What could be more wonderful on a pleasant afternoon than to go down to your nearest park and take a stroll with a loved one, kick a ball around with some friends or read a book under a quiet tree. I am lucky enough to have several parks in my area and during the day they are usually very nice parks to be in. As the world becomes more and more developed we lose more and more park space to grey sprawling jungles. Im not against progress and urbanisation after all we all need places to live, i just hope that as the population grows we can somehow keep the large majorities of our natural spaces. Unfortunately i dont think this will be the case, hopefully my grandkids grandkids will still have places to play but im not overly optimistic about this. We've probably all got fantastic memories of playing down the park with our parents, siblings or grandparents and i just think itd be terrible if the humble british park were to ever disappear. A more immediate threat to the british park however comes in the form of groups of violent teens and ne'er do wells who come out at night and ruin it for everyone else (god i feel like such an old git) but it is true and ive been mugged several times in parks around my area. It wasnt like this in my day etcetra etcetra (lol). Its a bit of a shame that some parks can become unsafe at night, as im a keen astronomer and would love nothing more than to take my telescope into a nice dark park away from light polluted streets and observe the beauty of the night sky. Im not even gonna try this as i would end up with a very smashed telescope. I'll close by saying that i hope parks and woodlands are here to stay and wont be completely consumed by glass and concrete.
The nearest park to me is Hyde Park, or Woodhouse Moor. Its not that large a park, in fact you can walk through it in about 5 minutes, but it is very pretty and its nice to have a green space so close in a big city - Leeds. The nicest thing about it is the tree covered walk through the middle of it, its a good piece of landscaping on the part of whoever planted them, and is lovely in winter, especially when its all frosty. Theres a skate park which is used every day by local skaters and bmxers. I think this is a great facility as it keeps all the kids off the playground so the smaller kids can have their own space in the playground. Theres also 2 tennis courts which seem to get used quite a lot, they arent in good condition but there is a net on one of them so you can actually play tennis. The basketball court has definately seen better days, but I have played on there quite a few times, and the main thing is that the hoops are still standing. There is a large allotment there as well. Im not sure how you get a patch on it, but its all locked up and you cant get in unless you scale a fence which I wouldnt do anyway. It looks like a nice facility from the gaps in the hedges. Finally theres the bowles court, this is maintained daily, has lots of pretty flowers, and is also locked unless I think your a member. Never seen anyone play on it, but hopefully with this nicer weather it will get used. Because its in a student area, as soon as the sun comes out the park is full of students (and a few families) drinking and having BBQs (which arent actually allowed but no ones enforcing that). The icecream van comes down, and its all one big party! In the past few days I have been on the way into uni and encountered a lot of sunburnt people. One awful thing about the sunny days are that there is so much rubbish left. Once in the summer I walked through and it was just piled high all over the park. One lady was phoning the council as I walked past, and it really was disgusting. Since then I have seen council workers litter picking almost everyday. There are bins but they get full up so quickly and so people dont take their litter home they just leave it where they were sat. Theres also the curry house on one side. It used to be the old toilets, but is now Akmals, a cheap and tasty place to eat! I wouldnt go into this park at night apart from on firework night. Loads of people have been mugged and such like. Theres no lighting at night, and its just safer to walk around, and doesnt take any more time at all.
Most towns and cities are blessed with pars i some form or other so I thought I would write about a couple of my favourite ones. Abingdon Park in Northampton is my favourite in my home town, a nice large tree lined park close to the town centre it has some lovely large oak trees withing its grounds and is a nice place to relax on a summers day, thre are plenty of shops near by the pick up drinks and it is also nice to cycle through, it has some nice large grass areas for kids to play as well as a play area. The only downside is that it has been victim to a bit of vandalism in the past and is probably not somewhere I would go at night as there are blokes cruising and the odd group of hoodies. Hyde Park in London is one of my favourites in the city as it is a wonderful green expanse that is big enough to host concerts and special events, I also like Green Park to relax in which is a lot smaller but is close to a lot of the shopping just off Regents Street and Oxford Circus. I think that we are very lucky in this country to have so many green areas in our towns and cities and these places provide an oasis of calm in an otherwise hectic existence.
