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    Pool Toys – For kids and adults

    Now that you have all the tips on keeping your pool clean, you can lounge gracefully in and around your beautiful swimming pool. However sometimes it needs a little injection of fun to make it the place to hang out around your home. To this end we suggest a small investment in some of the many wonderful, and often wacky, pool toys that are available on the market. They cater for the smallest child to the most mischievous adult. Here’s a selection:

    Pool Toys
    Pool Toys

    Kids toys - Learning

    Kids toys encompass many forms. For nippers or those in the early stages of learning to swim, a pool toy should have the dual purpose of a learning aid and entertainment. One of the challenges of instilling water confidence in a child is for them to be submerged. Rainbow hoops are a great aid for this. The hoops float below the surface of the pool and are easy to spot being brightly coloured. Children of all abilities can have endless hours of fun, diving and swimming through the row of hoops which can be arranged to set challenges for themselves. Taking the child’s mind off the lesson of swimming and on to the fun of swimming is a vital part of the make-up of a good pool toy. Magnetic dive gloves are excellent for this. The toy contains several ‘fish’ that are dropped to the bottom of the pool. The child dons magnetic gloves and has to dive down to retrieve all the metallic ‘fish’.

    Kids toys – Sport

    Once your children have reached total confidence in the pool then it is natural for them to play competitive games. The days of throwing a sodden tennis ball from one end to the other are history now that it is possible to play most ground-based sports, poolside.

    Floating soccer goals will allow you to remain partially submerged while your child attempts to hurl a miniature soccer ball past you and into the net behind. While having a ball fired at your head for hours on end may not sound appealing to you, your child will adore it! For something with a little less risk of you attending work with a bruised face, but no less frenetic, how about a floating aqua-hockey table? This waterborne version of the classic air-hockey table sees you try to outscore your opponent on a large inflatable table, complete with hand mallets.

    For a poolside sport you can’t go past the timeless basketball hoop. Choose from a small-framed, low model for easy scoring, or a larger, extendable pole that makes it feel more like a court. If you want to guarantee a victory against shorter opponents just locate the ring at the deep end!

    If your idea of a fun time in the pool consists of shooting one another with water-guns then you have plenty of choices. The water-gun has evolved from the cheap plastic toy that we used to buy at the newsagents into mammoth and elaborate super-soakers capable of holding half a litre of water (and spare magazines to boot) and capable of firing an incredible 8 metres!

    Kids toys – Traditional

    Now, no list of pool toys would be complete without mentioning the ubiquitous pool noodle, or ‘poodle’ as some have affectionately named it. Since it was apparently patented over three decades ago, this humble foam tube has become a staple of backyard pools the world over. They have a vast range of uses, from simple floatation aids to pool chairs for both kids and adults. Kids can sit on them and race from one end of the pool to the other, staging their own aquatic Melbourne Cup Day in the process. They can be trimmed into smaller sections and attached to the sides of a plastic tub which, when filled with ice, can become a floating Esky! The uses are limited by your imagination.

    Kids toys -Inflatables

    For those who have children that can spare the lung power (tell them the electric pump is broken) you can spoil them with a range of inflatable pool toys. For larger pools, and looser purse strings, there is The Eruptor, from Wahu toys. This mock pool volcano contains an opening hidden within. Attach a hose line and the top of the volcano sprays a refreshing blanket of water over its surrounds. The interior also disguises a cubbyhole for the kids to relax and grab some shade from that searing Aussie sun.

    Other inflatables in the large category include toys such as the Seesaw and the paddle wheel, a child-sized inflatable wheel that can be ‘walked’ across the surface of the pool. If floating leisurely across the pool is more your thing then the kids can choose their favourite animal from a selection of themed animal swim rings. Take your pick from animals such as manta rays, giraffes, sharks or crocodiles. Maybe your children can solve that age-old mystery of who would win a fight between an inflatable shark and a crocodile!

    Adult toys

    Adults don’t get left in the shade these days when it comes to pool toys for people that never grew up. For the card-sharks amongst you there is the waterproof Texas Hold ‘em poker set. If you are tired of sitting in a gloomy room with your friends watching your chips slip away, take it outside! The poker set comes complete with waterproof cards, chips and four loungers set around a table.

