Sunday, 13 June 2010

Another perfect Lenton day

Yesterday was Dunkirk and Lenton Community Festival Day. What with a stall to set up, a walk to do and people to talk to, I didn't think I would take many pics of the day. Susan went off with the intention of taking some, but soon found herself busy talking to folk. When I wandered off to get some ice creams mid-afternnon, I took the camera with me and managed to get some pics. The downside, as far as Susan and Sally were concerned, was that it took me a good half-hour to get the ice-creams. So, here is my personal record of the Festival.
I wandered into the park just after 10am to see where the Consultation stall was going to be and saw this group of students sitting at one of the many picnic benches in the park. They were recovering from an all-night session, having taken their finals and with nothing to do but wait. Who knows what the future holds for them. Some will no doubt go on to do post-graduate studies. Some will enter the world of work in the midst of uncertainty. Whatever their futures I wish them well and hope that they will remember their Lenton days with fondness.

But the real business of the morning is captured in this pic of Alex and Fiona, totally oblivious to me in sticking a camera in their faces, as they get to grips with planning the day. Unfortunately, I took no pics of the volunteers who were unfolding tables and separating stacks of plastic chairs, but they were there, grafting away. The unsung heroes of the day.

After setting up the consultation corner with help from Maurita, the next time I saw her was when I returned from my 'Festival Walk'. Not a good year. Only two people came along, but we went all the same and they were a delight to be with. It was like being in the company of old friends. From a selfish point of view, it was great. At the park entrance I saw Maurita again, about to go home and see if the dog was OK. With her are two other volunteers who were acting as gatekeepers for the day.
Inside the gates and at 1.15pm, the Festival was already coming to life. Still a bit quiet, but it was still early in the day as far as the Festival was concerned.
The following pics are arranged in a clockwise order from the Church Street gate and were taken at various times during the afternoon. So, we begin, with the 'consultation' corner, which I was meant to be looking after. In fact, Susan did more of it than me, but there were plenty of moments like this and, taken together, they made the exercise well worth while. In truth, most people at the Festival were too busy enjoying themselves to want to bother with more serious matters.
Pedals are Festival regulars and I managed to catch them during a quiet moment.
Next to them was the Nottingham City Council Area 8 display. It's an odd name for an area committee, but since it covers, Dunkirk and Lenton and Bridge wards (the latter covering The Meadows and most of the city centre), it's actually hard to think of a name which would tell you the actual geographical area covered by 'Area 8'!
The stalls were arranged around the park to form a large square of sorts. This pic shows the Derby Road side and captures the 'Lenton Churchs Together' stall, with a palm reader to their right doing a brisk business with a queue of folk waiting to see what the future has in store for them.
In the midst of all this I took one of my favourite pics from the day, when I caught Alex off guard (again), having a chat with Laura, one of the many small stallholders at the Festival. Alex and Fiona spent the day running around, making sure everything went smoothly and dealing with the kind of problems which take a disproportionate amount of time in relation to their size.
Another quiet moment, but do not be deceived!  I was making my way to the ice cream van and thought' Goodie, no queue', then I got diverted by two lovely ladies and by the time I got to the ice cream van, there were ten people in front of me.
I also caught these two lovely local residents on the north side of the park at the Park Rangers tent. Betty and Kathy were clearly enjoying themselves. Kathy claimed she was 'knackered' having just finished a full day (volunteering) at the Crocus Café. You can't tell can you? She looks as fresh as one of the flowers in the previous pic!
Next stop was The Lenton Centre tent where a number of things were going on…
…including the chance to have your blood pressure taken by the 'parish nurse', who is based at the Centre.
It's where I also saw two former Dunkirk and Lenton Partnership Forum workers, Philippa and Steph. Over the years, the Forum has been blessed with staff who have given their all and even though they have moved on, they continue to come along to local events, such as the Festival.
Lenton Local History Society's tent is always a firm favourite with Festival goers, who love looking at the hundreds of photographs and local memorabilia that the Society bring with them.
Steve Zaleski (left), who edits and produces the Lenton Times for Lenton Local History Society, always comes along with plenty of back issues and every time I saw him during the day, he was busy talking to someone about some aspect of our local history.
Next door was the veggie burger van that seemed to be doing a roaring business throughout the Festival. Sad to say, I didn't have one. Susan chose samosas and bhajis from the Gudwara stall, which had all gone by the time I took my pics towards the end of the day.
Even at 5pm, it was still busy in the south-east corner of the park. The blue thing is the right-hand corner of the pic had water in and the child in green has her hands on a gizmo which randomly squirted water all over the place, much to the delight of the kids.
I took this pic, which shows the still to be finished Nottingham Peace Garden, with this odd looking, tree like, structure made from cardboard and silver foil in front of it. I get distracted before finding out what it is meant to be. I'm sure someone will be able to tell me.
Just along from the Peace Garden was the tent promoting the work and activities of Nottingham City Council's Parks and Open Spaces Department and…
…next to them was the Nottingham Sprout stall, who got involved in the planting of the Peace Garden, which was the subject of my last blog before this one.
My tour of the Festival completed, I headed back for the ice creams and my corner of the park, where I got talking to Susie and Harry. Susie was very interested in the 'State of Lenton' maps on display and completed a consultation slip, onto which she wrote this rap:
Listen to the beat.
Get down to the Lenton Streets.
Let it tickle your flavour.
Make a movement for love and community union.
Say goodbye to negative isms.
Yeah yeah.
Drop a beat not a bomb.
Yeah make a positive movement.
And what better way to end this very personal tour of yesterday's Festival, than with a pic of Maurita's venerable dog (I do his name, but I have forgotten it for the moment), who she went home to see and came back with Maurita, in tow on his very own trailer, which hooks onto the back of her bike. This is my 'aah' pic of the day. If you were there, I hope these Festival pics have caught something which you remember. If were not with us, then enjoy what was another perfect Lenton day.

