WithÂ the prospect of relaxing by a sun-drenched swimming pool or enjoying an invigorating al fresco swim fading ever more into the realms of fantasy, the staycation has become the buzzword of 2020.
Not so for these lucky families, who are enjoying their favourite holiday pool experiences at home.
Despite our unpredictable British weather, according to the Swimming Pool and Allied Trades Association there are now more than 250,000 homes with pools in the UK, with many evoking the best that foreign jaunts have to offer.
And while temperatures may have dropped, as these women explain to SADIE NICHOLAS, autumn is no barrier to enjoying an outdoor dip.
America Brewer, 52, and husband Nick, 53, own a vineyard and wedding business (oastbrook.com) and live in Bodiam, East Sussex, with their children Jake, 22, Tabitha, 20, and Gabby, 14. America says:
Leaning on the side of our pool, admiring our vineyard bathed in golden light evokes wonderful memories of family holidays in Tuscany. When we planted our vineyard three years ago, we knew our summers would be spent tending the 20,000 vines instead of holidaying abroad.
So we spent Â£200,000 transforming the old pool. We were inspired by the one Nick saw at the Fontainebleau Hotel on Miami Beach in 2017.
Ours is heated and 10 x 6 meters. We sometimes run from the back door and jump in on a Friday after a stressful week.
America Brewer, 52, and husband Nick, 53, own a vineyard and wedding business and live in Bodiam, East Sussex, with their children Jake, 22, Tabitha, 20, and Gabby, 14
America says: ‘We were inspired by the one Nick saw at the Fontainebleau Hotel on Miami Beach (above) in 2017’
Jenny Brown,Â 41, is a creative consultant and lives on the Isle of Wight with her husband, Sam, also 41, a carpenter, and their two sons Rory, nine, and Xavier, five. She says:
Floating on a lilo in our secluded pool surrounded by lush palms, banana plants and huge jungle-type trees transports me back to tropical holidays in Thailand.
We particularly loved the island of Ko Chang, and its beaches, flanked by lush vegetation, were a real inspiration.
Weâ€™re lucky that the area where we live has its own microclimate and rarely suffers frosts.
Jenny Brown, 41, is a creative consultant and lives on the Isle of Wight with her husband, Sam, also 41, a carpenter, and their two sons Rory, nine, and Xavier, five
A pool in a resort in Ko Chang, Thailand is pictured above
When we bought our two-bedroom home seven years ago, there was already a figure-of-eight pool here. But it was rundown, with a rusty metal frame, so Sam renovated it.
Together, we came up with a design that would create our own Thai paradise, and spent almost Â£9,000 doing it up. It is now rectangular and measures 3.5 x 5.5 metres.
The water is extra sparkling thanks to the salt water chlorination system that keeps it clean without any nasty chemicals.
To heat it, we replaced the old solar panels on the roof of our house with new ones.
We use the pool from spring to late October and the boys play in it at every opportunity. It was a godsend during lockdown, and I threw a back-to-school pool party for the boys and a few friends at the start of this month.
Sam loves to have an evening dip to de-stress after work and, although itâ€™s not really big enough to swim lots of lengths, my guilty pleasure is floating on an inflatable with a book when the kids arenâ€™t around. Weâ€™d be bonkers to get rid of it.
Sophie Gooley, 46, is a podiatrist, and lives near Chichester, West Sussex, with her author husband Tristan, 47, and their sons Ben, 16, and Vinnie, 13. She says:
People get very confused by our freshwater pool with its reeds and lily pads, querying whether itâ€™s a pond or a swimming pool. Itâ€™s very much the latter â€” but, I will admit, itâ€™s far from traditional.
Itâ€™s not just a summertime play-thing, either. We use it year-round for swimming, and have even enjoyed a quick dip on Christmas Day.
I jump in every morning after walking the dogs, Tristan loves a dip after work, and my sons leap in most days, too, usually with a collection of friends.
Sophie Gooley, 46, is a podiatrist, and lives near Chichester, West Sussex, with her author husband Tristan, 47, and their sons Ben, 16, and Vinnie, 13
Weâ€™ve lived in our old cottage for 13 years and had the pool installed in the one-acre garden five years ago.
But rather than your average swimming pool, we wanted it to evoke our fondness for swimming outdoors in the sea and rivers as a family.
A beach on the Greek island of Zante is pictured above
We often go sailing around the Greek islands, where we stop off in gorgeous, secluded little bays and coves and are usually the only boat there, so itâ€™s just us and nature.
We just bob about surrounded by water and tranquillity â€” all the elements recreated in our pool at home, putting to good use Tristanâ€™s lifelong study of water and nature, which he writes about in his books as the Natural Navigator (naturalnavigator.com).
The pool cost around Â£40,000 and measures 10 x 5 metres and is 2.5 meters at its deepest. We had large, smooth stones installed at the deep end specifically for jumping off, and wooden steps at one side for climbing out.
There are irises and water mint alongside the lily pads and a small, chemical-free filtration system to ensure the water is pure. Itâ€™s the most glorious place from which to observe the changing seasons. At the moment, we are enjoying swathes of dragonflies and butterflies and, as dusk descends, bats swoop above.
Around the pool, taller shrubs provide shelter from the wind. Although we use the pool every day, it is not heated, so you would not want to spend more than 20 minutes in there at a time.
There are proven health benefits to having a blast of cold water, such as a boosted immune system, better skin and increased happiness. We donâ€™t cheat by wearing wetsuits, either. The hot shower on the side is welcome after a dip.
Visitors are always surprised to see tadpoles in the water during the spring, bathing birds year round, and even newts and toads.
But I have grown used to my pool companions. Ducks are the only wildlife that get shooed away, because they leave such a mess.Â
Sarah Mitchell, a personal trainer, and husband Alastair, creative director for a design company, are in their 40s. They live on Guernsey with their daughters Madi, 16, and Holly, 14. She says:
Sarah Mitchell, a personal trainer, and husband Alastair, creative director for a design company, are in their 40s. They live on Guernsey with their daughters Madi, 16, and Holly, 14
We donâ€™t even have to be in our hilltop infinity pool to enjoy it. With the English Channel shimmering in the moonlight beyond, I often just switch the underwater lights on as night falls and admire it from our living room.
A decade ago, we returned to this part of the world after seven years in Australia where our house had a pool, and we were determined to have one here. That moment finally came two years ago, when we invested in the infinity pool at one end of our hilltop garden.
Alastair and I designed it together and added a spa area complete with hot tub and black decking.Â
While it was Australia that gave us our love for pool life, our main source of inspiration was the one at the five-star Dusit Thani Krabi Beach Resort in Thailand where we stayed in 2017.
We all use the pool and the girls loved having their friends over during the summer to play in it and sunbathe.
Because of its size, itâ€™s also perfect for swimming laps after a workout in the gym, and is the ideal backdrop for training my clients in the garden.
Although summer is my favourite time of year to use the pool, I love September and October, too, because the pool is heated, so lovely and warm for a swim.
We regularly invite friends over to enjoy evening drinks around the fire-pit with the pool all lit up.
While it was Australia that gave us our love for pool life, our main source of inspiration was the one at the five-star Dusit Thani Krabi Beach Resort in Thailand (above) where we stayed in 2017