    For peace and tranquillity try a fashion lounge. From a basic model offering single air chamber support all the way through to a top of the line model offering twin air chambers, dual cup holders, snack tray and recliner headrest. If you can think of a better way to laze away a day on the pool we’d like to see it. And if you run out of room on your floating palace you could always have someone launch you the floating beverage tray. This sturdy container can hold several drinks on a bed of ice and will mean you never have to leave the comfort of the pool for refills.

    For the sporting types who feel basketball requires far too much energy, there is the floating golf green. This most challenging hole in the ultimate water course will have you practicing your short game for hours. When you tire of chipping off the side of the pool (or have dispersed your bucket of balls on the pool bottom) then cool off by diving in to retrieve your overshot balls.

    So whatever your age, size or sporting ability, there is a pool toy to suit your needs. Grab some today and be prepared for those long summer days around the coolest spot at your place!

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    Keeping Your Pool Clean

    Have you ever stood by the edge of your pool on that first hot day of summer, expecting to stare down into crystal azure waters only to be faced with the lair of the Creature from the Black Lagoon? Not a pretty thought, is it? Keeping your swimming pool water clean is not magic. All it requires is a little commitment from you to a regular, scheduled maintenance routine that will save you time and more importantly, money, further down the track.

    Pool Cleaning
    Pool Cleaning

    Use the Technology Available

    Keeping your swimming pool water clean and clear is imperative if you wish to enjoy a relaxing, trouble-free swimming season. The thought of pool maintenance can be daunting, but with the advances in technology from companies such as BioGuard, it only takes minutes per week to maintain beautiful pool water all year round. Taking a sample of your pool water to a BioGuard retailer every 4-6 weeks will allow them to offer you a computer analysis of your water health and produce simple, personalised instructions for you to keep a pristine swimming environment.

    Monitoring the Levels

    Of course you can take a D.I.Y. approach to monitoring your swimming pool water. Chemicals are available from most major retailers but they have been known to contain binders and fillers, which can leave your water cloudy and compact your filter sand. These no-name products often come from questionable sources and are cheap for a reason, with inferior technology and unstable chemical imbalances that will do more harm than good. Building a relationship with your local pool maintenance store means you’ll never be afraid to pop in for helpful, friendly advice and the store will keep a record of your swimming pool’s chemical history for swift analysis and troubleshooting.

    Ionic Purifiers

    Many people object to the high level of chlorine used in some swimming pools. This ‘heavy’ feel can lead to skin and eye irritation in some sensitive swimmers. To counter this residual chlorine level, Albatross Pools recommend and install Ionic Purifiers, or Ionisers. This simple, yet clever device has been in use with Albatross Pools for around forty-five years and is extremely tried and tested. The Ioniser releases silver and copper particles into the pool water via electrolysis. The silver detects and attacks bacteria present in the water while the copper inhibits algae growth, a particular problem during the winter months. The Ioniser helps neutralise the water, giving it a ‘soft’ feel and reducing the amount of money you need to spend on maintenance and preventative chemicals.

    Pool Cleaning System

    Keeping your swimming pool free of dirt and debris will go a long way to maintaining that inviting, clear water. Scooping the leaves from the surface is fine, but for a thorough clean there are many automated systems on the market to choose from. The days of unblocking a traditional suction cleaner have gone, with a new generation of affordable Kreepy Krauly robotic pool cleaners available with intelligent cleaning modes that will keep the walls and floor of your pool dirt free with virtually no effort on your part. If you plan on spending as little time as possible cleaning your pool then why not factor it into the construction? Albatross Pools have the option of their market-leading Paramount Infloor cleaning system. This technologically advanced system contains pop-up nozzles that are integrated within the shell of your pool, rendering them virtually invisible. When the system is activated, the nozzles flush dirt and debris to a central drain where it is captured for easy disposal. The system also has the added bonus of complete water circulation, which optimises heat distribution and is independently proven to reduce running costs for both heating and chemical usage.

    Pool Covers and Blankets

    Sometimes it is better to try to stop debris entering your pool in the first instance. That’s where a quality pool blanket comes in. The pool blanket appears to only be useful for stopping debris like leaves and bugs from entering the water, but their usefulness extends far beyond that. Installing a pool cover can stop water evaporation by as much as 95 per cent which reduces the need for backwashing and drastically reduces your precious chemical cleaners evaporating into thin air. A covered pool also retains far more heat, especially at night when the outside air temperature drops below the water temperature it can retain as much as 10°c to extend your swimming season past those summer months.

