Today’s prompt is brought to you courtesy of Plinky:
Do you have a favourite park?
I have been lucky to have lived quite close to Heaton Park in North Manchester for all of my life and I have spent more time in there than any other park.
I love it there. It has got everything a municipal park should have: woodland, a boating lake, a cycling track, a Papal monument (commemorating the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1982), a farm, a stables, a baronial hall, an observatory, a golf course, a pitch and putt course, a bandstand, a paddling pool, Japanese ornamental gardens, tennis courts, a tram that runs throughout the Summer, an orangery, play parks, the original portico from the old Manchester town hall…. Yes, Heaton Park is varied and absolutely brilliant. It has regular funfairs and has hosted quite a few gigs in its time, including an Oasis concert a couple of years ago.
When I was a child I used to spend hours and hours in there on my bike and with my mates. We covered every inch of that park and it totally became ours. We owned it because we knew all the pathways, all the “secret” short cuts, all the bits we weren’t supposed to see…
I remember once watching the council gardeners having a game of football in their lunch break on one of the playing fields, which was brilliant fun because they were all cheating and got puffed out running after the ball. As a 10 year old it was amazing that grown men would find it so amusing to play football when they didn’t have to!
I have fallen into the river off a rope swing, been on an underground walk through the tunnels and water ducts in the woods, been sledging down the slopes of the golf course (and been chased off by the groundskeeper…!), fell off my bike countless times trying to beat my own record of flying down the big hill none-handed (not holding the handlebars), have pinched the odd golf-ball from the hapless golfers when they’ve pitched up into the rough, scared myself silly by telling ghost stories to my mates about the “haunted” bell tower, played Pooh-sticks off the bridge near the Japanese gardens, taken my own kids to play on the swings, camped out overnight to watch the Pope celebrating Mass, taken photographs at dawn with Kevin and Ben the dog (where we got stopped by the police for being out and about so early), visited the Hall, paddled in the fountain (and got told off….), sat astride the lions outside the Hall and so much more in that park I can’t possibly relate it all!
When I think back now to the firework displays I’ve seen, being terrified walking through the trees in the dark in the crowds and all the times we have walked round the lake (fallen in the lake…), taken photographs, cycled up and down the pathways, flown kites in its fields, roller skated down the hills (ooer, not for the faint-hearted!), watched concerts, played concerts, been on nature walks, been on the tram-ride, climbed the trees, watched the horses, fed the chicks in the hatchery…good grief I have spent a lot of time in that place as both an adult and a child!
The parkland itself used to belong to the Egerton family, as did Heaton Hall, and they used it as a pleasure park in the days when the family occupied it. They even had horse races in the park – can you imagine having a back garden big enough to fit a racecourse in it??! It was given to Manchester Corporation in 1902 and they have developed it into the fantastic place it is today.
If ever you are in the area why not drop in and give it a look? I’m sure you will be happy there. I know I am.