Friday, 22 June 2007

A special week in more ways than one

Do you know that this week is 'Love Parks Week'? I only found out because there is a banner stretched across the railings by the Derby Road entrance to Lenton Recreation Ground with a web address. I posted a link from my blog about two weeks ago and then posted my 'Tea in the Park' days to their online events diary. It's another of those national campaigns funded with lots of Lottery cash which goes on endlessly about 'partnering' and 'user participation' and exudes a false bonhomie which leave me cold, but having said that you can't afford to ignore the site.

If you have been reading my blog for a while you will know that I am a 'bottom up' person who believes ordinary people and local communities can tackle their problems better than anyone else providing they have the resources and opportunities to do so. The 'top down merchants' on the other hand cream off the gravy for themselves in the belief that they have some kind of god given right to direct the lives of others to their own advantage and should some benefit fall upon those they seek to control then they are well pleased with themselves.

So it is with Green Space, the organisation behind 'Love Parks Week', who talk about their '4,000 community network members' but provide no list of who and where they are. I did contact them about including park blogs like my own, but all I got was a standardised reply which did not address my suggestion. If you are coming new to my blog and you see this, then you may well be thinking 'who is this grumpy sod?' and I can understand why! Enough is enough, except to say when bodies such as Green Space start letting their members meet and voting then they will have my attention. Until then, blah, blah.

Far more important is that this is the week when we should know if Lenton Recreation Ground has retained its Green Flag status. This paragraph will be amended once I know.

Now for my three photographs. All are of things which are thin on the ground. I love seeing daisies in among the grass, but the main playing field is so well used that the daisies have little chance of becoming a sea of white with the grass providing a vibrant backdrop of sorts. This small patch can be found between the path and the wall of the Sikh temple. The fungii was poking through the bark which separates the path from the railings in front of Devonshire Promenade and the final plant was on its own close to the proposed site of the Nottingham Peace Garden. All of them beautiful and worthy of attention. I enjoyed gazing at them as one would the stars given the opportunity (in Lenton the level of light pollution is so high that you can see very few stars even on the clearest of nights). What I hope these photographs convey is a reminder that all life in the park is precious and is there to be enjoyed and wondered at.

150,000 people turn up for the Glastonbury music festival despite the weather.

Tuesday, 19 June 2007

Tea in the Park II

In the couple of days leading up to my second 'Tea in the Park' I thought it was going to be another wet and cold afternoon, but in midst of all the rain we had a few hours when the sun shined. It was dry enough to bring me a few customers, about thirty in all between 3 and 5pm. The important thing is that everyone seemed to enjoy themselves. Some I knew and were old friends turning out to show their support, whilst others were 'passing trade' so to speak who saw my posters and braved the weather. Although it was dry and the sun broke through, the threat of a cloudburst never went away.

As my pictures show there were young and old. The young man and the two young ladies came from nearby Wollaton and had wandered into the park for the want of anything better to do on a Sunday afternoon. They were a delight to speak with and I suspect they found me amusing. My grand-daughter, Laura, has said to me on more than one occasion 'You're weird grand-dad' and I take it as a compliment. The young people reminded me of the times when I first knew Susan and her friend Ros and we would all go out together and I felt like a king for I had not one beautiful woman for company but two! Not that these young people with all their lives before them knew about my thoughts at the time (if they read this blog they will!).

The lady in her sun-hat said she enjoyed her cake and chatted for a while. There were others who she knew and some she had not seen for a while. Watching my 'customers' and catching snippets of their conversations, the talk was of leisurely things and 'Don't do thats' to the children, who seemed to delight in de-constructing their cake and eating it crumb by crumb. Some were putting the world, or should I say Lenton, to rights, but no one was putting much effort into it. If the world was going to be saved, it wouldn't be until Monday or the day after.

I wasn't rushed off my feet by customers and had there been a sudden rush I had my friend Judith to help me. Susan stayed at home and did the washing up after lunch. Lunch with Susan and Judith, when we talked of cats, IKEA and films we wanted to see, was the perfect start to the afternoon. I could not have done it without Judith's help. It takes two to get the cakes, the tea-urn and other supplies from our house to the park pavilion, albeit only 200 yards or so. At the end, we cleaned the pavilion and went home. I had taken £35 of which £17.50 will be gong to The Lenton Centre to help re-open the swmming pool and £17.50 will go to my Lenton Flats Down To Earth Project to help cover costs.My next 'Tea in the Park' date is Sunday 15 July 2007 from 3–5pm and, yes, I'm looking forward to it. If it does as well I will be pleased and I am already thinking about making monthly bookings in for 2008.