    So keeping your swimming pool water clean, crisp and clear requires nothing more than a little dedication to maintenance. The pH level of your water should be the same as human tears, 7.4, so to avoid your own tears call Albatross Pools, or visit one of our showrooms, and we’ll be happy to offer you a free consultation and advice.

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    Next Year, Go Solar

    It’s still winter, but summer will be coming along soon enough and now is the time to plan your next swimming season. If you’re reading this blog, then there’s a good chance that you’re either thinking about building a swimming pool or you’ve already got one. Either way, if you don’t already have a solar pool heating system, then it’s something that you should consider. Our partners at Supreme Heating have been designing and manufacturing their solar pool heating systems for almost 20 years, and they’ve had plenty of time to perfect their product. Today, we believe that it is the most effective, reasonably priced residential solar pool heating system you can buy.

    Solar Swimming
    Solar Swimming

    Is Solar Pool Heating an Option For My House?

    If you have a north-facing roof that’s larger in area than your pool, then you can almost certainly install a solar pool heating system. These systems consist of a solar collector, a high efficiency pump, temperature sensors for the pool and the roof, and a controller. When the pool is cooler than you’d like it to be and the roof is significantly hotter, then the pump switches on and circulates the pool water through the specially designed solar collectors on the roof. These collectors are designed to absorb heat as efficiently as possible, to stay clean and free of debris and to resist mechanical damage from branches, cockatoos and other natural hazards. If you’ve got a little extra roof area, you can even opt for a solar collector that matches the colour of your roof. It won’t be quite as effective per unit area as a black one, but it will look great, even if it’s on the roof over the front of the house.

    What are the Benefits?

    With a solar pool heating system, you can expand your swimming season by months, almost for free. These systems pay for themselves in energy savings over the years and of course, their environmental benefits are priceless. You’ll be able to swim longer using renewable energy and producing almost zero emissions. Just think: months more fun and exercise in your pool. These systems are absolutely perfect for the Melbourne area and elsewhere in Victoria, where many of the transitional months are too chilly for swimming in an unheated pool, but not in a heated one. When the sun is out, Supreme Heating’s Heatseeker Solar Pool Heating system can boost the water temperature by up to ten degrees.

    How Much Does it Cost To Set Up?

    The cost of a solar pool heating system varies greatly depending on the size of your pool, your location and other factors. It’s best to call for an estimate. Of course, if you’d like to save money on installation, you might be able to do all or part of the job yourself.

    A solar pool heating system is almost a must-have for Melbourne area pool owners. Why pay for the energy to heat your pool when you can get it free, from the sun? Supreme Heating’s solar systems work beautifully with our custom designed Albatross pools. To save time and trouble, why not have the heating system installed when the pool is built? When you’ve spent the time and money needed to install a pool, then you should be able to use it for as many months as possible every year. Get summer started early with a solar heated Albatross pool.

    Albatross Pools do offer alternative pool heating options in addition to or in place of solar pool heating, heat pumps and gas heaters just to name two. Watch this space in coming weeks as we explore alternative pool heating systems.

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    Rounded or Rectangular: What Your Pool Says About You

    At Albatross, we can design and construct steel-framed, Aqualux-lined pools of pretty much any size or shape. To see examples of some of our most recent pool designs, go to our Online Gallery.

    You’ll probably notice that some of our pools are rectilinear and others are round, oval or curvy and complex. What’s the best way to choose a shape for your pool? Well, many people come to us already knowing what kind of pool shape they’re interested in. Sometimes logic dictates what will work best on your property and for your family, but the pool shape you choose also depends on your personality and creative vision.

    A Rectangular Pool

    A rectangular pool is the first thing that most people think of, and it makes sense. Property tends to be divided into roughly rectangular pieces and houses tend to be rectilinear, too. So, a rectangular pool probably fits neatly into your site plan. In addition, a rectangular pool is ideal for swimming laps. The distance from one end to the other is predictable, and it’s easy to reverse direction on a wall that’s perpendicular to the direction you’re swimming in. It’s more straightforward to install a pool fence in the same shape as the pool, too. It’s all very simple and well defined.

