Sunday, 29 April 2007

Little garden by the park and rounders

Rounders in the park

Church House gardeners

Every one who comes into Lenton Recreation Ground via the Church Street gate should notice 'Church House'. It's a seemingly small mid-Victorian detached house with a slightly crafts/gothic appearance. The small garden between the house and the park has been a jungle of sorts for some years, but not unattractive for that. Last week the young men who live there started to tidy the garden up and by the end of the week they were laying turf. On Friday I asked them if I could take a photograph of them at work, but they decided to give me a group photograph instead. I left them a leaflet, so I hope one of them at least visits this blog and sees my pic. I also hope that whoever follows them into Church House next year or the year after will want to look after the newly created little garden by the park.

The park is now busy most evenings if it isn't raining and the weekend rush actually begins on Friday afternoons. Perhaps there are fewer lectures on a Friday afternoon? The students begin to drift into the park and slowly, but surely, the groups playing games or just sitting find themselves with less and less space. At teatime on Friday a group of six young women had enough of the park to spread themselves out and play a lively game of what I call 'rounders'. Their laughter and squeals of delight seemed just perfect for a balmy Friday afternoon in the park. Elsewhere there were some boys playing footie, three others with a frisbie and on the basketball court both hoops were being used by dunkers. There were also a few mothers and their children in the play area. To many all this activity would lead them to conclude that Lenton Recreation was busy. Those of us who know the park better would describe this as 'a quiet Friday afternoon'.

Hugh Grant arrested for hitting a photographer with a tub of baked beans.

Thursday, 26 April 2007

Pleasures in the park

Bluebells by the shed

Hit for four behind

To see a carpet of bluebells in a wood is one of life's greatest pleasures and makes it so easy to understand why the bluebell is one of England's favourite flowers. Lenton Recreation Ground isn't big enough to have a wooded area, but if space in the future can be found for a car park for some of the bowling green users, then perhaps a wooded area can be created as well — a thought I have never had until now. But there are clumps of bluebells in the park, mostly around the bowling green, and they look wonderful. At the moment we also have them in our small back garden and we see them from the kitchen window. The bluebells won't be with us for long, so we should enjoy them whilst we can. I've long thought that they symbolise life. It may be short but it can be beautiful and it can bring pleasure simply by being observed.

On Tuesday when I wandered into the park to take a picture or two I saw my friend Shafiq and his two boys playing cricket and using one of the new elms as a wicket and when they invited me to join in I couldn't resist. I can't remember how long it is since I bowled at a wicket or held a cricketbat and it was great fun. When I was at school I enjoyed playing cricket and I still support Middlesex even though I haven't lived there since 1969. I also like football, but I am one of those who likes to see and hear about these two great English games during their respective seasons, although April has always been a month when the two games overlap.

So, as you can see, I have been busy enjoying pleasures in the park, which is how it is most weeks and has been ever since we moved here. Lenton Recreation Ground is really a timeless pleasure.

Finally, about the proposed car park. I know it will also provide hardstanding for mobile play equipment and is intended for cars with disability stickers, but given that there is car parking less than 25 yards away in the pocket park beside the church I still wonder if the idea represents value for money when finances are tight.

Sheffield survey shows that robins have to sing at night to beat off the traffic noise.

Sunday, 22 April 2007

Fragrant times

It's cherry blossom time...

...and you can smell the hyacinths...

...but it's the end of the Picnic Area dafs

The past week has been wonderful in the park, especially when there has been a slight breeze. I first noticed the scent of the hyacinths as I walking along Derby Road to catch a bus. As the breeze blew from park my nose was suddenly hit by a wonderful scent and I stopped. It was then I noticed an area of hyacinths which I had not noticed before. The experience cheered me up no end. There I was beside one the busiest roads in Nottingham and I couldn't hear the traffic or even smell the vehicle fumes — it was the flowers I could smell.

