Sunday, 25 April 2010

A tree walk in the park

Yesterday morning Susan and I went for a walk around Lenton Recreation Ground. It's something we have been doing for last thirty years. But this time was different. We went along to the launch of the park's 'Tree Trail', which was led by Steve, one of Nottingham City Council's park rangers and a regular visitor to our park. He quickly introduced the thirteen locals and two children who turned up to Graham, who actually did a lot of the work involved in identifying the trees in the park and provided a lot of the information which appears in the Lenton Recreation Ground 'Tree Trail' leaflet. The pics try to capture what was a very enjoyable and informative morning.
After pre-walk tea and cake we all gathered outside the park pavilion so that Steve could tell his audience a little about the history of Lenton Recreation Ground and what we should look out for.
My aim with this blog is to whet your appetite, so that you will go and pick up your own tree trail leaflet from Dave, our resident groundsman — which means I won't be telling you all about all thirty trees marked on the trail map (there are a lot more trees than this in the park, which you will be able to identify once you have used the leaflet). The second tree we stopped by was a Norway Maple, which was introduced to England in 1683, and of which 'numerous ornamental varieties exist'.
This is a pic of the Norway Maple which I took in November 2008. It is the most noticeable tree in the park, because it stands alone in the grassed part of Lenton Recreation Ground. I have many pics of it through the seasons and I like it best in late-autumn, when it is losing its leaves. Until yesterday I am ashamed to say I did not know it was a Norway Maple.
This is Graham, who was the real star of the morning. It was like walking around with your very own tree encyclopaedia. He was entertaining, informative and a joy to listen to. Here he is early on in our walk holding a leaf from a Highclere Holly tree. This particular example is a 'male' and 'very tolerant of pollution'.
Tree No.14 on our walk was a London Plane and Graham thinks is probably the largest (and oldest) tree in the park, which must have been left in situ when Lenton Recreation Ground was being created in the late-1880s. This was a tree I could identify, having grown up in Wembley on the edge of London. The London Plane is also the tree which lines Nottingham's boulevards, including, of course, our own Castle, Lenton and Radford boulevards. It's another tree I have taken lots of pictures of, but not this particular one. My favourite is on the south side of the park between the bowling green and Church Street. What I didn't know is that local authorities place values on trees and Graham estimates that this particular tree is worth 'about £190,000', whereas normal street trees are valued at '£10 to £15,000'.
I took this pic of one of the London Planes between the bowling green and Church Street in August 2007. I love its shape and never fail to look at it whenever I go in the park.
I was pleased to see that the 'Tree Trail' included the humble silver birch and I have used the two examples by the playing area on numerous occasions to 'frame' pics. And here I do it again to capture Steve telling us about this very English and relatively short-lived native tree. It is another tree I am fond of and you can find them all around Lenton.
This is another pic from 2007. This short path through the pocket-sized Priory Park in Old Lenton, less than ten minutes walk from Lenton Recreation Ground, is one my favourite Lenton spots, with its small copse of Silver Birch trees. As a child, I would catch a No.18 bus from Wembley to Harrow Weald, then a 158 to Stanmore Common. Within 40 minutes you could be lost in a wood of silver birch and elms (which have long gone and I have no idea what this once idyllic corner of Middlesex now looks like). It was heaven and to walk along the albeit far too short a path in Priory Park is a Tardis-like experience. I see and experience more in this small park than I do in many larger parks close by.
If you visit in the week after I have posted this blog you will see a version of this pic which shows just Steve's face. Susan says he is 'just looking up'. Me? I see a man enjoying a 'happy moment' of sorts, as Graham explains how to tell the flower of a chery tree from that of a apple tree. The tree they holding onto is a 'Pillar Apple', also known as a 'Chonosuki's Crab', which was introduced to England from Japan in 1897.
OK. Here's another version of the same pic. If it catches the attention of my website viewers and gets them to this blog about Lenton Recreation Ground's new 'Tree Trail', then it will have done its job — and I am sure that Steve will forgive me for taking advantage of a pic I took purely by chance. Just occasionally, us 'happy snappers' get lucky.

Yesterday morning was really enjoyable. Steve and Graham were great. I was going to an afternoon lecture in town, but by the time we had finished and walked home (all of fifty yards at most) for lunch, it was too late and I didn't mind one bit. I was still on a high of my own and away with the trees, if not the fairies.  If you want to unwind for a couple of hours, then go and see Dave in the park, pick up a 'Tree Trail' leaflet and enjoy.

Nottingham born novelist Alan Sillitoe died today at the age of 82. His best known works were Saturday Night and Sunday Morning and The Loneliness of the Long-Distance Runner. He left school at 14 and worked at the Raleigh bicycle factory in Lenton until he went off to do his natonal service in his late-teens.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Hidden corners I can see from my home