British parks a very different depending on where you are. I have been to some gorgeous and well kept parks up and down the country. Many of them are used for some sort of sport. I like to visit different parks to take my dog walking. Its nice to go to a different place now and again just to see what is out there and how well kept and litter free the parks are. The parks near my house are usually full of litter and young teenagers drinker cider on the park bench. This can be very intimidating for a young woman on her own with a small dog. The teenagers are very noisy. The police are aware that they are there and do try to move them on, however they do appear back now and again. One other thing I dislike when parks are unkept is dog poo. People do not seem to have the respect to pick it up. They just leave it lying about for some child to stand in. Luckly for me I dont live too far from the moors, so I have now decided to take my dog walking up there, In general its clean, very quite and a lovely view!
The most wonderful thing about the UK is the vast expanse of greenness as soon as spring comes. a few years ago I was returning from a holiday in China, I think i flew home around april time. It was absolutely stunning flying in over England. The vibrant colours are so different from a lot of other countries, where over the summer months many of these turn an orangey colour. Obviously alot of the green I saw from the plane came from the fields. But the parks really help to contribute to the wonderful colours that can be experienced. Living in Cambridgeshire there is actually quite a lot fo park land around. Near the town centre there is Newnham, which has a large area for children to play, and lots of trees, the river with ducks. Whether you go to the park for a quick walk, to eat your lunch or for the children to play, you can nearly guarnatee that you may bump into someone who will say hello. The villages in the UK usually have their own parks of varying sizes. Some are big enough for a football pitch... The way britains new housing areas are being developed many new houses will not have more than a postage stamp area for a garden. This is where the great importance of the park comes in. Whatever the size of the park we should all ensure we visit them and look after the areas as they are valuable places. Not all countries have such lovely parks. So next time the sun is shining, get out there and sit for 5 minutes with a paper. Make the most of britains loveliness!
During the Summer months our beautiful local park bursts into life. School summer holidays begin and out come the cool boxes for the picnics, the swimming costumes and the bathing trunks, bats and balls and tennis gear and young families head off in droves to enjoy and make the most of any better weather we may be having. The park is a joyous, inexpensive and thoroughly wonderful place to be on a sunny afternoon. As you walk through the large wrought iron park gates you notice how well kept the park is, a credit to the Park keepers. The grass has been well mown and the edges have been trimmed properly. The park has two levels, on the lower level is a boating lake, two tennis courts, a pitch and putt golf course and of course the all essential Ice cream hut. In between the two levels runs a stream, beyond the stream on the second level is the children's playground. It has every conceivable plaything, an assault course, two large climbing frames, a roundabout, a large slide, some sit on toys for the toddlers, two sets of swings and the icing on the cake is a huge paddling pool. Every Summer the paddling pool is filled and this becomes the main attraction. At the weekends the children's area is chock a block with young families. Mums and Dads roll their trouser legs up to help their offspring wade through the warm water in the paddling pool and the picnics are out in force. I have spent many happy afternoons in the local park with the family and the only cost of the outing has been a round of ice creams. The green wooden ice cream hut has a couple of tables and chairs perched outside and they sell tea and coffee at affordable prices. When you choose your ice cream you don't have to reel through an endless list of wafers, cones, lollies and choc-ices, the choice is limited which makes life much easier. If you happen to run out of pop on a particularly hot afternoon then the green hut can provide you with a can for around 75p. Tennis is a popular game and the courts remain full all afternoon, there are plenty of budding Wimbledon champions but no strawberries and ice cream! Pitch and putt attracts some future candidates for the Scottish Open and often