Sunday, 27 December 2009

Christmas in Lenton

Susan's  fireplace decoration with added snowflakes.

Christmas Eve in Lenton Recreation Ground looking east across the bowling greens to the park pavilion, Devonshire Promenade and Lenton high-rise flats.

Susan and I have been celebrating Christmas in Lenton since 1980. We bought our home on the Promenade overlooking Lenton Recreation Ground in the summer of 1979, but we did not move in until early 1980. The house was in a mess. It had been a lodging house and standing empty for over a year before we saw it by chance. At the time we lived in Mansfield, where Susan was then Curator of the town's museum. I worked for the British Pregnancy Advisory Service as their national Development Officer and spent a great deal of time travelling. Both of us wanted to live in a city and after our efforts to find a home in Sheffield came to nothing, we turned our attentions to Nottingham. West Bridgford at first, then serendipity brought us to the bus layby opposite Lenton Recreation Ground on Derby Road. We saw the 'For Sale' sign, came and had a look, then got the keys the next day and made a cash offer the day after — which was accepted. The house was leasehold, with just sixteen years remaining, and the deeds had been lost. Together, these two facts had deterred others from buying. Fortunately, we knew the law on buying freeholds and got the seller to take out insurance against someone else turning up and claiming the house belonged to them. With the help of our parents, we bought the house for cash, then  took out a bank loan to help pay for repairs and got a grant from Nottingham City Council to rebuild the kitchen. All this took about eight months, during which time we did a great deal of work to make the house habitable.

You could say that Susan and I had a love affair with the house as instant and passionate as our own. There are moments in your life (well, ours) when the world changes in an instant. At the time, you make it up as you go along, certain that you are doing the right thing. And so it was when we decided to live in Lenton.

Thirty Christmases later and all but one of them have been spent in Lenton. Even the Christmas we missed should have been spent here, but in 1985, Susan's Dad, Reg, was taken ill on Christmas Eve and taken into hospital. He died three days later — twenty-four years ago today. He enjoyed his Christmases in our home and on more than one occasion over the last few days, Susan and I have reminisced about his evening forage in the fridge for cheese and pickles, perhaps a slice of gammon. He was a man who loved his supper.

Over the years, Christmas has been shared with family and friends. Some coming to stay, others coming for the day. There has even been one or two when we have been alone for some of the day. When the Promenade had more permanent residents, we would get together at some time during the day to share a drink and to chat. There would be a fire in the hearth, lots of laughter, ever rising voices and the rooms we were in would become fuggy in a nice, cosy, kind of way. At first, everyone would be polite and gather in the main room, listening politely to one another's conversations and drinking sherry, gin or, more often, mulled wine. Then some would migrate to the kitchen, then to another room. To wander from room to room at Christmas in the company of friends and neighbours, who you had developed bonds with simply because they lived on the Promenade, was a festive treat and, to this day, provides one with a lovely warm comfort blanket of sorts.

This year Patsy left us, so now there is just us and Chris and Richard, our next door neighbours, who also arrived on the Promenade in 1980 and moved in next door in 1996. Over the years we have seen families and older residents come and go. Some have since died, but we still think of them. Others we exchange Christmas cards with and read hand-written messages or missives. Some are now professors, one is a bishop and one an acclaimed novelist with a TV series to his name. Work and family have taken others away. Only a few have left because of Lenton's changing nature — a tide of change which not even the Promenade, with its conservation order, could resist. Now, our neighbours are students and some years are better than others, but one never knows more than a handful.

For a good few years now, Christmas on the Prom has been like Christmas in many other parts of Lenton. It has been very quiet. This year, the snow, albeit no more than an inch or two at best, has added to the sense of Lenton having been abandoned by its in habitants, fearful of spending Christmas in such a place.

I wonder how many other Christmases Susan and I will spend on the Promenade or in Lenton? We love the house and we love the park and our proximity to everything we need, but, but, we are getting older and large old Victorian houses are not cheap to maintain or to keep warm  in winter. Enough of such thoughts. They are for another day, perhaps another year even, but the future seems to arrive more quickly with the passing of every month. Once it was every year. When I was a child it did not exist. Even in 1975, the year I met Susan, when we planned our future together on the third day we knew one another, I never saw us in Christmas 2009. Had I thought about it, what would I have seen? I suspect I would have seen what I see now when I look ahead to the Chrismases which remain — a timelessness, where we seem the same, just as we were in 1975, only the world has changed.

