Its 10 o clock at night, the stars are out and big brother is the last thing on our mind, summer has arrived and we have invested in an oversized paddling pool. Both our children have birthdays within two weeks of Christmas, so because of this they have token presents on their birthday and we treat them in the Summer, as otherwise they don?t get Summer toys. This year we have bought a 12ft round 30? high pool, with filter, heater, solar cover, net, box of chemical and steps. This was on ebay for £300 and the steps extra at £50. You can get the pool separately with steps, but no heater or solar cover for £225 from Argos, ebay also had some good deals on the stand alone pools if you were quick. It arrived in 7 large boxes ? the poor delivery man was exhausted when he brought them all round the back for us. In a fit of excitement we tore open the first box, lay down a piece of tarpaulin that we had bought to put under it (£10 from a camping shop, not strictly necessary but we wanted to protect the base) and started to unpack. It has to be assembled on a flat, hard, clear surface so ours is on the patio. The pool is huge it consists of a very strong tarpaulin type material for the floor and walls and has a single inflatable ring that rises as you fill it with water, it has a plug that you can attach to the hosepipe when it is time to empty it and the outlets for the filter. The heater connects in between the filter and the pool and did not come with an electric cable, but that didn?t take very long to sort out. The filter and the heater must be kept in a dry waterproof place, we are still improvising with this and have it under an old camping table covered with another piece of tarpaulin, don?t knock it, it works. It took absolutely ages to fill, the best part of 4 hours and we?re on a water metre! But having said that last year we had a large neighbourhood pool tha
t we will now be selling, and because it had no filter or chemical option we were emptying it and refilling every couple of days over the summer, so we will be better off. So its finally full, its taken 3 days to heat up, but is now a very inviting 32 degrees and once it is heated, it is on a thermostat so with the help of the solar cover the heater does not need to be on for very often and the filter is run for 3 ? 4 hours daily. The Solar cover is wonderful, but really difficult not to succumb to temptation as it is a huge piece of bubble wrap ? and it?s so hard not to want to pop them all. It also has a pool cover to keep the flies out when not in use, although we only tend to put it on at night. The ongoing maintainance is relatively easy, you need to clean the filter out every few days and check the chemical levels daily, especially as anyone who has fish will know that chlorine levels drop when the water settles. The chemicals aren't too difficult to do, you have a litmus type stick that you check the colour against a chart and top up anything that looks low. It is rather worrying though, when we initially filled it up the first thing we did was check the levels and the chlorine directly from the tap, that we drink etc. was adequate for a swimming pool. It looks gorgeous and really inviting especially with the sun on it, it takes up a large portion of our patio, but we have a big garden so it?s only really an issue when I?ve got the washing out. The girls absolutely love it, and even though it wasn?t the best half term, weather-wise, because it was heated they were in every day. They can swim in it, although you have to be very strict about no, jumping etc because you only have 30? of water until you hit the patio slabs, but they can push off from the side and practise their swimming strokes and go under water. Adults can ?loll? in it quite happily, you can just about swim but coul
d do with some knee pads and you feel a bit like a gold fish going around in circles. The kids, of course love it when you are in with them, and are not allowed in without us watching under any circumstances, which annoys them when they have to get out every time we want to go inside, but I have no intention of risking it otherwise. Even though they are both good swimmers it is shallow water. Which if anything is worse as they are more likely to bang their heads. So, we have happy kids, no patio, what about the parents. Well someone in their wisdom decided that paddling pools are to be marketed at kids, they should think again. The kids go to bed, out comes the wine and the swimming costumes and all I?ll say is I?m sure the neighbours aren?t watching big brother either?.. Thank you for reading and I look forward to your comments.