the local Bowls team will have a practise session on the bowling green adjoining the tennis court. A large boat house stands by the side of the boating lake, every Summer the same couple of chaps take charge of the boating. The lake isn't large or deep but you can still have a fun boat ride. If the sun shines then the boatmen can bet their bottom dollar that they will have a good days takings. The ducks sit beside the Lake in anticipation, most children look forward to feeding the ducks, it is a wonder that the ducks aren't obese! In the middle of the Lake their is an Island, often the birds and the water birds choose to nest there. A path runs right around the Lake, so families can push their pushchairs and prams right the way around and anyone in a wheelchair can have an enjoyable day too. Of course a park wouldn't be a park without a Bandstand, a small cream wooden bandstand sits there more often than not empty, which is a great shame. Each border is filled with colour, the soil is filled with vibrance and beauty. Whoever attends to the park gardens can give themselves a pat on the back. Each year sees a wonderful display of colour. So you see our Local park is quite a magical place to visit, we are very fortunate. On my travels I have been to some parks that have been similar, well visited, well cared for and respected. On the other-hand I have visited parks where you felt that sitting on a swing would be an unhealthy thing to do. Our park is kept Graffiti free and although dogs are allowed in (except for the play area) they have to be kept on a lead and there is a strict no fouling rule in place. I am sorry I have waffled on telling you all about out local park but maybe it is one of Britain's better parks. Britain`s parks rely on their visitors to take care of them, if the apparatus is vandalised and covered in graffiti and the park is strewn with litter then it becomes a hostile place. People feel intimidated and tend to steer clear. But at the end of the day a park is only as good as the people who frequent it choose to make it, and I for one have been to some amazing British parks.
I think that British parks vary incredibly not only in different regions of the country, but even in the same towns and villages. Where I grew up there was a small park near where we lived, but there was also a massive one around the corner called Bruntwood with gardens, open fields and 2 kids' play areas. It also offers a range of activities e.g. archery, which I think is very good. It has enough amenities so that you could spend the whole day there, which is ideal especially if you're travelling a fair distance. My dog absolutely loves it because it's a taste of the countryside for him - there's a small wood, a brook and lots of open space where he can run around freely and meet other dogs. In Nottingham we went to Wollaton Park a few times (apparently it's great for snowball fights if you're around at the moment!). Again there's tons of open space, not really as much going on but the perfect opportunity to take a picnic, a frisbee or a book and relax. Particularly nice in sunny weather! One thing I've always found surprising about Wollaton is that it seems to stretch and it's always bigger than I remember! It even has wild deer that roam in some areas - my boyfriend said he saw a herd of them running through the snow the other day which must have looked beautiful. It's a lovely taste of nature even in the middle of a city. Where I live now the countryside is just a few miles away so there isn't as much need for proper parks. However, there are lots of mini playareas for kids scattered throughout the town, and they are used frequently but still in good condition. Park use is definitely declining as kids prefer to stay at home and play computer games etc. more now. I would definitely visit parks more if English weather wasn't so bad! Even if it's not raining, chances are it will whilst you're there or it will have rained enough before you've gone so that everything is muddy. I don't mind so much for myself but my dog has very short legs and gets completely covered in the stuff (and it seems to have escaped his doggy brain that waiting until he gets indoors to shake himself is a bad idea). Also, I know that some parks are unkempt and suffer from irresponsible dog owners. There can alo be problems with graffiti and strange people hanging out. Going to the park works better as a family/pet activity I feel. It's not exactly the best time of year right now unless you have a lot of snow like we do, but come the spring it can be edcuational for kids to learn about nature, and in the summer it's a cheap and relaxing day out.
