The Park

8 January 2012, The Lake at sunset (no this has not been modified, this is what it looked like).

It’s early January and we’re in The Park.

South Liverpool, where we live, is particularly blessed with parkland. Nowhere in it is more than a mile away from a serious piece of open, green space. You may already have seen Calderstones Park, where my bench lives. And I’ll introduce you to many of the other green spaces as the blog continues. They’re a reminder of how wealthy this place used to be, of course. Some of them I’ll show you are land that used to form the estates of slave traders.

But today I want to take you to a place that is at the centre of me. I want to take you to Sefton Park.

I have been walking in this park now since 1977, ever since I moved from North Liverpool, where I was born, to the South of the city. Only briefly and unwisely did I ever live more than a mile away from it. For me it is simply ‘The Park.’ When I tell Sarah I’m going to the park, she knows where I mean. If all of Liverpool is sacred to me, and it is, this place is its centre, the holiest of holies.

Why? Well it’s a big park. Liverpool’s equivalent of Central Park or Hyde Park. Now I can run it takes me well under twenty minutes to get right round the outside of it. And it’s an urban park, popular and loved by all of the various peoples who make up Liverpool. It’s the park where many of our big events are held. Like the Women’s 10k run in May, the Africa Oyé music festival at mid-summer, and the majestic and mysterious Lanterns Festival at Halloween. And at all of them I can almost feel the park welcoming all of the thousands of people who turn up to enjoy it. I go to all of them, and I love them too.

But most of all, me and the park love the ordinary days. Like today. Me and my camera get there mid-afternoon on a mildly wet winter’s day. And I walk around for a couple of hours, until the sun goes down, taking these photographs.

My Sefton Park bench. It’s not really mine, but I’ve never seen anyone else sitting on it

The Palm House, a place to read on rainy days

The Bandstand, no bands today

The Avenue, a long straight walk, or a very fast sprint

The Sun is setting now

As the swan glides over the lake

Evening in The Park

It’s a big park, then. One you can have proper walks in. And even if there are a lot of people there, and there weren’t today, there’s enough space to be alone with your thoughts. And it’s alone with my thoughts that me and the park do best. Since 1977 all of my deepest reflections have taken place here. About endings and beginnings, new starts, new ideas, lettings go and re-arrangings. All of them have to come to the park before I really know what I think of them. Where some might go to a church for reflection and contemplation, I go to the park. This is my cathedral. When Sarah was diagnosed with breast cancer, to help myself deal with the shock, I had to go and tell the park. A few weeks later, walking in the park again, on a brief break from caring for Sarah, the swans sailed proudly past with their new brood of cygnets, the first born in the park for years. Life delighted in life.

And all of the years and all of these reflections build up. It’s like they’re all still there, every time I enter the park. I enter home. Filled with me. Where all of the deepest thinking of my adult life has taken place. And will take place. We will return to the park on this blog. I am always returning to The Park.

8 thoughts on “The Park

  1. The Accidental Amazon

    LOVE!!! Aren’t you lucky to have a place like this nearby? I adore the Palm House and the Bandstand. I would be completely insane without my local green and open spaces. When I cross the Pond for a visit, can we all go for a walk in your Park??

  2. Jan Baird

    How beautiful! Thanks for taking us readers on a tour of your favourite park. I love to run, too, and should take pictures of the park I frequent. It’s lovely to share our little world with those who may never see it in their lifetimes.

    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Thanks Jan, it’s because I decided to do the blog that I saw that sunset, and have the photographs of it. You will see more of the park. Let me know when you do your park blog?

    1. Ronnie Hughes Post author

      Hi Rach, no it wasn’t, though it looks like that. Sefton Park is a Victorian ‘designed’ park. When my daughter Clare was little, we used to go and visit my friend Janet who, as it happened, lived in a big group house at the far end of the avenue. Clare would look back at me from the push-chair and say ‘Nearly there’ when we got to the avenue.

  3. bcoffee1

    What a perfectly gorgeous place, and your photos are beautiful, Ronnie. How therapeutic that you have a place like this that resonates with you and beckons you to come back. And the Palm House! How I wish conservatories were more plentiful in the US. I have a piece of property where I live that I like to walk on. Unfortunately, my husband died there last year and I haven’t been able to walk it again, but when Spring comes, I’m going to put that hesitation behind me and once again embrace my walks there.


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