    Rectangle Swimming Pool Design

    Who chooses rectangular pools? A simple rectangle is popular with people who have a modern aesthetic, with a house that’s minimalist and urbane. It’s also popular with people who have a limited, rectangle-shaped space for their pool. Rectangles are the go-to pool shape for those who like a disciplined, well groomed garden and strictly defined spaces. It’s the default shape for most of us, but maybe it can be a little ‘square’.

    A Rounded Pool

    In nature, ponds tend to have curved edges, so a rounded pool looks more natural. It’s got a few other advantages, too. When a rounded pool is combined with a squared-off house and parcel of land, it creates nice spaces for pool furniture, shelters, decks, vegetation and features where the corners would be, if the pool were rectangular. The rounded shape creates a contrast with the surrounding buildings and infrastructure. It’s a softer, more creative look. If the pool is for relaxation more than for exercise, than a rounded shape probably does a better job of promoting that; it lends a relaxed, easygoing feeling to the landscape design.

    Kidney Shaped Pool Design

    Who chooses rounded pools? The people who prefer rounded pools tend to have given a lot of thought to the design of their outdoor space. Sometimes, they want the pool to have an organic feel that harmonises with their lush garden. Sometimes, they’ve got a complex, well-worked out plan in mind for the recreational area in back of the house, and a rounded pool is what works best to tie everything together. It’s a good pool shape for thoughtful, creative people.

    Why Not Combine the Two?

    There’s no reason not to combine the two pool shapes in the same landscaping plan. Perhaps your pool could have a shallow, rounded area for wading and small children and a deeper, rectilinear area for swimming laps. Alternatively, you could connect a round plunge pool or spa to your lap pool, or provide rounded sitting areas at the edges of a rectangular pool, like the pool we recently designed in Ringwood, shown here. Maybe you’re analytical, concerned with fitness, creative and interested in relaxation, all at once. This kind of plan can offer the best of all worlds.

    Whatever pool shape you prefer, Albatross Pools can help you bring it to life. Call us on 1300 136 316 or fill out our online inquiry form. We’d be happy to answer all of your questions.

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    Design Inspiration: Hamilton Pool Preserve

    Thirty seven kilometres outside of Austin, Texas, there’s a very unusual swimming hole. It is known as the Hamilton Pool Preserve, and both local people and tourists love to swim there during the sweltering days of the Texas summer. The Hamilton is a natural pool that was formed thousands of years ago when the rock and soil over an underground river collapsed. The side of the river tunnel now overhangs the swimming area, and the pool is as much as 50 metres below ground level. In fact, when there’s been rain, a waterfall forms over the edge of the rock and people swim behind it.

    Hamilton Pool Preserve Waterfall
    Hamilton Pool Preserve Waterfall

    Why the Hamilton Pool Preserve is so Special

    In Austin, the temperature is most often between 34°C and 36°C during the summer. As you can imagine, people there are always looking for somewhere to cool off, and the Hamilton Pool Preserve is the perfect place to spend a hot day. The water is cool and shaded, and both the pool and the surrounding area are places of stunning natural beauty. Water drips and streams over the high stone lip of the pool and lush, green trees climb up a hill on the opposite shore. The Hamiliton Pool in so popular that Travis County Parks, which maintains the site, limits the crowd to around 250 people, and there are line-ups every day at opening time. It can be very difficult to gain access.

    Waterfall overhang Hamilton Pool Preserve
    Waterfall overhang Hamilton Pool Preserve

    Swimming Pool Design Inspiration From the Hamilton Pool Preserve

    Of course, the waterfall that forms over the lip of the overhang after rainstorms is very beautiful, and that’s one idea that you could take from the Hamilton Pool Preserve: a waterfall from an overhang. However, let’s take it a step back, first. The feature that makes this beautiful natural pool so appealing is really its ability to stay cool in uncomfortably hot weather. It stays cool because the swimming area is depressed into the ground and surrounded and partially shaded by stone. Evaporative cooling also contributes; the waterfall and small streams of water that fall over the lip into the pool mean that water droplets are constantly evaporating into the air, and water absorbs heat when it evaporates.

    Inspiration Hamilton Pool Preserve
    Inspiration Hamilton Pool Preserve

    So, there are three things you could do to recreate the way the Hamilton Pool Preserve beats the summer heat:

    1. Place your pool at a low point on your property, with stairs or terraces leading down to it.
    2. Shade part of the pool with the cantilevered edge of a roof, a canopy or even a deck or walkway at a higher level.
    3. Design a fountain or waterfall into the pool; perhaps water could even flow into the pool from the overhang as it does at the Hamilton Pool.

