Sunday, 25 March 2007

Preparing for better days

It's been another quiet week in the park with very people about, mainly because it has been quite cold, even though the sky has been blue much of the time. It's the wind that does it. Although even Lenton Recreation Ground has its 'rush hours', with a steady stream of users walking across the park from Church Street to Derby Road in the morning and back the other way in the late-afternoon. Most are making their way to one of the bus stops on Derby Road to catch a bus into the city centre or out to Beeston and beyond. Most of them also walk diagonally across the grass, which is why some of us like the idea of a tree-lined path cutting diagonally across the park. It's clearly the route users prefer to following the existing paths around the edge of the park.

However, is so often is the case with me, I digress from the real topic of this blog entry which is to say that the grass has just had it's first 'haircut' of the year in readiness for the spring rush. At 1am this morning the clocks went forward an hour, which means it will be lighter in the park for an extra hour from today onwards until then end of October this year, when the clocks will go back again. Dave, the groundsman, has been busy on the bowling greens and the brick shed beside the bowling green is full of plants to be planted out over the next few weeks. In fact the ones in the photograph are actually going to a nearby park and are just being stored here until the cold snap has passed. From 1 April there will extra help for Dave as the park begins to need more attention than just one person can provide and this is yet another sign of better days to come.

I've also been preparing for better days, prompted by my friend Rosie, who asked if I was going to do anything about having 'tea in the park'. Rosie, I've booked the Pavilion for four weekend afternoons from May until August so that users can come and walk around the park, perhaps play bowls, then have a cup of tea and a slice of cake for £1, with 50p going to The Lenton Centre and 50p going to my Lenton Flats Down to Earth Project. I will be making some of the cakes, but hope to persuade some of my friends (like Rosie) to bring along a cake as well.

I'll be publicising the 'Tea in the Park' afternoons with posters in the park and other local community meeting points in the hope that the afternoons will be well supported. If they are successful, I will then think about organising 'Sunday brunch' once a month during the winter with papers and bacon rolls and coffee etc. So watch this blog if you want to be the first to learn about what will be happening in the park during the coming months.

Iranians capture Royal Navy marines and sailors.

Monday, 19 March 2007

The photographer snapped

I haven't taken a close look at the big patch of Daffodils in the picnic area of the park today, but the number of bright yellow flower heads has been increasing by the day and I have been taking a photograph every day in the hope that I will be able to string a sequence of pictures together in my slideshow showing the march of the dafs. Yesterday (Sunday) was bitterly cold with a fierce wind blowing across the park. Whilst out delivering yesterday morning, I had to shelter from a mini-blizzard which lasted all of five minutes, then went as quickly as it came and last night was also cold and this morning there was snow on the cars parked along the Promenade. I will see in a little while what this cold snap has done to the Daffodil patch. I just hope they have survived and are not already wilting.

I was the subject of another kind of snap when Susan took a picture of me taking a photograph by the Bowling Green. I also discovered the other day that I am the height of fashion. Last year, when I took early retirement, I treated myself to a lovely Fedora hat from Smalley's 'the gentleman's outfitter', which is at the city end of the Derby Road, because I had always wanted one since I started wearing a winter hat in 1999. On windy or rainy days I still wear my bargee's cap because the Fedora is pure felt and shouldn't get really wet. It's a wonderful hat and fits so perfectly that I actually forget to take it off, but people are far too polite and never tell me. Now, I understand, Fedora hats are in fashion, so for once in my life I was ahead of the game. For many years now I have worn a Panama hat in the summer and, occasionally, I get stopped in the street and asked were I bought it, so I tell them about how wonderful Smalley's is for hats. So, yes, that's me in the pic — the park blogger. I must find out if there are other park bloggers in Nottingham or not too far away.

Final British bottle of HP Sauce is made in Birmingham as 125 workers lose their jobs and American owned Heinz move production to Holland.

Wednesday, 14 March 2007

A meeting at the park gates
Most days my wife and I go for a leisurely perambulation around the park and do a few circuits before returning home for a cup of tea and it isn't unusual to meet a friend or a neighbour. Yesterday we did both. At times we want to stride out and go home feeling as we have just completed a very mini-marathon. Other times, the chance to stop and chat is what makes Lenton Recreation Ground such a wonderful place to have right outside our front door. Parks are for leisure and exercise; for solitude and for company.