To be in Lenton at Christmas is to be blessed. To share some time and days at this time with family and friends is another blessing. I also think of those who have gone before, who I still love and care about, some family, some friends. They never leave us and as I get older, I find Christmas is as much about rememberance as expectations or hope. And with these thoughts, I leave you. I have letters to write and 'phone calls to make to friends whose lives have changed and I have only just heard the news. To those who read this, I wish you well for 2010 and the years beyond. Peace and contentment be with you.

A leading economist has called for students from well-off families to be charged the "market rate" of up to £30,000 a year to go to university.
David "Danny" Blanchflower, a former member of the Bank of England's monetary policy committee, said the "poor have been subsidising the rich" for too many years.

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Lenton in a picture – is it possible?

The four pictures which follow were all taken on Church Street, which runs west to east, from Gregory Street in Old Lenton to Park Street in New Lenton. A distance of about half-a-mile. If you walk from one end to the other you will see at least twenty points of historic interest, which for what first seems to be a quite short, unassuming, street is quite remarkable. I have decided Church Street will be my 2010 Lenton Festival Walk — which is 8–9 months away. For now, I just want to share the first two pictures, which I took this morning, and two I took in 2007. All are packed with history.

Lenton War Memorial has been cleaned and repaired, thanks to members of Holy Trinity Church who collected donations and obtained a grant to carry out the work. It looks very impressive, with the Albert Ball VC Memorial Homes in the background.  This is one of my favourite Lenton views and, as far as I am concerned, this spot marks the centre of Lenton. If you didn't know, would you guess that this was in an area now regarded as part of Nottingham's inner city? I don't think so.

I took this picture today. It is a picture I have thought about taking on numerous occasions and even tried to take a couple of times. Previous pictures have lost some of their detail, but today I have captured enough to risk publishing it on the web. Already, it has become one of my favourite Lenton pics. Why? I like the building lines, the mix of the old and the new, both in terms of what you see and where you are.

In the foreground and to the right I have caught a corner of the Albert Ball VC Memorial Homes and a blue front door, which date from 1923. To the right and past a tree, the modern brick bungalow built in the 1990s, then comes the white stucco 19th century building that was once a public house and to its side, on the left-hand edge of the picture, you can catch a glimpse of the Albert Square flats, which were built as student accommodation and include part of an old Lenton school which opened in 1896 (see picture below). Behind the white house you can see the tower of Lenton's Holy Trinity parish church, built in 1841–2, and on either side of the tower, sitting on the roof, are the tops of two of Lenton's five high-rise blocks of flats. In other words, here in one picture, you begin in Old Lenton and end in New Lenton. Then there are the trees. I wish there were more. Far too many of our side streets are devoid of trees and greenery. What would make this picture perfect for me would be a tall chimney, as a reminder of Lenton's place in Nottingham's industrial and manufacturing history. Finally, there is what you cannot see, but you may know is there — the railway line. Once the line of this road, now known as Old Church Street, would have taken you to a level crossing that disappeared a long time ago. Just one picture so packed with history that you could write a book about it.

The date in the stonework, '1896', tells you all you need to know for now. This picture is taken on Church Street, to the left is the railway bridge and behind is the modern extension know as 'Albert Square'.

My last picture is a view of Lenton high-rise flats from Lenton Boulevard. The road you can see is the eastern end of Church Street, which divides into three sections: Gregory Street–Railway bridge; Railway bridge–Lenton Boulevard and Lenton Boulevard–park Street. The block of flats you can see may just be the block you can see the top of in my second picture. The building on the left-hand corner is a wine bar called the Bag o' Nails, which was a bank when we came to Lenton in 1979. All around me is local history — as it is in all four of today's pics. Going to P&C, coming out and taking two pics, then wandering home with my arms full of flattened cardboard boxes and stopping in Lenton Rec to take some pics of Dave, our grounds–person, for another posting, resulted in my deciding what my Festival Walk next year will be about — Church Street.

So to answer my own question in the title of today's blog: Can you capture Lenton in a picture? When I started I thought the answer was 'no'. Now I'm not so sure. I may have an answer for you by the time I do the Lenton Festival Walk next year!

The IMF says there is a need for increased private provision for health in the UK, and is concerned that the structural deficit in the public finances will be exacerbated by the rising long-term care costs of an ageing population. They also say the Government should think about raising the retirement age. 