    So, that’s it: use the earth, shade and splashing water to cool the pool and the area around it. Of course, you could do some landscaping with natural stone and greenery to capture some of the site’s natural beauty, too. The Hamilton Pool Preserve is really a great place to look for pool design inspiration, because it’s nice to look at and full of ideas for natural cooling.

    If you like these pool design ideas and you think that they might work well on your property, then give us a call. We’d love to help you work out the details and make it into a reality! For more natural pool design inspiration, please see our posts on the Wufengchi Waterfall, Aruba’s Natural Pool, Malta’s Blue Lagoon and the Lava Pool in Maderia, Portugal. Our pool gallery is a great source of inspiration, too.

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    Inspiration: Ik Kil Cenote

    These pictures are of the amazing Ik Kil Cenote, located in Eco-Arqueological Park in Chichen Itza, Mexico. In past blog posts, we’ve looked at other natural formations that provide great inspiration for pool design: Wufengchi Waterfall, Aruba’s Natural Pool and Malta’s Blue Lagoon. Wufengchi Waterfall and Aruba’s Natural Pool are all about flowing water and stone. Malta’s Blue lagoon is a large, semi-protected swimming area with turquoise water and only a few small sand beaches. The Ik Kil Cenote is something completely different. If you look at the photo of it, you might think that it’s some kind of fantasy landscape. Plant roots reach many metres downward to access the still, pure water in this below-ground pool.

    Pool Inspiration Ik Kil Cenote
    Pool Inspiration Ik Kil Cenote

    About Cenotes

    The Ik Kil Cenote may look like something that just has to be unique in the world, but in reality, it’s one of hundreds of cenotes in Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula. This is an area where the only lakes are marshy and where fresh water for drinking and bathing is hard to find. That’s why the Mayans placed such importance on these natural, stone sinkholes. Many are below the water table, so they fill with cool, clean ground water and rainwater, and they’ve been sources of fresh water, places for recreation, and ritual sites for the locals for thousands of years.

    Cenotes are especially numerous around the edge of the Yucatán’s huge Chicxulub Crater, and the Ik Kil Cenote is one of the most beautiful and easily accessible.

    What Makes the Ik Kil Cenote So Special

    The Ik Kil Cenote is almost perfectly circular: 60 metres in diameter, with the surface of the water 26 metres below grade and the bottom of the pool almost 40 metres below the surface! As you can imagine, the pool is a cool place to swim in a very hot, dry climate. It’s got a curved stone staircase winding down for easy access, and it’s home to thousands of black catfish, too.

    Inspiration For Your Pool Design

    The Ik Kil Cenote is a fantastic source of pool design inspiration. Here are just a few ideas it conjures up:

    1. A below-ground pool: Like Mexico, Australia is often hot and dry. Placing a pool at the low point of a lot, or even in a depressed area, can help shade parts of it and keep the water cooler in the hottest months.
    2. A round, sunken pool: Imagine a curved stone staircase going down to a round pool that’s at a lower level. It’s a great way to protect the pool area, keep it private and protect it from the sun.
    3. A wall next to the pool: If the pool is at a low point, then it will probably have a retaining wall on at least one side. In fact, our award winning Lake Wendouree pool uses exactly this idea. Rather than being surrounded by a circular stone enclosure, it’s got a house along one edge and a property wall on the other — and the effect is striking. It gives the pool the same kind of shaded, protected feel as a cenote.
    4. A rope swing over the pool? We can’t finish talking about the Ik Kil Cenote without mentioning the long roots that dip into it, providing trees and plants on the ground far above with the water they need to thrive. Of course, this isn’t a feature that would work with anything but the most cutting-edge natural pool, but be honest. What did you think of when you saw those roots? I’ll bet you thought about climbing or swinging on them. Why not add a rope swing to the pool? It could be a great recreational feature. Just make sure that you consider safety in the design.
    Inspirational Pool Designs
    Inspirational Pool Designs

    A rope swing or climbing rope over a sunken, circular pool… it could be done! Why not do a little more research into cenotes and let your imagination go wild? Then, give us a call on 1300 136 316 and we’ll help make your dream pool into a reality.

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