The park's 'Cherry Blossom Avenue' (as I like to call it at this time of the year) is on the east side, running parallel to the houses on Devonshire Promenade where I live and it is really looking lovely at the moment. It only takes the lightest breeze to catch the scent of the blossom, especially at the beginning of the day. This may be something to do with the moisture which is in the air first thing in the morning. The fragrances do not seem as strong later in the day. I just wish I could capture these fragrant times in the park and put them in this blog.

On a sadder note, the dafs in the park's picnic area have come to an end seven weeks after I saw the first dafs on 1 March and posted a picture to accompany my little story about their arrival. Watching the dafs patch grow by the day as the picnic area was gradually transformed has been one of this year's little pleasures to date, so I feel the need to mark their passing. In fact, across the park beside Cherry Blossom Avenue a very late circle of dafs has come in all of a rush. Dave says this is because they weren't planted until last December. I have included a picture in my slideshow but there is a limit as to what I can include in my blog.

The daily killing of tens of Baghdad civilians is overshadowed by the killing of 31 people on the Virginia Tech University campus in America.

Monday, 16 April 2007

Sikh temple Vaisakhi celebrations

To the beat of the drummer...

...the Vaisakhi procession takes its first steps

On the south east boundary of Lenton Recreation Ground is our local Sikh Temple and yesterday (Sunday) it was the starting point for the annual Vaisakhi celebration which marks the founding of Sikhism. The high point is a procession which begins here and ends at the Sikh Temple in Old Basford after visiting other Sikh temples in Nottingham. It is a very colourful event, with sword dancers, flag bearers and floats. The procession is led by a drummer and Sikh elders, with members of the Sikh community following behind, many, like the elders, have bare feet.

At mid-day we walked through the park and out the south entrance, where people were just beginning to gather. An hour later it was almost impossible to move for the throng. The day was hot and there wasn't a cloud in the sky. The music and the bright colours of the clothes created a wonderful atmosphere, almost intoxicating.

It is events like this which help to make Lenton and the park special. It's a heady mix of history (the Sikh Temple is housed in Lenton's first free school built in 1841) and internationalism, with people from all around the world coming to live in Lenton. I suspect most of us got here by chance, but I love the fact that the parish church and the Sikh Temple stand opposite one another on Church Street, beside our park. Only a week or so ago it was the Christians marking Good Friday in the park and now, just outside, it was the turn of the Sikhs. To live in a place where this is possible is to be blessed.

Five seamen drown, including father and 15 year old son, when oil rig tug capsizes.

Sunday, 15 April 2007

A busy little park waiting for the rush

Kevin preparing for another busy weekend

The early morning dog walkers

The good weather throughout Easter week has ensured that the park has had a busy week, with plenty of visitors. By any standard Lenton Recreation Ground has been busy and many a park would be pleased to see half the visitors, but this is with most of the students away for the Easter break, so when they return the park will get even busier.

Yesterday I was out and about early enough to catch Kevin, who works in the park at the weekends, clearing up the rubbish from the day before and emptying the inadequate litter bins dotted around the park. Like so much of the work done by the workers who look after our streets and open spaces, it goes unnoticed and, as a consequence, unacknowledged, yet without them things would be a lot worse. It is easy to forget that they clear up after us. Of course it doesn't help that the litter bins are often too small or full because they are not emptied frequently enough. Our role as good citizens (I refuse to recognise that I am only a 'subject') is to complain and, where necessary, to offer constructive alternative solutions. With the city elections coming up in a few weeks time, we can vote for councillors who share our views about the care of parks and dealing with litter. It's too late this time to stand for election as a councillor, but you could stand next time if none of the political parties or councillors do what they promise.

I am rarely up early enough to catch a small group of local women who have been walking their dogs in the park forever. Even when their dogs pass on they continue to come along for the early morning stroll around the park, but yesterday I saw them and had a long chat. Six or seven times a years I leave the house at about 7 o'clock to deliver copies of News From The Forum, which is published quarterly by the Dunkirk and Lenton Partnership Forum, or Labour Party newsletters. I always do this on a Saturday or a Sunday because it's quieter first thing in the morning and there is a better chance that whoever picks the paper up after I have posted it through the letterbox will actually look at it.