Friday, 18 September 2009

Lenton change and continuation

Last saturday afternoon I saw these four students making their way home to Lenton Sands after being at a University Open Day. The tops look lime green in the pic, but I am sure they were canary yellow. However, as Susan has told me forever, I am no judge of colour. This year the students seem slow in coming back. Last weekend it was still quiet, with very few cars on the Prom, but over the last few days they have started to trickle back and, no doubt, this weekend will see a last minute rush.
Then on Wednesday when I walked through Lenton Recreation Ground on my way to a community meeting in Dunkirk, I passed these students sticking paper plates on wooden sticks in a long line. They told me it was for some course work they were doing and that they were organising a 'Fruit and Veg Olympics'. How far can you throw a carrot kind of thing. It all looked great fun, which I would liked to have seen more of, but I had a meeting to get to. I would have liked to have had a 'navvy's bum' and the young man did offer to lower his pants, but I was already late, so there was no time to pose a pic. Next time maybe.

At the meeting I met Sam Wilkinson, the Nottingham University's new Accommodation and Community Officer. It's not the easiest job in the world and over the years it's been interesting to watch them at work and seeing how they cope with older, permanent, residents who have little time for students, so they can never do anything good. The truth is students are a fact of life and always will be. There is a problem which needs addressing, but that is very different from any criticism we may all have from time to time of their behaviour. Most of time we get on OK. When there are problems we try to talk about them, together if we can. Sometimes we have call in help, but that is a last resort. Sam, I have your number and I am waiting now for your reply to my email…

On Tuesday, Susan and I went to the Park pavilion and had tea and cake with Step and her colleagues from the (Dunkirk and Lenton Partnership) Forum Office. Steph is leaving us to go and work on a Sustran project for Nottingham University and the QMC, so she isn't going far. She has built up a good team around her and will be missed, but she leaves the Forum Office in capable hands. In the absence of a co-ordinator, I am sure they will work well as a team. In the pic below, from left to right, are: Alex, Steph, Philippa, Fiona and Ruth — lenton's very own 'A Team'!

In the midst of change, there is continuity in the likes of Betty, who lives on Dunlop Avenue. Tenaciously staying put, managing to live, like a few of us do, in the company of students. Susan and I first met Betty doing 'lanes' in Lenton Swimming Pool back in the 1980s and our paths have continued to cross ever since. Occasionally we take tea and cake together and spend a couple of hours talking about nothing in particular, although we always seem to end up encouraging Betty to talk about how she came to Lenton as a teenager after the Second World War, when her father opened a butcher's shop on Park Road. Like us, she actually welcomes the return of the students. It means the builders leave. Unipol and standards for shared housings are good, but it does mean summers full of builders' noise and dust, blocked pavements and old transistor radio blurting out a distorted Radio 2. Students also mean safer streets for us oldies and the No.34 bus, which does the 'City Loop' every ten minutes during the day Monday to Friday.

Betty is a 79 year old with a zest for living and a half glass full person, who goes down to the Radford and Lenton Library on Lenton Boulevard to use a computer a couple of times a month, where she looks at things and visits local web sites, which is how I found out she reads this blog, so 'hello' Betty. See you soon.

Five pictures, all taken in the last week. Together, they capture the Lenton I know and love, the youth, the dedication and the inspiration. All these folk inspire me. I wish all of them well.

The 30,000 victims of a toxic waste disaster in Ivory Coast are being offered £1,000 each in compensation, a representative of the survivors said today. The payout offer would amount to about £30m in total, which represents slightly more than 10% of Trafigura's declared annual profits. It represents less than the £100m cheque Trafigura wrote in 2007 to the country's government to pay for a clean-up and to make some payments to the families of 16 people who had died. Capitalism kills and we spend billions rescuing banks. Where is the justice?

Sunday, 6 September 2009

A Lenton walk along the Trent

I'm well behind with posting my blogs. It's the same old problem. I'm still trying to do too much. I did this walk on 22 August 2009. Two weeks ago. It was a lovely, bright, sunny Saturday afternoon, so I decided to walk to Beeston Lock along the canal from Lenton to where the canal joins the River Trent, then to walk beside the Trent back to Clifton Bridge and a bus home. These are some of the pictures I took along the way.

I've posted pics of the canal walk from Lenton to Beeston Lock before. Along the way beside some of the bridges there are information panels. This one explains that here, as you approach Beeston Lock and the Trent from Lenton and Dunkirk, the towpath changes sides and this bridge was needed so that in the days before steam or, more recently, diesel engines, the barges were pulled by horses and needed bridges like this so that they can cross the canal. In fact, today, the towpath is actually along the other side.
To find an ice cream lady close to Beeston Lock in a dinky van was a real treat and very welcome at was the mid-point of my walk.