As the days get brighter, longer, and warmer, the park, just like the flowers, begins to uncurl and show signs of what is to come as spring takes over. To watch this happen day-by-day is a very real privilege.
The first picnic of the year
Today has been beautiful and warm with only the pencil line vapour trails of high flying jets cutting across the piercing blue of the sky. As I walked home from The Lenton Centre after a meeting I saw this young couple at a picnic table in the park eating their lunch, so I asked if I could take their picture and they readily agreed. The young man is at university and his girl friend had come down from Sheffield to see him and they decided to take their sandwiches into the park. They asked if I would their picture on my blog, so here it is. I hope they see it properly this time — earlier today they only saw it in the little 2" LCD screen on the back of my digital camera.

95 Labour MPs vote against replacing Trident, but Blair wins with Tory support.

Sunday, 11 March 2007

A lost ball.

I'm quite pleased with this photo. As you can see from the grass, I took it early in the morning and I was the only person in the park. The ball was either abandoned or lost, but given its perfect condition I suspect it was the latter. Did the child or the adult(s) with them spend an age searching for the ball before leaving the park frustrated at not finding the ball? Was the child tearful? Perhaps, once outside the park gate, the ball was soon forgotten with the promise of a replacement ball. Like so much else in life, there is far more to the simple things than we realise.

Boots targeted in £9.5billion private equity takeover bid worth £10 a share.

The best day yet

Yesterday was Saturday and I like Saturdays. We tend to stay in bed all morning reading the weekend Guardian and catching up on the crosswords we haven't managed to do during the week, so by the time I was ready to go out and do some delivering for my local Labour Party it was just after two o'clock.

The sky was clear and blue with a few clouds scudding along high up and Lenton Recreation Ground looked a picture as I stepped out of my house and headed for the park gates at the start of my perambulation around Lenton. On the way I visited two different friends and stopped and had a cup of tea with one, whom I hadn't seen for an age, before finishing my delivering on Gregory Street and deciding to walk up to the Derby Road, which is where I took this pic. I wasn't actually in the park.

As I walked beside the park I realised that there was more going on than there had been for a long time. Ten young teenagers were playing a game of basket ball in the dunking area and there were two pairs of joggers doing circuits and a couple of dogs chasing sticks. The playground was busy with every piece of equipment in use and there, in front of me, was a couple of young women with some children playing a game of footie. They had used two sticks to make a goal and the kids were taking it in turn to kick the ball. This was Lenton Recreation Ground earning its keep and providing a quiet oasis only feet away from one of Nottingham's busiest main roads, even on a Saturday afternoon. I didn't notice the almost constant dim caused by the cars and buses as their engines worked just a little harder to climb the slight incline to the top of the Derby Road railway bridge, somehow the very sight of the park softens the sound of the traffic.

I wasn't even in the park, but it really was the best day yet!

Thursday, 8 March 2007

Rubbish and the park

I was talking to Dave, our groundsperson cum park keeper, a couple of days ago about a pet subject of mine — the park's rubbish bins. They are and always have been pretty useless. They can take a drinks can or a bottle, but the can't take a pizza or a fish n' chip box. In fact, when it comes to litter bins in Lenton and other parts of Nottingham, the city council has failed miserably despite being told by residents on numerous occasions that the area needs bigger, trough like, litter bins able to take fast food boxes and that they should be located away from takeaways — not outside them. People buy their food then walk along the road eating it and when they finish that's when they need somewhere to put the box and drinks can, but what few bins there are have openings too small to take even a crumpled fast food box.

Just look at the above pic again and you can see that it does not do the job it was designed to do and whoever bought the bins and had them placed in the park should have had the commonsense to realise this.

But there is good news. It seems that the litter bins in the park are becoming a health and safety risk because the hinges and locking mechanism are rusting already, so they are to be replaced and Dave hopes he can get trough type litter bins this time. Let's hope so.

Finally, before I stop talking rubbish, I would like to point out that Lenton Recreation Ground is a very clean park for a couple of reasons. One is that people do use the bins and the other is that first thing every morning Dave goes around the park collecting what litter has been dropped, so it doesn't stay clean and tidy by magic! Thanks Dave for doing such a good job.