PC 1064 from Norfolk is Lithuania's personality of the year.

Tuesday, 10 April 2007

A busy Easter

Playing cards in the park

Easter Monday saw the first game of bowls this year

The weather was wonderful over the Easter weekend holiday and brought lots of people into the park from about mid-day onwards until the park was closed at 7pm. The basketball area was occupied non-stop and has been a great addition to the park and worth every penny. The children's play area is now so popular that it almost certainly needs to be enlarged to fully accommodate the demand. It's also worth remembering that the basketball area has replaced the play area which was previously used by older children.

The large number of visitors also meant that the rubbish bins couldn't cope with all the rubbish and bags and cans got left by overflowing bins or even stuffed into the doggy bins. Hopefully the new trough-like bins Dave is expecting will arrive soon and the problem will go away.

Perhaps the most enjoyable moments of the weekend were when I came across a group of adults and children playing cards and seeing the bowling green in use for the first time this year. From now on, the pensioners will be down for their regular sessions on Monday, Wednesday and Friday afternoons. There are now four bowls clubs based in Lenton Recreation Grounds, so I must check and see when they start playing matches. Dave has told me that there will be some county matches played here during the summer.

I love it when the park is full of activity, with fathers and sons playing cricket, groups sitting on the grass and talking, whilst other read or just soaked up the warmth of the sun. At one point nearly every park bench was occupied. Despite the fact that we have so many other large parks nearby and with more attractions than our small Lenton park, it is really pleasing to see our park so busy — and this when most of the students have gone home for their Easter break — from now on, as the days get warmer and longer, the park will get busier. There are simply too many of things to photograph, so I take far more pictures than I can use on the day-to-day slideshow or this blog. Before long I will have do so some serious editing.

The Minster of Defence allows Royal Navy sailors and marines, who returned after being held captive in Iran, to sell their stories to the media, then changes his mind after criticism from opposition politicians and others.

Saturday, 7 April 2007

Messages of hope in the park

Good Friday Lenton churches procession stops at the copper beech stump

Planting a new cherry tree

With the exception of Tuesday, which was cold and overcast, the week before Easter has been very warm and sunny, allowing me to go out in my sandals and to wear my Panama for the first time this year. However, even Tuesday was a good day because I got up to find Dave and some colleagues busy planting several new cherry trees and, even more wonderful, two replacement copper beeches. We lost two mature copper beeches from the Promenade last year to infections possibly caused by the drier weather conditions of recent years, so see the Parks planting two replacements was a wonderful surprise.

Trees are things you hope about. That they will grow to maturity and be enjoyed by future generations who will marvel that this or that tree was planted so long ago and wonder about the people who planted the trees. Trees are such useful and tactile things that I could not imagine living without trees close by and in this respect we are so lucky, to be able to wake up every morning and turn the blinds to see trees. We were sad when our friend the beech had to go, but if we are here in twenty years time we may just see its replacement coming into view and this though fills us with pleasure.

Friday was also 'Good' — as it has been for many hundreds of years — and marks the day Christians believe Jesus was crucified, so it is especially important to them and yesterday, whilst I was in the park taking photographs of rubbish among other things, I saw this procession snaking towards me along the path. It took me a moment or two to see the young man at the head carrying the simple wooden cross, but then they stopped by the stump of one of the chopped down copper beeches and used it as a platform on which to display their cross. I suspect they were marking the twelve stations of the cross around Lenton and one was in Lenton Recreation Ground. From faces that I knew they were from more than one church or group, so to see them together and in a public place was uplifting.