This week has found me and Susan both poorly again with yet another virus infection of some kind. My second this year and Susan's fourth. Yesterday, I felt well enough to have a wander around Lenton Recreation Ground and across Church Street into Holy Trinity's churchyard and the little pocket park which nestles, unnoticed by most, beside it. In fact, we can see all three from our living room. All have their attractions and two have hidden corners, where the trees, especially in summer with their leaves, muffle all the surrounding sounds. These are little havens of escape and I would put benches in both, so that I could sit and soak up the quiet, with only birdsong to keep me company.
Who would guess that I was within a few yards of our front door when I took this picture yesterday? A really hidden corner.
This hidden corner is just across from the Church Street entrance to Lenton Recreation Ground. Few notice it. Created as a community pocket park in the 1980s, with the intention that volunteers would look after it (which they did for a while), it became neglected until Dave arrived and took it under his wing…
… since when it has been lovingly cared for. I don't visit it enough. It really is one of New Lenton's 'hidden corners' and, yes, we can actually see it from our home on Devonshire Promenade.
Yesterday, I noticed this small urn, with its images of  Durham Catherdral in Holy Trinity Churchyard. I peeked inside and saw that it contains ashes with traces of bone, so I assume that it is from a cremation. Afterwards, disturbing it seemed like an act of desecration, even though I just lifted the lid. I have never noticed it before and covered, as it was, in dust and grime, I suspect that it may have been there for some months. It has clearly been left on the grave as an act of remembrance and association. Perhaps the remains of someone close to those buried in the grave. Left where it is, I fear that it will disappear, its contents discarded without thought. Perhaps the urn should be buried, albeit just below the surface, and become part of the eternity whoever placed it there wishes the person in the urn to share with those in the grave?
Finally, I don't often appear in my own pictures. but yesterday after my morning walk around the park, I went back in the afternoon and spent a couple of enjoyable hours in the company of another New Lenton resident, Barrie, playing the first game of bowls of the 2010 season in the park. More about this and other West End bowlers can be found on the club's blog at

Today (Sunday), the morning has been spent delivering copies of Dunkirk and Lenton Life to houses and shops in my part of New Lenton. A very different, darker, experience, to the day I enjoyed yesterday in and around the park. I will write about today after I have gone out and taken some pictures…

President Lech Kaczynski, his wife, and 95 other people died after the president's plane clipped a copse of trees on its approach to Smolensk airport in thick fog. There were no survivors. Among the dead were many senior Polish government and military figures.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Lenton distractions or interests?

My friend Rosie has recently posted her 500th blog onto — which she began in 2005 and calls 'Corners of my mind'. I really love it, as do her many followers. She has created a small community of like-minded people who come together on her blog from all over the world. The web can be a truly wonderful thing. It was Rosie who suggested that I do a blog in 2007 — which is how I came to start Parkviews.

Rosie's mention of her 500th blog got me looking at how many Parkview blogs I have done. This is, in fact, my 241st posting. However, what looking made me realise was that I only did 20 postings in 2009. My time and energy has gone into my Parkviews website, which has become something different from what I originally intended. I began in 2007 wanting to record life in and around Lenton Recreation Ground, but soon it became more than parochial. And now I sit at the computer wondering at what point does an 'interest' become a 'distraction'?

But first, I have decided to reprise a few of my favourite park pics — a kind of top five — in no particular order — and why I have chosen them.
One of my first pictures, taken on 12 February 2007. Only the girl with the camera spoke English. She told me that they had come to live in Lenton from Romania and were not yet going to school. I have never seen them since, so I can only assume that the family moved on. I hope they are safe and well.
On 9 April 2007, that year's bowling season began in Lenton Recreation Ground and I was there to capture the first game. It was when I first met members of the West End Senior Citizens Bowls Club. In the picture are Alan (1st left) and Frank (2nd left). Meeting them coincided with my starting a year-long community project in Lenton high-rise flats (which are visible above the bowling green pavilion). It was also the year when I first became involved with what is now the West End Bowls & Social Club. I am now the club secretary and, yes, started a West End Bowlers blog. The 2010 bowls season starts next Saturday, 10 April. I hope it's dry and the sun is shining.
This picture is of three young visitors from nearby Wollaton, who came along to a 'Tea in the Park' day I organised on 17 June 2007. I love everything it says to me about being young. I have been him. The girls will remain beautiful to him forever. I know. I have never seen them again.
A picture of Dave (left), our full-time groundsman, who came to the park in 2004, and Simon, who came to help him during the bowls season. I took this pic on 22 August 2007, the day after a big park event and they were taking a well earned break. I have taken countless pictures of them both. Simon moved on at the end of 2008, but Dave is still with us. It is all his hard work which has made Lenton Recreation Ground the great park it is today.
I called this picture 'Going home' and took it on 24 September 2007. I knew this family to 'nod to' for years before I took this picture. I gave them a copy of the picture at the time and they would regularly stop and pass the time of day. The parents would go and meet their eldest daughter from school and then walk home through the park. Looking at this picture, I realise that it must be a good year since I last saw them in the park or about Lenton. I hope they well.

Looking at my 'top 5' selection, perhaps I should make it specific to 2007. All are about people. They make our park what it is; a meeting place, somewhere to relax, to get lost in one's own thoughts.,all these things and more. No wonder I love it so much and bless the day we found our home beside the park.

One is for sure, the park remains an interest, a passion. All that I want from life, with the exception of family, longstanding friends and the sea, can be found in what I will describe as 'Greater Lenton' for now (a blog and a topic for another day).

I look about me and I am free from being a formal member of any committee, although I attend occasional community meetings and help where and when I can with a number of Lenton groups. Being am secretary of the bowls club doesn't count because they a bunch of pensioned-off anarchists.

So, are there any 'Lenton distractions' — anything which prevents me from giving my time and attention to my 'interests' — ie. something that I am concerned or enthusiastic about? The answer is 'yes'. I can resolve to drop Lenton news from the parkviews website which is of no real interest to me. On other words, a distraction. It is something which I change from time to time anyway. The trouble is that I do have interests I want to develop. Things that I still want to achieve, to make happen. Some are personal, one is in Lenton and across Nottingham, perhaps nationally. These are thoughts I wrestle with and, at the moment, I have no clear answers to.

Eric Carlin has announced he is stepping down from the Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD), in part because of his concerns at the speed with which ministers pushed through a ban on the drug mephedrone.