Volunteers and pop-up cafe are back at Eastville Park

April 03 2021
Volunteers and pop-up cafe are back at Eastville Park

News from the Friends of Eastville Park

THIS past week has seen us taking tentative steps towards reintroducing our volunteer groups in the park! After a long absence we have welcomed a small team from GoodGym to the Old Bowling Green where we raked over the wildflower beds and sowed seeds which we hope will provide a great display throughout the summer.

The top half of the park doesn’t have much in the way of ‘wilderness’ so it’s good to introduce a selection of native wildflowers that is in contrast to the well mown and somewhat formal layout where nature is sometimes forgotten amongst the playground and sports facilities.

It is also a great opportunity for visitors who don’t get the chance to venture down through the woods and along the river path, to get a flavour of the beauty of wildflowers. ParkWork is stirring too, with sessions being planned around the park and at other locations across the city.

The Community Impact Levy (CIL) 2021 round of grant applications is here and we’ve put forward a proposal for a project to make improvements to the Old Swimming Pool that will see it returned to that place where a few moments of rest, peace and solitude can make the difference between a good day and a not so good day. A good clean up (especially the graffiti on the walls) and some planting will bring the garden back to life and hopefully it will become again a place of beauty and well-used by visitors.

We are also in the process of applying for funds from the Grateful Society to install a selection of wheelchair-friendly park furniture at various locations. This will include seating and picnic benches that will be appreciated by an increasing number of less able visitors we have seen over this last year.

As we move through the coming weeks and months, we hope to widen the volunteer opportunities around the park to try to get us back to the busy and fun-filled schedule that we’d become used to ‘back in the day’.

One of the most exciting things we are all looking forward to is the return of the Pop-Up Cafes in the Nissen Hut! It’s all pretty last-minute, but we’re hoping to be back on Saturday April 17, with a covid-friendly setting offering outside sit-down and take-away food and drink.

The café is an essential ingredient in our plans to bring life back to the hut alongside a programme of exciting activities for everyone around the Community Hub vision. The Bowling Club is back, too, with a good healthy membership roll and hopefully some good wins against visiting teams over the summer. There will be Community Bowling days, too, when the whole family can come along and spend an hour or two having a lot of fun! If the idea of a good healthy game of bowls takes your fancy please visit us on our FB page: Bowling at Eastville Park.

There remains a lot of uncertainty as we move into the Future Parks process, but we are determined to fight tooth and nail to preserve the spirit of the park and do everything we can to show that, while we acknowledge the need for progress, we don’t lose sight of the idea that ‘for the community, by the community’ has real value and is a wonderful way of bringing people together for a common purpose.

We know how important it can be for people in difficult circumstances to get great benefit from being part of something, whether it be physical exercise, socialising and making friends or having an interest in activities that occupy them and get them out of the house. Helping others in even the smallest ways is the best medicine on earth and can turn people’s lives around. The Friends group want to be part of that in any way we can and we’re so sure that there is a great many people in our local area who already are and those who want to, play their part too. We’ll be growing our volunteer teams up slowly this year and there will be something for everyone so join with us when you can!

This last month, we started selling our bags of duck food at the lake on weekends. It has proved very popular and we’re regularly selling out, which is great news. Over the Easter holiday, we’re going to be there every day of the week so pop along and help the birds- and our funds by supporting us. Children love to drop their coins in our volunteer collectors, Henry the Heron (pictured) and Sophie the Swan – they’re proving to be a great attraction!

While you’re at the lake, we hope you won’t miss a great new addition to the park. We’re about to erect a beautifully carved oak panel which features a seventeenth century poem written in Latin (with a translation) that romanticises a walk along the river through Wickham Glen.

Just across the bridge from Wickham Glen, the weir is currently being surveyed in preparation for some quite extensive work which will include repairs to the weir stonework as well as a major re-design of the fish pass, which has long been known to be quite over-engineered to the point of being of no use whatsoever to any fish that might be thinking about making their way upstream! A softer and more gentle rise will hopefully encourage brown trout, eels and other fish to migrate from downstream to a spawning habitat further up the river. There has been a drive over the years to remove a lot of these artificial barriers on rivers all over the country. There is also evidence to suggest that the water quality around weirs is improved when they are removed. We have no information yet on when the work will start but will update as soon as we do.

Jigsaw puzzles have soared in popularity over the last year and one of our members, Jon Christmas, devoted a lot of time and effort collating hundreds of the wildlife pics that appear on our group page and has produced a selection of themed puzzles which have proved extremely popular and sold out in a short space of time! Those lucky enough to have secured one will be hunched over coffee tables and watching as the Swan, Robin or Kingfisher montage comes to life in front of their eyes. Thank you Jon for this great idea and making it all come together!

With Easter holidays just around the corner, we’re sure to see the park full of families and we hope that the weather is nice for you all during your visit to the park. One plea- please take your litter to a bin nearby or home with you and, if you walk a dog PLEASE don’t leave it there for someone to step on. Try as best you can to leave the park as you found it.

The Parkie