Now we are realising the true value of wide open spaces

April 01 2020
Now we are realising the true value of wide open spaces

News from the Friends of Eastville Park

IF ever there was a moment in time that reflects our need to seek solace, to wander or simply to experience a change of scenery, then Eastville Park was able to give that moment to so many folk over the last few days.

As the pressure to introduce measures to limit the spread of Corona virus increased, the true value of wide open spaces, strolls through woodland and riverside walks comes shining through and gives great comfort to us all.

A seismic shock to a way of life we are used to has, until now, left us confused and uncertain about how we react as individuals and collectively as families to best protect ourselves and the community around us.

Throughout the park we have been encouraging social distancing but remain fearful that the adjustments are proving difficult for some and that – particularly amongst young people – social activities in groups continue around the park. It is not hard to imagine that before too long, new restrictions will come into force that will further limit the freedom of movement and activity in order to impact on the devastation that comes with this awful infection that is sweeping the world today.

All this at a time of the year when we’d normally be rejoicing in the new Springtime that brings new colours to our trees and plants, birdsong from the hedgerows and joy at the prospect of warmer days to come! The daffodils and crocus are a really fabulous show of colour around the park at the moment, while wild garlic and even bluebells are starting to put on a show in the wooded areas.

At the lake, there seems to be something of a battle going on between one dominant swan and the others that make up this year’s group. It is fascinating to watch as he chases them from wherever they might choose to settle; those fabulous wings of his lifting him inches above the surface with a ‘thwap, thwap, thwap’ as he pursues them until they seek refuge out of the water. Even then, he’ll come out himself and bully them back into the lake, several times a day, ad nauseam!

A large group of Canada geese has arrived at the lake in the last couple of weeks, so we expect them, along with the mallard, coot and moorhen to be making a start on building their nests on the islands very soon. They’ll certainly all have plenty of peace and quiet over the foreseeable future, so let’s hope they all have successful hatches that we’ll all be able to admire someday soon.

We were of course very disappointed to have had to cancel our Pop-Up cafes along with our ‘Listen in the Nissen’ week-long programme of interesting talks and workshops: an event we were all really looking forward to. We hope to be able to re-arrange for later in the year. With plenty of time on our hands, we’ll be able to start planning Santa’s Grotto 2020, in the hope that we can more than make up for last year’s cancellation!

As part of our plans to improve facilities at the Nissen Hut, we’re delighted that we now have a ramp for disabled access to the hut. A group of us, along with Parkwork, put a couple of days’ hard graft into preparing the ground and a couple of days ago wheelbarrowed three and a half tons of concrete to finish the job. A good night’s sleep was had by all – along with a few stiff backs the next morning! It looks and works a treat, so we can’t wait to welcome our first visitors.

Many of you will have heard about the fridges and freezers that were dumped in the river at Snuff Mills overnight onMarch 3. Well, we’re down to our last one that needs fishing out and we hope to have it out within a couple of days – it’s well and truly wrapped up in underwater branches at the moment, so we’ll need to get our boat out to free it off before we can haul it out safely.

And finally, we’re busy working on a little project to bring short stories from the park into the community over the next few weeks. We’ll be videoing lots of lovely folk reading their own or familiar tales from different locations in the park. Aimed at children but great fun for adults stuck at home too, we hope it’ll bring the ‘outside in’ and go some way to making somebody’s day just that little bit more enjoyable. Please visit our Facebook page for details about how to watch them.

Andrew Gee