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There’s Something About a Park

By Ashleylister @ashleylister

There’s Something About a Park

Broomfield Park circa 1988

There’s something about a park.
When I was very little, the local park captured a tiny corner of my heart without me even knowing.  Now I realize the love of parks has been there ever since. 
In the suburban area of London where I was born there were several memorable parks, all quite different in their appearance and function. I have a rather fuzzy memory of a small triangle of flowerbeds and concrete paths on my way to primary school - and was there some sort of shelter or pavilion? I can’t remember.  This wasn’t really a park to play in, just a means to an end: to school; back home. The only reason we ran zig zag around the flower beds was if our mom stopped to chat to someone.  Then it could be a pretty long game of tig. 
Now, the Rec was a different matter, quite the opposite of the neat little flower bedded triangle.  The Rec was the place to play.  After all, this was the ‘50s where kids went out after breakfast and came home at teatime.  No computers, Nintendo’s, Switches or mobiles. Playing out was what we did. My elder brother and I used to cycle to the Rec, meet the gang and amuse ourselves all day: floating lollysticks in the filthy pond; watching the model boats; hide and seek; races; climbing the mounds of foul smelling soil (I never did find out what was in them or why they were there - the smell was awful, and I’m sure they were crawling with something disgusting).  
There are two incidents I remember vividly: one was when a man called me into the bushes and my friend and I ran home giggling, leaving my newly knitted cardigan on a bench. My mum, the knitter, marched me straight back to get the cardigan.  The man was nowhere to be seen. The other incident was when a young boy cut himself on a piece of glass as he cockily rolled up his trousers and waded across the pond. An ambulance appeared, we all watched, open mouthed, then got back on our bikes and cycled home for tea.  Things seemed so simple then, certainly for us kids. 
But the best park of all was the one that had a whole traffic system set up, complete with roads, roundabouts, traffic lights and zebra crossings.  Lordship Lane park was too far away for us to go on our own but our excitement knew no bounds when our mom told us to get out our bikes and we’d set off on the twenty minute journey.  That same park was the source of even more thrills due to its long, stepped paddling pool. If we were really lucky, on a hot sunny day we’d take not only our bikes but a picnic, towels and a change of clothes.  Those days were sixty years ago now but I can remember that simple happiness as if it were yesterday. 
We moved a little further into suburban London when I was eleven, and were spoilt for choice. Our new house was positioned between two beautiful areas of green.  Arnos Park has everything: a stream, wooden bridges, children’s play grounds, a vast amount of grass, huge old trees and the London Underground line (which isn’t underground at all at this point) running across its horizon. The path through the park is a short cut to the tube station, which is a lovely walk on a sunny day, but slightly daunting on a dark winter’s evening. We kids were always told not to walk across the park if it was going dark, a warning we generally heeded unless we were in a tearing hurry.  Good advice, but probably unnecessary for my mom to warn my husband and his three burly police mates not to take that short cut when they were on their way to stay a few years ago. 
Broomfield Park in the opposite direction, was and is, equally appealing. It’s the place I first collected conkers, fed the ducks, slid down the giant slide, watched the tennis, and visited the strange little museum to stare at the small stuffed animals behind the glass with a mixture of horror and fascination. The museum burnt down a good twenty years ago. Each time I visit I hope to see the charred remains and scaffolding gone and something beautiful in its place.  Now I go to take photographs, and check out the tree and the bench dedicated to both sets of grandparents. My mum, now ninety, has just stopped driving but has got a new lease of life walking to the park most days with my dad’s unused walking frame.  She tells me she sits on a bench and makes conversation with anyone who sits next to her.  
There’s Something About a Park

There’s Something About a Park

There’s Something About a Park

Stanley Park in Blackpool holds so many memories for me: Sundays when the children were little, bundled up in warm clothes, braving the cold and spending hours on the children’s playground, my fingers like ice. Pushing swings, running with the roundabout until I felt dizzy, counterbalancing the seesaw and catching slithering toddlers as they shot off the bottom of freezing slides. The days seemed interminable. Now I’m doing it all again with the grandchildren. 
Yes, there’s something about a park. 

There’s Something About a Park

Stanley Park

There’s Something About A Park by Jill Reidy
I’ve toddled along a concrete path Avoiding cracks and stones and dogs I’ve raced at speed past flowers and shrubs Hidden in bushes and climbed the trees I’ve cycled round and stopped at lights  Paddled in pools and splashed and laughed   I’ve strolled with friends, our arms tight linked Summer nights with boys I liked  I’ve smoked that one and only time   Cried at the bench and my grandma’s tree  I’ve pushed a buggy, held chubby hands Carried dolls and cars and dripping lollies I’ve swung the swings and climbed the slide  Rescued cryers and soothed cut knees
I’ve taken a moment, sat and thought  Of all the parks along the way - the people, the colours, the smells, the sounds The energy and the peace......
There's something about a park
Thanks for reading    Jill
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