Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Hoofing it to Beeston

Yesterday I had a dental appointment at the Cripps Health Centre on the main campus of Nottingham University. As the new term doesn't start until next week and there is no direct bus link, I 'hoofed' it and arrived in plenty of time — as did two ladies in front of me at the reception desk, except they were both complaining about the fact that because their dentists were running late, they might not be out until after their free hour of parking was up and they would run the risk of getting a parking ticket. The alternative was to move their cars to the pay and display parking area. The reception staff sympathised as best they could, but it was all beyond their control.

Since I had walked I had no such problems and I ended up in the waiting room fifteen minutes early looking forward to reading The Guardian on my Kindle whilst I waited (we changed from a paper subscription to a Kindle at the beginning of December and have now added the Nottingham Post to our list of Kindle newspaper subscriptions. It is the future and we both like it better). In fact I got called in by my dentist immediately and I am back there tomorrow for some follow-up dental work.

Cripps is about halfway to Beeston and I had some shopping to do, so I decided to walk the rest of way via Highfields Park, which stretches all along the southern boundary of the campus. I also had some photographs to take of the new University Museum of Archaeology.  I say 'new', but it has actually existed for many years in a few rooms tucked out of the way at the back of one of the older buildings on the campus. When Susan was at the University studying archaeology in the late-60s the Museum was located buildings known then as 'The cowsheds' (which were still being used in the early-80s when we did the then Local History Certificate course). And here is an exterior view of the new look 'University of Nottingham Museum of Archaeology':

Inside it is well laid out and pleasing to look at. The text on the labels could be printed in a larger font size, but this is a 'age' niggle.

The Museum occupies just one space and is linked to the adjoining Djanology Art Gallery by the door you can just see at the rear of this photograph.

There is currently an excellent  Lowry exhibition in the Djanology until 5 February. We've been twice. You wouldn't see better anywhere else, so to have it fifteen minutes walk from home is great. Not to be missed if you live close enough.

As I was walking around the lake in Highfields I saw these two folk with binoculars welded to their eyes. Their names were Mike and Jenny Ellis and told me that they were looking at birds, including a nearby Kingfisher. At which point Mike raised his and and whispered 'Hear that? It sounded like a high pitched whistle with a tremble. 'It's about to fly' and then, in an instant, a flash of blue and it left a bush within feet of us and flew off up the lake, close to the surface of the water. A wonderful moment.

And this is what Mike and Jenny look like. A lovely, passing, moment of the kind you can have in a park. I hope Mike is up and about before too long.

Towards the Beeston end of Highfields are the stepping stones. Thirty years ago this part of the park would be filled with kids, paddling and chasing tadpoles and Sticklebacks, including my own. Then it became neglected at the Thatcher years forced cuts on City Council staffing and maintenance. Eventually it was fenced off and became a tip. I took the picture below in May 2008. As you can see the stepping stones are overgrown and the water if full of reeds and you could only get in by climbing in to one side where there was a hole in the fence.

Yesterday's photograph gives no hint of the fact that it has been taken on a mid-winter's morning. The City Council continues to do its best with minimal resources, although I am sure that have our local ward councillor, Dave Trimble, as the Portfolio holder for parks also make a difference. He is committed to all the city's parks and open spaces. In times of cutback, we need our parks more than ever.

I left Highfields with last look back at the lake, then headed for the gate and Beeston. A walk I have done countless times and I hope to do regularly so long as I live in Lenton. Mid-winter. Who would think so from this pic?

From The Guardian today: The government has given the green light to a new £32.7bn high-speed rail network and announced new stretches of tunnelling to placate opponents of the scheme.

From the Nottingham Post today: City named among worst areas of UK for child poverty

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Welcome to Martin

Dave, our longtime groundsman at Lenton Recreation Ground, has gone off on an well deserved and extended holiday to New Zealand and the City Council Parks Department has kindly given our park replacement cover Monday to Friday (we have been without weekend cover for nearly two years now), so welcome to Martin.

Martin is a member of the Parks Department 'Mobile Team' and will be with us until Dave gets back. He spent a couple of weeks with Dave before Christmas getting to know the park and its regulars. I hope he enjoys his stay.

Sometime recently, a park 'short cut' was blocked off. It came about after the creation of the dunking area a few years ago and became a short cut to the loos and as a quick way of recovering balls when they went over the fence which surrounds three sides of the dunking area. Now it's gone. The gap has been wired off and I suspect that by this time next year, the hedge will have grown back into place and no one will notice that the short cut ever existed.

Beside the bowling green, some flowers struggle to provide a little brightness on the darkest and windiest of winter days. Seemingly not much in itself, but a lovely reminder of tenacity — a word and a quality I like and admire.