My favorite green space in my home town is Abington Park, my second favorite green space being the cricket club just across the road. Abington Park is one the top ten ornamental parks in Great Britain. With 352 different varieties of trees and ten times that of shrubs, second only to Kew Gardens for that eco badge of honor (although the Borough Council keep chopping them down because they over-hang the road and deposit on posh peoples cars who threaten to sue the council) it's a really beautiful and iridescent place, especially in Autumn. 'Abbey' really is a pleasant place and equal to any of London's Royal Parks if you ask me. We even have towering Redwood pines and Monkey trees, sentinels for the cute little aviary full of budgies and Peacocks. The other day there was a domestic parrot on the outside trying to get in to join the caged birds, presumably because they were the same color. Because Abbey is immaculate the people off all social backgrounds in Northampton treat it with respect, no litter to be seen, even the roughians scooping up their fighting dos poo poo with a scooper and taking their shoes off to play soccer on the manicured bowling greens. This is Great Britain in action! The other prominent park in the town, 'The Racecourse', which houses the annual balloon festival, is a tip in contrast. If you are going to be mugged, raped or murdered then that's the place it will happen. Parks are cool things because they are free of charge and great places to escape to in the summer, maybe with a good book and some snacks, or a pretty girl and some medium priced wine with an impressive label, one of the few places in England where the British class system actually mingles with no pretensions - although social groups A, B and C always keeping their distance from the D`s and E`s, as written in the British social class manual. When I spend an afternoon at the park I notice these subtle things. I am great watcher of people. In Septmeber I had a pleasant day in the Park, finalizing my audition piece for a regular article in a well know sports magazine that could be a nice little earner. The sun was out and I was writing well. Around me on my slice of grass were the usual groups of chatty, bright eyed sixth-form girls from the local grammar, sitting in neat circles, their faces alive with ambition and little make-up, dutifully doing theirl coursework between talkg about boys. Thirty meters away to may left you have the opposite, obnoxious working class chavettes, very noisy and just as happy, but with no ambition and lots of make-up, and one group thinking of getting pregnant to get a house and call it a day, the other thinking the exact opposite. That is the British class system in raw flow. To this lot the word 'A-Level 'may as well be the latest boy band! A posh pretty girl form the group is soon playing Frisbee with a boy who only wears cotton Rugby shirts (never seen dead in polyesters replica football tops unless its fancy dress), she letting the mesmerizing plastic disc hit her on the side of the head so she can let out a playful shriek like only girls can when they try to impress guys with their feebleness - although girls are fundamentally crap at catching things. The boy is chuffed she's crap at catch, allowing more giggles and a chance to chase and tickle her. The first touch beats the first kiss anytime. But they won't hook up and have sex just yet as they are too young to be thinking about wrecking their chances of going to university and not being like their parents. But the 'Chavettes' group has already had lots of sex, just a matter of time before the bump appears and her name is needled into her lovers forearm and on the windscreen of his untaxed Ford Escort. I hope she likes fighting dog, dog's hairs itching in her knickers! Across the park you have the park café; expensive, homely and safe, young couples surrounded by kids, plastic footballs, ice cream and steaming tea and coffee (at fair-trade prices!). The café is called the 'Ye Old Oak' and it's the only one in the park and so a bit of a monopoly. We like to think the adults are happy there, but probably not, the body language always interesting. She's 39 (she's been 39 for three years now), he looking around at the younger girls as his gaze drifts with the smells of freshly cut grass and sun cream, wishing his wife was the same lively and sexy girl he married ten years ago before she stupidly thought she needed to have kids to keep him around, her eventual millstone, making her feel haggard and resentful of those young innocent bodies. Love does indeed tear us apart. Parks can also be hectic too. The other day I was reading my book, looking over the top of the pages at some pretty Polish girls, they briefly looking back to access my green card potential, before a football game swept pass and broke our promising eye contact, the game violently off piste, the ball strategically landing amongst the irritated girls. I wonder if English guys ascents sound as sexy as their ascents do. They are not impressed with these 'Englisssh drunken menz'. Elsewhere, five teenagers begin to loiter, looking over at me in that way you don't like. Trouble. Three of them are dressed 'chav'and 'street' .They know they intimidate normal people and that's the kicker. I tuck myself back into my book with my paranoid thoughts. I'm hiding but wary. