In praise of Parks

London is famed for it’s vast array of parks. Indeed, I’d not be surprised to find out it has more green space than most towns and cities in the UK’s southeast. It’s one of the many things I love about our capital city. Whilst providing green space for the many residents who have none of their own, you can also (depending upon the park) run, jog, walk, and stroll, ride a horse, row a boat (or float your toy boat), see deer, ducks and other forms of wildlife, cycle, play football (and softball), sit on a park bench to read or people watch, and run the legs off your energy-laden children and/or dogs.

One of the joys of moving to Sussex has been the abundance of surrounding countryside, but one unexpected gem is my little local park. Although we noticed it when viewing the apartment, it was more in a “oh look, a children’s playground – that’ll be handy for visits from the grandchild” manner. But what a boon it has proven to be. I am better – both physically and mentally – for a daily walk, so it’s been perfect to have somewhere other than pavements (sidewalks for those across the pond) to pound along.

Despite being small – really quite pocket sized in fact – it manages to provide space for everyone. Regular users include an extremely elderly lady who rides her mobility scooter into the park, before taking herself off for a very slow stroll with her walking stick around its perimeter. Right alongside her parked scooter is a basketball/football court where the pre-teens and young teens hang out, together with a covered pavilion where they gather in less clement weather. Families and young adults tend to congregate around the picnic tables, some using the BBQ area, and the two playgrounds are well used by those with young children. With the number of apartments and homes with no outdoor space hereabouts, it must have been a real lifeline of late to more than just me. And of course, there’s the many dog walkers, including the poodle whose owner has been visibly struggling with the bonding process. although I am pleased to report that there’s now been success 🙂

This is in the larger portion of the park, but off to the side is my favourite section. Smaller and separated by walls covered in decorative planting… is the quiet bit. Many more benches, a couple of bridges over a small (planted up) ditch, a winding pathway, multiple fruit trees, lovely seasonal underplanting, and a vast area filled with fresh herbs. As I walk past, I brush my fingers over the herbs to release their scent – who couldn’t love having access to free aromatherapy? Today, two groups of women were enjoying a coffee and a chat sitting outside in the sunshine – and how much more pleasant must that have been than at a busy roadside cafe? The other day I was overtaken by a young woman carrying a yoga mat, who took up space in the corner to do her exercises. Whenever I’ve experienced cabin fever during the pandemic, a quick stroll to the park for a read under large oak trees proved to be the ideal solution.

The gardens are managed by volunteers and this year there’s been a lovely display of irises…

There was also this bee busy pollinating apple trees providing a welcome of the summer to come…

I love how this small space manages to cater for all age groups in our little community.

What do you love in your local area?


© Debra Carey, 2021

6 thoughts on “In praise of Parks

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  1. Your parks sound wonderful. When I lived in a city they were such a respite from the sidewalks and high-rise buildings. I like calm, don’t you know?

    As for what I like about my local area is that it’s quirky and evolving. Since we moved here 20+ years ago this has gone from a dull exurb into a funky little suburb that city snobs hate and fun people like. Lots of places to bike and walk and canoe and eat and hang out, without any pretense.

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  2. That’s it exactly about city parks Ally. There were so many in London, and still so many I’ve yet to visit. I like calm too.

    Interesting to hear about your changes. Where I live now has changed from a small village to a vast housing development. I’m not so keen on the housing development, so my park is such an oasis. It’s not our final home by any means though, so we make the best of it for now.

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  3. Funny you’re writing about parks, Deb, because earlier this morning I read about the queen opening up the Palace grounds to the public for picnics, strolling, etc. (https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/interactive/2021/queen-elizabeth-gardens-buckingham-palace/?itid=hp_world). I guess as “public” parks go, you can’t get much better than that. 🙂 Our area has parks, though for me they’re not the same as ones I visited when I lived in the north while growing up. But we do have plenty of coastlines, so that’s a pretty fair trade. Your photos are beautiful! – Marty

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  4. I love the London parks as well. The last half marathon my husband and I did (the final one as well), in 2014, was the London Royal Parks Half Marathon, which goes through the 5 Royal Parks. So much phenomenal public land in the heart of the city. Here in our modest, out-of-the-way city we are truly blessed. We have great parks, but we also have a long trail system developed from our abandoned railway lines along which we can walk, run, and cycle on both sides of our river for mile (km) after mile. Bliss.

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  5. Marty, you’re right, a “proper” park is a thing of beauty, but it doesn’t compare with the seaside. That I would always choose over everything 🙂 And thank you for your kind comments about my photos. I’ve fallen horribly out of practice due to the pandemic stay at home thingy but am slowly working to get my eye back in, so it’s much appreciated.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Wow Jane, that’s amazing. You are one fit woman, but I’m so glad you got to enjoy London’s wonderful parks. Not all are quite as well manicured as the Royal Parks of course, but still. Your trail system sounds great – I’d only walk, but still, I’d love to have that close at hand.

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