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.

1 comment:

Rosie said...

As ever, great atmospheric photos and descriptions. Highfields Park looks wonderful with the blossom trees - is there a proposed restoration programme? I always think abandoned paddling pools or indeed swimming pools are quite desolate places echoing of times long past that can never come again in quite the same way. The little paddling pool in Ayscoughfee Gardens had that feel about it. I noticed last time I went back they had taken it away and planted gardens in its place.
Keep up the perambulations :)