At the lock, I crossed over again and as I did so, a narrow boat passed beneath the footbridge and into the lock, so that it could enter the River Trent.
This is the reason for the Nottingham and Beeston Canal. It enables boats to bypass a section of the Trent with what these days is a weir. As you can see, the river is flowing very fast at this point. I wonder if they have ever thought of using the water here to generate electricity? Past this point and I am heading east, back towards Clifton Bridge and along Lenton's southern border.

Along the way, at regular intervals, are way markers saying you are following the 'Trent Valley Way', which I have yet to find out more about.

As I left Beeston Rylands and the canal behind, one of my last glimpses was of footballers playing an organised match with a referee and linesmen. Even organised park football seems to be starting earlier and earlier. I assume this is to avoid too many lost matches at the end of the football season because of bad weather at the beginning of each new year.

Looking away from the football, I caught a glimpse of Clifton Hall across the Trent. The last time I saw this view was a good few yearts ago and there were far fewer trees in front of the red sandstone cliff.

A few steps further on and the only sounds I could hear were the wind and the birds. Who would believe that in inner-city Lenton, on its southern boundary with the River Trent, you could find fields of barley like this? It is something to be experienced.
A little further on and I saw this dog having a swim. At this point the Trent is only accessible down the sides of a steep bank.

A little further on I met Martin and we stopped and had a chat about what was going off in Lenton and a particular concern of his to do with alleged high asbestos levels in parts of Dunkirk, but this is a story for another day. I've met Martin before in Lenton Recreation Ground.

By this point the Trent was seemingly as still as a millpond, as this picture show.
A little further on and a flotilla of swans passed by. They seemed to have somewhere they wanted to be. The dog was long gone and I never saw a single boat anywhere on my walk along the Trent, so they had the river to themselves.

Amazingly, on the wind at five o'clock I just caught the sound of The Council House clock and across the fields, towards Lenton Industrial Estate and Lenton, I could see the top of The Council House. It would be a shame if future development took away this view. I hope it is never lost.

As I looked the other way, towards the river again, I could see Clifton Bridge in the distance and see the traffic streaming across, but I could not hear it.

From the pictures I have posted you might think that I always had the Trent in view. In fact, for much of the time this is what I saw — a wooded footpath. The river is to my right, down a six foot bank and hidden behind small trees and lots of large bushes. In truth, it was not what I was expecting.

This must be the most isolated house in Lenton. I knew it was somewhere about because I have seen it on the Dunkirk and Lenton ward electoral roll.

After the house I came upon a cricket match and I knew that I was returning to those edges of the Trent in Lenton which have been invaded by single track roads and other buildings.

As I walked under Clifton Bridge, I was struck by this view of its concrete spans and, most surprising of all, how quiet it was.

I then came upon some anglers, enjoying some tins of beer and fishing, but not trying too hard. In fact, we had all met before, when I went on my walk to Wilford and along the other side of the Trent. On that occasion they were fishing in the Iremonger Pond beside Wilford Bridge.

I then saw the opening I was looking for and walked into the large park and ride car park beside Clifton Bridge, where two buses were waiting. It was 5.45pm and I had been walkingsince 2.15pm by this point, so I was glad to be stopping.

And, as you can see, I had the bus to myself all the way into the City Centre, where I transferred without a wait to a No.35 and home. It took no more than twenty minutes. I opened the front door and found Susan fast asleep on the sofa, having watched three episodes of 'StarTrek Voyager'. Exhausting stuff is television! As for me, I saw a side of Lenton few see or even know about. Telling my new friend Richard a few days later about my walk, he told me it was one of his favourite walks. So, Richard, I hope you enjoy these pics and. don't forget, we have our River Leen walk to do before the nights draw in.

Workers employed to build parts of London's new transport links which will be vital during the Olympics have been conned out of thousands of pounds by a gangmaster. The contract culture penalises the poor and disadvantaged, who receive little protection from the government.

Monday, 17 August 2009

Walking but not seeing

This blog is about the everyday world around us which we often fail to notice. There can be many reasons for this. We are in too much of a rush to take notice of what we regard as familiar and commonplace. We are so wrapped up in self that little else matters. More likely than not we are so preoccupied by the next thing we have (or want) to do, that nothing between activities registers. I have written before about the demise of Bulwell Stone walls in Lenton, especially those on Derby Road (see my Christmas Eve 2008 walk).