England's World Cup campaign got off to a spluttering start yesterday (Saturday) when their opening match against the USA ended in a 1-1 draw, as the stuff of footballing nightmares came true for goalkeeper Robert Green (who lost his grip on the ball and allowed it to roll across the goal line).

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Peace Garden day in the park

Yesterday (Friday) saw the Nottingham Peace Garden take another step towards its official opening. If I understand correctly this has been set for next Saturday (12 June) as part of the Dunkirk and Lenton Community Festival. However, as the specially made fencing from patterned steel will not now be fitted until the week after, it would make sense if the opening was delayed. I will keep you posted.

The Nottingham Peace Garden was first mentioned at a Lenton Recreation Ground Park Users' Consultative Group meeting was first mentioned about five years ago, when the group behind the idea were looking for a park to be home to the Peace Garden. After a series of hiccups and a lot of tenacity, things finally began to move last year when a plan was agreed and in February this year, its location in the park was finally agreed (see the pics on the Parkviews webside park page). So, what happened yesterday?
But first a step back to 10 February 2010, when I took this pic of Peace Group members standing on the line of the decorative metal fence which will mark the Nottingham Pleace Garden's boundary. It is in the south-east corner of the park and is overlooked by the long terrace of late-Victorian houses on Devonshire Promenade and the end of Church Grove, a late-Victorian cul-de-sac only accessible by a footpath from Church Street. It is a lovely spot by any measure.
Marina and her daughter, Giselle, are the driving force behind Nottingham Peace Garden asked me if I would take some pictures of the day. In my last blog on 21 May 2010 I included some pics of the garden being marked out by Ian and on Wednesday just gone, turf was removed to reveal the outline of the 'dove' shape, which is at the heart of the garden. I took this pic at 8.30am, with Marina and Anne, the landscape gardener responsible for the disign and selection of plants, already on site.
 Marina and Anne make ready for the day before anyone else arrives, double-checking the layout and worrying whether it would be big enough. As we all know, such things go with the territory. When you have devoted so much time to something, you want it be perfect on the day.
Soon, others begin to arrive and the preliminary work which needs to be done before the volunteers arrive gets underway, with Ian, Anne and Feliss looking closely at the layout plan.
 Soon after, Harry (Lenton Rec's apprentice groundsperson) Steve (a Park Ranger) and a visiting apprentice listen to instructions being given off camera by Ian. It seems that the dove's tail needs changing.
Harry is soon diverted to removing plants from the old flower bed in this corner of the park before it is turfed over. The bed has had a short life, having only been laid out by Dave a couple of years ago.
 By mid-morning, the first of the volunteers have arrived to help with the planting…
…including some children — which was nice to see.
In amongst the volunteers are some like Lynne on the right, who know a thing or two about plants and so are able to help other volunteers to put the correct plants in the right places.

And before you know it, it's lunchtime and all the volunteers stop for lunch.
The park pavilion had been opened so that the volunteers and others could make drinks and eat if they wanted to, but the day was so lovely that everyone decided to stay by the garden and eat where they were.
It was a chance to speak with a view of the volunteers who had turned up to help. Joanna on the left works for 'Sprout Nottingham', a local charity devoted to helping people get involved in gardening, and Hayley, one of its volunteers. They had been contacted by the Nottingham Peace Garden Group.
Superman aka Daniel from Madrid (but currently staying in Beeston) and Paul from nearby Strelley also came along to help. I think Paul is doing a Superman impression. They found out via the Dunkirk and Lenton Partnership Forum.
A little later after lunch and I had gone to play bowls, I saw Erika and Sarah, who had come around to the bowling greens from the peace garden to plant out some of the plants Harry was removing. They told me that they first met when they worked together as park rangers for Derby City Council and came along after seeing the call for volunteers on the Facebook site belonging to Nottingham City Council's Parks Department.

The day went well and, as my pics show, attracted volunteers from a variety of sources. A good few were local residensts and students, including Giselle, who I mentioned at the beginning. A great day, as I hope these pics show.
By the time I left the park after playing bowls, there was nothing that would tell a casual observer that this had been the scene of intense activity earlier in the day and that it was the heart of the new Nottingham Peace Garden, as yet unannounced to the wider world. By the end of the month, it will be a defined space within Lenton Recreation Ground. I hope there will be room for a bench, so that visitors may sit and reflect upon the intent and vision which had led to its creation.

As a footsoldier and a supporter of the peace garden, I thank Marina and Giselle and their colleagues for bringing the dreams to my park and making them a reality.

Israel faced a fresh wave of international condemnation today when its troops boarded a boat attempting to break the blockade of Gaza and forcibly diverted it to the port of Ashdod just five days after its botched assault on a six-boat flotilla ended in the deaths of nine activists and international isolation for Israel. An unknown number of naval commandos stormed the MV Rachel Corrie in international waters, about 20 miles from the coast of Gaza.