I'm sure that in other parks and places there will be far better displays, but this scene warmed my heart. Apart from me and Martin the park was empty and this view of the bowling green as I turned towards the Church Street exit and headed off to Dunkirk Post Office, captured the spirit of Lenton Recreation Ground in the middle of winter. The wind which whistled and blustered across the greens seemed to be full of ghosts; of long gone bowlers howling and longing for the return of those who will fill these greens with laughter and idle chatter in a few months time. I will be one of them. The first roll-up is always special.

From The Guardian today: 'Motorcycle bomb targeting labourers waiting for work in Sadr City is followed by car bomb in Kazimiya, with attacks killing more than 26'.

From the Nottingham Post today: NEARLY £100,000 is to be spent installing a games area and gym in a Bestwood park to help avoid antisocial behaviour.

Monday, 2 January 2012

The park five years on

1 January 2012. Lenton Recreation Ground from our front door. The day was overcast, very wet and cold — and far too miserable for a walk — the only place to be was in front of the fire reading, drinking tea and eating leftover Christmas cake.

I started this blog in February 2007 with the aim of recording life in and around Lenton recreation Ground on a day-by-day basis for 2007 at least. Much to my surprise I managed it then and continued to post regular entries to this blog until 2010, when they became more infrequent.  In 2008 I created a website with same name, which was more ambitious in terms of size and content. For the last few months I have done very little with either. Life in other departments simply overtook me, but with a new year comes recommitment and an awareness that Lenton Recreation Ground started to become a reality 125 years ago, when the then Nottingham Borough Council decided in August 1887 to create a recreation ground on the land we know today as 'Lenton Recreation Ground'.

There are no records of an official opening in 1887 or 1888 (when the park is mentioned again in Council records, with a report on the park). In the circumstances, I see this blog as a torch bearer of sorts for some kind of celebration in August 2013. We shall see, Remember you read it here first.

So, I took just one photograph yesterday. Today I have done a little better. I managed a couple of perambulations around the park and met just three people. Most of the day when I looked into the park from our living room window, it was empty.

2 January 2012.  An empty playground, wondering where all the children have gone.

A view from the north side of the park towards Church Street, Holy Trinity Parish Church on the right and the Sikh Gurdwara to the left. You can see why Lenton Recreation Ground has long been described as 'nearest thing there is in Nottingham to a village green'.

What I love about Lenton and Nottingham is the fact that it is multi-culturual and international. I stopped for a few minutes and had a chat with Maksum Konovalor who came to work in the city five years ago and is originally from the Kamchatka Penninsula in Russia. He came here to work for a Russian company based in Nottingham and intends to stay. He has found England to be friendly and he loves our 'traditions' and old buildings.

Round by the bowling green I saw this recently delivered planter which Dave, our park groundsman, will no doubt be planting up when he returned from an extended (and well deserved) holiday in New Zealand.  In a few months I will be able to show you a 'before and after pic', so watch this space.

Passing through on his bike was our neighbourhood Police Community Support Officer (PCSO) Brian Grant on one of his daily patrols. When Dave is back, there'll be a cup of tea and a bit of warmth in the Park Pavilion's staff room on days like this. It is so easy to take the work of folk like Brian for granted. When there are no problems they go about their business unnoticed, yet by simply stopping for a chat they make themselves known and enable us to pass by on other days with no more than a nod and a smile and the wave of a hand. Life is Lenton is made wonderful by seemingly inconsequential moments such as this.

Since the end of the bowls season in early-October, I have been an infrequent visitor to the park for all too many reasons, even then it has been no more than walking through on my way to or from Old Lenton, Dunkirk or Beeston.  During this time a number of mosaics have been placed around the edge of the Peace Garden, which has been created and funded by volunteers with support and encouragement from our city council. This is one them. I will take pics on the others when it's a little warmer.

And just to show how mild this winter has been to date, there are already green shoots around the park. It is amazing how they seem to survive days like today, when the wind has been bitter and my hands, despite wearing mittens, have been shaking with cold as I took my pics and tried to write notes.

As I left the park, I passed Maksum and his son heading home as well after throwing ball in the dunking area, with both of us looking forward to our next meeting. During our brief chat, we had got around to talking about Christmas. It is something they are looking forward to, as Russians will be celebrating Christmas on the 6th and 7th January (when we are taking down our won decorations). They like the fact that Christmas begins in November and all the things which go with our early start. Maybe they will visit the Russian Orthodox Church on Carlton Hill in the next few days, as Maksum did not know it was there until I told him about it.

Because I have the website, this blog will concentrate on Lenton Recreation Ground and other open spaces I may visit from time to time, but I will keep up my habit of posting a headline from The Guardian website from the same day as my posting:

From the Nottingham Post today: Over-60s will have to pay library fines for overdue books for the first time under new plans revealed by Nottingham City Council.