Like so many other people in this city, I’ve been seeing out lockdown in a small flat with no garden, so my local parks are a lifeline.
Our daily walk tends to take us through Coleridge Rec, which is our closest park, and then onto Cherry Hinton Hall. I’ve loved seeing everyone make great use of both parks, walking their dogs, exercising, and playing with their families. And it’s been really good to see how well people are social distancing too.
I’ve always loved our parks, and I spent some time as Executive Councillor for Streets and Open Spaces before I moved to my current role (as Executive for Communities). They have always been a green lung for our cities, and are especially important for people with no gardens of their own.
But up to now, I wouldn’t have walked in them every day. For one thing, as a local representative, I’m normally door-knocking, talking with residents, once the evenings get lighter. And at the weekend, we would have gone out of town much more for our walks.
And of course that’s now changed. Walking in our local area has been the highlight of our days, and we’ve loved watching spring develop in front of our eyes. We’ve even started trying to identify the trees, and friends of mine with greater knowledge have been very patient in answering what must be pretty basic identification requests from me.
A particular favourite has been the avenue of flowering chestnuts, which have treated us to fantastic pink flowers.
And then there’s been the pictorial meadow. It started with the daisies, and now there are fantastic purple flowers too.
Though I think I will always particularly love looking along Davy Road, under the amazing green of the tree canopy, offset by the wonderful wrought-iron gates of the Rec.
Lockdown has been incredibly busy for me. I’m still doing the day job, where we are working as hard as ever, and as the councillor lead for our city’s community resilience work, I’ve been working flat out helping to support our council officers, volunteers, local charities and mutual aid groups as they make sure everyone in our community gets the help they need. It’s busy, and hard, and sometimes the things you hear are heart-breaking. And through all this, spring in our city has still managed to give me really special moments. Thank you, Coleridge Rec.
Web editor’s note:
And thank you, Anna for this tribute to the joys of Coleridge Rec and the lovely photos.
Today (Thursday 14th May 2020) I enjoyed seeing the blossom on the chestnut trees in Hooper Street, and was proud of all the local residents who opposed their felling and/or mutilation. And thanks too for city councillors who rejected the planning application. See our earlier post.
Web editor’s note:
We are delighted to have received this additional contribution. More are welcome.
Having lived on Coleridge Road for 18 years the rec (or park as we normally refer to it) has always been a central part of our lives.
Our two girls grew up loving the playground and paddling pool, and the wide open space for cricket, rugby and kites. One learnt to unicycle on the tennis court – this may not be encouraged I guess! – but it was perfect to edge round the fence and gradually push off for longer and longer until one day she didn’t need to rely on it again.
But we have relied more on the park under lockdown than ever before.
Initially just for the short daily exercise we were allowed, whether solitary or as a family. Back in March it was still often damp and cold but the park was beginning to come to life in spring, just in time to lift our spirits. We would go every day at some point, a place to keep sane and experience nature. Taking up jogging like so many others, round and round the perimeter path, which helpfully is a solid 800m or so.
As the days have lengthened and warmed the exercise has increased, and we can sit and watch the mighty red beech cast its long shadow down the axis of the grass at the end of each day. The changing colours, the surprisingly satisfying meadow planting, and the benefit of the sunlight have all helped us through.
Many more people are returning and starting to gather, mostly within the guidelines, and you can see how much it means to us all.
Normality is slowly returning but I think many people like us will have had their relationship with the park deepened through this strange experience. For that at least we can be grateful.
The Clark Family
Web editor’s note:
The anecdote about unicycling reminds me of a late friend who used a unicycle as part of his juggling, puppetry and clown act. I asked him how long it took to learn to unicycle. “Two days to learn. Two weeks for the pain to go away.”
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