Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Things to do at the Lakes

The system of lakes we have near the farm is not only an area of considerable beauty*, and there is nothing comparable in a couple of hundred miles, but also a place that inspires different people to do different things. Some of them involve moving.

It attracts people from a wide area, as there are good bathing spots and we’re a very long way from the beach. It’s cheap tourism mostly, campsites and rural pensions. After all, if you have money you drive to the beach and stay in a proper hotel. We may be inland but we’re not on Mars.

There are obvious things to do. Many people come to relax, to rest, to do as little as possible, so they lie on deckchairs, sunbeds or on the ground, on towels. There is a bit of earth in some places, in others it’s just stone. You take what you can get. Most will bathe from time to time to cool off, although some will just make a fuss about how cold the water is before dangling their legs in it and going off to the towel again. Swimming, in the sense of continued limb movements taking you over an appreciable distance, is not really possible at most of the good bathing spots, meaning you have to find somewhere else to enter the water, and bring your own beer. People do this. You occasionally see someone out in the middle of a lake, happily floating, or crossing to the other side, and perhaps wishing when they got there that they’d checked there was somewhere to get a foothold on the other bank.

The young of a certain age, about 18-20, tend to like boating, windsurfing, canoeing, diving, and if you can’t bring your own there’s a place that will provide equipment and tuition. The less adventurous prefer pedalos and unsinkable kayak-shaped tubes of plastic that you sit on waving a stick in the general direction of the water.

People eat and drink. It’s part of the point of it, or it is the whole point, or it passes the time, or you’ve been there for hours and you’re feeling a bit peckish, or you just always bring sandwiches and coffee and beer whenever you go anywhere.

There are good places to fish, and plenty of fishermen making the most of them. I assume the fishing is controlled to some extent, but no one seems too bothered. I’ve never got the point of fishing- as I’ve probably said before, it strikes me as the quantum unit of human activity; it’s impossible to do less than to fish- but a lot of people love it, especially Rumanians, who are crazy about water.

If you don’t do any of these things, you can always watch the fish, the birds, the water, or the people. Or you can cycle or walk around them, or invent your own activities. I saw a father and young daughter the other day paddling in the shallows on horseback.

My brother-in-law the almost-retired colonel regularly takes his kayak (very sinkable indeed, it’s like riding a bike with no hands) and paddles several miles up and down the lakes. My sister-in-law the biochemist prefers to visit one of the little-known spots on an out-of-the-way lake, to swim and catch frogs, or to try to throw her niece into the water from a pedal boat. The lakes inspire creativity in some, while others just take the chance to cool off and do nothing much for a while. Something for everyone.

*and it hasn’t so far been ruined by having great signs placed all over it telling us insistently how beautiful it is and how we mustn’t do anything whatsoever except shuffle through it in line with our heads down.

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