The House of Common votes to make the House of Lords 100% elected.

Monday, 5 March 2007

Lenton's slice of heaven
This pic was taken in the churchyard which is only a few yards from the park on 3 March 2007, when my youngest grandson was staying with us for the weekend. He was fascinated by all the gravestones with the names and ages of boys and girls who had died young. Perhaps all young schoolchildren should be taken around churchyards and cemeteries as part of their studies?

On my walk around the park yesterday I stopped and looked at one of the three Park Noticeboards and saw something I had written last year for the visit by the Green Flag Inspection Team. I had completely forgotten about it! Reading my words from May 2006 again I think they still hold true, so I have decided to place them in my blog as today's contribution:

Over the past twenty-five years I have probably spent more time looking at Lenton Recreation Ground than anyone else except, possibly, my wife. My children, then my grandchildren, played in the park. Occasionally I have played bowls. Nothing, however, beats the stillness of the park when covered with snow and looking magical in the winter sunlight. The last time was just after Christmas and then only for a day.

As I walked around taking photographs I had the park to myself. It really is a little slice of heaven right here in Lenton.
It was not until 2003 that I started to use the park on a regular basis and only then after my doctor told me to 'take a brisk half-hour walk' as often as I could. So, I took to walking around the park and soon found that during 30 minutes I could do six laps of the park. Then we were told that walking 10,000 steps a day was a good thing, so I bought a pedometer and found that, for me at least, every circuit of the park was about 600 steps and took about five minutes, but it did set me wondering what the actual distance was around the park.

For nearly three years I wondered, then in early-January I saw a lady pushing a wheeled pedometer in the park. She was actually measuring the length of some fencing, but she did let me borrow her wonderful gadget with the result that I discovered that one circuit around Lenton Recreation Ground is 523 metres (.325 miles), so my six laps is just over 3 km or just under 2 miles.

The great thing about walking around Lenton Recreation Ground is that you quickly switch off and block out all the noise you don't want to hear. It is both restful and invigorating at the same time and I leave the park after 30 minutes ready for a cup of tea and a piece of home-made cake or a nice biscuit.
Instead of going home for my cup of tea, it would be rather nice if I could call in at the bowling green pavilion at least once a week and chat with other walkers. I'm going to talk to the park's consultation group, which is part of the Dunkirk and Lenton Partnership Forum, about have a weekly 'walk and tea' session in the park. In the meantime, when you walk around the park you can now calculate just how far you have travelled!

Sunday, 4 March 2007

Train watching from the park
The west side of Lenton Recreation Ground is bordered by a railway line and during the day a train comes along every 10-15 minutes and, today, I caught my grandson watching a train go by. In the winter, when the trees are bare, you can hear the trains coming from the path beside the bowling green, but in the summer the leaves on the trees deaden the sound and you suddenly hear the throaty roar of the train's diesel engine as it rattles by. When it's very quiet and you stand still you can hear the rails 'singing' long before a train comes by. I have no idea how far away the train is, but on such occasions I feel I have to stop and wait for the train and it can seem an age.

Poor families have to pay an annual £1,000 'poverty premium' says charity report.

Thursday, 1 March 2007

The first daffodils
Yesterday the yellow flowerheads of the Daffodils were still closed, but today they were open for the first time. I suspect that a few weeks from now parts of the park will be a blaze of yellow. For now, we have these first Daffodils to remind us of the show to come.

Sports Minister Tessa Jowell admits the cost of the London Olympics (in 2012) has doubled to £6billion.
View from the Lenton Flats
I took this pic whilst visiting someone who lives on the 14th floor of one the Lenton high-rise flats. It shows the park on an overcast and drizzly day. The row of flats at the top of the park are actually cut off from the park by a railway line, which runs to Mansfield, Worksop and Sheffield and is known as the 'Robin Hood Line'. The road seen running from the top middle across to the right is the Derby Road.

The flats are part of the 'Lenton Manor' housing estate built in the late-1980s. The name was chosen by the developer and allowed by the city council, even though there is no evidence that a historic Lenton Manor existed — a bit like Robin Hood, but why let the evidence get in the way of a good story we all want to believe, so I tell you this not to complain, but to let you know what you enjoy is fiction.

Giant squid caught by New Zealand fishermen the largest ever seen.