A footnote. The Crocus Cafe made me a carrot cake and Susan made a chocolate cake and I made two Everythingless cakes with dates, apricots, cherries and sultanas, but no fat, sugar or eggs. The two men in the top picture are good friends and our next door neighbours who came along to show support. Richard lent me a pram which I used to take the cakes and supplies to the pavilion in. Judith used my shopping trolley to carry the tea-urn and other bits and pieces. She also ran back and forth getting the things I forgot!

Finally a PS for my daughter Alicia. Thank you for the Father's day card and the telephone call. I always enjoy our chats. I love you very much. xxx.

Killings and bombings in Iraq and Afghanistan dominate the news, with talk of NATO troops being in Afghanistan for 'thirty years'.

Thursday, 7 June 2007

A big day for the park

It's 12pm and I have just finished giving my park slideshow a tidy up with the help of Susan. It doesn't matter how many times you look at something someone can still find the misspelt word or the grammatical error. I would rather it be Susan than anyone else. So, why all this attention today? Well in 90 minutes my slideshow will get its first 'public' showing before some other park users and, most important of all, the Green Flag Award judges who are coming to inspect the park. If they like what they see and hear, then we will get our third consecutive Green Flag Award.

The pictures above are among some of the most recent I have taken. I am really pleased with the view up through the branches of the Plane tree and I like watching the only large tree which presently stands in the open space as it changes through the seasons. The photograph of the park having one its neverending 'tidy ups' is a timely reminder of what helps make the park popular with users.

People frequently comment on how good the park looks and how friendly the workers are. This is a great tribute to Dave and his colleagues. I am sure that if Dave was a grumpy person then this would be reflected in all the staff. Dave is the key to the park's success in recent years, together with Stef, the Parks Development Officer, who now works in Mansfield.

The other major partner has been the Dunkirk & Lenton Partnership Forum under the leadership of local resident Lesley Fyffe who raised the park's profile when things got really bad a few years ago and it finally dawned on our two local city councillors, Zahoor Mir and David Trimble that they had to get tough with the Parks Department. The changes since those days have been remarkable, as today's inspection demonstrates. It really does pay to get awkward at times!

So, it's now 12.40pm and I have got to get my things together and be at the park pavilion for 1pm. I'll let you know whether we keep the green flag as soon as I know.

Two women Afghan journalists murdered in the last five days as part of 'terror campaign' to drive women from the media and public life in Afghanistan.

Friday, 1 June 2007

The women in white take over for a day

Nottinghamshire v County Durham, Lenton Recreation Ground, 24 May

What a day! Seventy-two female bowls players and their supporters descended on the park from midday onwards to play a county bowls match. The park pavilion which can accommodate three dozen managed, somehow, to cope with a lot more and everyone seemed happy. In fact this has been subsequently confirmed by the news that they want to play some more inter-county matches in our park. This is a tremendous compliment to Dave and Simon, who worked hard to ensure the greens were in top-notch condition for the day.

Nottinghamshire thumped County Durham by something like 350 to 125. On the day I had no idea who was winning as 72 women in white all looked the same to me. If only one side had worn different coloured tops then it may have been possible to tell who was who. There were two male umpires, both dressed in white trousers and blue blazers. I did wonder on the day why the umpires were men, but I didn't ask. Perhaps the men's matches are umpired by women. I would like to think so.

As I hope the above photographs indicate it was quite a day and it's wonderful to think that our little inner-city recreation ground was such a hit with the bowlers that they want to come again. Just down the road, less than a mile away, there are three bowling greens in Highfields Park, with its views over the lake and across to the impressive Portland Building on the Nottingham University campus, yet it's us they like so much that they want to return. Dave and Simon have every right to feel fair chuffed. I know I do and I'm just a park user.

In the next day or so I'm going to post another blog about the Park's consultative committee which last met on 16 May, so I'm playing catch up as other priorities have prevented me from doing blogs for the two weeks or so.

Beckham plays for England again like he's never been away.