournalAlbert Alvarez A or Al Alvarez is known mainly as a poetry critic, anthologist and novelist, but none of this would be apparent from this recent journal, which deals with his daily routine of swimming in the Hampstead and Highgate ponds We learn a good deal about the vagaries of English weather, the various waterfowl that visit or are resident on the ponds and the fact that our author is an ardent poker player, but literary talk is kept to a minimum The prose is disarmingly simple, largely restricted to facts about wildlife, the changing seasons and their effect on the writer Hence on Saturday 10 May, 2008, after recuperating from a stroke A beautiful summer day almost a week of them in fact but better than summer because it s the beginning of May and everything is suddenly in bloom The mayflowers are heavy with blossom and the chestnuts with candles, Queen Anne s lace is waist high, the great copper beech shines and shimmers with light, the air smells sweet and the whole world is green and young and fresh The ponds, especially in winter, are frequently seen as a Paradise, and the daily swim, which becomes increasingly difficult for the geriatric Alvarez, is essential to his bodily and spiritual well being But this is a story not only about the delights of moving in water, but about the process of growing old, of facing up to failing powers and the author s ultimate demise. With his eye open and his senses alert, Alvarez has described the water, the air and the natural world supported by these elements with precision and accuracy Nature, especially water, has kept Alvarez literally and spiritually afloat in a world that is beautiful but sad at least to we humans As he struggles to swim a few yards, flanked by two faithful lifeguards who will help him to dress and hobble to his car, Alvarez begins to lose interest in reviewing, finds life literally a pain he has been a cripple for years, after suffering from a mountaineering accident and has to admit, the truth is I really am falling apart depressingly fast The reader, however, comes to admire the author s scrupulous honesty in recording this gradual process of decline and his heroic determination to carry on We understand his anguish and anger as when he is refused renewal of a disabled sticker because he can still walk The getting into a car before a swim and doing up buttons after it become huge challenges Thankfully the author still has a devoted wife, loyal friends, and, one trusts, many readers rooting for him. I loved this book, a look at nature and an honest account on aging As a veteran athlete I could empathise with the need to keep the body moving however difficult that might be Sad when I finished the book always a good sign A wonderful book, beautifully written Exvellent