On this occasion my interest was sparked by Marion Spencer, who lives on Harlaxton Drive, which is the last road in Lenton as you go towards the city centre and forms the border with The Park, an up-market residential area (but not as posh as it was once) which today we would call a 'gated community' because all its roads are private and, at times, public access is restricted. Until the mid-1800s it was Nottingham Castle's deer park. I digress. Back to Marion, who spoke to me about the Bulwell Stone walls on Harlaxton, which she thought were under threat from occupiers demolishing them so that they could park their cars off road. She asked me if I would take some pictures and do a survey with her, with a view to seeing if we could persuade Nottingham City Council to protect the remaining walls in some way, perhaps by creating a new conservation area.

This blog is a brief summary of what we found.

The south corner of Derby Road and Harlaxton Drive in Lenton has this rather fine wall with two pillars which I have never noticed before, despite walking past them hundreds of times over the past thirty years. Perhaps the fact that it is surrounded by a litter bin and telephone junction box has stopped me noticing it before. Now that I've seen it, I think its a street feature worth protecting.

Harlaxton Drive looking south from the Derby Road end on a mid-afternoon in August. There are no cars because there are few students about. Most have gone home for the summer vacation. Devoid of cars it is much easier to appreciate just how impressive Harlaxton Drive really is. On either side of the road, you can see original Bulwell Stone walling. The good news is that, as this and other pictures show, most of the Bulwell Stone walls are still in place. Many have lost their gates, but very few have been demolished to make way for off road parking. Gardens have been concreted over in a good few places, but this, I suspect is as much about reducing maintenance work for private landlords and lazy occupiers.

Since most of Harlaxton runs downhill towards Park Road, which in turn runs downhill to Castle Boulevard, a good half-mile away, all this concrete is contributing to low level flooding which now happens on the western side of the roundabout opposite the Grove Hotel. More concrete will only make the situation worse. There are now planning laws which say that to lay more than five square metres of hard-standing requires planning persmission. I have a nasty suspicion that this legislation is not being enforced because such things are not brought to the attention of local council planning departments.

The good news is that the walls remain and do not in any way contribute to the kind of drainage problems I have referred to. Just look at this picture of the north side of Harlaxton Drive towards the Derby Road end and this long and impressive Bulwell Stone wall. On the other side are the gardens of large houses in The Park Estate.

At the bottom of one of The Park Estate gardens is this delightful looking wooden structure. It's too good to be called 'a shed'. I can image people once relaxing here, shaded from the summer heat or a gentle shower, reading. This may be a rather posh boarded up window, but it could also be an old notice board once used to 'announce' long forgotten activities, perhaps in a local church or social club.

The gates may have gone, but given the quality of the paving the lack of gates it does not, at first glance, seem like a problem. Unfortunately it is a problem for all the reasons I have already mentioned, but we cannot turn the clock back, so we have to devote our energy to ensuring this kind of thing is stopped — not because we take any pleasure in suggesting that the rights of property owners should be controlled, but because the cumulative impact of individual actions can, quite unintentionally damage the urban landscape and environment that we all inhabit. One person's hard standing is another person's flooded home. There is a cost to us all when this happens. Higher water and drainage charges, higher home insurance costs for the victims. I agree with those who say 'the polluter should pay', but this is easier said than done. Which brings me back to the view that the only practical solution is stop the pollution before it happens.

What is that saying about a whole world in a grain of sand? The top of this Bulwell Stone wall has been softened by the moss and small plants which now grow on it. Let's hope no one decides to remove it, for it feels like velvet to touch.

However, you cannot say the same about all the street furniture and parking signs which litter Harlaxton Drive. A small fortune must have been spent putting up these signs. We didn't count them, but having noticed them, I intend to do a survey of all the streets in New Lenton and count the number of City Council signs. Back in the early-1970s when I was a very young city councillor in Birmingham, a planner I came to know and respect, described all the 'Keep off the grass signs' on council housing estates as 'municipal fascism'. It is a phrase I would use to describe Nottingham City Council's approach to corporate signage, be it on our streets or in our parks.
On my walk with Marian I saw things I had not noticed before. Some filled me with delight and hope, some made me cross and sad. So, given all this, what are we to do? Mariao's answer is that 'we keep on trying'. We do not accept defeat. And I agree with her.

