Friends of Eastville Park: Zen on the Green
News from the Friends of Eastville Park
“A FULL park is an empty hospital” was a quote I heard recently. No truer phrase was spoken.
I’m reaching my middle age now, having hung up my snowboard and scuba gear while my children were small, but if you’d told me 5 years ago that I’d be lawn bowling I would never have believed it; that I’d find it as relaxing as scuba diving over coral reefs and I’d have laughed!
The truth is that, after a long week of children, work, and household responsibilities, I love a few hours of bowling on the green. There, surrounded by trees, good friends of a variety of ages, some in their 80s, and nothing but a simple game of skill, the mind unwinds. A sense of peace and calm, like meditation, stills the racing thoughts. It’s no wonder that the 80-something year old players still have the air of youth and ease of movement about them. It’s not just the exercise but the stress relief, social network and joy of nature that combine in a bowls game. If golf is a good way to ruin a nice walk, bowling is a good way to improve it.
Sarah has painted for us a delightful picture of an afternoon on the bowling green, a quintessentially English public parks activity that has flourished for well over a hundred years at Eastville. Bowling’s resilience over that time has been remarkable: there are a few good examples of thriving clubs but the impact of austerity and the local authority’s decision to implement sweeping changes to the fees charged to clubs threaten their very existence. Eastville, as a small club, is particularly vulnerable and though we have been successful in increasing our membership numbers there is a long way to go and the recruitment drive goes on! Please get in touch if you’d like to know more.
Although the weather over the last few weeks has been a bit topsy-turvy, there’s been plenty going on in the park. The Islamic Cultural Fayre saw a riot of colour and activities throughout the afternoon, with a great range of Asian food on offer and some lovely music on stage. The Friends’ Pop-Up Café continues to be a great success - our next is on the morning of September 14.
Goodgym visited us again last week and were joined by TeamGB athletes as part of the Nation's Biggest Sports Day, to get people more active and take part in local sporting and community activities. Thirty five extremely fit runners rolled up their sleeves and helped us tidy up the Old Swimming Pool (above), our garden at the bowling green and painting over graffiti at the changing rooms (top). So much done in a short space of time: thank you all.
Our volunteer activities have really blossomed over the summer, with some amazing progress at the Nissen hut. Our gardening club is getting into its stride and the café runs like a well-oiled machine, all because of the enthusiasm of our lovely volunteers. If you’ve passed by the hut recently, you’ll have seen the amazing artwork that’s being done by Immy, Jacqui and Paul. We have teamed up with the Council communities team and formed a small group of volunteers to tackle the ever-growing graffiti in the park and hope to be able to cover it up soon after it appears, to reduce the impact on park users. We are also looking at ways to do something about overgrown and inaccessible pathways: the council’s ‘cost neutral’ parks policy is certainly starting to bite and we do need to try to find a way to keep things from getting any worse.
Work to install the Charging Hub in the car park has caused a lot of disruption but we’re hoping things will start to improve now that the major excavations are out of the way.
As the warm weather hopefully continues, the lovely aromas from al fresco barbecues drift across the park as families and groups enjoy this wonderful green space – but it’s a bit disappointing to see so many scorched areas. Please try your best to avoid it happening and don’t forget to take your rubbish to a bin or home with you!
Have you ever wondered how the Friends Group is funded? Apart from our own fundraising efforts, we receive annual donations from the Love Saves the Day and Tokyo World festivals. We also apply for small grants to help pay for improvements and maintenance. This year we’ve been successful with applications to Greggs and TK Maxx but we’re always keen to know of any other organisations that offer help to community groups. Often, we rely on tip-offs that a grant scheme that might be suitable is opening for applications so if you hear of anything, please let us know, particularly about grants for environmental work and renovations of heritage buildings. We are currently working hard on a proposal for a National Lottery Heritage bid and are keen to speak to anyone who has experience in the bid writing process.
Enjoy the rest of your summer and have fun in Eastville Park!
Contact us by email at Friendsofeastvillepark@gmail.com or find Friends of Eastville Park or Bowling at Eastville Park on Facebook.