At 6am this morning 35 bleary-eyed South London Swimmers tumbled off the train in Tampere.  The lovely Alessandro, provider of lake swimming, pointed us in the direction of a bus stop and set off on his bike. 15 minutes later the swimming group of 11 hardy ladies ranging in age from 18 to 73 reached the end of the line to find him waiting for us. To quote Sue Rentoul “Bloody hell, it worked!”

A short walk away a treasure awaited: a lake of clearest water, frozen apart from a well appointed swimming hole steps away from a heated changing hut.

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Alessandro, a true gentleman, unlocked the hut for us, himself changing on the jetty. The swimming was glorious, in water the clarity and colour of good bitter ale.  Afterwards Alessandro walked us back to the bus stop and advised us to take the bus back to the main square for breakfast in the covered market before bidding us a fond farewell and cycling off to cries of “What a nice young man!” and “Mum, can we keep him?”

The covered market was also a bit of a winner, with lovely stalls and cafes, at one of which we feasted on coffee and delicious Finnish pastries.  It was the perfect end to the holiday.  As for me, the last few days have been bracketed by a swim in a frozen lake at sunset and another at sunrise. What could be a better symbol of a wonderful winter swimming trip?

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