Occasionally we see wedding parties from the Sikh temple which backs onto the park and it is truly wonderful to see lots of people in beautifully coloured clothes. There are a couple of small mosques close by. It would be nice if all the local faith groups would make more use of Lenton Recreation Ground and become more part of the community instead of being cloistered in their own space. Why can't the park be used for spiritual activities as well as fun and relaxation, especially since there is a corner already set aside for the creation of a Nottingham Peace Garden?

This has been a good week in the park and one which promises hope in a number of ways.

Governments water down scientists' climate change report.

Monday, 2 April 2007

Away from the park

The long abandoned paddling pool

Highfields Park south entrance from University Boulevard

Highfields Park and lake from the waterfall

Walking towards Southwell Minster

One of the great things about living in Lenton is its proximity to so many other lovely places. Many, like Highfields Park, are a short walk away, whilst others, like Southwell and its minster are a bus ride away. Today a friend and I walked to the nearby town of Beeston via Highfields Park, which is about a mile from Lenton Recreation Ground and then it's just over another mile into Beeston.

Along the way I took some photographs for a new walking map I am planning to publish on the web via this blog, including one looking north east across Highfields Park from the abandoned waterfall, with the tower of Nottingham University's Portland Building in the distance. It's a lovely park, but it is in desperate need of attention. Over the years I have spent many hours in the park with my children, then my two oldest grand-daughters and, most recently, my youngest grandson. All of them have have loved the lake and taught themselves to row after a few hours of splashing around with the oars before finding a rhythm. They have climbed trees and grazed their legs and arms more times than I can remember. But today it was no more than a gentle perambulation (what a lovely word) on our way to Beeston.

The rock pool and waterfall have been closed off and the paddling pool has been in a state of dereliction for the last twenty years or more, but it still has a couple of bus stops named after it and on the Trent Barton buses the recorded voice still says 'Next stop the Paddling Pool'. Its days are clearly numbered and in an age when parents are all too keen to blame someone for anything that happens, I suspect a new paddling pool is too much of a 'health and safety risk' to even contemplate. Despite the problems and the disappointments, Highfields remains a beautiful park which Nottingham can be proud of and when it is restored to its former glory, as it surely will be, people will come from far and wide to marvel at the wonder of it all.

On the last day of March, which was a Saturday, Susan said that she would like to go to Southwell and have a wander round. Southwell is pronounced two ways, even by the locals — you can either say 'south-well' or 'south (as in 'southern')-all'. Southwell is a small town 14 miles north-east of Nottingham with a fine Norman minster, which is Nottinghamshire's cathedral and home to the Bishop of Southwell. Some find the minster austere because of its almost total lack of embellishments and tombs, but for others (myself included) this is its great attraction. Its roof is held aloft by massive columns and in its chapter house there is a seat marked 'Lenton'. In another part of the minster you can see evidence of the building which stood on the site during the Roman occupation. The photograph above was taken from the edge of Southwell whilst Susan and I were exploring the town. Around the minster there are many fine 18th century houses which onced housed wealthy clerics, who left their parishes in the charge of curates and clustered themselves around the minster so as to enjoy the best of society and to gain favour with the bishop.

We then wandered around Southwell and spend some time window shopping, but buying no more than two cards and a glass cup size measuring jug and having a late lunch in the minster's tea rooms. Altogether, a pleasant day soaking up the spring sunshine and enjoying the slower pace of life. Southwell's other claim to fame is that it is the home of the English Bramley cooking apple, favoured by many cooks for its tart, acidic, taste and firm flesh. But all good things have to end, so we made our way to what must be one of the best bus stops in England (next time I will take a photograph), which has the minster as its backdrop, and an hour later we were at home, putting on the kettle and cutting into the 'Everythingless cake' I had made the day before.

One word sums up the life I seek. Leisurely. Today, with my walk to Beeston, and on Saturday with our visit to Southwell I lived it. What more can you possibly want from life?

Flat caps are back in fashion with Asda claiming an 83% growth in sales over the past two years.