At the moment I am more alert than I have been for a long time to the everyday Lenton that I see. Over the weekend I hope to spend a few minutes sharing a wonderful little gem I discovered on a house wall on Lenton Boulevard. Until then I will leave in my usual way with a story from the national media…

Sir Patrick Cormack, who stood to be Commons Speaker earlier this year, said in a submission to the committee on standards in public life that MPs should receive the increase, from £64,766 to more than £130,000, in return for scrapping their controversial second-homes allowance.

Saturday, 25 July 2009

Proud to be there

I have spent much of today in the company of my next door neighbour, Chris, as he played being Mrs T for the first time in twenty years. I was there as 'a heavy' to make sure no one messed with Mrs T (as if they would!). It was a fun day, with about 600–700 on the march and thousands at the festival which followed in Nottingham's Arboretum park, just north of the city centre.

Mrs T leaves her overnight residence in Lenton.

Mrs T went by bus from Lenton to The Forest, where the parade started.

Mrs T is closely guarded by two heavies — Jenni and Jackie, who have the distinction being the first two people to take part in a civil partnership ceremony in Nottingham in 2005 (only such a short time ago, yet now we take it as part of life without ever thinking that once it would not have been possible).

Mrs T with yours truly.

I loved the stilts man. What I saw him do with a lamp post has to be triple XXX rated. Pole dancin' girls, huh…

The parade leave The Forest and turns onto Mansfield Road and there to greet them is a pink bus, which then followed the parade into the city centre.

At The Arboretum there were lots of stalls, including our very own Area 8 Committee, which covers The Meadows, part of the city centre, Dunkirk and Lenton, and is a Nottingham City Council committee made up of local councillors and community representatives. From left, Lezley, Julie from West Area and Dorothy. It was good to see them there.

When we got to The Arboretum I left Mrs T, who was in the company of many adoring friends by now, and went to help out for a couple of hours on the Crocus Café stall, who were short of volunteers. Not that they really need much help as Tim, a co-chair of the Crocus Committee, was a great pull when it came to attracting young women to the stall.

All in all it was a lovely day. I was glad Chris asked me.

A city council is considering using 19th century catacombs to store the bodies of swine flu victims if the outbreak worsens, it was confirmed today.

Exeter city council has identified the empty underground burial chambers, currently used as a tourist attraction, as a potential mortuary.

Thursday, 23 July 2009

Medicinal parks

A squirrel gathering nest material.

The clock tower, given by a late-19th century town mayor.

A flotilla of Canada Geese on one of the park's two lakes.

This is just one quarter of what is a wonderful park vista.

I could not resist this sign by the entrance to the park.

Last week Susan and I spent the day with friends who live in Longton, Staffordshire. I should really say Stoke-on-Trent, for the six towns which make up the city have been together since 1910 (the other four are Burslem, Fenton, Hanley and Tunstall). Normally I would, but our friends took us to Longton Park, which is a grand 19th century municipal park in every sense of the word, where we spent an enjoyable hour before the rain came and we left in search of a tea shop.

All the pictures in today's blog were taken in Longton Park. In his book, English Journey, published in 1934, J B Priestley devotes an entire chapter to The Potteries, despite saying at one point that 'This is no region to idle in… for nothing that you see or hear or smell in these six towns will raise your spirits'. However, he goes on to say that, to him, 'the Potteries seem unique (and) look like no other industrial region' and ends by wishing its 'ovens never grow cold'. I like Longton and what I know of the rest of the city, but then I like work-a-day landscapes and the communities they continue to support, albeit a shadow of what they once were.

In the midst of all the smoke that once poured from nearby kilns and factories, Longton Park truly was the a medicinal place, where children could run, parents promenade and older folk recline on generous park benches and remember when they, once, did those things too. And so it was for Lenton Recreation Ground, once surrounded by factories and smoking chimneys. A place where workers from Raleighs and other nearby factories migh dash for a quick lunch-time kick around, or just to lay on the grass and watch the girls go by. Whether it was quite like this I do not know, but it is how I image it. Of one thing I am sure, like all parks it was health giving, medicine by whatever name you choose to call it. They still are.

There in Longton, my thoughts were in Lenton and with parks. My friend Allan Brigham knows only too well about the life enhancing qualities of parks, as a recent posting to my website about a park in Cambridge illustrates far better this ramble of mine.

'The localist political dividing line is no longer between public and private or between taxing and spending. It is between faceless bureaucrates, public or private, and the small institutions who have kept their spirit of face-to-face relationships. Which still feel accountable for their mistakes. Which are small enough to make things happen locally. Which can confront the fake efficiency being peddled by the establishment'. From Localism: Unravellling the Supplicant State, New Economics Foundation, 2009.