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt this time. Is it just me thinking the bad news is all real and waiting for me around the corner. A few minutes later my bag is dropped-kicked, my Ipod and notes from work being water bombed by a big red condom, wiping it all out. At least they are running away laughing. This is not going to be an 'incident'.Im not going to be an 'incident', the next Gary Newlove. They know im not going to react. They are 'hoodies' I'm the sort of bloke who reads books in parks. If I had a can of super strength lager with me then maybe they would have thought twice. I shrug my shoulders in their direction and afford myself a rye smile. Life sometimes can be a cliché. They know what I was already thinking. That's why they did it. Parks have lakes. Blue always goes with green. Abington park has three small ones. One is a boating lake with no boats, the armada of two seater Fredalo's long since sunk by the 'yob culture'. The other lakes are for the birds, the water very grey and murky looking like the fish who are imprisoned there. But the pathway at the edge had subsided, a protective fence to strop legal claims going in hurled in the water. A few old buggers are fishing for old shopping trolleys as thats all thats in the murky water, disgruntled local lads with their dads passed down fishing kit unable to catch the same scraggy trout they caught last week. Beats school work after tea though! Peter Willey, a well known Cricket Test umpire, chairs the 'Friends of Abington Park Group', his voluntary role to row out in a little boat and judge the conditions of the lakes. He was umpiring in Warwickshire at a County Game at the time of the path collpase. Even today he can be seen fishing there if you want to talk cricket. To be fair he is not the talkative type. We have a 'pitch and putt'. It was recently reopened after a ten year absence. Council house kids had terrorized the booking clerks and torched their hut. I learnt to play golf there as a kid. Now its up and running again ,but not quite the same, a half-mile treck to the other booking office to get the clubs (and usually the flags as no one ever bothers anymore). Another half-assed attempt by the Borough Council. For some reason the people with dogs like to take them to do their do-do`s. Last year the park got sideswiped by Northampton's first mini tornado, next to the above pitch and putt, although the met office refused to confirm it was a 'twister'. But a quick walk through the park back then and you could see the pathway of damage, 80 year old towering trees not only toppled but flung across the spinney. Branches were everywhere and at least thirty trees were wasted in narrow corridor, 100ft wide. People who saw and heard it said it was a funnel clown. Actually, looking out of my window right now its gone very dark, this summer is looking remarkably like last summer, huge low pressure swirling the full breadth of the United Kingdom dumping hard rain on a increasingly heavily concreted country. That's not park weather and its not global warming weather. There are always old people in the park, many cutting sad figures... widows without their hard working men, long since lost to dementia. The old guys who feed the ducks and pigeons long for conversation with strangers, but dare not approach younger people they see as a threat. Being a sports writer I have time for them, the Cobblers or cricket an easy opener. But it always seems to come back to the war, where their memories really sleep. They meant something back then. What would we have done without these guys? The book I'm reading is tiring; maybe grab 40 winks in the gentle sun and breeze. You can't beat that. A snooze in the sun! Two pretty school girls look over at me with confused sexual feelings they get at that age. I'm flattered but no Gary Glitter. Maybe one more chapter of the increasingly tedious book to get me off for my guilty snooze. An emaciated druggie root marches across my eye line with a purposeful gate. Making his lapidary £250 fix a day with no social skills and call-centre isn't easy. Some poor sod is going to be mugged today. I avert my gaze. The police are not going to catch this waste of space as they don't have the resources. Hell...there not even going to bother. Modern policing is about stopping anarchy not crime. We don't want the 'Rossers' hurting their backs rugby tackling 'wrong uns', do we, off sick for three months with bad back and an improving golf handicap, lazing in the park with me today. Hey, that bloke over there looks like a copper on the sick. No one in authority wants to know anymore. The lawyers are on the bad guy's side now because that's where the money is under this human rights decade. Drugs flood into society like a corrosive acid when that happens, seeping in to the most respectable cracks. The lawyers snort the powdered version before meeting their clients that pay their big mortgages. Business has been good in Britain under Brown and Blair. Looks like rain now, the clouds edging in from the east. Big gray ones too. The type of clouds that even look cold. Rain is a parks enemy. No one goes there when it rains. But maybe that's the way the trees and shrubs like it, rustling and swaying in gentle resonance, left to their own serene conversations. I'm of now because, as you can see, I'm not relaxed enough to be still sitting in the park. What happened to my country? Is the great British park all that's left?
What are your opinions on the state of British parks?